Breeding in a Colony

Bunnylady

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With the single exception of the European wild rabbit, every rabbit species in the world is solitary in nature. Because the European rabbit is often found in groups, the assumption has been made that they prefer the company of others. People who have actually studied the behavior of rabbits in a warren have come to the conclusion that the rabbits are being forced together because local conditions give them nowhere else to go. Rather than preferring the company of other rabbits, they are merely tolerating it - to a certain extent.

The nastiness that Bossroo witnessed is actually very normal (and yes, I have seen similar behavior on occasion, including a young buck who basically castrated his 4 brothers by the time they were 10 weeks old). What isn't normal is the snuggly, lovey kind of behavior we want to see in our bunnies. Baby bunnies need to be cuddly and snuggly with each other, otherwise, they would freeze to death. Just as the friendliness that we generally prefer in dogs is really puppy behavior, this kind of "sociability" in rabbits is also juvenile behavior. As a certain amount of temperament seems to be inheritable, by choosing rabbits that exhibit this kind of behavior as breeders, we can create animals that behave in ways vastly different from their ancestors.

So when people get me involved in the perpetual "social or solitary" debate about rabbits, I have learned to say that they can be either one, depending on the rabbit.
 
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samssimonsays

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Space and lots of visual blocks worked for mine. I used 2x4 welded wire goat fence that was 4.5' tall (goat fencing) and then you can run chicken wire along the bottom. They will dig out, predators can climb or dig in. Line the bottom with chicken wire as well and you can use a bird netting or chicken wire over the top for protection if they are outside. Some does just don't work out in a colony setting. The key is to finding the easy natured ones who DO work and keeping their offspring and raising them in the colony from day one will also teach them the "proper" social skills and they are more apt to be good colony members. Emancipation Acres has some really great articles on colony raising too. That was where I got most of my successful info from. Until then I had tried several times and had it fail.
 

micah wotring

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With the single exception of the European wild rabbit, every rabbit species in the world is solitary in nature. Because the European rabbit is often found in groups, the assumption has been made that they prefer the company of others. People who have actually studied the behavior of rabbits in a warren have come to the conclusion that the rabbits are being forced together because local conditions give them nowhere else to go. Rather than preferring the company of other rabbits, they are merely tolerating it - to a certain extent.

The nastiness that Bossroo witnessed is actually very normal (and yes, I have seen similar behavior on occasion, including a young buck who basically castrated his 4 brothers by the time they were 10 weeks old). What isn't normal is the snuggly, lovey kind of behavior we want to see in our bunnies. Baby bunnies need to be cuddly and snuggly with each other, otherwise, they would freeze to death. Just as the friendliness that we generally prefer in dogs is really puppy behavior, this kind of "sociability" in rabbits is also juvenile behavior. As a certain amount of temperament seems to be inheritable, by choosing rabbits that exhibit this kind of behavior as breeders, we can create animals that behave in ways vastly different from their ancestors.

So when people get me involved in the perpetual "social or solitary" debate about rabbits, I have learned to say that they can be either one, depending on the rabbit.
Ah, ok. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you very much!

Space and lots of visual blocks worked for mine. I used 2x4 welded wire goat fence that was 4.5' tall (goat fencing) and then you can run chicken wire along the bottom. They will dig out, predators can climb or dig in. Line the bottom with chicken wire as well and you can use a bird netting or chicken wire over the top for protection if they are outside. Some does just don't work out in a colony setting. The key is to finding the easy natured ones who DO work and keeping their offspring and raising them in the colony from day one will also teach them the "proper" social skills and they are more apt to be good colony members. Emancipation Acres has some really great articles on colony raising too. That was where I got most of my successful info from. Until then I had tried several times and had it fail.
So, by chicken wire and bird netting do you mean that hexigonigal stuff? The only kind like that I can get is so thin wire guage that it rusts SUPER quick. I was thinking of doing it on concrete with like 6" of dirt and then like a foot of hay. We have an old (BIG!) barn that we only have a few cows in so that's why I was going to do it on concrete.
 

DutchBunny03

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A good wire spacing would be 2" by 1". That would prevent the kits from getting through. Bucks have a tendency to kill kits. Rabbits also have been known to mate through fences, so a double-layer fence would be a good investment. Warning- DOES WILL FIGHT!!! One of my does has bloodied another rabbit's neck. They are very territorial. The best way to prevent an incident like that is to bond the does before having them live together.
 

micah wotring

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A good wire spacing would be 2" by 1". That would prevent the kits from getting through. Bucks have a tendency to kill kits. Rabbits also have been known to mate through fences, so a double-layer fence would be a good investment. Warning- DOES WILL FIGHT!!! One of my does has bloodied another rabbit's neck. They are very territorial. The best way to prevent an incident like that is to bond the does before having them live together.
Thank you! so to bond them would keeping them one wire wall apart for a few weeks work? Or would it be best to just keep the two does from the same litter? (This would be hard when you get a bigger colony)
Thanks again,
MW
 

DutchBunny03

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You don't need to keep them apart for that long. My rabbit that bloodied the other rabbits neck was rebonded with the rabbit she attacked within a few days. The trick is correction and negative reinforcement. Spray the aggresive rabbit in the head with a squirt bottle of water. After a few days, the rabbits will lay down by each other and groom each other. When this happens, watch the rabbits for a little while to make sure they dont fight again. You should only need to bond your original does. Dams and kits will probably not have any big problems. Soon, you will have so many rabbits that fights may arise, but that is a part if colony raising. Have fun:weee!!
 
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