Splay Leg in a Dutch Laboratory Rabbit Colony: Detection Methods and Effective Elimination Procedure



In rabbits, especially in some races, limb movement disorder called splay legs, are mostly unilateral or bilateral in front or hind legs at an early age. The severity ranges from mild to severe in this case. In breeding colony of albino Dutch laboratory rabbits, the splay leg disorder has been observed over the years permanently.Within the scope of this research, 1.5-2.5% of 700-750 number of colonies population, were affected. Splay legs were observed in 20-50 days old infants of both sexes. According to breeding system in metallic cages, it was thought that the mechanical trauma and damage to limbs has been the main cause of this problem. In this study, the accurate survey in histopathology and radiography of suffering organs was performed but any agent was seen. As some nutritional deficiencies lead to muscular atrophy and paralysis, feed analysis was also performed. In analysis of nutrients, all of the nutritional factors were in normal ranges. As is regarded, in laboratory rabbits especially in Dutch strain, effect of hereditary factors to creation of the splay legs, are listed in some valid reports. During the 8 gestation periods in 2 years, suffering infants with their apparently healthy family (other infants and their parents) that could act as gene carriers were identified and eliminated. After the next four gestation periods, the colony was controlled again. During this time, no case of affected animal was seen. With this action, the percentage of splay leg observation have reached to zero and it was completely eliminated.