RAB­BIT FARM­ING (PART 3)

Agriculture - - Management - BY ART AND ANGIE VEN­ERA­CION

WE HOPE THAT af­ter you’ve read our first two ar­ti­cles on rab­bit farm­ing, we’ve equipped you with an ad­e­quate back­ground on rab­bits. To­day, we will tackle the most im­por­tant as­pect of rab­bit farm­ing: the ac­tual man­age­ment and care of the rab­bitry.

HOUS­ING AND EQUIP­MENT

Rab­bit hous­ing de­pends on the scale and pur­pose of the op­er­a­tion. It should be able to pro­vide the fol­low­ing ba­sic re­quire­ments:

1. Can pro­vide com­fort to the rab­bits by be­ing well-lit and prop­erly ven­ti­lated; 2. Can pro­tect the rab­bits from preda­tors; 3. Can pre­vent the rab­bits from es­cap­ing; 4. Can pro­tect the rab­bits from ex­treme weather; 5. Al­lows for easy ac­cess to the rab­bits; 6. Is easy to clean or bet­ter yet, is “self-clean­ing”; and 7. Is easy to main­tain and af­ford­able.

New Zealand White breeds and other sim­i­larly-sized rab­bit breeds do well in all-wire cages. It is ideal that the cages be at a height con­ve­nient to the care­taker, usu­ally at waist level.

At Aven Na­ture’s Farm, these wire cages are placed over vermi-bins con­structed around mango and other fruit trees. Rab­bit urine, ma­nure, and other wastes fall through the wire bot­tom to the ver­mi­cul­ture in­stead of re­main­ing in the cage. This helps keep the cages clean and helps pre­vent dis­eases and par­a­sitic in­fec­tions that may be caused by con­tact with the ma­nure. The rab­bits “take care” of the worms (with their wastes), while the worms help de­com­pose the rab­bit wastes, thus elim­i­nat­ing foul odor and fly in­fes­ta­tion. This greatly im­proves the san­i­ta­tion of the rab­bitry and gives the rab­bit raiser valu­able byprod­ucts, such as worms (We use African night crawlers or ANC at our farm), ver­mi­com­post, and ver­mi­cast.

In the Philip­pines, since we have a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of bam­boo, it may be eco­nom­i­cal to use bam­boo to con­struct hutches. Be sure to place the rounded por­tion of the bam­boo slats fac­ing the in­side of the cage to pre­vent gnaw­ing by the rab­bit. To pre­vent foot in­juries, use straight bam­boo slats for the floor­ing. Wooden hutches may also be used but they re­quire more clean­ing and san­i­tiz­ing to keep them from be­com­ing a breed­ing ground for dis­eases and pests.

Cages, prefer­ably all wire, should ap­prox­i­mately be 18 inches wide, 34” deep, and 16” high to help pro­vide op­ti­mum con­di­tions in which to keep the rab­bits happy, healthy, and pro­duc­tive. This mea­sure­ment also pro­vides space for the nest­box when it has to be placed in­side the cage for the kin­dling. The sid­ings and roof should be made of gal­va­nized welded wire 1 x 1 gauge 16, while the floor­ing should be 1/2 x 1/2 gauge 16.

A grass manger is con­structed be­tween two cages. This pro­vides a con­ve­nient space to feed the rab­bits with grass. This pre­vents the rab­bits from scratch­ing out and wast­ing their food. It also pre­vents them from con­tam­i­nat­ing their food, thus im­prov­ing the rab­bitry’s san­i­ta­tion and elim­i­nat­ing health risks.

All-wire cage.

Rab­bit hous­ing at Aven Na­ture’s Farm.

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