Summer care tips

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by rabbitgal, May 14, 2006.

  1. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    Well, it's that time of the year again for many of us...hot summer weather and all that. (Now, those of you in WI who just got all the snow, be quiet, ok? :D ) Since we have so many new rabbit folks on the board lately, I thought it might be a good idea to post some basic summer care ideas. Pitch in!

    1. Keep an eye on those rabbits over the summer...watch for heat stroke and other summer health problems. Close observation can catch a lot of problems before they get serious.

    2. Check your nestboxes EVERY day, maybe even twice a day. You really don't want dead kits sitting in there very long. Hot weather means that things decompose very fast...and you wouldn't believe how fast the flies will come.

    3. Speaking of flies, keep the area underneath your cages DRY, and clean it out often. That'll really help with fly problems.

    4. To help keep your rabbits cool, try filling pop bottles 2/3 full with water and freezing them. Many of my rabbits enjoy cuddling up to the frozen bottles and it really seems to help them. I've put bottles in the nestboxes with older kits too. When traveling, you can also take smaller 2-liter bottles and put them in your carriers. Setting up a fan to blow air through your rabbit housing will also help.

    5. Check for sore hocks and give your rabbits resting boards if you see problems...for some reason, the rabbits seem to have more problems with that in the summer.

    That's by no means a complete list, so if you have an idea, please share.
     
  2. awfulestes

    awfulestes Well-Known Member

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    Set the cages in the shade. Give cool water to drink often they don't like it hot.
     

  3. TerriA

    TerriA Well-Known Member

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    Take a fine mist spray bottle filled with water and spritz the inside of their ears LIGHTLY (not enough to RUN) and keep the air moving via a fan if not a breeze.. the ears help them keep cool (one of the reasons some people think longer ears are due to the heat of the summer in growing kits).I try and do this 3x a day especially in the heat of the afternoon.

    Pop bottles work great for frozen water bottles .. but the plastic is thin. I found the thicker 1/2 gallon juice bottles work great- the more square ones.. they don't roll around, are harder to nibble and break a hole in and keep two per bunny if possible.. one in the freezer while using the other. Of course they are harder (heavier) to carry out but they do tend to stay cool longer due to more ice volume.

    Am considering misting inside the barn (along with an automatic watering system... but it may take me a couple years to save up for that) in the mean time when it gets over 90 degrees out, I aim the sprinkler outside onto the metal roof to help lower the temps inside the barn. I read somewhere that it can cool it off by as much as 15 degrees but even if not that much, ANY little bit helps!!

    Main thing... BE SURE the rabbits have access to water ALL DAY. Dehydrated bunnies can die quickly. Keep 2 large water bottles up on each cage if you won't be home to check on them.. and it wouldn't hurt to put in a few ice chips either if available. COOL water is best but I know some of you work away from home- maybe you can fill one half way and freeze overnight and put the frozen one out with the filled one in the morning so that will thaw out over the heat of the day?

    I have considered A/C... (having angoras!) but since my husband isn't thrilled with that idea and I can't sell the kits (read my other post below! <G>) then I have resorted to cutting the wool down as close to the skin as possible. Bucks may suffer from sterility in heat ... so keep them in the lower cages if possible. (I hope to be able to bring in one or two into our basement when it is over 80 here so I can breed next fall). Remember heat rises.

    Regarding nestboxes, keep them clean ... bacteria grow faster in heat! So change the hay/nesting materials more often than you would in the spring. Be sure the kits aren't getting too hot, too. I always bring in the nestboxes the first 10 days or so of life anyway and take them out once a day to be nursed.... keeps them cooler/warmer and gives the doe a bit of a break too. I also be sure there is just enough wool in the nestbox to keep them warm enough at night.. the kits will burrow in as needed or kick it all off when they are warm (don't try to cover the kits if you find them on top of the wool in the heat of the day!! Good way to "kill them with kindness" that way!)

    I have a couple of box fans I turn on to keep air moving (not aiming directly at the rabbits but at the walls, etc to keep the air circulating). I plan to find old towels, soak them in water and put them along the front to make a sort of "swamp cooler" if the weather isn't too humid out. (gets high here even in Nebraska). I also have windows on the south and west side of the building. NOT GOOD when the sun shines in directly on the rabbits so I put up feed bags inside the windows to keep the sun out. Not pretty but it helps keep some of the heat out, too.

    Would love to read what more of you do to keep your rabbits cool..

    Terri
     
  4. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    I have a side shed which is off my hay barn for my rabbits. This shed faces the south which is shaded nearly all summer and gets the sun all winter. About 3 weeks ago we had temps. in the upper 80's and so I put a 4 inch layer of wood chips on the roof. I can tell that the temp. is quite a bit cooler since I did this. We have had a number of hard rains and so far it has stayed on top. I'm sure old hay would probably work also. This area was used for baby goats in the past and had lots of windows. I have removed them so there is pleanty of air that circulates through their also. My buck stays on the ground under my pens and has a 8x12 foot area to run in. I put down a layer of dog wire and added about 4 inches of wood chips. About once a month I do clean out some of the pellets and add a few new wood chips. The temps. on the ground is considerably cooler that in the cages off the ground.
     
  5. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Another cooling idea is to soak burlap in water and drape it over the cages. Allow one end of the burlap to sit in a tray of water. (Maybe a plastic windowbox?) The burlap will wick up the water and the evaporation will lower the temps by several degrees. The wet burlap also filters out some of the sunlight and heat.
     
  6. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    Maggie you know back in the 50's we had a really hot summer and my father hung up burlap in the window with the bottom of the burlap in water. He put a fan behind the burlap. It really worked. Of coarse this was before anyone around here knew about air conditioning. :nono: :nono:
     
  7. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    I have seen people in florida, taht have large animals, make a large mister-- they ut misting emmitters on yubing, and attach theat to a very large floor fan--. Since they have wells, They made some sort of arrangement for water to collect and be pressurized so that the well pump is not running continuously> anyway, one family had one fan setup under the carpirt where rescued Gordon Retrievers were housed, and another at the entrance to the barn. Occassionally, they would put a third out in the field when having Setter Days( they hosted) so that those animals not used to the heat (people, too) could hang around and stay cool while waiting their turns with the planted birds. The biggest cost was the fan for each set-up-- and I am thinking if one watched auctions - especially when dairy and beef farms get lquidated, one might be able to grab one fairly inexpensively.
     
  8. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Al. Countryboy - Your Dad sounds a lot like my Dad... master of innovation! I just might try that this summer! Thanks!