Rabbits are sociable and sensitive creatures, who pair with one another when compatible. It may shock many people to learn that, as well as being used for testing and companionship, they are also exploited for food. They are kept much like caged hens who produce eggs, in filthy wire cages that provide them no enrichment and subject them to a miserable existence until they are killed. 

Housing

Rabbits raised for meat are kept in an area with roughly the size of an A4 piece of paper of floor space. They are denied the ability to move around freely, or exhibit most behaviours that come naturally to them. They are unable to lay stretched out, stand on their back legs to explore their surroundings, sit/stand with their ears erect, or even take one hop. This housing not only takes a physical toll on rabbits, but it also causes them huge mental stress.

Barren environment 

Standard housing for rabbits consists of wire or mesh floor cages, with an automatic feeder and drinker. Rabbits are unable to dig or forage, which can lead them to engage in abnormal behaviours such as chewing on the cage bars and excessive grooming. Rabbits are fed inadequate diets exclusively of pellets, in stark contrast to spending long periods feeding on grass and roughage in the wild. Rabbits eat pellets in a much shorter space of time, leading to excessive boredom and frustration.

Disease and injury

Mortality rates on commercial rabbit farms are typically high, often due to respiratory issues. Approximately 10% of female breeding does die and are replaced each month (either due to death-on-farm or through culling).

Standing on wire flooring constantly is incredibly uncomfortable for rabbits; it can even cause them to develop issues such as splayed legs, footpad sores and paw injuries. 

Does (female breeding rabbits) have been selectively bred to produce larger litter sizes and are artificially inseminated continuously. This places a huge strain on their bodies, and can lead to loss of body condition, reproductive stress, and a heightened risk of spinal deformities.

Damaging social environments

Rabbits are social creatures, establishing hierarchies with their peers in the wild. On commercial farms, fattener rabbits are often kept in pairs or groups in close confines, where they have no privacy or ability to get away from one another. This can lead to aggression among cage mates, which increases as they grow bigger and become closer to sexual maturity.

Rabbits used for breeding are often kept in cages by themselves, beside cages housing other rabbits. This means that not only are they denied the ability to express normal social behaviours, but being kept side by side means they are still unable to have privacy or get away from one another. Abnormal stereotypical behaviours are more prevalent in rabbits housed in isolation.

Slaughter

Rabbits are slaughtered for their flesh at just 12 weeks old. Standard practice for slaughtering commercially farmed rabbits dictates hanging them upside down by their back feet and pulling their heads through a body of live water to stun them before their throats are cut. Research has found electrical stunning is often performed incorrectly, meaning rabbits are frequently slaughtered while still being sensible to pain and suffering.