Set them free!!

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by littlebitfarm, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. littlebitfarm

    littlebitfarm Scotties rule! Supporter

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    I've been reading about raising rabbits in colonies and decided to give it a try. I turned my 3 does and 1 buck loose in a stall in my old barn. The stall has a concrete floor and has oak kick boards along the walls. I added chicken wire in front of the doors. Put a dish of pellets in the middle and hung a couple 2 L waterers on the side. The floor has about 8 inches of hay on it.

    So far so good. I think they are enjoying being able to stretch out on the hay and romp around. There are hardly going through any pellets, they are munching hay instead. So far the stall is dry and I can't tell you where the rabbit pellets are going, haven't seen any!

    Kathie
     
  2. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

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    We did that too, several years ago, and it worked wonderfully. I wouldn't raise rabbits any other way. The does were all sisters, and they kindled in the same nest box together! They all nursed together too. I'm sure they didn't know whose babies were whose because they were all in one nest. We had more luck with rabbits when we used that method then we had ever had before. When we do rabbits again, we'll do it that way.
     

  3. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    Try setting them free outside or having them get loose :rolleyes: .They multiple rather nicely and are really healthy eating one bite of every veggie in the garden.
     
  4. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

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    Ick. I don't even let my chickens free range anymore. They seemed to always pick my vegetable garden to scratch and dust bathe in. They'd eat the veggie seeds as fast as I could plant them and they'd eat more then just bugs out of the garden too! And geese! Sheesh! Those things ate my new little shrubs down to the ground. Nope, I make sure my livestock can't get loose. I learned that the hard way. One summer my animals ate better then I did. :no:
     
  5. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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  6. dunroven

    dunroven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Okay, question here. Sounds great on the rabbits, with the free range and everything inside this pen, but do you also allow the bucks and does to be together all the time there? If so, how do you know when you have kits on the way? Sounds like dumb questions probably, but this might be a better answer for me. Also, how often do you clean it all out and re-hay it?

    Valorie
     
  7. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

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    We cleaned the pen on a weekly basis, of course depending on how many rabbits you have in it you could do it more or less often. You just have to judge it for yourself by how dirty it really is.
    Yes, we kept the buck with the does all the time. He never bothered the baby bunnies. We really never knew when we had kits on the way, we just knew when we had them in the nest. The rabbits took care of everything themselves. If you clean the pen regularly, handle your rabbits regularly, and check the nest boxes regularly, your rabbits get very used to your presence and your scent. It doesn't bother them for you to check their nest boxes or anything. When the kits were old enough to remove from the pen, we'd remove them to another pen, or to sell them, or to slaughter them. We didn't leave babies in with the parents permenantly. Too much line breeding for me.

    I'd be interested to hear how others have done this too.
     
  8. littlebitfarm

    littlebitfarm Scotties rule! Supporter

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    At this point there are together all the time. The first couple days the buck was annoying the does. Now they just hang out together. If rebreeding becomes a problem I'll put a cage in there for the buck. He'll still be around his ladies but won't have conjugal <G> visits without permission!

    I've got a couple partial sheets of plywood leaning against the walls in a couple spots. It forms a couple quiet dark places that I assume the does will choose to build nests in. Babies will be obvious when they start hopping around. When they are big enough I will go in and harvest them. My does are differet color so it's easy to know who is who.

    I don't know how often the stall will need to be cleaned and rehayed. Haven't gotten that far yet.

    Kathie
     
  9. dunroven

    dunroven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds pretty good! We have an old hog confinement building with cement floors and cement walls about 4 foot high, and there is a window that can be opened in the back and the south side is always open, except that in the winter we close that off with corrugated tin, which really blocks the wind and snow and it has a dog panel on the inside of that with a gait in it so we just move one tin panel and open gait and go in. Our stalls are about 8 foot wide by 32 feet long. However, we have 18 does and right now, 3 bucks. I'm not sure this would work for us unless we divided the stalls into 3 cages with 6 does and 1 buck each. What do you all think?
     
  10. littlebitfarm

    littlebitfarm Scotties rule! Supporter

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    The old hog building sounds like a good choice. You'd have to keep coons and such from coming in the window (I use cattle panels, cut to size, with hinges welded on so they swing out of the way and then wire on 1 inch mesh).

    But! Personally, I haven't tried this long enough to tell you to go for it! So far it looks very promising but 2 weeks isn't much of a trial.

    Kathie
     
  11. dunroven

    dunroven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I talked to my husband last night and he thinks if we line the inside with chicken wire (where the openings are) and then divide it into 3 pens, he thinks it sounds like a pretty good idea too, so I think we are going to try it although it will be a little while before we can get it all together. This will be cages for our California Whites. We also raise Flemish Giants, and haven't got our stock for that yet, but we might try something like that for them too, just have to see. Thanks for the great idea! The hog confinement is home to ducks, chickens, a goose, a goat, some Siamese cats, and our registered German Shepherds. All in separate pens, of course! LOL! Makes a fabulous building for all of them.
     
  12. slfisher

    slfisher Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea but when I mentioned it to one guy I knew who raised rabbits, he said he'd tried it and his rabbits all got sick from eating their own poop and being around it.
     
  13. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

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    If his rabbits got sick it's because he didn't clean his rabbit pen often enough, and ALL rabbits eath their own poop, even when raised on wire mesh. How do you think wild rabbits survive?

    This is from a rabbit site online.

    "Small fiber particles plane in the cecum, where there are natural bacteria, which can digest cellulose in the fiber and use it to make vitamin and protein. This process is called fermentation. From the fiber, the bacteria can make all the B vitamins, vitamin K and some of the protein neede by the rabbit. At certain times, the cecum empties its contents into the colon where it forms into pellets and leaves the rabbit's body just like the feces. The rabbit does not let these fecal pellets go to waste, however. The rabbit eats the pellets as they exit the body, so that all the nutrients in them can go back through the stomach and be absorbed into the rabbit's blood by the small intestine. This is why you may see your pet rabbit appearing to eat its feces; in reality, this behaviour is not so strange after all and actually helps the bunny."

    So, if his bunnies were sick, it was from lack of sanitation or some other cause.
     
  14. GrannySue

    GrannySue Active Member

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    About the wire for the openings - Hardware cloth would probably be a better idea. I have had rabbits chew through chicken-wire several times (Used to have a 'portable pen' for them.

    The only time I had rabbits that got sick and 'nasty looking' was when they had to be caged outside in the winter for a longer than hoped for amount of time... I had put straw around three sides to keep wind etc off, and a tarp over the top that I could weight down in front. THey pulled so much straw into the cages that nothing could get through the bottoms. Didn't create a MAJOR problem, but they were pretty scruffy looking for about a month after their ordeal.

    Personally, I love the idea of a stall or hog shed... Right now mine are in a gazebo.... Wood floor, 2 bales of straw shaken over a tarp on that. We've moved yet AGAIN... and didn't have time before snow set in to build them a new home. They've been there since November. Have 'mucked' out once, and it will need this again shortly. My three tend to do their business in the center of the floor, so its pretty easy to clean up. Hopefully the shed goes up before the straw runs out, lol!

    Sue
     
  15. mammabooh

    mammabooh Metal melter Supporter

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    There was an article in Countryside about raising rabbits like that...I believe the pictures were of a farm in Croatia. I'll go look it up and let you know what issue it was.