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Living Lab Lapins : an innovative project to ensure animal welfare

There are increasing demands from society regarding the welfare of farmed animals, while at the same time rabbit meat consumption is declining. To enable the sector to deal with this situation, the 3L project (Living Lab on Rabbits) aims to propose innovations using the living lab method which put all actors, consumers and producers at the centre of the research process.

. © INRA
Updated on 07/24/2018
Published on 06/26/2018

For several years now, rabbit producers have being experiencing difficulties due to declining consumption. In parallel, demands from society have increased regarding animal welfare and the conditions under which rabbits are reared. Initiatives have emerged and already enabled some changes to their housing, such as modular enclosures or collective pens. However, it still remains difficult to disseminate these changes because of a lack of information for, and the involvement of, consumers. Collective efforts involving the entire production and consumption chain are therefore necessary, focusing on animal welfare in rabbit farms.

The 3L project (Living Lab Lapin) aims to design socially acceptable rabbit rearing systems using the Living Lab method. This method, recommended by the French Ministry of Agriculture in its “Agriculture Innovation 2025” report, consists in placing users at the centre of the research system so as to generate innovations that will correspond to their demands. The aim is therefore to design innovations that will allow rabbits to better express their specific behaviours (standing on their hind legs, gnawing, leaping, etc.). These will be tested at the PECTOUL Experimental Unit and then evaluated/discussed/validated by different actors with potentially divergent points of view: representatives of the production sector (farmers, breeders, feed companies, etc.), downstream industry (slaughterers, distributors) and NGOs involved in defending animal rights. The decision-making process which enables a path towards a compromise between these different actors will be supported by a multicriteria assessment of the consequences of the innovations on animal welfare and the sustainability of the systems. The innovations will finally be tested under real-life conditions; i.e. in a commercial rearing facility in the Occitanie region.

This three-year project (2018-2021) with a budget of €534,000 is being led by the INRA-INP-ENSAT-ENVT Joint Research Unit GenPhySE (Genetics, Physiology and Livestock Systems) in collaboration with the INRA-INP Joint Research Unit AGIR (Agroecology – Innovations Territories).

It is being supported by the Occitanie Regional Council, the European FEDER fund and the Interprofessional Rabbit Committee for the Promotion of French Products (CLIPP). It has also received practical contributions from the local producer organization “Occitanie Rabbit Group” (trial under real-life conditions) and the company Arterris (measurements in the slaughter house).