Raising Rabbits: Tips and Tricks

Bob Bode provides tips and tricks on raising rabbits for food, including housing, watering, and feeding ideas.

| March/April 1975

Inspired by MOTHER'S repeated promptings to raise rabbits, we finally made the jump out here in California. MOTHER EARTH NEWS, however, didn't tell all, and we soon ran into some problems I hadn't expected (and wouldn't have had sense enough to ask about anyway).

Raising Rabbits: Tips and Tricks

First things first: Build or buy your hutches before you get rabbits. The cardboard box accommodations we provided the first few days were a heap less than satisfactory. Knocked down wire cages cost about $7.50 per rabbit at that time and we couldn't afford them. Eventually, we prepared suitable lodgings by modifying some scrounged wire chicken cages. Almost anything will do for a pen if it has wire floors, 30 inches x 36 inches of floor space for each doe, and a ceiling at least 15 inches high.

The self-cleaning wire floor I installed in my rabbits' quarters is half-inch galvanized grid, the smallest practical size and — I think — most comfortable for a new litter. Many commercial raisers use the larger 1/2 inch x 1 inch mesh, which lets the animals' droppings fall through more readily,. (The walls cap be made of 1inch s 2 inch netting.)

Before you construct the floor, incidentally, check the galvanizing of the wire for a top and bottom. The grid is dipped in a molten solution during its manufacture and the drips harden into sharp spikes which — if allowed to point upward — will give your bunnies sore hocks. (Some brands, by the way, drip sideways and so have no "up" or "down".)

A handy feature for my bunny pen is a door that's larger than the opening it covers, mounted on the inside, hinged along the top, and made to swing inward. That way, in the event that you ever forget to latch a cage, the rabbit won't escape and gleefully nibble your vegetables to nubbins.

Rather than pay $1.25 each for crockery watering bowls, we used some aluminum pans we already had available. They weren't a rousing success by any means. Our does have never given us many problems, but the buck (George) is super mischievous … and as soon as our backs were turned he'd upend his waterer, pick it up in his teeth and toss it playfully around the pen with a flip of his head. Authorities insist that rabbits should have clean, fresh water before them at all times … so, to prevent George from emptying his pan every time we left him unattended, we wired it to the cage. The rest of the day we could hear the frustrated scrabbling's of our buck as he tried in vain to overturn the container. I chuckled, muttered "Outwitted the beastie!", and grinned victoriously to myself as I slipped into sleep that evening.

11/9/2013 11:05:23 AM

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