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Meat Rabbir Colony Plans

Discussion in 'Meat Rabbits' started by mikki717, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. Aug 12, 2017
    mikki717

    mikki717 Exploring the pasture

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    Hello all,

    I am new to the forums here, and have had rabbits since January 2017. Newbie all around.

    I live in the High Desert of Southern California, and while the climate is great for rabbits 9 months out of the year, the summer is brutal. I currently have hanging cages, but have had to install fans with a solar panel, and bring out frozen bottles daily. During the hottest days, (over 102) I have brought them into the house in plastic crates for the AC. So far that has been about 15 days so far.

    While I was dead set against a colony setup originally, this climate is just not good for rabbits unless they can burrow.

    So here are my plans.... I have a 24' x 24' area quartered into 12 x 12 sections. There is no vegetation, but it is mostly covered (roofed) by plywood. (Some sections have aged and blown away, but 80% is still covered to bring shade.) Please see the attached picture of my "blueprints"

    One quarter is already enclosed on three sides, and now houses the hanging cages, and would be utilized for either grow outs or hospital cages, and for hay and feed. There is room for 2 buck areas, 6' x 6' each.

    The does would have either a 12' x 24' section, or two 12' x 12' quarters. I have several crates that would be buried (for temperature control), with a hinged lid, granting access to the kits, and I plan to build several crates to allow shelter or hiding space for the buns. All of the crates and pallets are free from work, except for 1 sheet of plywood, and several bales of straw for wind blinds. (We have heavy South winds most days of the year.) A 4' x 6' piece of plywood will create a covered area for additional shade.

    4'' x 2'' fencing will surround each section, and the surroundings to create an "escape area." This is so that if I have any escapees that burrow out, they will be in a dog free area until I can get out to catch them again and fill in any holes. My family dogs have free run of the property, unless fenced. Above the fencing will be bird netting to discourage hawks or owls. The doe area will have chicken wire added to the bottom so that kits cannot escape into an unsafe area.

    Questions:

    Do I need to worry excessively about snakes? I haven't seen any on my property as of yet, but if I introduce prey....will a rattlesnake be able to take down an adult or only the babies?

    I have three NZ/Calif Does. Two seniors, and one junior that is from my first litter. The Seniors were raised together, and have cages next to each other. Will they be able to get along in a colony, or should I begin with youngsters>

    Am I over thinking this? I would appreciate any opinions.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  2. Aug 12, 2017
    promiseacres

    promiseacres True BYH Addict

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    :welcome we raise show bunnies so no colony for us. But there are a few on here that do. Hopefully they will chime in.
     
  3. Aug 12, 2017
    Hens and Roos

    Hens and Roos Herd Master

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    Welcome :frow, glad you joined us. We raise rabbits as well but ours are housed in our shop. We have a few 3' x 6' floor pens that we use for a doe to raise her kits in but have to separate out as they reach maturity- bigger areas might work since they would have room to be away from each other.

    Hopefully others will stop in and give you some feedback.
     
  4. Aug 12, 2017
    Bossroo

    Bossroo True BYH Addict

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    I would rethink the colony gig. Not only do you have predators to wory about, but many pathogens too carried in by rats, mice, wind, wet areas etc. Also, some rabbits may get along , while others will fight to the death when they reach sexual maturity and / or to protect their personal territory , even against their own littermates.
     
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  5. Aug 15, 2017
    DutchBunny03

    DutchBunny03 Loving the herd life

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    If you want optimal meat production, you are not going to get it in a colony. The rabbits will fight over food, diseases that can be easily cured will wipe out most of your herd, and as @Bossroo said, predators will kill your rabbits. In theory, colonies are good because they give rabbits a more natural setting, but domestic rabbits are not natural. They dont belong in a natural setting. You let a bunch of domestic rabbits out into a natural setting, chaos ensues, and you will become extremely frustrasted very, very quickly. If you want your rabbits to have time to exercise and play, keep them in spacious hutches, with 2 bonded does to a hutch until breeding time, 1 buck to a hutch for life, and let the groups of rabbits out into a fenced in area at different times. They will be much happier, and you will be able to supervise and control breeding and diseases much, much better.
    But in response to your colony plans, if you insist on colony raising, your plans are much better thought out than many colony plans that i have seen.
     
  6. Aug 16, 2017
    Bossroo

    Bossroo True BYH Addict

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    You can keep 2 or more castrated males ( so no hormones ) in one cage and experience virtually no issues. However, as to bonded sexually mature does , means that one is dominant over the other and the lesser one defers to the dominant one. If and when the dominant doe shows any weakness , stress or illness , sooner or later fir will fly. Know what the wild ancestors' natural social order of dominance are and apply it to a group of now domestic rabbits. Once they are put back into their near original environments that they once were in, they revert to what their genetic inheritance behavior dictates as well as survival rates no mater what OUR vision of ideal natural environment , peace and harmony of a colony setting may be. Edit of add : See today's latest postings in "Everything else rabbits" --- "litternate agressiveness"
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
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  7. Aug 21, 2017
    Calendula

    Calendula Loving the herd life

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    I have been raising my meat rabbits in a colony setting, but I am in a very different area, so it is easier. Haha.
    Mine are kept in a corner of the barn, on cement, to keep them from digging burrows because although I like most of the colony idea, I did NOT like the idea of not being able to check kits daily. We've been meaning to try the wire idea, but it seems like such a pain. If you go through with this, please share how that goes!

    I raise Rexes and so far, haven't had any fights whatsoever. Everyone has been very relaxed, shared food, etc. Of course, I only have one doe and one buck, and they are separated. :hide
     
  8. Aug 21, 2017
    Bossroo

    Bossroo True BYH Addict

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    I raise Rexes and so far, haven't had any fights whatsoever. Everyone has been very relaxed, shared food, etc. Of course, I only have one doe and one buck, and they are separated. :hide[/QUOTE]
    Well , that explains it. Edit to add: Again, see today's post in everything else rabbit - littermate aggressiveness .........
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  9. Oct 18, 2017
    Sasmith

    Sasmith Exploring the pasture

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    We raised 4 females (California/NZ) in a 10x12 hoop hut with a wire floor for a long time until one of the kids left the door open and we now have free range rabbits. Only once did we have a female who was aggressive and fought with the others (she was removed) more often than not you'd see them playing with or cleaning each other. Even at feeding time there was no fighting that I saw. As far as diseases go all I can says is ours appeared healthy enough. On the flip side rabbits raised in a colony won't be nearly as tame even in 10x12 structure catching them can be a chore you'll need a separate pen for your buck and another one for a grow out area if a disease did show up it would probably take out all of them and even though ours didn't really fight when rabbits do fight it ain't pretty. Personally I liked raising them in a colony style and will probably be doing it again in the future
     
  10. Oct 18, 2017
    Bunnylady

    Bunnylady True BYH Addict

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    If you watch, really watch, what's going on, "playing" is aggression in a subdued form. The dominant animal moves, the subordinate moves away. As long as everybody keeps in their place, the pecking order is maintained, and the colony remains peaceful. Even among rabbits that are "best buddies," one is going to be dominant. Some rabbits just need more space, or refuse to be subordinated; that's often when the fighting breaks out (sometimes with no warning).
     
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