The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Rabbits was officially released Feb. 15 by the National Farm Animal Care Council and the Syndicat des producteurs de lapins du Quebec.
It is the first code ever developed in Canada for rabbits and is among many developed by the NFACC for other types of livestock.
The codes are designed to ensure farm animals are cared for using sound management and welfare practices that promote animal health and well-being.
The rabbit code was developed by a 12-member committee that included rabbit producers, animal welfare representatives, researchers, veterinarians and government personnel, the NFACC said in a news release.
Committee chair Maxime Tessier, a rabbit producer in Quebec, said the code will support sustainability of the Canadian rabbit industry.
It has seven sections dealing with housing and equipment; feed and water; health management; reproductive management; husbandry; transport; and euthanasia.
The code can be found online at www.nfacc.ca/pdfs/codes/rabbit_code_of_practice.pdf.
It is focused “on rabbits raised for meat and consideration has also been given to rabbits kept for show, breeding and fibre,” the code states in its introduction.
As with other NFACC codes, the rabbit code has requirements and recommended practices for each of the listed categories and sections.
Agriculture Canada statistics from 2016 indicate there are 3,838 rabbit farms in Canada, which have 172,489 animals. Ontario and Quebec have the highest numbers but there are 845 rabbit farms in the prairie provinces.