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Rabbit Pasture Grazing

 
Avalon Laux
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So, I want to raise Rabbits for Meat, as well as to Sell (Meat/Pelts/Pet).

My only experience with Rabbits was when I was a Kid, for about 2 Years. During that time, we raised our rabbits in cages, hung up in our rabbit barn that we made for them. However, this time, I would like to raise them more naturally, and graze on grass in a pasture. My question here would be, is it best to have one big grazing pasture (divided up between doe/buck), or do rotational grazing, to allow grass time to grow? If doing rotational grazing, how many days would it be recommended to allow the grass to grow, before moving them back? And vice-versa...

I read that you need about 6 square feet, per rabbit, for 1 day of food. If doing rotational grazing, I would assume about 5 days between each pasture area, and back again. Is this enough time for the grass to grow back, before rotating back again?

I also know, that it's best to keep rabbits a bit shaded, and not in direct exposure to sunlight, and it can also fade the coloring of their fur. Any tips on how best to provide this shade, without taking away from sunlight to feed the grass?
 
Ash Harper
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I can't speak from experience yet but I'll tell you what my plan is and maybe it will give you some ideas.
I'm planning to make tractors similar to what you'd make for chickens so I can move the rabbits around and they wont over graze one area. I figure this will reduce loss to overhead predation and they will be less likely to dig if they're moved every day or twice a day. You can also give them a good deal of shade with this method by building the tractors with a solid roof.
 
Avalon Laux
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Yeah. Rabbit Tractors is what I 1st thought about. But the bigger they get, the heavier they are to move, and I don't feel comfortable with several rabbits being cooped up in such a small space. I like the idea with them having more room to run around.

But also, even with a Rabbit Tractor, it is still a chance of them digging out. At least with a bigger area, the fence line can be dug deeper into the ground to prevent escape and/or predators.

That's just my thoughts on it anyways.
 
Ferne Reid
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Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a
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We raise our rabbits on pasture.

Ours are housed in wire dog crates that we move around as needed. Anything bigger than that gets too heavy to move for one person ... if you have help, you could probably go with something bigger, which would mean you'd move it less often. Wheels don't work, as the wheels leave an escape hatch between the frame and the ground.

In general, we have to move the rabbits twice a day with this set up. Obviously it depends on the time of year, what's growing, how much rain we've had, and which rabbits are in a particular pen (some just eat more than others). We just keep an eye on them and move them when they've eaten what they're sitting on. Sometimes they can go a day or two on the same spot. On average, we spend about 30 minutes twice a day to scoot the cages over, adjust cage covers for shade, and give them water.

We have tried methods where the rabbits were put into a bigger fenced area, and it didn't work for us. No matter what we did, some enterprising bunny always found a way out. We buried the fence wire, put a wire floor on the area, stretched chicken wire over the top ... nothing. They always got out. We also had a couple of issues with predators, although escapees were by and large the biggest problem.

As for how long it will take the rabbits to eat down the pasture and how long it takes to grow back ... it depends. What kind of plants are growing there? Are there things they won't eat (if so, those things will take over unless you remove them)? How much rain do you get? How much sun? Pasture will generally grow quickly in spring and fall ... summer, not so much.

Have you thought about how you'd move the rabbits from one pasture area to the other? Are you going to have to go into the pen and catch them all? That might be a little time consuming.

Shade is important, and it really has nothing to do with bleaching their fur, although that certainly does happen. Rabbits are very heat sensitive and can die of heatstroke pretty easily. When we had the fenced area, we made them a tent of sort out of tarps. Now we just cover half the crate. We also fill soda bottles, freeze them, and then put them in the crates in the summer. The rabbits lie up against them to stay cool.

I'd be interesting to hear how it goes for you ... if you can figure out a way to keep them from getting out, I'd love to hear about it!
 
Erin Blegen
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Location: Minnesota, United States
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Avalon Laux wrote:But also, even with a Rabbit Tractor, it is still a chance of them digging out. At least with a bigger area, the fence line can be dug deeper into the ground to prevent escape and/or predators.


This was a lesson I had to learn when using a rabbit tractor. First, I had nothing on the bottom and just lined the outside with bricks (rabbits escaped). So I then flipped the tractor over (the top had been covered with chicken wire)- they chewed a hole through the chicken wire bottom. So I had to go to more durable fencing on the bottom, but not so small that they couldn't get the grass and so that their waste wouldn't clog up the fence holes. This worked great- especially with something mobile like a tractor- you want it to be easy to move (my husband and I would each take an end, pick up the tractor rabbits and all, and move to the next spot).
 
Avalon Laux
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Ferne Reid wrote:
Shade is important, and it really has nothing to do with bleaching their fur, although that certainly does happen. Rabbits are very heat sensitive and can die of heatstroke pretty easily. When we had the fenced area, we made them a tent of sort out of tarps. Now we just cover half the crate. We also fill soda bottles, freeze them, and then put them in the crates in the summer. The rabbits lie up against them to stay cool.

I'd be interesting to hear how it goes for you ... if you can figure out a way to keep them from getting out, I'd love to hear about it!


Sorry if I misworded my post. I know about that they don't do well in heat. We used to do the same thing when I raised rabbits when I was younger. We used 2 liter bottles filled with water and freeze them. So they could cool down a stretch out next to it. As rabbits love to chew on things, we'd save the inside cardboard center of a toilet paper roll, and give to the rabbits. They loved them. They'd toss it up in the air, and play!

I'm currently helping my mom with moving, so I can't get any rabbits of my own yet. I wanted to get some for her, but she is against it.
 
Avalon Laux
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Erin Blegen wrote:
Avalon Laux wrote:But also, even with a Rabbit Tractor, it is still a chance of them digging out. At least with a bigger area, the fence line can be dug deeper into the ground to prevent escape and/or predators.


This was a lesson I had to learn when using a rabbit tractor. First, I had nothing on the bottom and just lined the outside with bricks (rabbits escaped). So I then flipped the tractor over (the top had been covered with chicken wire)- they chewed a hole through the chicken wire bottom. So I had to go to more durable fencing on the bottom, but not so small that they couldn't get the grass and so that their waste wouldn't clog up the fence holes. This worked great- especially with something mobile like a tractor- you want it to be easy to move (my husband and I would each take an end, pick up the tractor rabbits and all, and move to the next spot).


Yeah. Rabbit Tractors are more easier when it comes to moving the rabbits around. Idk, it just seems too much like a cage for me to be comfortable with it.

If I do go with a Rabbit Tractor though, it would be more of an "A-Frame" with a wood board go across about mid height. That way they got a cozy place to sleep, where they can get up off the ground, when it rains...
 
alex Keenan
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I remember a guy when I was a kid who had free ranging rabbits. It seems that rabbits stayed where the food and water was.
He had a outside dog that was rabbit friendly. The dog kept the varmints away.
However, there was not much vegetation around his house due to all the rabbits.
 
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