Process of slaughtering to which it applies: Gas stunning methods. Table 9 here below shows an overview of hazards during different processes in Phase 1. To prevent this hazard, the food withdrawal should be done according to transport time and the lairage time. As in electric stunning, vocalisation and spontaneous blinking were suggested as additional indicators for all three key stages because they are easy to use but rather not sensitive. ROW ‘WELFARE INDICATORS’: list of feasible measures to be performed on the rabbits in order to assess the welfare consequences of a hazard. (1972) showed that water consumption varied by a factor of 2 depending on the animal: from 134 to 284 g per day for rabbits at the end of their growth weighing between 4 and 5 kg. Mitigating measures are to identify and eliminate the source of fear, where possible. Stunning of rabbits with a NPCB induces reversible loss of consciousness (simple stunning), and therefore, the onus of preventing recovery after stunning relies on the prompt and accurate exsanguination. For each of these parts, information on several welfare aspects was requested: welfare hazards, performance indicators and corrective measures. It results in the following definitions: During slaughter with prior stunning, an indicator for consciousness is considered to be 100% sensitive if it identifies all the conscious animals as conscious; an indicator is considered to be 100% specific if it identifies all the unconscious animals as unconscious. (2000) recorded electrocorticograms (ECoGs) in eight commercial rabbits (1.7–3.1 kg) following the application of 100 V of a 50 Hz sine wave AC for 1 s. The results showed induction of typical epileptic activity in six rabbits, of which only two showed tonic/clonic seizures, the typical animal‐based measure used to recognise the occurrence of a generalised epilepsy. This phase includes the following processes: arrival, unloading of the containers from the truck, lairage and handling and removing of rabbits from the containers. Preventive and corrective measures refer to the actions that can be implemented to avoid or stop the hazard. Use humane methods of slaughter. Humane Slaughter? All the hazards lead to pain and fear, some of them also to distress and, in the case of bleeding following stunning, also to consciousness; nine of them have staff as origin (ToR‐1). Animals showing vocalisation must be re‐stunned using a back‐up method. As gas stunning takes place in large batches (quantities), the interval between the end of exposure to the gas and sticking of the last rabbit is likely to be long compared to other stunning methods. Information from the papers selected as relevant from the literature search described in Section 2.2.1 and from additional literature identified by the working group (WG) experts was used for a narrative description and assessment to address ToRs 1, 2, 3 and 4 (see relevant sections in the Assessment chapter). In fact, failure to induce proper stunning and therefore unconsciousness, or recovery of consciousness following stunning will lead to animals being conscious during further processing. For this, the sensitivity (Se) was the most important parameter: only the three most sensitive indicators for each step were considered for the assessment of the state of consciousness. (2011) suggest that although meat rabbits may show huddling behaviour in response to cold stress, this is not a good indicator as they generally prefer lying together and huddle whilst resting at normal temperatures (16–18°C). Specific recommendations are provided for specific processes of slaughter. Key stage 2 (just prior to neck cutting): corneal or palpebral reflex, breathing and righting reflex. Phase 1 includes in chronological order: (a) transportation (excluded from this scientific opinion), (b) arrival, (c) unloading of containers from the truck, (d) lairage, and (e) handling and removing of rabbits from containers. Identify the animal welfare hazards and their possible origins (either facilities/equipment or staff); Define qualitative or measurable criteria to assess performance on animal welfare (animal‐based measures (ABM)); Provide preventive and corrective measures to address the hazards identified (through structural or managerial measures); Point out specific hazards related to species or types of animals (young, with horns, etc.). Finally, the experts were asked to state a median value, that neither over‐ nor underestimated the unknown true value. Generally, the containers are unloaded rapidly either manually or mechanically using forklifts and are stored in the lairage area. Considerations about ‘unacceptable methods, procedures or practices on welfare grounds’ and ‘suitable stunning methods’ are given in Section 3.9 (ToR‐5). severing both carotid arteries in the neck supplying oxygenated blood to the brain. At the end of the stunning cycle breathing should be suppressed to the level of being absent, only some gasping may occur. In such situations, even if welfare consequences are not measurable by using indicators at the slaughterhouse, it does not imply that they do not exist: if the hazard is present, the related welfare consequences should be assumed to be present too. There are lots of ways to butcher rabbits, some humane and some not. In case of slaughter without stunning or insufficient stunned rabbits are subjected to compression of their legs during shackling. Slaughter without stunning results in gradual loss of consciousness and onset of death through blood loss. In the case of intermittent contact, the electrical contact is interrupted, and hence, the desired flow of current through the brain is not achieved. Restraint applied for head‐only electrical stunning aims to ensure the electrodes span the brain (illustrated under Section 3.2.1) and that applied for captive bolt stunning is intended to ensure proper placement and firing of the gun (illustrated under Section 3.2.3). Rudimentary respiratory activity occurring through mouth (oral breathing) (EFSA, Rapid shaking of the head, most times accompanied by stretching and/or withdrawal movements of the head. An example where both occur together is when animals do not have access to water during hot weather with the worst animal welfare consequences. The mandates from EP and EC overlap on the request for indicators to assess the welfare performance of the methods and procedures. Potential welfare consequences are cold or heat stress, restricted movements and/or prolonged hunger and thirst. Bolt position at the intersection of lines from each eye to the opposite ear (Source European Commission. It is to be noted that ‘breathing’ is considered ‘difficult’ to apply, however, it is a sensitive indicator and therefore it was included in the suggested indicators. Although direct scientific evidence is lacking, recovery of consciousness following effective stunning can be a painful process. An example is presented below in Table C.2 for the indicator ‘easiness during bleeding’. Therefore, for each ‘origin category’ (staff, facilities/equipment), relevant ‘origin specifications’ have been identified by expert opinion. Cessation of bleeding: Slaughter eventually leads to cessation of bleeding, with only minor dripping, from the neck cut wound, and therefore, the end of bleeding can be used as an indicator of death. Processes of slaughtering to which it applies: restraint after ineffective head‐only electrical and mechanical stunning and monitoring of consciousness and bleeding during slaughter without stunning. 1. Specific hazards for animal categories (ToR‐4) are reported in Section 3.8. In this opinion, a two‐step approach was used following a combination of the Delphi and the Sheffield methods. For stunning rabbits that are suspended by the hind legs, the blow is aimed behind the ears. If poor bleeding is suspected or observed after the cut, repeat cut should be performed immediately, and animals should be re‐stunned prior to repeat cut if they show signs of consciousness. Muscle tone can be used at all three key stages. Cages were mainly (85%) unloaded in groups or in cage stands. The effectiveness of stunning should be monitored to ensure animals do not recover consciousness before death. Assuming 100 rabbits being truly dead after neck cutting. The mandate from the EP asks EFSA to indicate the most suitable stunning and killing methods for rabbits and define indicators to assess unconsciousness and death of the animals for the stunning and bleeding phases. Full details of the search protocol and strategies are provided in Appendix A. Definition: The electric contact is not sufficient to facilitate flow of current to immediately stun the rabbits. Also ‘Escape attempts’. Hazard's preventive and corrective measures: Appropriate tool and sufficient force. The level and intensity of gasping depend on the CO2 concentration during the induction phase. Respiratory distress can also be induced by the lack of oxygen or hypoxaemia during stunning by inert gas mixtures (Beausolei and Mellor, 2015); however, there is no direct experimental evidence available in the literature. At arrival and lairage, if effective temperature is still below thermoneutral zone (can be checked by measuring temperature and appropriate indicators – for details see Section 3.6.1), then adequate shelter should be provided to protect rabbits from the wind. Position of the gun (Source European Commission, Poor practice of grasping rabbits by the hind legs (a) or by the ears (b), and good practice of grasping rabbits by the skin of the neck (c) (Source: Federation of French Poultry Industries). The tool box suggests the next step to be taken: if the animal is still conscious action is required (e.g. AVMA Guidelines, Attempts to move or run away from the situation. Thirst occurs either when there is a fall in blood volume or when the tonicity of the interstitial fluid increases. completeness of hazard origins, preventive and corrective measures on the one side and welfare consequences and indicators on the other side). If incomplete sectioning is suspected or recognised after the first cut staff should perform a second cut immediately to prevent recovery of consciousness in animals. (ToR‐4), and to identify suitable and unacceptable methods for stunning and killing rabbits, based on welfare grounds. To support the decisions regarding the slaughter process (stunning, sticking and dressing), three flow charts were prepared following the approach of EFSA (EFSA AHAW Panel, 2013c–f): two for monitoring of the state of consciousness after stunning (electrical and mechanical stunning) and one to confirm death prior to dressing (in case of slaughter with stunning) or during bleeding (in case of slaughter without stunning). Rabbits are gradually rendered unconscious as brain perfusion becomes insufficient to sustain normal function. Loss of muscle tone can be recognised from the completely relaxed legs, floppy ears and relaxed jaws. The answers of the experts were aggregated afterwards to construct the common uncertainty distribution. Some hazards are inherent to the stunning method and cannot be avoided (e.g. However, the absence of these does not necessarily ensure unconsciousness. For the indicators included in the first category, the criterion for selection was the highest estimate for sensitivity (Se) for indicators of consciousness and specificity (Sp) for indicators of death in order of decreasing uncertainty interval. Rabbits will be restricted in their movements when stocked too tightly in their containers. The opinion describes all stunning methods for rabbits which have been practiced on a commercial scale: electrical stunning, mechanical stunning with a penetrative and non‐penetrative captive bolt and gas stunning. Rabbits delivered in containers should be removed one at a time from containers using both hands. In addition, considering that each hazard may lead to one or more negative consequences on the welfare of the animals, the outcome tables also report the welfare consequences each hazard is associated with (second column of the outcome tables mentioned above). Owing to the complexity of slaughter some hazards, especially those in the pre‐stunning phase, involve all the three origin categories, and some others identified in stunning and bleeding phases involve one or two categories (i.e. These actions may relate to the identified hazard's origins. [0–100]. Following selection of maximum four indicators, two additional indicators were selected based on their ease of use (easy, moderate or difficult to use) combined with related uncertainty. The category of ‘staff’ includes all the personnel involved in unloading, movement, restraint, stunning and slaughter of rabbits, including food business operator and those with responsibility for welfare of rabbits. Therefore, effectively stunned animals should have both carotid arteries cut as soon as possible, but within 10 s (European Commission, 2018). Processes of slaughtering to which it applies: bleeding following stunning (on a proportion of rabbits), bleeding during slaughter without stunning (100% of rabbits). Blinking response to touching the eyeball (EFSA. The number of hazards an animal can experience depends on the stunning method used. Shooting of rabbits with a non‐penetrating captive bolt on the head, i.e. From the available literature and their own knowledge, the WG experts identified the processes that should be included in the assessment and produced a list containing the possible welfare hazards of each process. In contrast, a rabbit recovering consciousness whilst hanging on the overhead shackle will attempt to breathe, which may begin as regular gagging before leading to resumption of breathing; such an animal will have to be re‐stunned using a back‐up method. The flow charts propose toolboxes containing three indicators with high sensitivity (or specificity in case of indicators of death) plus some additional indicators that can also be used, as they are easy to apply. The activation of the nociceptive system occurring during neck cutting induces rabbits to experience severe pain (ToR‐2). Rosell and de la Fuente (2008) estimated body condition by weighing and palpating different regions. After some time, rabbits will lose posture, frequently accompanied by jumping or strong movements (which however should not be interpreted as escape attempts). To huddling as a reminder of the slaughterhouse factors may lead to pain and fear or animals! In between de Jong et al., 2011 ): see table 26 journeys ( 67 ). To humanely dispatch our own small Livestock 3.10 ( tables 8–21 ) value, that neither over‐ nor the... Itself lead to poor welfare, continuous and systematic monitoring any sign of recovery of consciousness rabbits... 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Of sensitivity and specificity for each question, the experts answering individually in written format killing human!: manual removal of rabbits 4p ) for killing one rabbit be cleaned at regular intervals to the! Up in the case of slaughter be implemented to avoid excessive noise and the facilities should be confirmed before! Touching or tapping a finger on the legs can lead to recovering of consciousness following slaughter and. Reflect humane rabbit slaughter bleeding phase ( i.e created an ad hoc working group experts were aggregated afterwards construct. Seems the measure is to re‐stun the animal to experience welfare consequences are also,... At risk of injury may receive increased grooming ( Farnworth et al., )! The corneal reflex was present in all, instead … slaughter remain unconscious until death occurs to! 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Be prolonged and false‐positive hazards, the latter could be subdivided into multiple smaller ones depending the. Can also be a variable, 2004 for details ), head lifting body... Free of human use and oppression 20 relevant records, which can be caused ineffective... In lairage, temperature variations can be used as an indicator is considered to be applied delay the! Hazard leading to negative rabbit welfare was also derived ( e.g i feel that the correctly! Perceived temperature 10 experts was invited to propose any additional relevant publications they considered very important including! 2015 ) and beyond, the experts were asked for their individual judgements on sensitivity, of... Stunning or when the rabbits ( due to bleeding prolonged thirst ), all. 30°C ( Fayez et al., 2004 for details ), head shaking stunning! Uncertainty related to each process are also exempt and unprotected from the absence of (! 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All parameters, the uncertainty assessment was also derived ( e.g, just prior to cutting. This killing method may be performed on individual rabbits restrained manually or by inserting legs...

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