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Rabbit hutches becoming trendy?

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Via City Farmer News:

Backyard rabbits

As with so much permacultural, this link could go in any of several categories. It could as easily go in general homesteading because it's partly about kitchen scrap disposal, cooking and food preservation because it includes a recipe, or farm income because it suggests an expanding market for live rabbits, accessories, and training will result from urban locavores' increasing awareness. But the main thrust of the article is just on the keeping of rabbits. Enjoy!
 
Jennifer Smith
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My room mate has 2 rabbits, male and female.  They had babies but none survived... I hav had good luck with teaching horses to accept and feed foals but how would one manage rabbits?  My best so far is to plan better (make her a place before I see her pulling hair) and hope for the best in 30 days.
 
                    
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We're getting more an more interested in rabbits for meat and fur on our homestead.  I just found this article which talks about the two kinds of poo that rabbits make.  They immediately eat a softer type of poo, called caecotrophs, to recycle the nutrients in it!  I for one think this is really cool. 

One doe can have 20 babies a year!  And they live just about entirely off forage.  Serious protein creators. 
 
Chelle Lewis
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Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
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Doesn't have to be hutches.... even in an urban set-up. They are highly intelligent animals. Colony raising can be successful if care taken against parasite build-up. A cement run that is swilled down with disinfectant can protect from coccidiosis build-up if area is small backyard.

I have seen some hutches that really try for enrichment. Rabbits are happy to live on multi-levels ..... with ramps ...... and "furniture" like tunnels and tree stumps in a wider base area improve life for them immensely. They love to gnaw on wood so care should be taken that only edible stumps are used. If there is a dominant animal then places to escape to for more submissive rabbits are important. Rabbits also seem to need "me time" where just sit alone in a favourite place of choice. If the traditional cage-type hutch is used alone it is essential to allow them out to move during the day... or rather don't keep rabbits. Stress levels in such an environment are cruel. They are actually nocturnal animals but will still enjoy some freedom during the day if that is all that can be offered.

One point not made in the article... rabbits need a lot more care than chickens. I would also not leave males in with females as suggested in the article. But agree they are a superb source of protein and well-worth investigating.

Chelle
 
                    
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My partner said that heat is the biggest threat to rabbits.  When he was a kid all their rabbits died in the middle of a hot summer day.  Would it be possible to pasture them at night in hot climates? 
 
Chelle Lewis
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Yes, heat is the most dangerous.

I would be reliant on them burrowing to keep them safe from the heat when pasturing if left out to pasture 24/7. We have local rabbits here in the bush and that is how they live.

I will be giving protection during the day in the mini-camps .... thatch roofing moved to each camp they are inhabiting for the day..... and some special units I am making.... don't want them burrowing out but can give them clean "undergroud" units kept cool inside a sand heap.....probably moulded with ferro-cement.... but at night will be taking them in. With the high predator risk I can't leave them out and am already building a large stone wall barn for them to be taken to every night. The windows are expanded metal... safe... no predator except snake can get in... and I will be putting up mosquito protection that will keep snakes out too. The ventilation is extreme.... at floor level there are many windows of expanded metal. The windows are at floor level because ammonia is heavier than air and will just fall away without causing any harm to the animals. The roof will probably be thatch... have learned how to do this online... as yet just head knowledge. Thatch is cool in summer and warm in winter. But the winter they can cope with... it is the summer I am taking extreme precaution for. Will be shearing as often as possible. Winter I will leave them in their coats. They will be fine.

Chelle

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Cyara wrote:ammonia is heavier than air and will just fall away without causing any harm to the animals.


That's news to me! I though it was much lighter than air, akin to methane, but perhaps I'm thinking anhydrous.

No matter whether it's lighter or heavier, it'll help to have multiple levels of window, at least one for exhaust and at least one to allow make-up air into the building.
 
Chelle Lewis
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Yes... I would need that with small windows.... but the size of the windows are so  enormous and all around that that isn't a problem.. The main point of the barn is safety and not warming. Ventilation is extreme... like a shaded outdoor house made of stone.

The multi-level  "apartments" within will offer replacement type burrows that will act as wind barriers.

Ammonia is definitely heavier I have been assured by those experienced in rabbit keeping.

Chelle
 
Jennifer Smith
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I had to check this out and found http://www.gerritrietveldacademie.nl/milieu/EN/Gloss/ammonia.html

which says, yes ammonia is heavier than air
 
                    
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Ammonia is NH3, which is lighter than O2 or N2 in air.  But it doesn't matter much if it is lighter or heavier, as it mixes freely with air and will move up, down, and sideways.  It may seem heavier because ammonia forms on the ground where urine pools up, and as one moves away from the source, the smell is less intense. But that is from dilution, not from ammonia settling to the ground and being concentrated because it is heavy.

Good ventilation is the key to dealing with ammonia. I have been in an indoor rabbit farm with 300 cages, and it was miserable from ammonia. If the urea/ammonia from any animal urine is not handled properly, it becomes noxious. A few cages outdoors where plants and soil soak it up and use it are not usually a problem ... but many cages together can be.
 
Chelle Lewis
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Ammonia seems to quickly form a vapour......

Ammonia.JPG
[Thumbnail for Ammonia.JPG]
 
                    
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One thing that is ambiguous and confusing is the use of the word 'ammonia' to represent two different things.  Ammonia is NH3, which is a gas at ordinary temperatures and pressures. What most people call ammonia is water that contains various amounts of ammonia gas in solution.

We can taste and smell ammonia at low concentrations - a few parts per million.


 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Yeah, I knew anhydrous ammonia was lighter than air, but now I think what is going on is that a mix of ammonia and CO2 (both are breakdown products of urea) plus maybe a fog of water droplets combine into something of a miasma, and this complicated mixture has ammonia as its hallmark, while being heavier than air.

By the way, ambiguous terms like that are everywhere. Depending on how you count it, the discipline of materials science (which I have a degree in) has somewhere between three and seven different definitions for the term "iron."
 
Chelle Lewis
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This makes sense to me. Thanks for the explanation. I have found this an interesting topic.

Would you know if ammonia gas is particularly attracted to "wetness" in any way? Could I be assuming that it will drain away as I have been told, but that this could not happen in certain circumstances? I understand that without ventilation this would obviously occur... but I mean within a well ventilated housing system could there still be some way it would not drain away?.

Chelle
 
Jennifer Smith
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I have been away and busy since I have been home but we did have 4 Easter bunnies, born easter Sunday. 
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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The ammonia issue is why it's best to raise rabbits either outdoors or in an open-sided shelter

I noticed that someone up there said that rabbits could produce up to twenty bunnies a year -- it's possible for them to produce quite a few more than that, up to forty or even more if they are pushed.  I don't push mine and don't get that many bunnies, but the commercial growers do.  If you are feeding a lot of weeds and home-grown feed, though, twenty to thirty bunnies a year is probably pretty good.

Kathleen
 
                                                  
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I saw somewhere about a guy who had them in a "pasture" situation,  they laid heavy tight wire for a floor, and fenced it in tight, then filled most the area with straw bales.  The rabbits burrowed around in the bales and stayed cool in the days.

 
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