Optimizing part-time group housing for female breeding rabbits

Van Damme , Liesbeth
Faculteit Diergeneeskunde
Vakgroep Veterinaire en Biowetenschappen
Liesbeth Van Damme was born on the 24th of December 1992 in Ghent, Belgium. In 2017 she obtained her Master in Biology cum laude at Ghent University. From 2017 until 2019, she worked for Labo Iliano and ECCA as laboratory assistant. In 2019, she started her PhD research at Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Ghent University. The PhD, aiming to optimize part-time group housing for female breeding rabbits, was funded by the Government of Flanders (Department Environment, Section Animal Welfare) and supervised by Prof. Dr. Frank Tuyttens and Dr. ir. Evelyne Delezie. Liesbeth Van Damme is (co-)author of several scientific peer-reviewed publications in international journals. She has been a speaker at symposia and participated in national and international conferences. Alongside her PhD, she is active as regional secretary of the International Society of Applied Ethology (ISAE) of the Benelux from 2022 onwards. Between 2021 and 2023, she has worked on an international pilot project on Best Practices for Alternative Egg Production Systems, funded by the European Commission, DG SANTE. From July 2023 onwards, she is working at the ILVO on tail-biting in pigs, a project funded by Government of Flanders (Department Environment, Section Animal Welfare).
Academische graad
Doctor in de diergeneeskundige wetenschappen
Taal proefschrift
Prof. dr. Frank Tuyttens, Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) - Dr. ir. Evelyne Delezie, Flanders Research Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food (ILVO)

Korte beschrijving

Society increasingly expects social farm animals, including rabbits, to be housed in group, preferably in well-adapted housing in compliance with the animals’ species-specific needs. In Belgium, weaned meat rabbits are already housed in group in enriched multi-litter cages. In contrast, breeding female rabbits (does) kindle and nurse their kits in single-litter cages throughout their entire reproduction cycle, imposing a restriction on their social needs. Continuous group housing systems, in which breeding does and their litters are housed in group from kindling until weaning, are unattractive for the rabbit farming industry due to reported negative effects on both kit and doe performance, mainly caused by aggression among females around kindling. Part-time group housing systems are an alternative for continuous group housing systems that have received considerable interest. In this system, does are housed in single-litter cages during the first weeks after kindling and housed in group when the kits are older and have become more independent from the mother. Although doe reproductive performances improved compared to continuous group housing, inter-doe aggression, mainly due to hierarchy fights, remains an important and yet to overcome problem. In order to optimize part-time group housing, animal experiments were conducted with the aim to reduce aggressive behaviour among females and to improve doe reproductive performance and welfare of both does and kits.


Donderdag 28 september 2023, 17:00
ILVO Plant, Caritasstraat 39, 9090 Melle

If you would like to attend, please register before 21 September 2023 by email to Liesbeth.VanDamme@ilvo.vlaanderen.be