another weird idea for rabbit community

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Paul Wheaton, Dec 7, 2004.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I keep going back and forth on ideas for raising rabbits.

    Raising them in little cages just doesn't sit well with me. I want to give them something close to their natural habitat and at the same time be able to harvest them a bunch at a time. I also want to keep them out of everything else.

    It seems that their natural thing is to burrow and eat grass.

    How deep would they dig?

    I wonder if I were to bury chicken wire three feet deep and set up a quarter acre ....

    Well, it's an idea. I'm just curious if it might be worth trying or if it might just be a terrible idea.
     
  2. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Although, I am not an expert, I would have to ask are you interested in having a rabbit preserve or raising them to eat? With the work and expenditure of resources to do what you are talking about you could just set aside that money and buy many years of rabbit meat. There of course will be a problem with inbreeding also I would suspect. Seems awful risky for a tad of meat.
     

  3. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I figure that this sort of setup might be cheaper than a bunch of hutches.

    I hadn't thought about the inbreeding problem. Hmmm.....
     
  4. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

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    Have you checked out this link http://homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=43656 ? This person seems to be haveing some success. We raise ours in cages to prevent disease and to control matings. Sometimes we let them out into a pen i made out of fencing so they can play in the grass. Good luck
     
  5. Vera

    Vera Well-Known Member

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    I've been keeping mine in assorted pens, mostly because I don't like the idea of cages either. However, over the summer, I put the little ones in grazing cages (4x2) to fatten them on my abundant weeds.

    One pen is 7x7, chainlink on 3 sides, wall on the 4th, a roof, and a concrete floor. The bottom 1 1/2 feet of chainlink has chickenwire added to keep the babies in. There are two houses/nestboxes with straw, and I also put straw on the floor. Feed is hay by the bale (needs some sort of rack to keep the rabbits from tearing it apart too quick and wasting it), and there's a water tub for water.
    The pen is predator-proof, easy to keep clean, offers sufficient protection from the weather, and there's enough room for the rabbits to run and play. Plus they're easy to catch.

    I kept another batch of rabbits in with the chickens who have a coop and a 24x24 run that's fenced top, bottom and sides. The bottom wire went in when the rabbits started to dig. Not sure if your 3 feet of wire in the ground would do the job, but I wouldn't take the risk. 2" chickenwire, tied together at the seams and staked securely at the edges of the pen, will work fine and is less work.

    Since rabbits can clean a patch of ground of all greens in no time, putting them on a quarter acre simply means that you'll have a butt-naked quarter acre with lots of manure shortly after setting the whole thing up. I'd go with smaller pens with concrete floors or whatever you can rake and hose off frequently for sanitation. Put straw on the concrete, and they'll be comfy. Various pens of this sort mean separate families of rabbits which cuts down on inbreeding.
    My does will share a nestbox, but it's best to put in one box per doe. They breed as nature dictates, which is another benefit IMO.

    I've found rabbits to be curious, social critters who seem to do very well in a setting where they can interact with each other. Not that this is the most professional way to raise rabbits, but I want them to be healthy and happy from birth to butchering, and mine are. I'm getting plenty of meat and really nifty fur colors (Heinz 57 stock), so the setup seems to be working great.
    If you want them to have fresh greens, you can also put them in a "chicken tractor" of sorts that you move from spot to spot before they eat an area down to the roots. I'd think that something about 4x6 feet would be sufficient for one buck and two does if you offer them a second level (like the roof of the next box area) so they have some extra "floor space". This, incidentally, is the best way to spread bunny manure all over your place without having to do any shoveling :)
     
  6. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    If you put them out in pens be sure to consider predators. When we had outdoor rabbits we had bobcats, coyotes, hawks and owls hanging around.
     
  7. nans31

    nans31 Well-Known Member

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    I think along the same lines as you do Paul. I'd love to be able to raise the rabbits a more natural habitat, but-- not realistic for me. I am thinking about doing something like what you are talking about for my "retired" does. If they work good for me, I'd love for them to spend the rest of their time hopping on grass and eating the acre of blackberry bushes I have! Realistic? I dunno, but I've been thinking of it. It would be worth the effort and expense in my opinion.
    nan