Planning rabbit colony, your opinions?

CloverHollow05

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Hello! I have a holland lop rabbitry. My 10 rabbits are currently living in wire bottomed cages. Three of the rabbits are split between two outdoor hutches, six of them are in stackers in the shed, and one is in a dog crate in the shed. I am planning my fall litters and realized a long time ago that I need a better setup! I need more space for a more affordable price than those stackers, which are like $300 to house 3 rabbits. I have a neighbor who raises meat rabbits in a colony setting, so I talked to her and looked at her facebook page, and really love the idea of a colony. The care and maintenance seems more manageable, the rabbits just look so genuinely happy to be together, and they have access to fresh grass and lots of space.

My plan is to buy those 8 ft wooden posts from Lowes, space them 8 feet apart buried 1 to 2 feet deep, run welded wire between them, throw some bird netting laced with shiny ribbon as the roof, bury some totes and buckets as hides and nest boxes, grow some grass (planning on tall fescue), and set up 2 or 3 feeding and water areas. It has priced out to about $400 and will be 36' by 16' and 6' tall so I can walk in. Following the 30 square feet per rabbit rule, I can have 20 rabbits. I do plan to fence in a smaller section within the enclosure for my bucks, so I can plan my litters. If it works out, I hope to add continental giant (maybe a buck and 2 or 3 does) in the future.

My questions:
What are your thoughts on this plan?
Does that roof sound ok?
How deep should I bury wire or gravel so they can't dig out?
Do the bucks need to be separated in their own 2'-3' by 8' enclosure, or can they share an 8' by 8' enclosure? I have 2 bucks.
If I ever added a giant breed in the future (I am interested in Continental giants) could they share the colony with the lops?
Is there anything I am missing or anything I should know about colony setups before I jump in?
How long does grass take to grow? (I have heard many mixed opinions)

Edit: The wire is 3 inch by 4 inch with 1/2 inch babysaver wire on the bottom 6 to 12 inches and the bird netting on the roof is 2.5 inch. Does this sound ok? Should I worry about possums?

Thanks! (sorry if I posted this in the wrong section)
 
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Alaskan

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My first question... where do you live?

Bird netting tops do not work if you get heavy snow.

I have never used a netting top where I needed nighttime protection (but I have chickens, not rabbits).... so... I worry a bit about owls or raccoons ripping a hole to enter.....

What predators do you have?
 

CloverHollow05

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My first question... where do you live?

Bird netting tops do not work if you get heavy snow.

I have never used a netting top where I needed nighttime protection (but I have chickens, not rabbits).... so... I worry a bit about owls or raccoons ripping a hole to enter.....

What predators do you have?
Oops, I forgot to add that to my profile! I am in central VA. Our predators are mainly coyotes, possums, and birds. We have a wooded area around our yard, but we have 3 large livestock guardian dogs who did a wonderful job when we had ducks. We sometimes hear the owls way out in the woods. The dogs bark at the birds during the day, and who knows what they bark at during the night! The coyotes do not come inside the dogs area though.

We do not get heavy snow.
Edit: We have only had a raccoon in the dog's area once since getting the dogs 4 years ago. We are pretty certain it had rabies though as it was broad daylight and it's behavior was very bold, but wobbly.
 
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CloverHollow05

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If it would be better, I could get 1 inch netting for the roof, and get enough that I could put it on the floor as well under a thin layer of dirt before I plant my grass, so the rabbits don't dig out!
 

secuono

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They're going to be eaten.

You need wire on the bottom, 1/2×1 inch wire on the walls and 1×1 inch wire on the roof. Or do solid roof. At least 1.5ft should be tiny hole wire or use solid wood. Higher can be larger, but foxes, weasles, rats can get in.

No solid roof means soggy rabbits. Soggy rabbits are sickly, dead rabbits. Snow will collapse it from the little we do get in Va.

Posts 2ft in the ground, so freezes don't move them.

Moms might share nests or kill kits, have to try it to know what will happen.

Breeding will be random, unless bucks live separately and does are brought to each individually for breeding.

Does fought a bit worse than bucks, but with enough space, they usually mind their own space.

You'll need huts for each rabbit, plus a few extras.

Several water bottles, several hay racks or one very long one. Two or three long feeders or several small feeders for pellets. They will get dumped.


It's best for rabbits to grow up together than to try and make them get along as adults. You'll have to put the bucks together in the new, big space and spend a few hours out there watching them. They can castrate each other.
Same with the does.
 

Alaskan

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I remember a guy on BYC that had great photos of his colony setup.

But i can't find it.

I did find this though:


And on this thread on BYC, scroll down to post #9 where Moonshiner starts going over his experience.

 
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Alaskan

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Found it!

 

CloverHollow05

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I remember a guy on BYC that had great photos of his colony setup.

But i can't find it.

I did find this though:


And on this thread on BYC, scroll down to post #9 where Moonshiner starts going over his experience.

Found it!

Oooooo thank you!
 

CloverHollow05

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You need wire on the bottom, 1/2×1 inch wire on the walls and 1×1 inch wire on the roof.
Ok... I am finding 1/4 inch wire for cheaper than I can find 1/2 inch by 1 inch, is there anything wrong with such small holes? Are we talking about chicken wire or welded wire? I am thinking welded wire (I know some people call it hardware cloth)
Does fought a bit worse than bucks, but with enough space, they usually mind their own space.
My space would have about 500 square feet of space between my 7 does.

Snow will collapse it from the little we do get in Va.
Snow will collapse the wire or the net?
Moms might share nests or kill kits, have to try it to know what will happen.
You'll need huts for each rabbit, plus a few extras.
I planned to bury totes for the rabbits' nests and hides. Enough for each of my does, plus a couple extras. And I do plan to have my bucks separated, each with their own buried tote for shelter.


So the netting on the roof is not a safe option then? Would motion sensor lights (i found some solar powered ones on amazon for $30) be good to have no matter what roofing I have?

Thank you for your help!
 

Alasgun

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Im curious as to why so much effort is going into such a set up? There’s been numerous formal studies done that show raising rabbits on wire is healthier for the rabbits and less stressful for the rabbitere. (you)

many years ago mother earth news ran a story about a french colony where they simply arranged alfalfa square bales on the ground like a maze, leaving tunnels and open common areas for the bunnies. Then another layer in top which was solid, no spacing. Like most stuff in the M.E.N back then, it sounded better than it worked out. I wasnt into rabbits at the time but remembered thinking, gee this looks interesting.

Raising rabbits isn’t that difficult, stick with the science to keep it from becoming so!
 

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