RABBIT FARMING (PART 3)
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.
Rabbit housing at Aven Nature’s Farm.