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Who on here raises rabbits in a colony. Is it inside or outside? How do you protect them from predators? How well do they produce? I am wanting to put in a colony to raise rabbits for meat for my table. I think it would be more natural for them to be in a colony. I am starting from scratch, so any help, pictures, or info from some of you who do it would be greatly appreciated. I have raised in cages in the past, but I think I would rather do a colony this time around. Thanks in advance. Marilyn
 

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I'll add more later, when I have time.

I've been raising rabbits in family colonies for years, outside in all-wire pens with tarp roofs. A solar powered electronet fence from Premier has kept them safe - no losses. I've had this particular set-up for about 4 years. The pens measure 4 feet by 8 feet, and are tall enough, with the pitched roof for me to stand in. Pens have wire floors to prevent digging.

I do NOT just stick random rabbits together. I use one bonded male/female pair per pen. The breed is Champagne d'Argent. Never had an issue with the buck of this breed turning agressive on young kits. My does almost always give me 8 or 9 healthy kits. Kits are removed for butchering before or at the point of sexual maturity (very important). I usually have a pack of juveniles running around, and a younger litter of kits in the nest. I make wooden boxes for shelter, climbing, privacy, and nesting. The pens get quiet crouded with all the young rabbits, but everyone always seems contented and healthy. They are fun to watch. I go in everyday and pet them while feeding, so they are not hard to catch when it comes time to butcher.

Besides pellets, I feed lots of weeds, and all the hay the goats waste. This surplus vegetation gets scattered around the floor, making deep litter system. Thus, the floor of the pen is always fresh. About once a month I clean the pens and toss the partially composted hay layers to the chickens. This material is full of bugs, and the chickens appreciate the snack.
 

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Thank you so much for your reply. That sounds like something I could manage. That is exactly what I was wanting to know.
 

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Colonies are so easy to manage. I would highly suggest them to anyone who has a place to put one up. They hardest part is sorting out bunnies to keep/give away/butcher/sell every couple of months. You have to catch them and sex them then decide who is a keeper and who is going to another purpose.
 

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Sorry I just wanted to be able to follow this thread because I've wanted to do the same thing. I wish I knew about colonies when I started.
 

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I am far from an expert having just started my rabbitry this past March but I like my colony. Started with a male and a female and have since added 2 more doe and a buck. ( dog got a hold of one doe so currently 2 adults of each...). Had absolutely no issues introducing new rabbits to the colony. Did so on two separate occasions- once a buck, next time two doe; no issues.

5 babies in there now too and doing great.

My colony is approx 33'x26'. 4' fencing on sides, no roof. I have a few boxes for cover as well as an oldish dog house. I also discarded our old Christmas tree in there and they love it.

I highly suggest fencing the ground. I didn't originally and lost my first litter to drowning following heavy rains and had them burrow over 12' under my barn to wind up in my chicken run... Not cool! So I laid out fencing on the ground and allowing grass to grow through.

Have some cinder blocks to allow areas to get off the dirt but they rarely use them.

I allowed the grass at one to grow tall and they had tunnels through it and foraged well on the various grasses growing in there.

The photos show most of their area.

The fencing inside is where I have planted kale, spinach and lettuce.


ImageUploadedByHomesteading Today1413380038.930027.jpg

ImageUploadedByHomesteading Today1413379359.495039.jpg
 

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Nice setup JD! I might lift some ideas from you.

I ve had colonies for years. Ive done it outside and in a building with concrete floor. PITA to shovel out the bedding. I run a cull colony now on dirt. They have tunnels dug. Dog house tops for shelter. Its under a tree. We have dogs so no predator issues. I feed them pellets that same as the caged ones, they just also get whatever other garden trash I have to offer plus unlimited hay. Right now my colony is all bucks and one crabby old sterile doe.

When I did it in the building it was for breeding. One buck to 6-10 does. If the nest boxes werent covered, the buck would hump the does while they were nursing and stomp the babies to death. Also multiple does would birth in the same box even tho there were more boxes than does, so I would end up with 30 babies in one nest and half would smother and die.

If the babies werent removed by 4 weeks old, mom would rebirth in the same nest and the 4 week old babies would keep going in there and stomp the new litter to death.

Things worked alot better with trios or 1 buck with 3 does. But if the groups are that small, might as well just raise them in cages. IMO

Now I just use my colony for culls.
 

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Do the rabbits go hide at night? Do possums or ***** bother them? I figured I would have to put a top on the pen. Love the set ups you show. Thanks,
 

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No to both questions patches. I have not had any issues, yet. I usually see them out and about at night when I go look in on them.

My babies are less than a month old and have moved out if the "nest " box in their own . They are acting basically just like the adults now...

I forgot in the previous post that you asked about feed... I give them a few scoops of pellets daily. And sometimes sunflower seed , and/or cracked corn and/or chicken scratch grains. The grain and seed is not daily but about every third day if so. Now without the weeds growing on the end I try to keep hay and alfalfa in there at all times. When the grass is growing good I don't worry as much about it.
 

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Wow, thanks for all the info all. I pick my rabbits up Thursday and while they will have to stay in a cage for a little while, I am definitely going to start building their colony! Love the pictures.
 
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