Want to raise rabbits, but need ideas.

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Salmonberry, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Salmonberry

    Salmonberry Registered Nut

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    I've witnessed so many people circle around a problem and provide solutions. I need some help figuring out a problem and I'm coming to you all to ask. I would really like to raise rabbits for meat, but I have a few obstacles to overcome.

    We live approx 70 miles from our jobs. I only work 3 days per week (12 hour shifts), and my husband works four days every two weeks. We have a motorhome that we stay in that is parked at our workplace for us to stay over in. So somebody is home to take care of the potential rabbits everyday except for two 2 day periods during any month.

    Is there anyway to rig food and water during these periods? I'm especially concerned about dead winter and keeping water from freezing. The hutches would be insulated and protected, but they would be kept outside. We are on solar and can't have electric water heaters for their water supply.

    We have thought about having a place inside to bring the rabbits into for those days, but I don't know if the rabbits can:

    a) tolerate the temp changes
    b) tolerate the change of cages

    I really would like to create this inexpensive protein source for my family. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you

    Salmonberry
     
  2. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hmmm... It should be POSSIBLE, but I need to think a bit. Will post my suggestions in a day or two.
     

  3. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    Would it be possible to keep the rabbits indoors somewhere all the time? You can purchase stacking cages with dropping pans and make sure the pans are full of clean bedding....individual animals can also be trained to use a litter box inside the cage. This would not be practical for more than a few rabbits, but for say a trio of breeders, it wouldn't be too bad if you kept the cages clean. Gotta warn you though, rabbit urine is very concentrated and can be stinky when it's been sitting somewhere a few days.

    If you buy large-capacity metal hopper feeders, you can fill up the feeders before you leave and they'd probably have enough. Does with litters could be a problem: you'd probably need to use two feeders.

    For the water, what I'd suggest to people on grid is to set up a simple automatic watering system. You could (a) use flexible tubing and install a pump to circulate the water and keep it from freezing, or (b) use PVC pipe and run heating tape through the pipes to heat the water.
     
  4. Salmonberry

    Salmonberry Registered Nut

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    I should probably mention that we do not have plumbing either. We have a well that we fill our containers up with. We haven't planned to have the rabbits permanently in our house, mostly because of the smell. We are trying to limit the amount of outbuildings that require heat because up here it's just a money drain. Plus if I heat a shed just for rabbits, am I really saving any money on a protein source?

    I haven't seen any large hoppers for feed, but now I will research that. I think the water issue is the one I can't figure out.

    Thanks for your brainwork

    Salmonberry
     
  5. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    I'm wondering if you might be able to raise them in a building on the ground. Make them nice places like hay bails stacked where they can go under and can be protected. On the poultrypart of this homestead forum there is a person that shows how to make waters and feeders out of plastic five gallon buckets. They are easy to make and holds enough feed and water to last for a number of days. Don't know how cold it gets up there in the winter, but I'm sure there is some way to keep waters protected outside from freezing. How cold do your get during the winter months?
     
  6. Salmonberry

    Salmonberry Registered Nut

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    Thanks, Al. Countryboy. The very lowest it gets is about -40. It doesn't stay that way all winter, but that is my challenge: How to keep their water from freezing. Maybe if we're not at home, using heat tape or other heater might not use too much.

    I like the 5 gallon bucket feeding though. Will have to work on the rest.

    Salmonberry
     
  7. susieM

    susieM Well-Known Member

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    Add a few drops of glycerine to the water, and it won't freeze up.
     
  8. Al. Countryboy

    Al. Countryboy Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering if you couldn't take bales of hay and make like a box and sit a 5 gallon waterer in the center and cover the top with something. Have a few little holes fixed to where the bunnies will be able to go in the area where the water is. I also read before the crash on the forum that in the colder areas that rabbits would eat ice out of their bowls and eat snow. Having water not frozen for your bunnies may not be a big deal. Hope this will be of some help.
     
  9. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    OK, this won't be popular, but I would do it and not worry about it if they rabbits get good care for the rest of the time: Let them eat/lick ice. Animals in really cold climates have to do this occasionally when there is no open water for them to drink. If your rabbits are outside in mostly below freezing temperatures, then they should have no problems getting their water that way for two days.

    Jennifer
     
  10. GeorgiaberryM

    GeorgiaberryM Well-Known Member

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    I think "lick ice" is a good suggestion. Wonder if there is some way to convert a Gott insulated water jug to a rabbit waterer. Or insulate a 5 gal bucket. And heat tape should be a very small use of elec.

    I think you can figure this out! It will be worth a try - our rabbits are the easiest food we grow! Plus you'll have rabbit manure!
     
  11. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    There are chest coolers for camping available that will keep ice for a week in 95 degreee F weather.anything that keeps heat OUT will also keep it IN. I have a "solar shower" that is basically a black jug that gets suspended in the sunshine, to heat the water within-- makes for a comfy way to cleasn up before returning to the city!
    A low wattage heat tape, connected to a power inverter connrcted to a battery bank is an option for power to run "hi -tech" stuff.
    And yes, glycerine would prevent water freeze-up, but one may get a case of looser bowels for the duration. Deepwater and Coldwater fish do not freeze in winter due to the glycerides within their tissues

    happy Rabbit-raising