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How can I set up small animals for weekend trips?  RSS feed

Posts: 13
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We rarely travel but we do like to do overnight camping trips on the weekends. I have a neighbor who can come over, but I would like the flexibility of taking last minute trips and she takes over an hour to feed everyone (it takes me 20 minutes).

I have rabbits, ducks and chickens. They all have predator-proof homes/pens so I just need to figure out food and water needs and maybe cooling needs for rabbits. Chickens are easy to give an extra waterer and extra food and fresh grass in their tractor.

My main questions are, how can I set up ducks to be okay with water/food needs for a weekend. Is there a way to keep rabbits cool? I am thinking of upgrading the rabbit water bottles to a nipple system.

Posts: 408
Location: Derbyshire, UK
cat chicken urban
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So long as they're in secure surroundings and with sufficient food and water then they should be fine for a night or two. All my animals have self-topping up waterers with a resevoir that holds 10 litres of water. For the chickens this is a cup-system, the reservoir is a bucket and the cups are attached by tubing and regulate so as the chickens drink the cups fill up again. If I'm going away then I also put out a plastic chicken-waterer so that even if something clogs or breaks- they'll always have water.
Exactly the same thing will work for ducks, only they'll want larger cups they can dip their heads in, but they could still be filled from a reservoir bucket or water butt. I don't have ducks anymore but theirs will be harder to clean!
I tend to hang a cabbage up for my chickens too, to entertain them when they can't leave the run for a day or two.

I've never kept rabbits I'm afraid.
Posts: 123
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
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Rabbits can easily be left for a night or two without problems.

The first common sense rule is to check the weather forecast. I don't know where you live, but if it's gonna be 110 in the shade on the days you want to be gone, it might be better to reschedule your trip. Same thing if it's going to be cold enough to freeze all the water.

Otherwise, we hang 2 or 3 water bottles per pen, depending on how many rabbits each one contains. Our rabbits are used to getting fresh food, so we throw in a lot of hard vegetables ... carrots, whole heads of cabbage, sweet potatoes ... that they can munch on while we're gone. They also get a bowl of pellets, which they most likely finish off the first day. Obviously, if your rabbits aren't used to fresh food, you'll want to introduce it gradually before you plan to go anywhere. If you object to feeding anything other than pellets, you'll need something that will hold a LOT of pellets, because rabbits offered free choice pellets will usually take advantage of it.

As for keeping them cool, we're in West Tennessee and it gets pretty hot here, but our rabbits are used to it. We just make sure they have shade at all times. We move the grower pens inside the barn. The outdoor pens have corner tarps and are surrounded by trees, so they do pretty well. We triple check the tarp ties so they won't come loose while we're gone.

When we come home after a weekend trip, the rabbits are generally out of food and are obviously ready to be fed, but they're not frantic. They're about as hungry as they usually are at feeding time. They always have water left in the bottles. We've never had anything happen while we've been gone.

Posts: 102
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
chicken food preservation hugelkultur
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Yep, with the rabbits you should be okay to hang a couple extra feeders and water bottles per pen.
Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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For our ducks I bought a deer feeder on clearance.  I put a shroud/funnel so instead of slinging the feed it dropped into the feed pan.  
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