rabbit tractor

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Al. Countryboy, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    My 10 young bunnies have been in a rabbit tractor for a week and everything seems to be going ok except I would like to change the wheels where the tractor will lift a little higher off the ground when I move it each day. I remember someone posting pictures of one that when you picked up on the handles the wheels would be pushed down making the tractor higher off the ground and easy to move. Anyone have any ideas where I may find these pictures that was posted? I think that they were posted in February. Thanks
     
  2. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I remember reading about that kind of rabbit tractor but even with doing a Google search I was unable to find the article again. Some man out west, as I recall, who has a couple of self-published books on pasturing rabbits and chickens. I wish now I had paid more attention. Seems to me that there was some kind of lever to raise the tractor up while moving and then down again over the wheels when stationary.

    I want a couple of rabbit tractors for growing out fryers, but I intend to put mine on skis. I can get slis at the thrift shops for a couple of dollars and I figure it will be easier than messing about with wheels and axels. Our land is fairly level so I don't think gaps will be a problem.
     

  3. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for looking. I was sure that someone here posted the picture. As you picked up on the handles it pushed down on the other end bringing the tires off the ground. This allowed the cage to lay flat on the ground until moving. Mine is at the most 2 inches off the ground on the end where the tires are and then lays flat pretty much the rest of the way. It is a little hard to move since the grass is getting taller. I want to build another one and will keep looking. My 10 bunnies that are in the tractor are 7 weeks old and are really growing. They are eating at least 1/3 the amount of pellets as before and are always glad to see me coming to move their tractor to a new grassy spot. They have a 4X8ft. area to eat, run and play and seem very happy. They might would be growing a little faster if just eating pellets, but I don't mine waiting a little longer on them.
     
  4. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That sounds great... and if they are eating so little purchased food you are ahead moneywise even if they do take a little longer to finish. And what a nice life for them... I always feel a bit sorry for cage-raised fryers who do not even get a chance to run on the ground and nibble grass. Did yours have any trouble adjusting to the increased greens in their diet?

    I wonder why more people don't use rabbit tractors?
     
  5. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    I was giving greens to the mom and as they started jumping out of their nest they would eat a little grass that was mainly winter rye. I watched them close and no one scoured and still hasn't. They went into the tractor at 5 weeks and of coarse the grass from where they first started is tall again and gets shorter as it gets closer to the tractor. What is really funny is that you can tell exactly where they pee in each of the earlier spots they were on because the grass is real green and taller. They seem to use the same spot of the tractor each day even if they are moved around.
     
  6. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    Well, it is kind of a "new" idea for many folks. Most rabbits, are, after all, raised in cages. Jockeying a rabbit tractor *is* more labor intensive than taking care of caged rabbits too. And in any *business*, labor is one of the highest expenses. (Some commercial facilities are pretty-high tech: automatic feeding, watering, and waste removal.)

    I sure like my tractors though: we have two now (yay) and plan to build more. I still haven't figured out how to keep the crazy things from squeezing out. If the pasture isn't flat, they find every little hole. Sure don't want to lay down chicken wire over the whole pasture like some people have done. Thinking about adding a chicken wire collar to rest on the ground around the outside edge of the rabbit tractor.

    By the way, pasturing has gotten some attention from academia! World Rabbit Science published a paper by Dr. James McNitt (yup, as in the book "Rabbit Production") on a pastured rabbit operation in Maryland. (Visit www.rumblewayfarm.com)
     
  7. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for posting about this, Rabbitgal. Could you tell us a little more about the design of your tractors? Or maybe post a picture?

    I am thinking of putting my tractor on a pair of thrift-shop skis. It should slide along the ground quite easily. But like you, I am still working on how to keep the bunnies from squeezing out. Our ground is quite flat, but it's NOT a bowling green.
     
  8. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    I've been considering the rabbit tractor thing, too. I thought maybe 2 x 4 welded wire closing off the bottom of the tractor might work well. Much of the grass would poke through the holes to be eaten, but the rabbits couldn't dig out. Has anyone tried this?
     
  9. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Well-Known Member

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    I'm almost done my rabbit tractor, Thanks Maggie for the idea!
    16' long, 6' wide, and includes a 6' x 6' covered "house". I have 2 females and a male.
    Here's my questions.......
    -Will they fight, as the male will be expected to be in it continuously.
    -Any ideas on SIMPLE nest boxes? The house section has no floor, and sadly with my rustic design won't be able to have one! It was for ducks but isn't big enough.
    -Will they dig out within 24 hours? If I leave for a weekend... Will I have no rabbits left? Eek. Didn't think of this.
    BTW, I screwed an old pair of skis to the 2x16's, and this heavy beast slides like a dream. By hand that is.
     
  10. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Farmer Joe, glad to know the skis work well! I think Laura has the right idea for preventing escapees... 2"x4" or maybe 4"x4" wire on the bottom. After all, to bunnies raised in cages it will still seem like paradise.

    Your tractor is HUGE! Maybe you could partition it so that the buck and does are not constantly together, but can still socialize through the wire. Might save a lot of headaches. As for simple nest boxes, a wooden box about 24"x18" should be sufficient for a doe and her kits. Open at one end but with a bit of a lip to keep the kits in until they can move about easily. It would need a floor so that the kits would not be hurt when you move the tractor. You would need to raise it a couple inches above ground level, I think. Gee, I sure do wish we had a PLAN to work from!
     
  11. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    My tractor is 4ft. X 8ft. and is the shape of a triangle(A frame). The roof comes about half way down on each side for protection from the sun and rain. I do have a bottom in mine which is 4X4 inch squares. My bunnies are 7 weeks old and so far haven't gotten out. I do move the tractor each day and they really nip the grass down. I rally don't mind moving the tractor each day and only move it 8 ft. Two wheels on one end and handles on the other. Just like a two wheeled wheelbarrow. I read where to try to keep it in a different place each day and try not to go over the same area too often to keep down disease. I was concerned about all the grass that they are eating would mess up the tommies, but so far after two weeks I have have no problems other than the first few days when I first started moving the tractor I would have to go very slow to keep the bunnies from getting their feet cought in the 4x4 inch squares while moving the cage. Now just about all of them run and jump in their box when I start to move it.
     
  12. Wildtim

    Wildtim Well-Known Member

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    you could hinge a moving dollie/ hand truck to the handle end pull on it and it would automaticly tip the tractor up on the back weels plus lift the front end onto wheels as well for easy rolling.
     
  13. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Al, I'm glad to know the 4"x4" wire is working on your tractor... and that the bunnies soon learn to hop out of the way when the tractor is in motion.

    I have a British set of bound animal care booklets from the early Forties. I find this very useful for rabbits becasue it predates pellet feeds. It says that if a rabbit suffers from scours, feed it only hay and bran for a few days along with a small quantity of the weed Shepherd' Purse - any of the above ground parts.

    Shepherds Purse is also on the booklet's list of approved green fodder, along with dandelions, plantain, grass (best nibbled on the spot rather than clippings as it heats up fast once cut) and clover. I figure feeding a little Shepherd's Purse to rabbits during their first week in the tractor might be good insurance against scours.

    I very much want to get back to a more natural way of feeding rabbits. I'm still feeding pellets, but hope that I will be able to learn enough this year to gradually phase them out. Rabbit tractors are certainly a step in that direction.