Rabbits in the garden.......on purpose!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by MeghanFaith, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. MeghanFaith

    MeghanFaith In the Brooder

    Mar 4, 2013
    I recently started a new garden area. Where I live flat land is at a premium, most of us live in deep valleys (hollers). So picking out a spot was limited and ended up being right next to our neighbors. We bought the land beside ours for 3,000$ for 13 acres, mostly it's mountain side and we had to tear down a house that was there. Well I'm not one to throw a stone but our neighbors house is not exactly flattering to the eye either. Also with it being closer to their home than ours I didn't want to feel like eyes were always upon me while I'm gettin' down and dirty (literally) in my garden. I also considered that there are many dogs over there too. So all of these reason led me to beg, kick and plead my husband for a garden fence. Which with a lot of reminders and motivational support he did do this fall, well except for the gate.

    Okay so now your wondering where do the rabbits come in? Well here starts my thinking process.....I'm not too sure about the quality of dirt that is there. On the surface it looks pretty good, but when we had equipment over there for house demo it seemed to turn up quite a bit of clay. So here I am thinking whats a good way to improve this soil without alot of work....animal poop straight from the source seems like a good idea. It's winter here so I'll just have till spring.

    So I am considering rabbits for a few reasons:
    1. They poop awesome fertilizer
    2. They are veerry quite
    3. Can be contained in the garden fence (hopefully) without destroying it.
    4. They will give me an excellent crash course into bunny proofing my garden outside and in.
    5. I can make them a new home relatively easy come spring.

    Here are my concerns:
    1. Tunneling out of the fence
    2. Dogs digging under the fence to get to them.
    3. How to make a temporary shelter.

    What do you all think about this endeavor? Am I basically crazy? Do you have any ideas or insight that might help me out? Please leave me feedback, good or bad!

    I will add pictures tomorrow so give everyone a better idea.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
  2. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Songster

    Oct 18, 2014
    you're not crazy, but they are very hard to keep on the ground. They love to dig, and will be getting out all the time. What kind of garden fence do you have? Dogs are less likely to dig than to push the fence down, or go over it, but it is possible. also, if you have any plants in there, they won't be there after you put the rabbits in.

    on the good side, rabbits poop a lot! And the poop is really good for the garden.

    I have a separate rabbit area, and i scoop poop out from under the cages every few days to put on the garden or in the compost. They are really quiet, and are fairly easy to care for until you have 50 of them, lol [​IMG]
  3. MeghanFaith

    MeghanFaith In the Brooder

    Mar 4, 2013
    Yes I'd have to agree they are hard to keep on the ground ;) The fence did it's job keeping them in until a dog poked around and loosened one of the pickets at the bottom. He never did get in but the bunnies found a way out. We found one run away, but lost the other. [​IMG] I should have waited till the bunnies were adults and a bit bigger, then they wouldn't have been able to fit through the hole. I did end up getting a replacement doe though. They are now in their own bunny cages with a wheelbarrow underneath collecting all the bunny poo for the garden. I plan on building composting bins underneath in the spring (when I need my wheelbarrow back).

    I am still rolling over ideas to help fertilize and till up the garden a bit before spring hits. It's a new garden area so it hasn't ever been tilled or de-rocked, and has still has grass. So far I haven't came up with anything haha
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015
  4. Jrose

    Jrose Songster

    Jun 6, 2013
    To help rabbit and critter proof the garden, bury the fence (or additional chicken wire) about 2-3' below dirt level. Or, tie in a roll of 1-2", 2-3'+ tall chicken wire spread out on the ground to the bottom of the fence, on the outside of the garden (so the chicken wire is flat on the ground, meeting at the fence at a 90 degree angle). Bury slightly and line the fence line with rocks to secure the junction. This will make it a lot tougher if the intruder/escapee has to dig a 3-4' tunnel. It's also cheap.
    I have a rogue free-range bunny. She actually leaves the garden be most of the time and prefers the neighbors' horses' alfalfa leftovers. She holds her own against predators (chases the neighbor dog growling at it!) and still enjoys eating from my hand. She doesn't root much or dig hole or till the earth. Her home is a very dense brush pile, which keeps cool in summer and warm in winter.

    Most people use goats or pigs for this though. They will turn the dirt up like crazy and poop like crazy in crazy amounts. Goats will also teach you to 'critter proof' your fence ;) Plus they're more sociable, can provide fiber or milk if desired, can pack out meat if you hunt, and they're cute.

    Another thought is chickens. They trample the earth, eat the weeds and bugs, dig, poop A LOT, turn compost, lay eggs, and are cost effective and easy to maintain. A contented flock might not try to escape, depends on their personalities. I find my orpingtons aren't much for leaving the pen, but the ameraucana's aren't happy unless they're on the other side.

    Just a few ideas :)

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