The Rabbit Project

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CarmenA few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I decided to get a couple rabbits. We came to this idea because I recently ordered the “Grow Your Own Groceries” by Marjory Wildcraft. After watching her series of videos and researching raising rabbits on the interweb we were ready to get started with the rabbit project.

We found a chicken swap happening in Denver so we headed out to see what our options were. At most chicken swaps, folks bring more than just chickens. We seen lots of varieties of chickens, a couple goats, turkeys, sheep, and rabbits. The weather was cold and had started to lightly rain and snow so we buzzed through the other animals and ended up looking at a couple California rabbits. We wanted a breeding pair, and to our luck there were two different breeders present that we could get a female and male from different litters. We asked a lot of questions and both breeders were extremely helpful in our decision. We left there with a breeding pair of 9 week old rabbits.

We scurried to get a few rabbit cages, and some feed before going home so that we had a place to keep them. We kept them in the house for a few weeks before completing their new rabbit hutch. We purchased a few feeders and waterers and set the rabbits up in there new home.

The weather was not cooperating either as it rained and at one time began to flurry as we were still seeing the temperatures dip down into the low 30’s, but the rabbits seemed to be doing well. Hutch3They get a few hours of sunshine in the morning, but usually by 8 or 9 am they are in the shade. I think they like the morning sun as they are pretty active, and then they calm down after the temperature starts to climb. We named the female rabbit Carmen, she was “kid raised” and is such a sweet-heart as she allows us to pick her up, and usually comes over to us to say hello, while Doc the male rabbit doesn’t want anything to do with us. He plays his game of keep away when we try to fetch him up. Its been a bit over a week now and they have adjusted to the outdoors and love their new rabbit hutch.

We started them out on a nutri-feed or something that is suppose to be healthy, but they went through a 10lb bag in a couple weeks. We then tried them on a different brand called RabbitChow, this is a food that is mixed with enriched hay, and other nutrients. They devoured the 10lb bag in a week, so now we need to re-evaluate the food situation and see what is more economical, without compromising the food quality. We want what’s best for our rabbits as they will be providing for us, and are seeking out some information on what may be the best feed for our rabbits.

RabbitHutch2Shortly after setting up the rabbit hutch we noticed that after leveling the stone pads, that the hutch stood a bit too high. Taking about a foot off the legs seemed to bring it more down to a manageable size, and now it is a bit easier to get the rabbits in and out. This should help us to spend more time with them and get them socialized with people, and our two indoor critters.

UPDATE: After several weeks the rabbits are doing great, they are really taking to their new diggs, and are becoming more social and enjoy being held. They are producing a lot of droppings, as you can see in the picture above, and this is going to be helpful when planting time comes. We have heard that rabbits produce a dropping that does not need to be further composted and can be added to our soil mix for planting. I am interested to see how this works out and am starting to see how everything is intertwined into the system.

One of our future projects is to begin sprouting, and growing fodder for these rabbits. I have seen a few videos on growing fodder to supplement rabbit and chicken feed on the Interweb. I am gearing up to do a test run to see how productive this will be and to see if it will work in supplementing our feed for these little critters. We are a small scale homestead and are particular about ratios in producing meat rabbits. Please comment, advise, or respond if you have suggestions, comments or questions, thanks.

Travis

4 thoughts on “The Rabbit Project

  • April 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm
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    Having been in rabbits for quite some time the key to healthy, happy CHEAP rabbits is hay. I feed an 18% protein pellet which costs me $18/50lbs. The rabbits at any age get about 1C a day unless they are late gestation/nursing does (which are free fed). This is about $0.36/lb for the feed.
    The hay I get in HUGE quantities but even if you’re over paying to get smaller cheaper bales you should be looking at a cheaper feed. The pellets give a lot of nutrition and suits their needs but the hay fills them up. Rabbits will over eat VERY quickly and get fat; very bad. Giving toys can also help with that!
    One 50# bale of quality hay free-fed (10$ max) and one 50# bag of rabbit food ($18) should last two rabbits two months and fufill their nutritional needs. Bear in mind, not all hay is created equal! Know what kind of hay you’re getting and what cutting at what stage of growth. I like orchardgrass with a wee bit of timothy and alfalfa, 2nd cutting before bloom…. But anything with a lot of orchardgrass and little legume hay (clover, trefoil, alfalfa, etc) should suit your needs nicely!

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    • April 10, 2014 at 10:50 pm
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      This is really good information. We bought some timothy hay, but have only been giving them a little each day. We will cut back to a cup of food a day and then provide more hay for them. We have a small bale, but can buy the mixed hay that you recommend next time. We will also cut back the feed to 1 cup per day, as you recommend. We also keep a few pieces of wood in their pen to chew on and they have several toys such as canning lids to play with. They look healthy and are not plump, as we let them out occassionally to run around the yard (supervised), we have a fenced in yard and I have double checked that there is no way they can get out. They seem really happy, and a little skittish at times. Thanks again for the good information.

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      • April 11, 2014 at 10:17 am
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        You’re more than welcome! Rabbits can literally live and breed off of really good hay, some veggie snacks and a mineral block. The higher nutrients the feed the more kits you can get but hay is the building block of their diet. Good luck with your rabbits! They’re addictive!

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