Indoor vs outdoor rabbitry

Indoor separated, outdoor separated, indoor colony?


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Marsha Kay

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I would like to start a smallscale rabbitry for our homestead. We live in central PA. I'd like to start with 6 rabbits. 3 standard rexes (2 does and a buck) and 3 silver foxes (2 does and a buck). Originally I thought I could keep them indoors. I have a small room in my basement. I had planned on keeping the does in that room. I was going to keep one buck in my son's room as a pet and the other buck in a separate room of the house. However I am starting to second guess this decision because I'm concerned the bucks will spray in the house. So I'm wondering what the pros think. Is it worth the chance of having them spray in the house or should I build a shelter for them outside. If I do build outside I understand they will need shade and fans in the heat of summer. The other option is converting the room downstairs into a rabbit colony but then I would only be able to breed one breed of rabbit. In your expert opinions what is my best option? I chose both of those breeds because I think they will be good for meat and fur, but I'm open to other opinions on that too. I am planning on listing the babies for sale as pets or meat as well because that would be a lot of meat for my family of four to eat. I also like the silver fox breed for its rarity. I wouldn't have a lot of competition in my area if I needed to sell some babies. Looking forward to your input. Thanks in advance.
 

DutchBunny03

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Good thinking that they will spray. Bucks spray all.the.time. It can be a real pain in the neck.
Outdoor shelters are probably your best be for cleanliness. I had mine inside for a while and after a week, my basement stank. Rabbits can tolerate very extreme cold, so temperature isnt usually a problem. Fans may not be necessary. Freeze some water bottles, and put them in the hutches during the summer. The rabbits lay down next to them.
When the rabbits are outside, they get more fresh air, they barely smell at all, and you can easily collect the manure for a garden. If they are inside, they don't get fresh air, smell horrendous, and manure is a pain to collect.
Colonies should only be attempted by experts. Rabbits fight. Not just bucks, but also does. Don't let their fluffy cuteness fool you. They can and will kill each other if they get into a squabble. Though it is possible to bond two or more does together, it takes a lot of time and effort, and they may fight regardless. There are a few benefits, such as a lower feed bill and a smaller amount of space, but those benefits are far outweighed by increased kit mortality, fighting, and effort. And you don't know what rabbit sired what rabbit, so accurate records are almost impossible.
 

Pastor Dave

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It is easier to process a white rabbit because a lot less hair shows up on the carcass. The ones that comercially tan rabbit hides usually prefer white hides as well, and then they dye them.
Hobbyists that will sell their own product would be happy with the Rex hides or Silver Fox and have a pretty hide at a farmer's market, flea market, or fair, etc. for folks to browse through and buy.
It will depend what you want your consumer to be. Hope this helps some.
 

JakeM

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Some things to think about:

Why do you want 2 breeds? Especially when neither are similar except for their size and their use as a meat rabbit. Their colors, fur, and body structure are different.
If you're just starting ok I recommend starting with one breed and building up from there after a while. I didn't get a second breed until 6 years after I got my first and now (4 years later) I only have 3 of them left out of my 39 holes cause I lost interest in that breed. Point here: are you going to be able to actively focus on both or is one going to get neglected?

Do you have space to expand? Even if you only breed one doe at a time, the larger breeds normally have 8+ kits at a time. If you butcher/sell them all by ~12 weeks, one or two grow out cages will be okay.

I agree colony raising should only be tried by experts and people who really know heir rabbits/lines.

If you get a trio, try for ones closely related (sisters and a half-brother, siblings and a cousin, aunt/uncle and nephew/niece, etc.). You're kits will be more uniform as they share most traits and you're less likely to have genetic problems surface.
 

Marie28

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We have silver fox rabbits and so far we are very happy. All three are sweet hearts (very different personalities) and very easy to handle, including the two we have who did not get handled at all by the breeder we bough them from. We also have high hope for the future in involving selling and then eating the ones that don't sell. We bought them for $30-$35 a piece between 3-4 months.

We have them in a temporary home inside, until the weather permits us to finish the outdoor one. BUCKS SPRAY! Our blue buck has a pee spot out side of his cage we had to cover the side with plastic trash bag and cardboard because no matter what we do thats where he wants to pee. Its a pain and is pretty gross.... Also if you have never had rabbits in your room they can be very very loud at night, my husband had a very hard time sleeping the first week we had them. And then the smell... its not all that bad if you are diligent about cleaning but one extra day of not cleaning it out can be horrible. Personally I can't wait to get them outside.
 

Latestarter

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Greetings and welcome to BYH! I don't have rabbits but from what you describe you want to do with them, trying to keep them inside seems like a nightmare fixin' to happen to me. I'd strongly recommend you build a three sided shelter outside with a "drop tarp" front to protect them from wind in the winter. You can build multiple levels with cages above each other to conserve space and "drip trays" to catch & funnel/direct waste such as poo and pee to collection points for easier control and for putting in your garden or compost pile. You should consider putting at least your general location in your profile as help and suggestions will normally be dependent on where you're located and most won't remember your post above stating central PA. If you're just starting out for your first attempt at rabbits, you might want to start with one breed or cross breeds rather than multiple breeds. There's a wealth of info in the site threads and we have a really great group of active Rabbitteers here who will help if you ask. Hope you'll share some pics once you get started as we're a bunch of pic addicts. Glad you joined us! Make yourself at home!
 

firedragon1982

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We have ours in stacking cages in our garage with trays underneath. In good weather we can clean the trays every other day (good = no snow on the ground lol) and the smell is very easy to control. However since Nov, we've been hit with so much snow, we have ~3 ft even after it being 50 out the last few days. The wheelbarrow last week got stuck because it was half melted and I didn't realize it. When it's frozen its easy to skim across the top of the snow. Not so much when the wheel sinks down a foot or two... So we had to basically bag up the poo and take it to the dump because we couldn't get it to my compost piles. To mitigate the smell because we were only cleaning on Saturdays (still am actually lol) instead of every couple of days we used a lot of pine shavings. Helped with the urine smell. Hoping this summer to have our separate garage/barn built.

Was just thinking that last year in Feb we moved into this house and there was hardly any snow, and the daisies were already blooming! This year's winter has been utterly insane. Someone posted that the city 30 miles to the south had 136" of snow since Nov, and for every 6-8" they were getting my house got 12-16". I'll have to look at what the records say this year had in my area...
 

Marsha Kay

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Wow that is a lot of snow! We have been lucky here so far. Our chicken coop door froze closed a few times but the snow has been maneagable. Thank you everyone for your responses. I think JakeM had some good points about starting with one breed instead of two. To answer JakeM's questions I chose those two breeds because of their similar meat production and beautiful pelts. I do understand what you are saying about commercial pelt buyers preferring white pelts but I plan on making products with the pelts like pillows, gloves, etc and selling those, not selling the pelts themselves and I prefer those fur types. The only reason I was planning on starting with two breeds is because I'm having trouble choosing between them. I like them both so much and 6 rabbits, 8 cages seemed doable. I do agree with your suggestion though and I think I will start with just 3 rabbits and 5 cages. I'll just build the enclosure in such a way that I can expand it. Thanks again to everyone for your replies!
 

Baymule

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A blast from the past here......I raised show rabbits some 40 years ago.... gosh, I don't feel that darned old.... :lol: Anyhoo, I kept some 300 rabbits in hanging wire cages in a three sided barn. The bottom on two sides was left open for ventilation, covered with wire to keep varmits and dogs out. The back (north side) was fully enclosed to the ground. The front was more open with wire about halfway up to keep the sun off and to keep the bunnies from pre-baking in their cages. In winter cold, it was easy to cover with plastic, but I still left open areas to prevent ammonia build up.

Rabbits in the house? shudder and phew!

You already have chickens, this is good. I built a chicken coop onto the rabbit barn, with the ability to close/open it at will. The chickens scratched under the cages, eating fly larva, bugs and dropped feed. Their scratching also kept the smell down and I only had to clean under the cages when I needed compost in the garden, not some daily drudge chore.

Yes, chickens have mites. Yes, rabbits get ear mites. Once a month I took every rabbit and dropped mineral oil in their ears to combat and prevent ear mites.

By combining both species, I got the best from both. The rabbit barn was cleaner, less flies and practically NO smell. The chickens laid the BEST eggs. They were happy and so was I.
 
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