The “hutch” is more often thought to be the typical rabbit housing, and is to be considered in your rabbit empire-but with the following provisions not unlike we discussed last week. This was my first hutch design for the large French lops. This hutch contained 3 does and 1 buck. The dimensions were 12′ long and 3′ wide and 2′ high. The nest boxes were larger, a 1′ wide X 3′ long. Access to the nest boxes was from the two ends, one rear door and one door in front.
The big consideration was locating it in the pines for shade and comfort. Full size Lops are warm rabbits and with the hay filled oversize nest boxes they were toasty in the winter.
The location was good for the rabbits, bad for me. I had to carry heated water in the winter to fill up the frozen bowls. Rabbits will lick ice, but they gratefully receive warm fresh water. After a season of slipping and sliding I ran a long heavy-duty 12-gauge extension cord out and installed heated pet bowls, listed in the last article. However this did not negate me from daily visits and the ground was icy and slippery. Old people and ice do not mix well.
Another problem I encountered was mice. From their standpoint it was wonderful, they had warmth of the nest boxes, free choice food, water and they multiplied with glee. So I invented a mouse catcher that I will talk about in a later article, however, what I discovered was that mice have a “home nest” and then young mice spread out over hill and dale and start another breeding nest. The secret is to back track to the primary nest, which in my case was traced to the pond pump house.
My one-buck died. Fortunately I had a dozen young bucks to choose as his replacement but it gave warning, especially if you are raising pure stock to have at least two breeder bucks.
I could not raise mixed sex baby rabbits, the kits, in the breeding house for long, so the idea of a separated housing came to mind. So I built a same size structure, but divided in half. In separating the does from the bucks it is, again, imperative to have them all about the same age, within a few days, otherwise the eldest buck becomes dominant and seeks to insure his genes are passed. He will make great effort to chase younger and less dominant bucks and bite them in the testes. This result is a poor developed buck, possible infections and reduced overall health with Godzilla Bunny making like the school bully.
Since bucks like to perch high I thought to make a divider 3’wide shelf so less dominant rabbits could “hide” below. This led to the dominant rabbits on top but another problem developed and that was a huge pile of bunny berries piling up. As they piled up they soaked the chipboard walls and door on the side and the rabbits started to chew through. So the lesson learned was no hiding full size shelf, and no chipboard construction.
The does of course are gentler and game me no cause for concern, but it became time to re-think my hutch designs, which led to the primary design in the last article.
Even now, I am redesigning my latest rabbit housing with an improved modifications, but I feel I am on track.
For this Back2theLand setting my current thinking from over the past ten years of studying my rabbits is to make the left back wall as shown, into 1 male house in the front, and make the doe breeding houses (rooms if you prefer) into four spacious 4′ long X 2′ wide and 2′ high which includes the nest box. On the right side is the holding pens which are 6’L X 2’W X2″ high with no nest boxes, but portable nest boxes if it is a late winter for tiny rabbits which can be easily removed and cleaned. This side also includes 1 breeder male in the front. The over all measurement is 20′, and if you add up my measurements they come short-this is because the extra space is taken up by the hay feeders.
In all sites there is a provision for a hay feeder and of course the plastic ¾” flooring. I learned, as mentioned before in the previous article that wire flooring is harmful and not efficient. Speaking of wire, we use 1″X4″ wire screen for the hay feeders. The larger 2″ X 4″ wire commonly sold is too large and you will have fairly large baby and teenage rabbits slipping through and co-mingling with the opposite sex. Rabbits can squeeze through the smallest hole.
Next week we will talk about bunny romance, feeding, and odds and ends. E-mail me at: email@example.com
COPYRIGHT: 2008 Back2theLand, Mark Steel