Planning rabbit colony, your opinions?

Larsen Poultry Ranch

True BYH Addict
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,115
Reaction score
3,128
Points
293
Location
Auburn, CA
Do not use chicken wire. It is designed to keep chickens on one side or another, but is NOT predator proof, especially as it ages. Use hardware cloth/welded wire.

You say you are trying to plan out your litters, colony living makes that more difficult than cage living. You will need to keep the bucks separate, and bring the does individually to the bucks in order to have control over the breedings. Please note that the does may fight, especially if one comes back smelling like a buck, even if they got along before. The does will also attempt to hide their litters, and likely won't always use the hides you provide. You won't be able to inspect the litters until they are more mobile, and if they dig send, you will have a very difficult time catching them. If you are trying to track the lineage for pedigrees, it will be very difficult to tell proper parentage if litters are the same age. If you are planning to eat all the offspring then that won't matter.

I am not familiar with Holland lops, are they standard size or dwarf? If you are planning to add giant rabbits later, be aware you will want to be very careful with breeding different size rabbits together, the buck should always be smaller than the doe, or you could end up with stuck kits. If you kept a buck of each type and only bred like to like, there shouldn't be an issue.
 

Larsen Poultry Ranch

True BYH Addict
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,115
Reaction score
3,128
Points
293
Location
Auburn, CA
I have been able to find cages online for 25-35 each, are you sure a colony setup is really the way you want to go? You could probably buy the wire and make cages even less expensive than that.
 

CloverHollow05

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Aug 31, 2021
Messages
22
Reaction score
23
Points
33
Location
Central Virginia
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!
The price to build the colony setup is more affordable than the cages, the chores in the colony i think are much less time consuming than cages, I think the rabbits would really benefit from being on the grass and having all that space to stretch their little legs. In addition, I do not breed for meat or show right now. I am not needing to have the most efficient setup, i don’t need to be producing litters as often as a meat breeder would, my focus is mainly having happy rabbits and producing healthy babies with the goal of improving our breeding lines.
Do not use chicken wire. It is designed to keep chickens on one side or another, but is NOT predator proof, especially as it ages. Use hardware cloth/welded wire.
That’s what I’ve heard!
You say you are trying to plan out your litters, colony living makes that more difficult than cage living. You will need to keep the bucks separate, and bring the does individually to the bucks in order to have control over the breedings. Please note that the does may fight, especially if one comes back smelling like a buck, even if they got along before. The does will also attempt to hide their litters, and likely won't always use the hides you provide. You won't be able to inspect the litters until they are more mobile, and if they dig send, you will have a very difficult time catching them. If you are trying to track the lineage for pedigrees, it will be very difficult to tell proper parentage if litters are the same age. If you are planning to eat all the offspring then that won't matter.
I plan to have a separated enclosure for the bucks, and I would never cross the different breeds. With the totes, there are lids and you can access the totes from the top to check in on the babies. Typically by the time the Holland’s (Which are a dwarf breed) are leaving the nests their faces are mature enough to tell them apart.
I have been able to find cages online for 25-35 each, are you sure a colony setup is really the way you want to go? You could probably buy the wire and make cages even less expensive than that.
Part of my problem is that I don’t have a place to hang cages. We currently have our rabbits in the shed, and it just gets so many wasps, it gets so hot, and I just feel like the rabbits aren‘t really enjoying life (sure they are happy and healthy) in the cages. If I were simply breeding for meat I think it would be different.
 

Larsen Poultry Ranch

True BYH Addict
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,115
Reaction score
3,128
Points
293
Location
Auburn, CA
My cages aren't hanging. I have them set up on metal sawhorses at a good height to reach in through the door.

If there are wasp issues, can you hang up a wasp catcher thing? Or put a box fan blowing near the rabbits so the wasps won't go near the fast moving air?
 

secuono

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
6,995
Reaction score
8,013
Points
553
Location
Virginia is for Pasture Farmers!
I had 2×3in welded wire over a chicken run. And heavy duty tarp over top, wood to hold it up and drain.
That has lasted 10+ years, new tarp every 2yrs, swept the snow off as it built up.

Had rabbits on grass, they'll kill it all off and you'll be left with dirt/mud. Water will seep down into the tunnels/nests, so better to build above ground tunnels.

Parasites are another big problem. If you don't move them to fresh grass, they'll get wormy.

Had them on concrete in the shed, too.

Eventually, I realized that in cages is best and bring the grass to them. Bring them out to play in a big space occasionally. Limited grass, as it wasn't high enough protein, so they got thin. It didn't reduce the pellet feed bill.
 

CloverHollow05

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Aug 31, 2021
Messages
22
Reaction score
23
Points
33
Location
Central Virginia
My cages aren't hanging. I have them set up on metal sawhorses at a good height to reach in through the door.

If there are wasp issues, can you hang up a wasp catcher thing? Or put a box fan blowing near the rabbits so the wasps won't go near the fast moving air?
Ohhhhh ok, that is interesting!

I tried a fan. The problem is, they now have a nest. It’s not like a problem, they don’t cause any trouble, it just kinda bothers me... the heat is the biggest issue in my current setup, and the fan hardly makes a difference.


I had 2×3in welded wire over a chicken run. And heavy duty tarp over top, wood to hold it up and drain.
That has lasted 10+ years, new tarp every 2yrs, swept the snow off as it built up.
Ohhh ok. Tarps are relatively inexpensive, so that sounds like a good option! Does the tarp go down the sides of the enclosure at all? When we had ducks, we tarped in a full corner.
Eventually, I realized that in cages is best and bring the grass to them. Bring them out to play in a big space occasionally. Limited grass, as it wasn't high enough protein, so they got thin. It didn't reduce the pellet feed bill.
Oh. Well hmm
 

secuono

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
6,995
Reaction score
8,013
Points
553
Location
Virginia is for Pasture Farmers!
Ohhhhh ok, that is interesting!

I tried a fan. The problem is, they now have a nest. It’s not like a problem, they don’t cause any trouble, it just kinda bothers me... the heat is the biggest issue in my current setup, and the fan hardly makes a difference.



Ohhh ok. Tarps are relatively inexpensive, so that sounds like a good option! Does the tarp go down the sides of the enclosure at all? When we had ducks, we tarped in a full corner.

Oh. Well hmm

I'd cover most of the sides. It needs good air flow, but protection from rain.

Using bungee chords will help them last longer.
 

Larsen Poultry Ranch

True BYH Addict
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,115
Reaction score
3,128
Points
293
Location
Auburn, CA
My buns are in cages on metal sawhorses, under a tarped carport from Harbor freight. I also installed misters along the long edge in addition to the box fans which are on the short ends blowing through all the cages. If the temp is going to into the 80s, I turn on the fans. If it's going above 90 I turn on the misters. The misters will ruin the feed pellets so I remove the feed if I use the misters. The rabbits don't eat during the heat anyway because it will raise their body temperature.

I have hanging water bottles but also add crocks when it's warmer as the bottles heat up faster and rabbits won't drink water that is too warm.
 

Grizzlyhackle

Loving the herd life
Joined
Nov 26, 2020
Messages
488
Reaction score
917
Points
163
Location
Salisbury Maryland
Right now I've got 5 adults and 5 young. All in raised wire and wood hutches. 4 are under a harbor freight cloth covered carport. The rest are under tarps in two old dog pens. I'm across the Chesapeake from you so my weather's similar.
I wouldn't do a colony. I realize wire and materials are expensive. I'm building a hutch now and sweating how much I'm spending. Everything that's been posted as negatives I agree with.
Snow and rain, they're off the ground and dry. Snow here is generally light until it isn't. The tarps and wire might buckle, plywood roof won't.
I had wasps once in the hutch. Didn't bother the rabbit or me, winter I pulled it out.
Winter you wrap the sides with heavy plastic or tarps on the prevailing wind side.
In separate cages or hutches you can tell who is eating or drinking, control your breeding, handle the kits.
On the ground I would imagine you'll have more problems with ticks, mites and probably fleas.
Summer time definitely sucks it's been close to 100 under the carport couple of times. Freeze some soda bottles, ceramic or granite tiles. They lay on them or not but I give them the chance. I change the water twice a day.
On the ground they will eat everything nothing will grow for long. You'd have too have different pens like having different pastures. In a cage they relieve themselves in the same spot everyday. You'll have to dig that out occasionally on the ground and put down lime to stop the flies.
I wanted to do a colony myself but I feel in the long run hutches/ covered cages are the way to go.
You commented about netting. Use wire. Any kind of net will rot in the ground or in the sun. When you least expect it you'll get a hole. Same with chicken wire.
Any wood you use can't be treated. If they can reach it they chew it and everything I've read that's bad for the animal, dogs included.
 

Latest posts

Top