• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Jay Angler
stewards:
  • Pearl Sutton
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
master gardeners:
  • Timothy Norton
  • Christopher Weeks
gardeners:
  • Tina Wolf
  • Matt McSpadden
  • Jeremy VanGelder

What is the rabbit equivalent of pastured poultry?

 
gardener
Posts: 1391
Location: Central Maine (Zone 5a)
501
homeschooling kids trees chicken woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi,
Is anyone doing "rotational grazing" with rabbits?

Rabbits are on my list to add sometime, but I dislike the idea of a bunch of cages behind my garage set up on posts where the rabbits never get on grass. On the other hand, if I were to full on "free range" my rabbits, I would never find them again, and probably start having problems with them eating my garden. With chickens, I feel that a mobile coop and fence is a good compromise where I can target the manure and pest eating ability while allowing the chickens quite a bit of freedom and still protect from predators. Is there an equivalent for rabbits? I know Daniel Salatin using some little rabbit tractors, but the breeding stock seems to be kept in cages. I have seen some people setup rabbit warrens, but these are difficult to tell how many you have and cannot be moved.

Thoughts?
 
Posts: 68
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
25
6
kids hugelkultur forest garden plumbing urban building
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Matt!
Rabbits are the only acceptable meat animal I am allowed where I live. Darn bylaws! I have a double lot and I intend on dedicating a good portion to grazing area for them. I plan to have a skiddable warren and moveable fences so I can paddock shift them. The warren will have dark tunnels made from unglazed clay tubes and pots so they can't be dug through but can still breathe on the lower level. There will be food, water and litter box on the upper level as well as windows or screens depending on the season. The food, water and a portion of the "burrow" will be heated in the winter so they can choose where to hang out. In my research I read that rabbits are less likely to dig out of a run if they can't see through the fence so my fences will be solid or at least covered to bunny height. I'm not sure how many I will have but a couple does and a buck at least.
 
gardener
Posts: 3650
Location: South of Capricorn
1901
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
the people i've seen doing it move the cages a bit every day on tall grass (Living Traditions Homestead on Youtube is a good resource for rabbits). Most places, there is serious predator pressure that makes it difficult to leave rabbits out in the open. I'm in an urban setting and I'm still dodging feral cats, hawks, snakes, rats, the neighbor says she's seen foxes...I never know what's next. Luckily my rabbits are big now-- the cats just go sniff them and then run away. But I keep mine in hutches and have a "play run" for one to go out at a time when weather permits. They can dig, graze, but mostly they just lay about. The hutch has overhanging sides of chicken wire and planks that throw some shade, which also makes less of a target area for hawks. If I had small rabbits, I'd have to completely redo my run setup.

Another pro of keeping everyone separated is breeding control- if you have extreme weather, you can know for sure who is expecting kits when (or who is overdue, or who never gets pregnant, or which buck throws the best kits, etc etc). Also less fighting. I have seen some warren-type rabbit operations where they just let all the rabbits live together and "sort it out", though. I guess it depends on what your goals are.
Moving them on an organized basis also keeps down parasite load. I know people do meat production without moving, but you need to know your stuff about what to look out for when you're butchering to make sure your meat is edible.
 
Posts: 11
Location: central VA
8
hugelkultur duck rabbit
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Okay I may be late, but I have been too excited about this idea not to bring it up... the Bunny Quad! I have had it planned out for a year + now, I just haven't taken the time to rent the trencher and implement it yet - so untested! But if you try it please let me know!

Above you will see my fine MS Word skills are work to try and depict what I have in my head for a rotational grazing solution for rabbits. Essentially it functions off of the simply geometry of a circle within a square; as in a circle within a square only touches the square at 4 points - the middle of each side. This is where you would put latches (still haven't figured out exactly which latch mechanism to use in order to "pass the gate" through) that the gates are held by.

So in doing this it separates the rabbit pen into quadrants. For example, as the top right quad is sectioned off above. This gives you a corner to put a hutch with a worm bin beneath (mine is 3' x 5' and fits in the corner). When the rabbits have eaten through any fodder planted and dug their burrows, then you move the forward most gate to the next section and latch it (cutting the space in half). Then go back, move the hutch to the next corner, and get the next gate to rotate and encourage the rabbits towards the next quad (fresh grass should help). Then latch the lagging gate to the next spot and reseed the old space.

I plan to implement it on a small scale first with 16 foot regular metal gates, then the square would need to be 32 feet total + the width of the central rotation point - which I have planned to be an old oak for the shade and because dropped leaves in the fall wont hurt the rabbits to eat. It might be scalable later, but for right now I want to start with this.

Initial concerns are
- i've got a welding project with creating that center ring that the gates will swing on.
- Not sure what the rate of rotation is yet, but having some perennials that will come back after grazing is ideal. My first though is bamboo, maybe some artichoke. Besides that it will be reseeding after each rotation.
- One more thing! I will have to dig a trench along the quad lines, where the gates will be latched on top of, to prevent the rabbits from burrowing between quads. So I plan to do like my last rabbit pen and attach chicken wire to scrap wood and bury that 2 feet, while the top end of the 2 ft tall /16 feet long stretch of chicken wire is attached to wood resting (or just buried under the surface). That will be going right up to some roots that might be an issue. I'll have to get those done before renting the trencher. Even better is I can orient the quad to line up with some big perpendicular roots!

Any thoughts?  
 
What are your superhero powers? Go ahead and try them on this tiny ad:
Our perennial nursery has sprouted!
https://permies.com/t/174246
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic