…continued from Part 1:
Our rabbits are housed in a multi-cage structure, with each rabbit over 12 weeks having its own cage. Each cage is oversized, and long and tall enough that the rabbit can have plenty of room to hop and stand up on its hind legs. Each cage has a fully-enclosed nest box with a wire bottom and removable wooden floor that is added when the temperatures get below 40* consistently. As winter comes, we add straw to the nest boxes to help insulate further. When weather permits, we try to allow at least 2 at a time out into a fenced pen to play and dig at will. We clean rabbit droppings regularly, and when possible, cover the areas is some type of woody material–mulch, pine shavings, etc., which helps prevent any urine or ammonia smells. In the future, we plan to experiment with a community rabbit pen, where rabbits are left out in a large pen permanently to…well….act like rabbits and do what they want to do. They are several ways to approach this, so we haven’t quite decided what we want to do yet. Stay tuned for that info!
- For now, our rabbits’ diet consists of free-choice feedings of a commercial rabbit pellet. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a good organic version I can get locally. Once I am able to breed a hardier animal, I plan to switch over to organic alfalfa pellets and whole grains. In addition, they get free-choice grass/alfalfa hay to munch on. It saves money on pellets, and gives them something to do all day.
- To help prevent parasites of any type, I occasionally use diatomaceous earth sprinkled on they feed pellets (so they eat it), in their nest boxes, and around the cages.
- I prefer to only offer quality rabbits for sale (good reps of the breed), so I have sold very few so far due to current circumstances. All others are used for meat around 12 weeks. Most folks seem to butcher around 8 weeks, but we prefer the extra meat that another 4 weeks gives us. We do not spay/neuter our rabbits, as we have them and intend to sell them as producing livestock. If they aren’t breeding quality, then they will be used as meat.
Rabbits are the simplest to care for of all our livestock. In fact, our 7 year old is fully in charge of our small rabbit enterprise, with the exception of breeding–and then only because the rabbits are too large for him to pick up and carry. I would consider them a great project for a child/ new farmer because of their simplicity, ease of care, and true test of whether you can harvest the excess. If you can learn to harvest a cute, fluffy, cudly bunny, you can harvest about anything.