New to Rabbits

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Swamp Roo, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. Swamp Roo

    Swamp Roo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2008
    SW FL
    I've been thinking about raising rabbits, so I picked up a copy of the Bob Bennett (Storey's) book. After going through the book, I have some questions and misgivings. I was a little taken aback with the all wire hutches. They remind me too much of battery cages. What are people using? Maybe an all wire cage IS the best thing? Keeping them off of the ground makes sense after reading about the issues with parasites. I'm also a little wary of not having a "comfort zone/area" for the rabbits that they can retreat into. I've found that animals that can hide if they want to are a lot less stressed and a lot healthier because of it. Speaking of health, Mr Bennett seems to enthusiastically administer antibiotics. How many of you use them prophylacticlly and have you noticed a real difference. I'm trying to get AWAY from chemo farming. From a feeding point of view, I was hoping to not to feed an all pellet diet, I was hoping to feed a good portion from the garden and yard, and supplement with pellets and alfalfa. I'm blessed here in SW FL because I can get greenery year round. What are you folks doing. The book was a little confusing on that, and Mr. Bennett openly said he did not follow his own advice to feed an all pellet diet. I however can certainly see the advantage with very young rabbits. I'm really just interested in raising rabbits for my table, and to sell a few to offset feed costs. I'm considering Florida Whites, Californians, or New Zealand Whites, but I'm open on that. It would be nice to have something with a little more of a natural color, but that is secondary. Any suggestions on those or others? I'm certainly not slamming the book or Mr Bennett. He has a system that works well for him, and has obviously had great success with it. He also appears very knowledgeable (I can't make the distinction since I know almost nothing). I'm just not sure I want to go his route, but don't know what I can safely change. Thanks.

    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  2. NewHopePoultry

    NewHopePoultry Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 9, 2007
    All wirecages are easier to clean.
    I put a board down on part of the cage, so they can rest on it instead of being on the wire all the time.
    Most of my cages are covered on the sides leaving only the front open, and all the animals seem fine.
    I feed my rabbit pellets and stuff from the garden.
    New Zealands are one of the best meat breeds to raise. They come in other colors besides white, they come in black, red and blue also.
    I've never used antibiotics for my rabbits and them seem fine without it.
  3. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    I've never used antibiotics.

    I've had hutches that have wire run and a wooden house part. We now have a 6x6 dog kennel converted over for the two we currently have. It allows my DDs to get in there and play with them without having to transport them around and have the potental of a loose bunny!

    Watch how much "treats" out of the garden/lawn you give as this can cause them to get the diereaha (sp) and be skinny. Rabbits food passes through the so fast they only absorb a very small percentage of it. One thing I heard passed on at the fair was to feed dry oatmeal if you are going to be feeding lots of treats. Feed it with the treats. It helps bulk up the digestive track and slow down the system some. Then they get more out of their food to help counteract the affects of the treats.

    New Zealands do come in other colors and are a nice breed.

    I'll see about taking a pic of our setup so you can see it. It does include a "quite zone" that my DD's can't get to the bunnies for them to escape to.
  4. Maidservant

    Maidservant Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2008
    Norwich, Norfolk, UK
    Antibiotics can actually upset a bunny stomach and digestive system so badly that the bunny can die. IMO no oral antibiotics should be used on any rabbit without supplementing their diet with probiotics. Pellets are a good base for a diet, but I do advocate using fresh greens (introduce one at a time, and don't over do it!) and dry hay as feed too.

    Hope this helps,
    Emily in NC
  5. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    Quote:Iam interested in your set up too. We have our bunnies in wire cages, and take them out for some supervised grass time, but also have a dog kennel that the chickens have been using. i though about converting it into a set up for the rabbits.

    Although our rabbits are for meat, we are raising them for their quality of life, while here on earth.
  6. Goat_Walker

    Goat_Walker I Am THE Crazy Duck Lady

    Jul 9, 2008
    When I had rabbits as pets I used these. The big rabbit hutch on the left has a wooden frame, but then the sides are double wrapped in rat wire, to keep snakes out. The one on the right has rat wire on the sides as well as on the little window in from, the back as you can see is wooden with slits. I Really like this one becuase the bottom or it is chicken wire, and has a sliding wooden floor. So you can take the board out when you need to clean it and leave it in so the rabbit has solid ground to lay on.

    My rabbits were pets though, I had them in the chain link fence part during the day. It used to be all nice and grassy in there. I had rat wire around the first 3 feet of the entire pen. Never had a problem with escapes.
    SO i would suggest a pen like the smaller of the two in the pic below. It has wire sides and bottom, but it has that wonderful pull out board.

  7. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Here's what we used to use. The board on the screen section was to block the wind from going into the hutch. I should have taken the pic from the other side but, you can get the idea.

    Here is what we have now:
    I put down chicken wire so they can't dig out, or anything else in. They are still small enough to go through the kennel panels so I added hardware cloth. Chicken wire would work good too but, DH didn't want it. [​IMG] Then I built the frame for the roof and DH helped put it into place and put the tin on. The tin roof is nice as it keeps not only predators out but, the rain and this winter snow out. I will wrap the kennel with tarps and clear plastic for the winter to keep the snow and wind out. I do this with the chicken run which is a bigger version of this kennel (minus the hardware cloth and the wire to keep prediators out is buried outside the run). DH built the house for them. With it up on legs it keeps it off the cold ground and gives them a place to run to for "quite time".
  8. coffeemama

    coffeemama Barista Queen

    Mar 5, 2008
    I think all wire cages hanging with a board works well if they are out of the elements. It's easy to scoop the poop and it's really the most sanitary set up.
  9. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    Welcome to the rabbit habit - they're great animals - easier than chickens IMHO. I've been raising rabbits since I was a teenager. I don't use antibiotics unless I have a really good reason, like a confirmed illness.

    I use all-wire cages because they are easy to keep clean and the cleaner things stay, the healthier the bunnies. I use heavy-duty cage wire (not chicken wire or hardware cloth) for my cages, so they are safe from predators. I use the drop-down feeders because it keeps them from spilling the feed or soiling it. I use water dishes or water bottles (for the serial water bowl tippers). In the winter, I stuff the cages with hay or straw to keep them warm. I give mine some toys for boredom, like cat toys or Easter eggs. They will chew on anything they can, so make sure it's safe.

    Keeping rabbit colonies with all the rabbits running loose in a pen together is a management method that seems to be getting popular. I chose not to do it for a number of reasons. Rabbits are escape artists, especially the babies and I don't want to lose my valuable breeding stock. They dig, too, so some people will wire the bottom of the pen to keep them in. An open pen is easier for predators to get into. If one rabbit gets sick, it will pass through them all. The does are technically capable of conceiving right after giving birth, so they'd have litter on top of litter and would get worn out faster. Some people swear by it, but I'm too afraid of losing my stock to try it myself - try googling for more info.

    I feed a pellet-only diet. My kids will give them a baby carrot every once in a great, great while, but mostly pellets. The pellets are balanced for their nutritional needs, including vitamins and minerals, so I never wanted to mess with that balance. I don't give them salt spools or hay racks.

    I bought New Zealand Whites for my meat rabbits. New Zealands and Californians are the most popular choice because they have an excellent meat:bone ratio. Large meat portions and small bones. I also like that all my rabbits are boring white, so all the babies are kind of anonymous and it makes it easier not to get attached to any paticular one. We have Holland Lops as pets rabbits; they're very docile and forgiving with the kids. My kids are 8, 6 and 2 and they're fine with Mommy killing rabbits for us to eat as long as it's not their precious Holland Lops!

    Good luck with your choices!
  10. monarc23

    monarc23 Coturnix Obsessed

    Jul 18, 2008
    Indiana, Pennsylvania
    wire cages are more sanitary and it does not hurt the rabbits feet...IF they aren't REX breeds or giant breeds....rex breeds can get hurt on wire flooring because they have very minimal fur padding on their feet, and large breeds are so heavy they develope pressure points on their feet....large breeds should be housed on wooden flooring mostly, and rexs can be housed in wire though they need a restingboard.

    Resting boards can invite bacteria though too rabbits use them as potty areas i've they need cleaned al ot.

    I only used antibiotics on my rabbits if they were sick...which in most case i culled them as most rabbit illnesse are incurable and always contagious (snuffles...aka pasturella).

    I wormed my rabbits every other month with ivromectic which also kept away mites ticks and fleas.

    I also kept and still keep on hand Probios (lactobacillus- what's found in plain natural yogurt) on hand as any rabbit off feed or on antibiotics or just as a treat will love you for helpign add good bacteria to their they seem to really love the taste.

    Get a high quaily pelleted feed with no added junks (no visable corn etc)...hay daily, and greens when you can. [​IMG]

    Domestic rabbit meat is tastey if yu're looking ot raise them for meat.

    I got out of rabbits because it was too expensive, too stressful (with contagious incurable illneses- aka snuffles)....i love rabbits but i'll only ever have thema gain as pets or a VERY small indoor scale hobby (small as in only 10 tops).

    We spent over $7,000 total (rabbits caging feed etc), and that was only in a years time. However, tehse were show rabbits, which caught a price of 50-150 each, and most good quailty cages were about $50 each as well..adds up! LOL!

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