New Rabbits: Lots of questions... Chicken proximity stressful? Ear mites? Pasturing?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by homesteadwannab, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. homesteadwannab

    homesteadwannab Hatching

    Aug 5, 2014
    Hi All,

    I am very new (second day!) into having rabbits. I purchased two beautiful American Chinchilla does yesterday, one is 5 months and pregnant and the other is 3 months. I haven't built them a shelter yet, but I suspended them above the chickens and put something over them to protect them from moisture in the meantime. I have SO MANY QUESTIONS for you rabbit people!! I will list them below and if you feel like answering one of the numbers, I am all ears ;)

    1.) One of my bunnies has ear mites and the breeder recommended baby oil (or mineral oil), a few drops in each ear. Does this sound right? And how frequently?
    2.) How often should/can I handle the bunnies without stressing them out? I have young children who are so excited about them, but the bunnies are a little freaked right now.
    3.) Do chickens stress rabbits out? My chickens are SO curious about the bunnies and just come over and stare at them. And my dog barking doesn't help. I've read about rabbits being easily stressed, but then I've also read about keeping them over chickens, so they must get used to a busy farm life eventually, yes?
    4.) Does anyone here "pasture" their bunnies? I'm not thinking of doing that, per se, but I would like to set up a little run for my kids to be able to take them out and have them hop around and eat grass, etc. We have dogs, cats, and chickens, and from what I have read if you let bunnies on the ground they are more susceptible to worms. Is this really a big issue? If so, how often do you worm, what are the doses, and is it even worth it?

    Any other advice would be greatly appreciated! I can see this being an obsession... ;)



  2. Jedwards

    Jedwards Songster

    Aug 5, 2014
    Berks County, PA
    I've kept rabbits and chickens, not together but at the same time and something you have to be careful of is a disease they can get called Coccidiosis and it is fatal
  3. chickenlover09

    chickenlover09 Chirping

    Jul 17, 2014
    I'll answer the one's I know about. There's a forum that I highly reccomend joining called BinkyBunny.
    1) I would go to the vet.

    2) Leave the bunnies alone for a few days. Let them settle in. I would just give them treats and scratch them behind the ears. Bunnies are VERY gentle creatures and aren't exactly good with little kids, unless they are very gentle and always supervised. You can tell your kids to handfeed them treats and gently pet them. Don't pick them up. Rabbits hate being not on ground level, so you should only pick them up when neccessary (taking them to the vet, etc.)

    3) My bunnie's are TERRIFIED of my chickens. Don't let your chickens go near the bunnies, just leave them be.

    4) Bunnie's get worms from contaminated things they eat. As long as you don't use ANY pesticides on your grass, and don't mow it, your bunnies should be fine. I bought a cat harness for my bunnies, and my brother really likes taking my rabbits on "walks".

    Get the bunnies spayed. For health reasons, and they will be much friendlier with you and you're kids.

    They're diet should consist of 3 cups of fresh vegetables, 1/4 cup of good rabbit pellets (Oxbow), and at least their body mass of grass hay each day.

    Feel free to post any more questions!
  4. mommacassey

    mommacassey In the Brooder

    Apr 28, 2014
    Southeast Texas
    We have a couple young does that we keep in separate hutches--one kept asserting her dominance over the other, making us think she was a he for a while and that we'd end up with many more bunnies than we wanted. But, we got a pen off Amazon that we sometimes let the bunnies get some outdoor time in. They hop around and rarely bother each other while they're in there together, but I stick around because the pen doesn't have a top and I don't want any hawks swooping in and stealing a pet, so I can usually keep the dominant doe from pulling the hair out of the submissive one when they do interact that way.

    I have made sure that we don't use any herbicides or pesticides in our yard, for the sake of our chickens, as well. So I am not worried about what they might eat. Sometimes, instead of buying hay, we let a little section of our grass grow (5-7 feet tall!) and cut off the stalks to feed to the bunnies. My daughter loves to help with feeding.

    I think that giving them some time outside their hutches gets them more used to us and my 4- and 2-year-olds, but we limit the time and try to make it as enjoyable for the bunnies as possible, with treats and gentle brushing. Like a lot of moms and pets, I have ended up spending more time with the rabbits than my girls, or their father who bought them, but they still take a few minutes to settle down when I pull them from their hutches, no matter why I do it.

    I have a friend who let his rabbits live in the coop with his chickens--he's got maybe 12-15 hens and a rooster--and they had no problems. From what I've heard, the stress can be bad, but I haven't seen any signs of trouble. From what I've heard, too, the heat is as bad for rabbits as anything else, which is really the main reason mine will be living indoors, here in SE Texas.
  5. Dutchgirl

    Dutchgirl Not Dutch!

    Apr 1, 2008
    There's a great rabbit community on the RabbitTalk forum. There are a lot of experienced rabbit breeders there who would love to answer your questions. :)

    1.) Ear mites I've never treated for ear mites personally, but from what I've read, I would suggest probably every few days. You'd want to check on that, though.
    I remember hearing of one breeder who just puts a few drops in each ear whenever she clips the nails, as a preventative.

    2.) How often should/can I handle the bunnies without stressing them out? Give them a week or two with minimal handling just to calm down and get used to their surroundings. After that, I'd say you could handle them up to a few hours each day. Rabbits are sturdier animals than some people make them out to be. Just make sure to watch kids closely around them - especially new rabbits. All rabbits are different and their temperaments may not be the best. Even friendly rabbits have sharp toenails (I have the scars to prove it). Generally speaking, the more you handle them, the friendlier they get, although I've found that just petting them while they're on the ground does a lot more good than trying to keep them in your arms. (That is, for rather spunky Holland Lops.)

    3.) Do chickens stress rabbits out? All my rabbits are totally used to chickens. I think the chickens are more nervous about the rabbits than the rabbits are about them. My bucks' cages are suspended in the chicken coop and my does are in the hutch outside.
    One of my rabbits actually free-ranges during the day. He grazes with the chickens and isn't the least bit scared of them. They even peck him and jump on him sometimes, but he really doesn't care.
    So yes, rabbits will eventually settle down happily with the chickens all around them.

    4.) Does anyone here "pasture" their bunnies? See my above answer. :) My pastured bunny is a very unusual rabbit, however - I wouldn't trust any other rabbit to run loose without running away. He sticks around for our does (and because he loves to be petted). I DON'T recommend this - ESPECIALLY with does. Most of the does I've had would take any chance they could get to run away. Not a good idea.
    But it is a good idea to let your rabbits have some time on the ground (I think). A wire-bottomed cage is best for does, as they will often try to dig out of open-bottomed cages. And if you have dogs and cats you'll probably need a cage with a bottom anyway. I've never wormed my rabbits and they seem to be fine so far, but I've read that you can worm them with grapefruit seed extract.

    I love this list of natural remedies for rabbits. I'd be very careful in using it (especially because the author is very unclear on dosing, etc.) but I like it as a general reference. It mentions using the grapefruit seed extract as a wormer.

    Have fun with your new rabbits (and the bunnies you're expecting)!
  6. homesteadwannab

    homesteadwannab Hatching

    Aug 5, 2014
    Wow, thanks everyone, for the detailed answers! I've really entered a whole new world.

    I forgot to mention that these are meat rabbits, so to respond to chickenlover09, spaying is not an option. Also, your recommended feeding is crazy high compared to what I've seen, but maybe that is because I've mostly been researching rabbits for meat and I know veggies can cause slower growth.

    BUT just because I am raising rabbits for meat doesn't mean I am a bad person, or don't want my rabbits to have an enjoyable life. As a vegan turned bunny killer, I am excited to help preserve this rare breed through meat rearing and breeding.

    @mamacass I love that you feed grass from your yard! We are on an acre and have plenty of that. My next project is researching how to feed them organically and preferably make my own feed. Might make for slower growing rabbits, but I'd love to "live off the land" as much as possible. It sounds like the bunnies will get used to the chickens (which is good, because the chickens have taken to hanging out RIGHT outside where the rabbits are--they have NEVER stayed in that area before! Close encounters of the third kind. hehe)

    @Dutchgirl thank you so much for the info! That forum is great; I'd never heard of it before, and riseandshine looks like it's definitely worth reading back logs of as it also is about meat rabbits. They will both be an amazing resources in three months when "dispatching" time comes (eek!) Re: free ranging, do you have some sort of fence? We have electric fencing for our chickens, but I bet a rabbit could get out. Though, the dogs would probably herd them back in. I'm a little concerned about diet, but maybe I don't need to be. We just have lots of pasture, no pesticides or anything, but a little poison oak. So much to learn!
  7. chickenlover09

    chickenlover09 Chirping

    Jul 17, 2014
    Didn't know they were meat rabbits. My bunnies are living the live of luxery with the run of my house. lol

  8. Dutchgirl

    Dutchgirl Not Dutch!

    Apr 1, 2008
    You're welcome! I love RabbitTalk and the Rise&Shine website (especially the pages on natural feeding).

    Good luck on butchering your bunnies! ;) I've yet to taste rabbit, as much as I'd like to. I only have pet lops, which of course (as one person who came to look at my rabbits told me) you can't eat. :) But one day I think I'd like to raise some NZWs or some other ugly rabbits that I wouldn't mind eating.

    And about free ranging: I don't have any kind of fence. Our dog never leaves the yard and the chickens and the rabbit rarely stray far.
    But as I said, I personally wouldn't let any of my other rabbits loose - just this weird special one. I figure he gets most of what he needs to eat during the day (he tends to eat a lot of plantain weed and clover) but I do give him hay and a small ration of pellets at night, when he goes back in his cage. He'd probably be long gone by now if I didn't put him away at night. He actually chows down on chicken pellets in the morning.
    The rabbit colony is a fascinating idea to me, and I'd like to try it if I ever end up with meat rabbits. You can read a lot about colonies on the RT forum, but the general idea is that you keep several does together in one big ground pen to raise litters together. (Most people don't keep breeding bucks in with the does.)

    For now I'd keep the bred doe in a regular cage to allow her to settle down.

    As for feeding... I don't really know anything about feeding fryers, but I give my rabbits about 3-4 oz (I weighed it using a postal scale, but probably around 1/3-1/2 cup) of regular pellets per 5 lbs of body weight. They always get a big handful of Timothy hay. Some days I feed them dandelion, plantain weed, clover, or grass, but not every day. And not 3 cups of fresh veggies. ;)

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