It is a small industry doing great harm, it appears, to rabbits raised in cages for their meat.
Animal Liberation filmed a rabbit farm in the Western Australian suburb of Baldivis and what it found it called ‘absolutely horrific’.
“I think it’s one of those industries that the public is just completely aware that it even exists,” Emma Hurst said.
The footage revealed dead rabbits left in their cages above mountains of manure.
At another farm in Tasmania, the conditions appear worse.
Wire floors make even standing painful for these naturally curious, roaming creatures.
At both locations rabbits can be seen missing fur in tiny, filthy cages.
“We’re used to seeing rabbits at people’s houses as a companion animal, and because people have that interaction with rabbits they know they know they have intelligence, you know, social needs.”
Rabbit is game meat, popular in Europe, where farming is big business.
Some of Australia’s biggest rabbit farms are in NSW and Victoria, producing about 30,000 rabbits a yea.
A female rabbit can be farmed for up to 56 weeks, producing nine litters.
“We would encourage industry to look at non-caged systems and particularly with rabbits, there might be opportunities for the animals to housed in small compatible social groups, on the ground, in litter with tunnels for behavioural enrichment,” RSPCA NSW chief David O’Shannessy said.
They have been inspected and cleared by the RSPCA but critics argue it is simply a cruel practice and Independent MP Alex Greenwich says he will move to have it banned.
“We hope to engage in public awareness about this cruel form of factory farming and introduce legislation this year into parliament, and work with our colleagues across the political spectrum to get this through,” he said.
Woolworths is considering banning caged rabbit meat from its supermarkets.
Just as battery hens are being phased out, animal activists say no rabbit in Australia should live like this.