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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Would anyone care to share photos of their rabbitry/colony?

I am in the planning stages of getting mine set up to get my rabbits out of the feed shed next month. Notes on useful features you have would also be appreciated! At this point, there is still time to adjust my plans.

Thanks.
Kitty
 

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What zone are you in, Kitty? My knowledge of US climate leaves a lot to be desired. No pictures to post at present, but we have found here in Zone 5, surrounded by water (Prince Edward County is practically an island) that it suits us best to have a summer rabbitry and a winter rabbitry. Mind you, we just have a small backyard operation mostly for our own use, so it's not a big deal to move the cages twice a year.

Our summer rabbitry is a frame covered with chain link fencing -- even the top. We put a tarp over it to protect the buns from the weather. The chain link is "sewn" together with strong wire and at the base is sewn to wire mesh around the perimeter. It is very secure... the only vulnerable area being the gate and we make sure it is secure. The only things that can get in are rats or weasels. We have rats but they hang out at the chicken house. Weasels are rare here. The most likely predators are raccoons and they can't get in. The cages are inside on sawhorses.

The winter rabbitry -- also our storage room for hay, straw, and dried greens -- is an 8' x 8' room attached to the goose house. Last winter we turned the two does loose on the floor with lots of straw etc. and kept the buck in a cage. This worked fine except that the does were pretty wild by spring... they have calmed down again now but I'm not sure I will do that again. The goose/rabbit house is insulated but not heated. The rabbits did fine there, but everything froze solid during January and February. Water was the main problem, but we found that four water runs a day worked fine.

I don't know if this information is of any use to you... but take from it what you can. In my experience it is great to have the buns outdoors in the summer... in the shade of our huge weeping willow tree... and not to have to worry unduly about heat. There has been only one day this year when I felt it necessary to give the buns ice bottles... the rest of the time they seem to have been quite comfy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am in zone 5b. I would like the rabbits in a "building" of sorts, with roof to provide shade (not many trees here on the prairie). I have in mind to screen the sides and have solid removeable panels for winter. Cages will be raised for easy clean-out underneath. I already give the buns frozen water bottles and a fan to help them bear the heat here.

Kitty
 

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It is extremely important for rabbits to have good air flow/circulation to thrive. Here in the deep south, most of us have one of two basic set ups. The one we use is simply a slanted roof with no walls. When necessary we run water over the roof via a soaker hose and also have box fans placed among the cages. There are shade trees as well. Even so, it is necessary to mist the rabbits ears and snouts with water from a squirt bottle during the hottest days. This is especially true for the pregnant does. During the winter we hang and tie tarps along the north and west sides and keep extra tarps for the occassional nor'easters. The other type of shelter consists of a slanted or double peaked roof with walls. Water walls and fans are utilized to control heat. Both types of buildings are long and narrow to aid with air flow. Another type of building looks like a conventional shed, but with walls that can be raised part or all the way depending on the weather. Again, fans are used to aid with air flow. The main thing to consider is electricity. Your system needs to work even if you loose electrical power. Also, the more you rely on electricity, the more your cost are going to be.

I think you have a pretty good plan all ready, but I would not want to be the person responsible for cleaning the fur out of screened sides. Where you are located, I assume your worried about coyotes. I am too and thought of adding rabbit wire sides to our barns to keep out coyotes, raccoons, etc., when we move back to the country. I think instead, we will go with electric wire combined with field fencing and English Shepherds (Farm Collies). I think we will go with an insulated double peak roof, but no walls. Your winters are harsher than ours and your idea of removable walls is almost as good as raisable walls. I know there are not very many trees in much of Nebraska, but I would try to grow some for shade if possible. Try to space your trees, so that when grown they will provide shade but be far enough away that hopefully they won't fall on the rabbit barn. A circulating watering system with a submersible heater would solve the problem of frozen water. I'd keep some water crocks available in case the electricity goes down. Water bottles tend to burst when frozen.

Good luck,

MikeL

P.S.: I should have mentioned, we use hanging cages.
 

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Mine aren't outdoors but kind of indoor colony. I kind of copied from someone on this board, the one who raises rabbits in a greenhouse. I forget her name. :( Anyway, if you want to see what I have click on the link in my signature.

I remembered! It was Tracy!
 

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I don't have pictures, either. I'll try my hand at describing....

I have a lean-to on the north side of our barn. It's 30' long and 9.5' wide. The three sides not part of the building are chainlinked. The cages are hung on each side, with a center isle. One spot by the door that could have had a cage instead has two trash cans on block...one for pellets, and one for hay.

I have five extra large cages for doe breeding. I have French Angoras, and don't ever have more than five litters going at any given time. Those breeding/litter cages are 5' by 30". Enough room for a mom and a litter of eight. I don't remove the kits until 8 weeks, so the room is needed. The other side has singles cages. They're smaller...3'8" x 30". Odd size, yes? I made the biggest cages I could fit with the rafter arrangement we built. I also intended to limit the number of rabbits I could fit by having bigger cages. Helps keep me under control! I can keep a max of 11 adult rabbits. Period. :cool:

The best part of our rabbit house plan was where we put it. Not so much it being on the north side of the barn, but where that is in consideration of other buildings. There's a 40 x 60 workshop just northwest of the barn. I can drive the riding mower between the corner of the building and a corner of the rabbit house. (That mower measurement is why the lean-to is 9.5' wide, instead of 10 '!) That building catches the Westerlies and funnels them right through the rabbit house for me. It's always been the breeziest spot on the place, and so we gave it to the rabbits. I do have to keep an eye out for nor'easters, and have tarps at the ready, but those are rare and the heat is a way of life. So far, I haven't ever lost a rabbit to heat, (cross fingers!) although I have had bucks go permanently sterile from heat. I'll also block those Westerlies this winter with a tarp. (We just built this rabbit house in March, before hubby left, so I haven't run it a full year yet.)

I make a couple trips up the aisle every time I feed. One for pellets and fresh stuff...up one side and down the other. Another trip for hay, as needed. My hayracks hold a good amount. A third for water (I have a hose run out there) and a wire grill brush to hit the underside of the cages. I use water bottles. In summer, a minimum of two bottles per rabbit. In winter, only one, with them being switched out twice a day to thaw. We don't get so cold here that I've ever had a bottle split, thank goodness!

As far as I know, there are three main ways to deliver water to the rabbits. All of them have plusses and minuses. I use water bottles. They can be a pain to fill every day if you have a lot. Since I only have 22 up most of the summer, it doesn't take long. I run them through a bleach wash every week or so. I check the tips to make sure they work every day. In winter, I switch out bottles to allow them to thaw, but we don't get the really cold winters that split bottles here.
Crocks are preferred by some folks, especially where you get hard freezes. They don't split, but they can be dumped or have the water soiled.
Automatic systems do a good job of delivering water, and are probably the most practical for a larger rabbitry, but you still have to check tips each day to make sure lines aren't plugged, you run the risk of a contagious disease being transferred down the line, and depending on the size of the tank, you could be doling out stagnant water all the time.
Plusses and minuses all around. You'll need to see what's the most practical for your individual situation.

I also keep a 10 x 10 chainlink dog kennel as a playpen, so the buns can get out of their cages and kick up their heels now and then. I can turn them loose inside the rabbit house, too, but they run the risk of getting peed on if I do that!


I guess that's it....
Meg
 
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