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Rabbit bedding

 
John Urton
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Hello all,
      I am have been studying various rabbit articles for a year or two and have finally taken the step and purchased some beautiful Rex rabbits for breeding.  I have decided to go with a semi colony experience for them, its more of a rabbit coop as we call it.  The general structure is a lean-to design behind out shed with walls and a wood floor made with left over deck boards.  I am currently using pine shavings for bedding which seems to work well, although the wood does get wet.  I am curious to know if I can use the oak leaves that I collect in the fall as bedding as well, they would need to be dry of coarse.  I already collect them for the chicken coop bedding and would love to stop having to purchase pine shavings.  What are your thoughts?  Should I simply tear up the flooring and have bare earth with buried wire?
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 569
Location: Longbranch, WA
27
chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
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Observe what your rabbits are doing. They are generally very fastidious about there toilet habits in a confined space. If they chose one corner to urinate then put a litter pan there to keep the floor dry.
Be aware that they produce two types of droppings. First comes a soft one that they re chew then the hard black one that you can use for fertilizer. This is especially so when feeding raw food; commercial food not so much.
Try some leaves in the pen; see if they eat them. Try feeding alfalfa and clover hay and see if thy make their own bedding with the uneaten parts. I wanted to try a bale of hay or straw and see if they would burrow into it to make their nest. Definitely bring them branches to chew the bark off so they do not chew the wood of their pen. That was the way we turned our tree pruning into kindling.
I have not raised the Rex so I do not know their habits. You may find thy prefer to have some areas of the floor bare or you may be able to just sweep up the dry droppings each day and compost the urine soaked bedding from their toilet area.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1140
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
7
forest garden trees urban
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I only have  house bunnies,but one is a Rex.
We use the orchard grass hay we feed them as their bedding as well.
They now live in a section of living room,but  have chosen their original cage as their pee spot.
I want to try soil in that spot,currently it's lined with paper and hay.
We already provide containers with soil for their digging pleasure.
They only rarely deviate from their pee spot,and then only where there is bedding.
We keep the bedding in boxes and containers for this very reason.
My wife is concerned about the effect of the unyielding hardwood floor on their tootsies,me,not so much.

In your situation I would try soil over the wood floor.
It's free,fairly absorbent,and with the wood to scrape against,pretty easy to remove with a flat nosed shovel.
Plus they freaking love it!
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 569
Location: Longbranch, WA
27
chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
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My wife is concerned about the effect of the unyielding hardwood floor on their tootsies,me,not so much. 

The hard floor is much less of a problem than the wire cage floor they are more commonly subjected to.
Thank you William Bronson for confirming their toilet habits.  We had breeding hutches with half the floor wood and half hardware mesh for the droppings and urine to go into the garden bed below. There was a nest box in one corner of the floor area which was the length of the rabbit square with a six inch board across the front.  They would select the bedding for their nest box from the hay or grass wee fed them and then line it with the furr they pull out from under their chin. often if we put bedding in the box they would dig it all out and start over with what they wanted. They tended to sweep the wood floor clean to rest on rather than the bedding.
When the bunnies were ready to be separated from the mother they went into a pen built to the detentions of one 12 foot sheet of metal roofing which opened with hinges on one side. It had a V manger made from fencing that had openings that were 1.5 X 3 inches originally from a chicken barn for the chickens to stick their heads through to get feed and water so the farmer did not have to go inside. The floor was the hardware mesh bent up 2 inches on each side and the ends so no droppings would get wedged between the wire and the wood. Again this was placed over a future garden bed with legs 16 inches long. Two batches of bunnies could be in the pen and when they got a little older they would be separated with the grills o one side and the boys on the other.
They would be fed the same grass or hay and branches as the goats Therefore part of the farm routine. This was during the 1950's then again during the 1970-80 when I returned home. I hope these experiences help you with your permaculture plans.  This was in the days of Rodale and Mother  Earth  News but much of the same homestead planning..
 
John Urton
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Is it safe to say that the dried oak leaves are safe for them then?  I have tried the litter box but with no success, I am not sure if it has anything to do with the half colony setup or my lack of experience.  In either case I have decided to go the bare ground idea with the buried wire to keep them from digging to far. 

I am also curious about the branches that people are feeding them.  Would the oak branches be acceptable as well?  Just trying to utilize the resources at hand.
 
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