Placing females – Part 1

Partner(s): Hypharm
Industry(ies): Rabbit

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In this first part, you'll find a description of the procedures to be followed to prepare and successfully populate a rabbit farm when setting up young females.


Claude Barré - Rabbit farming technical manager


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The arrival of a new flock is always an important event, whether it’s the creation of a new farm or following depopulation. In both cases, sanitary, environmental, feeding and prophylactic conditions need to be mastered to help the animals adapt to their new environment.

A procedure setting out the various stages to be followed is recommended in consultation between the vet, the breeding technician and the breeder.

The two video tutorials summarise 4 key stages that we’re going to develop together.
In this episode, we will look at the first 2 key stages:
Managing the period before receiving the animals, and Setting up the breeding stock.
In the second episode, we’ll look at : Starting up the rabbit females, and finally : Breeding renewal objectives.

Cleaning and disinfection

To ensure the successful start-up of the new herd, it is essential to ensure that the environment in which the animals are housed is free from pathogenic germs. To achieve this, cleaning and disinfection operations must be carried out in a precise order before the animals are put in place.

The steps are as follows:

  • Clean and disinfect the silos according to the defined methodology.
  • Clean and disinfect the building, animal housing and rearing equipment in accordance with the defined protocol. At this stage, all organic matter must have been removed from inside and outside the building.
  • Carry out disinfection appropriate to each rearing area. Liquid disinfection of the building, followed by fogging inside the building.
  • Finally, disinfect the outside of the building by spraying, for example with caustic soda.
  • Disinfection checks carried out at the end of these stages will validate that these procedures have been properly followed. The aim of this inspection is to achieve pathogen-free status. A chemical and bacteriological analysis of the drinking water will also be carried out at the same time.

From this stage onwards, the sanitary barriers are put in place and activated: thanks to the installation of a two-zone airlock, the use of specific clothing and the use of disinfection foot baths.

Environment settings

Before the animals are received, the first ventilation settings will be anticipated. It is therefore advisable to calibrate the ventilation and adjust its parameters according to the recommendations given by the technician and the genetic provider. Two days before the animals arrive, the final preparations are made. Warm up the building.

We also calibrate auger flow rates and feed trough capacities in order to define the feeding plan.
Watering equipment is rinsed and then checked. The flow rate must be set at plus or minus 200 millilitres per minute.

Finally, the lighting is programmed.

Setting up the breeding stock

The animals are delivered using specialised vehicles and equipment. This equipment has air-conditioning to keep temperatures under control, provides comfort for the animals, and is easy to clean and disinfect. In this way, the health and welfare conditions of the animals are respected throughout the transport period.

Depending on their age, the animals will be placed in individual or group accommodation. A suitable programme is defined as soon as the animals are delivered.

The protocol covers :

  • Ventilation and environment management: the temperature must reach 18°C to 20°C in the room.
  • The feed distribution programme.
  • Checking that water is distributed correctly.
  • The lighting programme: for example, the room could be lit for 10 hours a day, starting at 6am and ending at 4pm.

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