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Rabbit colony and deep litter?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

We're going to do a deep litter system for our chickens when we build our new hen house and run, and it got me thinking.  We want to raise meat rabbits, but I would rather raise them with room to run around and stretch their little bunny legs than to live in wire cages suspended over the chicken coop.


So it got me wondering if I can build a rabbit run with a similar deep litter system.  In a chicken deep litter system you only have to clean it once a year, and that's really only if you want to take some of it out to put on your garden beds (or all of it and start over).  But the chickens scratch around so much that I wonder if that's really the main thing that keeps things clean and tidy.  Has anybody tried a true deep litter system with a rabbit colony, the kind that is actively composting all the time?  It's not like I can't go in and rake it and help touch it up and keep it clean or anything, but I would love to build a nice sizely rabbit run with some forage trays and stuff so they can, you know, be rabbits.


What do you think?  After a few months deep litter becomes kind of a little ecosystem, with worms and stuff that keep bacteria and smell well under control, it has to be at least 6 inches deep but we'll probably go for more like 12-18, with the fence buried 2 feet underground as well to discourage escape.


What do you think?  Does this method work with rabbits?  Or would it be preferable to put them in wire cages?  A wooden hutch is out, it's simply too unsanitary, too porous, all the urine and fecal matter that gets caught up in the wood grain just makes me gag lol.

post #2 of 9

I can't imagine that deep litter would work very well. Rabbits tend to have certain spots as designated potties, and the droppings can really pile up. The smell wouldn't be too bad (of course, after raising rabbits for more than 25 years, I'm kinda used to the smell) but it seems pretty likely that you'd be breeding flies if you didn't clean out the "dirty corners" at least once a week.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

I don't mind cleaning out the corners.  Right now we only have one rabbit and he's a a total poop factory.  But he came with a wire cage and it's getting a bit worn, and I got to thinking I would love to build a relatively low maintenance rabbit run.  But then I got to thinking they aren't llike chickens, I can probably just do a grass floor instead.

post #4 of 9

From what I've heard (haven't tried rabbits on the ground, myself), you wouldn't have grass for long. They may not scratch like chickens, but they do dig, and they go just as hard on the green stuff. Another thing to consider is that there are parasites that rabbits can pick up on the ground. Some are a minor nuisance, others are more serious - even potentially deadly. 

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Maybe. Im trying to find a way to avoid wire cages. Wood has to be scrubbed and freauently bleached or its just as bad as the ground if not worse. Deep litter houses organisms that keep it clean plus me cleaning out any obvious waste. I want our meat rabbits to be able to run around and be rabbits.
post #6 of 9

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to comment anyway. We just went through winter using deep litter with our rabbit colony. They have a wooden house that they go in to eat and get out of the weather. We did either straw or pine shavings on the floor (depending on what we had on hand) and just added more when it got dirty. I just shoveled a 55 gallon barrel full of rabbit poop and half-composted pine/hay out of their house! And unlike chicken poop, you can use rabbit poop immediately in the garden without composting, so I just pulled up a ton of garden gold. :) 

post #7 of 9

I'm looking at putting a small colony setup under the large droppings board in my hen house. 


What I've decided on to help with some of the excessive poop with the buns is to have a hay rack for them with a wide, shallow tote (no lid, of course) with bedding inside for them to use the same way a house rabbit learns to be litter trained.  In a home setting (so I hear), the rabbit will actually go into the open cage and use the litter box even if it's allowed loose in the house. 


I have an open-air chicken house with deep litter and a droppings board under the roosts.  It stays pretty nice in there as long as I scrape & sift the board periodically (I have a thick layer of sand and PDZ).  So I think I could try putting the rabbit "litter" right onto the coop floor where the girls would work it in.  If that doesn't work, I will just start putting the "litter" into the compost pile right outside the door of the hen house. 


I was looking for spacing requirements per doe with kits when I came upon this thread.  I know it's a little old, but I think a lot of people could benefit from us adding onto it periodically. 


BTW - how did your rabbit colony go?  Any words of wisdom for us? 

Edited by Dandelioness - 9/11/15 at 12:31pm
post #8 of 9

Whenever I tried a colony system for the rabbits they always ended up fighting and wounding each other.


Are some breeds better at living together?

post #9 of 9
Mine have been in the colony for almost four months now. There are as many hidey holes as there are rabbits, but the food,water, and litter are communal. There was a little bickering in the beginning, and again after I re-introduced a doe who had been bred. But those hidey holes really help with the fighting. They don't fight at all anymore. The bickering would only last maybe a day and a half.
I raise standard rex.
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