Greenhouses [LONG}

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Tracy, Oct 29, 2004.

  1. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    I have been so busy that I havent had a whole lot of time to post the last few months.

    A year or so we had a descussion on the board about housing rabbits in a green house and I am finally almost there. I found a 120 x 20 greenhous eon EBAY for $800.00. It was a complet unit except for the plasic covering. Has Fans, doors, etc. This weekend hopefully it will be up.

    I would appreciate input from other who have tried this or even use green houses for growing. What I see will be the biggest problem is heat/humidity in the summer months. My plan is to use a shades cloth over the plasic in the summer and also equip the sides to roll up for plenty of cross ventilation Also it does have a huge fan so this should also help with air flow. Am I missing somethin obvious?

    The pluses I will be plenty of natural lighting and also we will be able to heat this in the winter months off of a taylor outdoor wood stove so I will be able to use automatic watering systems year long. Something till now I could not do in the main barn with cold PA winters.

    I would like to frame in uner the cages and establish warm bins which eventually will be a seperate income source as well as the comopsted manure.

    I am even thinking of growing something in hanging baskets above the cages that could be used as a supplemental food source. Rabbit pellets would still be the main diet. Any suggestions as far as what could be grown?

    Tracy
     
  2. Hoofy

    Hoofy Member

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    Why don't you try sweet potatoes?
    The vines are dearly loved by my buns, not to mention the taters themselves...just feed small slices occassionally as a treat.
    Or may be some type of ivy, or climbing false buckwheat, or grape vines, blackberry vines, climbing roses, anything that your buns enjoy.....I have experimented with feeding wild foods that I forage for the buns and have had EXCELLENT results. Of course this difficult when you get a larger number of rabbits....right now I have 41.....up from 11 in April!!!! :yeeha: And that was breeding only 6 does, and losing 2 full litters. My babbies are WAY bigger than their Moms & Pops, I think due to what I have fed?????? :confused:
    Other ideas include: carrot tops, alfalfa, clover, GRASS, Giant Ragweed (if you're not allergic :haha: ....my rabbits ADORE this and RIOT when I bring it in!!!)
    All of this has worked on MY rabbits, but I am NOT an expert, and do not intend to provide professional advice, and is based purely on personal experience.....

    Do be aware that rabbits are prone to pnemonia and high humidity is NOT good for them......
     

  3. Hoofy

    Hoofy Member

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    I see you are the MODERATER of this forum, therefore you probably know more than I do about whereof I speak....please forgive!!! :eek:
     
  4. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Hoofy,

    No need to apologize. Even people with lots of experience can stil learn. I always say there is not one way tor raise a rabbit and what works for me might not work for someone else.

    You sweet potoato idea is a good one as I like the look of the vines but not sure if they would grow in the colder months up here. I want to keep the greenhouse heated above freezing to keep the watering system from freezing but it wont be real warm, probably about 45 degrees. Might have to hold off on growing things till spring.

    You are right abiout the humidity and heat. This will kill a rabbit faster then the cold ever will. I spoke with a green house rep yesetrday and they make an opaque covering that will filter out 80% of the uv rays but still allow natural lighting. We will equip the sides to roll up so in the nicer months this will help with humidity levels and also cross air flow.

    Would like to hear from any one who has actually done this so I am not missing something obvious.
     
  5. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    What do you consider to be "high humidity"?
     
  6. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Tracy,
    I'm curious also about reading your greenhousing idea. Sounds quite feasable with the u.v. filtering cloth. How much more cost does that add?
    Also, what advantage is there with a greenhouse rather than say a pole building?
    I guess growing in the greenhouse and maybe vermiculture could go along with it? I don't know much about any of this. I'm just thinking of possible hidden problems in containing bunnies in a greenhouse environment and possilby the aspect about the plastic covering being subject to wind damage or less durable, etc. Also, wouldn't this covering be more prone to having varmints coming in?
    IF you have to recover it periodically, that adds considerable cost over time, corrrect?

    Rich
     
  7. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    Linda,
    Being in Texas I am sure you deal with the humidity heat issues more then I do in PA. I would consider the humidity to high in a greenehouse if there is condensation on the plastic.

    Rich,
    A typical pole building costs about $7000 if not more. The other issue is property taxes. Any time you put up a permanent structure taxes increase. A greenhouse is not considered permanent so will not increase taxes.

    I got this greenhouse off ebay for $800.00. We had to pick it up and rented a 24 foot truck and this was another $700.00 plus gas so total cost with out the plastic was roughly $1600.00. I am estimating the plastic and shades cloth will cost about $500. The life on this is 5 years.

    The other option down the road is to do some type of canvas covering which has a 15 year life if not more but costs would be more.

    Rodents could be an issue but honestly I am not that concerned, I have barn cats that keep the rodents down and also good managemanet with feed [storing in closed containers] is key.

    I will be having a greenhouse rep here this week once the hoops are up and they will recomeend what type of plasic should be used for this region with the snow, winds, etc. Also being that we will be keeping this heated I am hoping the snow will stay melted so not a heavy load.

    This will take some experimenting but I really think it will be feasabile. :)
     
  8. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    There is a book, Solviva, by Anna Edey. She has done extensive hands-on research about chickens and rabbits in the greenhouse. Each animal creates about 8 btu/# of body weight. I love this book. This lady thinks totally out of the box. She has a number of really elegant solutions to some of today's problems.

    In spring, I will have both rabbits and chickens. I will build some little hoophouse coops, made with cattle or hog panels, covered with shade cloth in full (rabbits) or in part. I will have some hanging nest boxes that are accessible from the outside. I got the idea off one of the threads here. The chickens will have an entire dwarf orchard to roam in during the summer. I hope to put the chicks in at about 2-3 weeks. I can treat this as a tractor and keep it close to the house while they are still tiny, then out to the orchard until they can be let loose later. We have a red-tail family in the neighborhood as well as a fox family. The fence around the orchard will be stout, and will also probably have bird netting over the top

    In winter (about late Nov -Apr 1) they will live in my greenhouse which is a 10 x 45' canopy that looks (to them) like the cattle panel coops. They should provide enough heat and fertilizer to keep the gh from hard freezes. They also breath out CO2 and the plants will put out O2. Even so, I will probably have to work out something for ventilation.Iwill use the gh for holding tender plants, and growing salad greens for winter consumption. I have a small potting bench in there to use on chilly days. I will send along pictures one day. (still working out the system with the digital)

    In the spring I will get a head start with veggie and flower sets.

    In the summer I will grow peppers, eggplants and some tomatoes. Both ends will be open, and the sides rolled up.

    I also have a 36"x 12' mist bed in the gh with a heated cable. This will root evergreen cuttings, etc. for my little plant business. I love to be able to work out multiple purposes for a space.

    Hope this inspires...

    Sandi
     
  9. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I will only be keeping the rabbits (few) in during the winter, and will have a garbage can full of leaf mulch handy. Using the redworms should keep things reasonable. I will rake it out once in awhile to fertilize the summer growing beds.

    I have roll-up sides, and the end doors come off in May.

    Tracey, where do you live in PA? Do you let guests come to visit for a day? I would love to see what you have and talk about this whole rabbit thing, as well as maybe buying some babies in the spring. I will be very understanding if you must answer no.

    Sandi
     
  10. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    When you set up your heating stove, remember that both rabbits and fire need a good source of oxygen.
     
  11. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    Sandi,

    I am in NW PA and farm visits are fine. Email me if you would like to come out sometime.

    Terri,

    This is a Taylor outdoor stove. We used this to heat the house last year but personally I did not like it. We are putting a regular Vermont Casting wood stove in the house for the primary source of heat and oil will be the back up. The outdoor woodstove will be used to heat my shop and also the greenhouse. Being that we do not need to keep this as warm as the house the wood consumption with the Taylor should be far less then maintaining the house at 70 degrees. This operates with a furnace and that will be what is inside the greenhouse not the actual wood stove.

    It is getting there with construction. Everything is squared and the posts are set for the hoops to go into. Next step is preasure treated lumber for the skirting and then the hoops will go up. Hopefully another day or so. Electric line is ready also. Next step will be installing the plastic.

    Once it is all set up I will post pictures if someone tells me how to do it.
     
  12. blanknoone

    blanknoone Member

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    Before I make a few points, let me point out that I have absolutely no experience with rabbits...I am here to learn.

    About the greenhouses, some points to consider. You may want to consider siting it such that deciduous trees are just south of it (or planting some there). This may cut down on the wind loads, and provide some shade in the summer while letting the light in during the cold months.

    If you are going to be spending capital, I like to see it used to its maximum. I would seriously consider a bench type greenhouse tables with some sort of plants on it. If nothing else, you could plant something like winter rye just so your rabbits get a little something green in the winter, but I am sure you could come up with something to grow. Given that you are keeping it above freezing, or at least above a hard frost, you have all sorts of relatively cold weather plant options. Think lettuce or maybe broccoli or spinach or brussel sprouts or something. Then hang the rabbit cages under tables with the plants.

    The plants will do two things...produce oxygen (good) and produce humidity (bad). Between the plants and the rabbits, it might very much help to have some deep bedding of something with a lot of Carbon. This would really help the humidity down as almost any of these are relatively dry and absorbent. If you keep chickens, you may really benefit from having them in there scratching around. It would help mix the rabbit droppings with the bedding as well as keep insects down. You may want to have little with cages immediately under the rabbits to keep some earthworms in there. That way the most moist spot is where the earthworms are...and they will be constantly be breeding and migrating into the bedding where chickens can get them.

    Building a greenhouse and keeping it warm through the winter is a big effort...I would try to use it to its maximum.