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Colony Question

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Colony Question

Post Number:#1  Unread postby BeachBC » Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:44 pm


I know this is probably a really dumb question, but I'm totally new to rabbits!

I have a 13'X16' rabbit barn with hanging cages but would really like to colony raise a few of the rabbits. Is it okay to colony raise in the same building as the caged rabbits, or would all the extra rabbit waste be a problem for the loose rabbits?

I just found a 6'X10' chain link kennel on craigslist for $75, so I could maybe fix that up and grow some grass in it so they could be outside during the day if weather allows? That way they'd only be in the barn at night or if it's storming.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

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Re: Colony Question

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:38 pm


I think you could do this with some modifications. That's a nice big floor space. I had a successful small colony in an 8' x8' space.

How many hanging cages do you have and how are they positioned? (ie. along the perimeters or in rows or what?) Would it be possible to install hanging slant boards to direct the waste to the outside edges? You would need nest tunnels rather than open nests, I think, in the colony itself.

Colonies are most trouble-free where the rabbits have always been together. Mother-daughters or sisters never separated help to ensure that territorial behaviour is minimized.

I really liked having rabbits in a colony instead of in cages, but you do have to be vigilant and have the ability to see and react to problems promptly.
For instance, I had a couple of litters scattered and most of the kits dead before I realized that the buck (normally a nice guy) was a sex maniac when a doe kindled. He was so enthusiastic that he harassed the doe even while she was kindling. I solved this problem by dividing the colony into two areas and having the buck commute between them. This required some guesswork as in a colony you have much less control over kindling dates. But it worked out all right and a bit later we replaced the buck with his son. who was much more gentlemanly. We were able to take down the partition at that point.
Last edited by MaggieJ on Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: typos

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Re: Colony Question

Post Number:#3  Unread postby BeachBC » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:07 pm


I have 22 hanging cages and they are in rows with 2 1/2 foot isles in between. I was only planning on colony raising 3 or 4 rabbits since I don't really know what I'm doing yet. Would love to add on later if it works out.

Would it work to keep the buck in a cage and just put him with the does when I'm ready for them to breed, or would the does attack him for entering their territory? Maybe I could just catch each doe and put her in the buck's cage when it's time to breed her? Trying to figure out a way to have a bit of control over when each litter comes so that none are coming when I'm going to be out of town or something.

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Re: Colony Question

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Zass » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:31 am


I have a small scale colony right now. Just three does and one buck.

I will not let them kindle on the ground here, as hepatic coccidiosis can be an issue where rabbits have contact with their waste. The adults have shown a good level of resistance, but with kits, I'd expect to see higher mortality and slowed growth rates.
I hate losing any kits. :|

In a space like you describe, I don't really see your does attacking a buck.
When does attack bucks in their cages, I think, it's likely mostly due to feeling threatened in a very small space.

The only issue I've had with cages and the free roam buns, is that a lose buck may attack a caged one through the wire.

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Re: Colony Question

Post Number:#5  Unread postby a7736100 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:25 am


All grass will eventually be killed by scratching and digging.

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Re: Colony Question

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Nymphadora » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:19 am


a7736100 wrote:All grass will eventually be killed by scratching and digging.


I think BeachBC meant to keep the colony bunnies in a barn for the most part (correct me if I'm wrong), so I don't think they were planning on having permanent forage. But yes, any area where animals are confined to limited space will eventually lose its pasture...

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Re: Colony Question

Post Number:#7  Unread postby BeachBC » Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:25 pm


Yes, the plan was to keep about three in the barn and then have an outdoor pen that all the bunnies could take turns in...I just hate for them to be in cages without ever getting the chance to hop around a bit!

Just found out though that my mom wants to run chickens under the hanging cages...so there goes my colony idea! I'm guessing it would be a really bad idea health wise to have chickens and rabbits together.

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