Alot of thought and planning should be done before starting to construct and equip anything for rabbit care. When this is done right, it should ultimately reduce the amount of labour required for your farm. Besides, the optimum working environment can only be achieved if the design and layout enable you to keep the housing clean and if it is easy to use.
Selecting the right housing system
Most often, rabbit houses should be built on a raised platform to make drainage easier, and they should be in a shaded area to reduce heat stress on the animals. Predator animals, dust, odours, smoke, and other contaminants all pose a threat to rabbit farming. These threats should all be avoided, and water and power should be easily available.
Rabbits can be raised in any one of the housing systems shown below:
Cages can be kept inside a shed or outdoors on wooden, metal, or concrete racks. The shed method can be a permanent structure with a half-wall of brick and iron as well as a concrete floor for sufficient drainage.
Cages come in a variety of sizes, but most are 90 cm by 65 cm wide and 40 cm high, or 0,6 square metres, and made of welded wire mesh. Cages can also be stacked in a tier system inside the shed to save space and labour.
Hanging cage system
Very similar to the cage system, with the exception that the cages are hanged from the roof with chains or ropes. Those who have enough space, can easily benefit from this method. A natural soil floor can be used.
Due to its size, this cage type works well in larger buildings, such as barns or sheds. Hanging cages allow urine to be quickly absorbed by the soil, whereas the faeces remain on the surface.
The transmission of illness is kept to a minimum thanks to the use of individual hanging cages. The danger of snuffles, rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease, and respiratory difficulties is low because of the little interaction with other rabbits. Coccidiosis is not a problem in a herd since the rabbits do not interact with one another.
Rabbit hutches also make good rabbit housing. The construction of this type of housing is more expensive than the others mentioned. Hutches are available in iron, bamboo, and wood.
Wire mesh flooring should be used for simple cleaning, and each compartment should have the same minimum dimensions as the caged system. A hutch with a small number of compartments that can be moved from one location to another can be built.
When cages are built of wood, the mesh wire should be put on the inside of the cage to cover the wood since rabbits will gnaw on it.
During the summer, hutches can be kept in a shady location to avoid heat stress. Hutches are independent structures and do not require being kept in a barn or smaller building. The flooring found in hutches consists of wire. Adding stress pads and/or natural bedding will prevent sore hocks.
Colony housing system
Rabbit colony housing is a popular alternative to traditional cages. Colony life, as opposed to meat rabbit cages, allows rabbits to socialise with one another. Each rabbit requires 0,4 square metres of floor space.
A separate area is set out for bucks, does, and kits. In this way, there will be no unwanted mating and fighting.
A rabbit colony housing set-up is appropriate for rabbit barns or other rabbit-related facilities. The house of a colony is made to seem like the natural environment of a rabbit.
Rabbit tractor cages
A steel or wood frame is used with wire covering the sides and bottom to prevent rabbits from digging out or predator animals from getting in. The top of the cage needs a roof to ensure the rabbits can seek shelter against the sun and rain.
One corner can be closed with sheeting on the side panels to ensure it is more protected from the elements. The 0,4 square metre per rabbit rule should be followed, so 5 rabbits can be accommodated in a 2 m by 1 m wide and 0,4 m high tractor.
The cage can be moved daily to enable the rabbits to eat the grass beneath the cage.
All pregnant does and does with kits should be provided with nesting boxes. The doe will require the nesting box in order to keep her babies warm. This box should be approximately 25 cm by 25 cm wide and 38 cm high.
Soil is recommended for use as a surface for rabbits. The top soil that soaks up the urine can be removed and used as compost when replaced with clean soil. This is in contrast to wood and concrete, which also absorb urine, water, and other substances, making it extremely difficult to keep odourless and clean.
To avoid disease, the cages need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and they should be kept dry. They must be protected from the sun, wind, and rain. Because rabbits can handle cold better than heat, it is not essential to place the cages in buildings such as sheds to protect them from the cold, but a roof will help to keep them dry and cool.
The information provided in this article is credited to:
The National Department of Agriculture in South Africa in cooperation with JA Erasmus at the Glen Agricultural Development Institute. For more information visit www.daff.gov.za or send an e-mail to DPP@nda.agric.za.
Nurturing the roots of change in rural Kenya in cooperation with Bonnie Ami Holt at the Mitahato Education and Development Fund. For more information visit www.mitahatoedf.com/ or contact them on +254-728-082887.
Dutta, P., Singh, R.K., Dhali, A. & Rajkhowa, C. (2009). BACKYARD RABBIT
FARMING. 10.13140/RG.2.1.1742.5440/1. Further discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: www.researchgate.net/publication/273886912