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Dott.ssa Chiara Munari

Phd thesis

Under intensive rabbit farming, the most widespread reproductive rhythm practiced is based on artificial insemination performed at around 11 days postpartum simultaneously with intramuscular administration of GnRH to induce ovulation, which involves double containment of the animal. This commercial breeding system is well adapted to cycled production, but it does not take into account the reproductive physiology of the doe, so it results in high production rates, but requires high yearly replacement of animals that cannot sustain the enormous energy demand. Moreover, current housing systems do not allow animals to express the typical behavioural pattern of the species, with presence of abnormal behaviours that contribute to increase stress levels, reducing welfare. As a consequence of the combination of this different factors (invasive techniques, intensive rhythm and reduced housing space), rabbit does show a relatively short reproductive carrier, being not able to compensate the enormous demand of energy during reproductive cycles.

Housing animals in cages more respectful of their behavioural nature, together with the extensification of the rhythm and animal-friendly practices could allow better animal welfare, with a positive impact also on performances.

Having the above mentioned as guidelines, the present PhD Thesis was conformed with the goal of proposing alternative solutions that can be adopted under intensive farming conditions in order to have an improvement in welfare and consequently an extension of the reproductive career of rabbit does, such as the use of less invasive techniques for the induction of ovulation, directly diluting GnRH into the seminal dose, or the adoption of alternative housing systems instead of conventional cages currently utilized, together with an extensification of the reproductive rhythm.

Research activities


Evaluation of rabbit production and welfare



Munari C, Ponzio P, Alkhawagah AR, Schiavone A, Mugnai C. (2019). Effects of an intravaginal GnRH analogue administration on rabbit reproductive parameters and welfare. Theriogenology 125:122-128. 

Munari C, Mugnai C, Braconnier M, Toscano MJ, Gebhardt-Henrich SG. (2020). Effect of different management protocols for grouping does on aggression and dominance hierarchies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 227:104999.

Munari C, Ponzio P, Macchi E, Elkhawagah AR, Tarantola M, Ponti G, Mugnai C. (2020). A multifactorial evaluation of different reproductive rhythms and housing systems for improving welfare in rabbit does. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 230:105047.

Braconnier M, Munari C, Gómez Y, Gebhardt-Henrich SG. (2020). Grouping of breeding rabbit does at different time points: effects on fertility, mortality and weight. World Rabbit Science 28:73-80.



Ponzio P, Mugnai C, Munari C, Alkhawagah AR, Macchi E, Vincenti L. Effect of a GnRH intravaginal administration on semen quality and reproductive performances of rabbit does. National LXXIII SISVet Congress, 19th -22nd June 2019, Olbia, Italy. ORAL PRESENTATION

Munari C, Ponzio P, Alkhawagah AR, Schiavone A, Mugnai C. Effect of lecirelin acetate intravaginal administration on rabbit reproductive parameters and welfare. 17th International Conference on Production Diseases in Farm Animals, 27th -29th June 2019, Bern, Switzerland. ORAL PRESENTATION

Mugnai C, Salio C, Munari C, Aimar P, Falzone M, Pastorino P, Sicuro B. Preliminary results of fishmeal substitution with insect meal (Hermetia illucens) on Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus) feeding: effect on gut health, reproductive parameters and water quality. ESVCN Congress, 18-20 September 2019, Turin, Italy. ORAL PRESENTATION

Munari C, Mugnai C, Braconnier M, Toscano MJ, Gebhardt-Henrich SG. Effect of different management schedules for grouping rabbit does on aggression and dominance hierarchies. 12th World Rabbit Congress, Nantes 1-3 July 2020. Postponed to 2021. ORAL PRESENTATION

Munari C, Ponzio P, Macchi E, Elkhawagah AR, Tarantola M, Ponti G, Mugnai C. Effect of housing system and reproductive rhythm on rabbit does welfare: preliminary implications on reproductive, behavioural and physiological traits. 12th World Rabbit Congress, Nantes 1-3 July 2020. Postponed to 2021. POSTER



Summer School "Meat Production Safety and Health". (June 4-9th 2018, University of Padova, Italy)

6th Mediterranean Poultry Summit. (18-20th June 2018, Turin, Italy)

Research days oral presentation "Una gabbia per l'allevamento cunicolo più rispettoso del benessere animale". (20th July 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

17th International Conference on Production Diseases in Farm Animals. (27-29th June 2019, Bern, Switzerland)


Attended Seminars and Workshops


Year 2017/2018

Seminar ECM "Using insects in animal feed: state of the art and perspectives". (13th October 2017, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy) 

Journal Club "Machine Learning for Biomedical Data", Dott.ssa Irene Azzali. (17th October 2017, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy) 

Seminar "Luminex multiplex technology: principles, methods and applicants in Veterinary".  (31th October 2017, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy) 

Seminar "L' allevamento biologico migliora l' impatto ambientale?". (3rd November 2017, Lodi, Italy).

Journal Club "Neurological clinical signs in cattle with astrovirus-associated encephalitis", Dott. ssa Giulia Cagnotti. (9th November 2017, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Biosensor assays in veterinary medicine". (13th November 2017, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Overview on poultry production and management: intensive vs extensive farming systems". (27th November 2017, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Gut health in animal production". (2nd February, 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Why non-rodent, domestic and wild animals models are needed for study brain plasticity", Prof. Luca Bonfanti. (14th February 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy) 

Seminar ECM "Approcci diagnostici ed emergenze sanitarie delle specie avicole e del coniglio da carne e d' affezione". (22th February 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Research Days of  Veterinary Science Department. (7-8th March 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Annual conference ASIC (Associazione Scientifica Italiana di Coniglicoltura) (6th April 2018, Perugia, Italy)

Seminar "Practical aspects of pharmacokinetics in veterinary pharmacology", Dr. Andrejs Sitov, University of Riga-Lettonia. (12th April 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Itay)

Seminar ECM "Pet food tra nutrizione tecnologia e comunicazione". (15th May 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Research Days of Veterinary Science Department. (19-20th July 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

"D-day" organized by the Doctoral School, Dept. Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences. (13th September 2018, Via Nizza 52, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Uncovering the hidden treasures: a philosophical approach can ease the food security challenge", Dr. Abdul Raziq. (24th September 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Itay)

Seminar "Species identification of food of animal origin",  Prof. Alessandra Dalmasso. (28th September 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy) 


Year 2018/2019

Journal Club " Big data analytics and precision animal agriculture symposium: Machine learning and data mining advance predictive big data analysis in precision animal agriculture", Dr. Francesca Abbona. (22th October 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Workshop "Il Fundraising per progetti di ricerca: un'opportunità da cogliere". (24th October 2018, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Acquacoltura per creazione di start up per studenti", Dr. Benedetto Sicuro. (5th November 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy) 

Convention "La sicurezza alimentare nella filiera dei mangimi: efficienza ed efficacia dell'autocontrollo e del controllo ufficiale", Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d'Aosta. (13th November 2018, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy) 

Lesson on risk assessment for Speciality School, Visiting Professor Lis Alban. (25th January 2019, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Lotta all' antibiotico resistenza, esperienze internazionali e progetti di campo", Visiting Professor Lis Alban. (28th January 2019, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Camel adaptation to heat and water deprivation stresses", Prof. Achaaban. (3rd April 2019, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Vector-borne diseases surveillance: an opportunity for putting One Health into practice", Dr. Laura Tomassone. (16th April 2019, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Are you ready to publish? Understanding the publishing process", Dr. Massimiliano Bearzot. (15th May 2019, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Experimental embriology in a sheep model", Dr. Paola Toschi. (18th September 2019, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)


Year 2019/2020

Seminar "Horizon Europe and Project Writing". (25th October 2019, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "Engaged research in a PhD research". (4th November 2019, Turin, Italy)

Laurea honoris causa Emiliana Brocchi e Uriel Dan Kitron. (11th February 2020, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)

Seminar "The ecology and control of sarcoptic mange in wombats". (11th February 2020, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy)


Attended Lectures

Intensive course of German language (Level A1) organized by the Doctoral School in collaboration with DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). 8-23th January 2018, Turin

Norms on animal testing and management of animal facilities,  Prof. ssa Flavia Girolami

Management of Data of Veterinary interest, Prof. Mario Giacobini

Image acquisition, manipulation and final figure preparation, Prof. Paolo Accornero

Scientific writing, Prof. Carlo Nebbia

Evaluation of research and third mission, Prof. Luca Bonfanti

Ricerche bibliografiche, Prof. Paolo Gardois/Nicoletta Colombi

The use of GIS in animal disease response, online course organized by IZSVe

Writing in Science, online course, Stanford University

Statistics for Medical Professionals, online course, Stanford University

Course of Scientific English, Dr. Alice Spencer


Stays abroad

15th June - 13th September: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Centre for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ), Bern (Switzerland) under the supervision of Professor Hanno Würbel and Dr. Sabine Gebhardt-Henrich



Last update: 01/07/2020 16:48

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