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Rabbit numbers

Alternative housing for rabbits in groups.
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Rabbit numbers

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Siberian Instincts » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:01 pm


Im needing to build up a colony setup in the next couple of months. Having 4 acres at my disposale size isnt an issue to much. 1 acre is taken up however bu the dog run so only 3 acres really. Anyway I am needing to have at least 70 does and 10 bucks to service them. My idea was 1 acre divided in half so i can rotate the rabbits. Pellets and hay will be open chose and housing will be made like a tractor. Is this possible?

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Re: Rabbit numbers

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Dood » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:35 pm


I tried colony in a 20 x 15 grass pen with 5 does and 1 buck

There were a lot of issues
health - respiratory disease, diarrhea and high kit fatalities
social - does fighting each other and over nesting sites resulting in kits getting injured and killed
environmental - the grass was a muddy mess by the next spring, tunnels flooded and/or collapsed so we couldn't walk in the pen

I'd not recommend it

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Re: Rabbit numbers

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Zass » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:50 pm


If you are new to colonies, I strongly suggest starting a bit smaller!
If you think it sounds easier than cage breeding, you have been misled. It's actually a lot more complicated, with less sure results.
Managing a colony can be a challenge for even very experienced rabbit breeders. While it is natural for rabbits to have access to each other, there is nothing natural about confining rabbits together.
Fights can turn brutal, and does can and do kill other does kits on occasion. I've seen some big nasty abscesses from "normal dominance behavior." I've seen kits die from hepatic coccidiosis, a protozoal disease picked up from contact with feces. Not fresh feces which is necessary for probiotics, but several-day-old feces.

Most people with successful colonies seem have the floors covered with something to help control waste. Concrete with barn lime and then bedding seems popular.
All vegetation is destroyed in short order.
Tractors can work, but I can't even imagine the labor involved with moving enough tractors to keep 70 rabbits clean and off their waste.

Here, any open topped pen would be a buffet for birds of prey, raccoons. and opossums.

__________ Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:41 am __________

I'm writing all that up from the perspective of someone who has tried colonies on and off for a few years. I had to find the right rabbits before I could make any real progress! The does I had before would fly out of their pens to pounce upon other does.
The harlis I keep now are more mellow, and I tend to cull hard for temperament.

One experiment was ended with disease and some very badly suffering kits.

Even with the few very docile animals I have now, babies are never born in the colony. The does are placed back in their big cages for kindling. This way, they do not get rebred right away, I can insure the nests are properly constructed and contain enough fur to keep kits warm, everyone's getting enough of the right nutrition, and no one is peed on or in contact with feces.
Also, because I cull hard for things like nesting ability, milk supply and mothering ability, it's kind of important to know how each does is managing with her litters.

Kits are only allowed on the ground after they are past at least 8 weeks old. This gets them past the most vulnerable age for coccidiosis.

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Re: Rabbit numbers

Post Number:#4  Unread postby SableSteel » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:10 am


What type of quail do you have in that picture, Zass?
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Re: Rabbit numbers

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Zass » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:38 am


SableSteel wrote:What type of quail do you have in that picture, Zass?


They are commonly called Coturnix quail, or japanese quail. Coturnix japonica. Some people in a fb colony group I frequent have shown concern that an adult rabbit could kill a one. My rabbits are about as docile as they come though, and they don't kindle in with the birds. I suppose both factors may be why I've never seen any aggression between them.

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Re: Rabbit numbers

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Truckinguy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:38 am


Here's a few observations of mine from having a colony for a little over four years now.

Does are territorial and will defend their nest area. If there is enough room for the others to get away this won't be much of a problem but tighter quarters will result in some pretty impressive fights. I haven't had any life threatening injuries but I have seen the inside of the colony turn into a Nascar track as they chased each other around at high speed.

Bucks will try to hump the doe even while she is giving birth. This can result in kits scattered around the colony on the ground.

If there is enough room for everyone to have a little distance from others when needed they will mostly get along. I think they will establish a pecking order like chickens. Even when I add or remove one single rabbit it seems to send them into a bit of a tizzy and there is a fair amount of activity as they sort out the social ladder again.

I have seen many times litters of different ages lying around together along with adults. Most adults don't seem to mind any kits climbing or lying on them for the most part. Once I saw my old buck Fred lying right in front of the feeder while two kits stood directly on his head eating out of the feeder. That went on for about ten minutes or so much to my amusement.

Back to back litters will eventually wear a doe out which is not surprising. My understanding is that the average lifespan of a rabbit in the wild is about one year so it's necessary for them to produce quick litters and the doe won't have a chance to wear out since she will likely become prey in short order. However, with rabbits in captivity living many years it's going to wear the doe out over time so controlling and spacing out litters is better for the rabbit.

Some of you will know about my colony, basically a giant cage 5'x18', closed on three sides and roof, open cage wire on one side with doors. I have patio slabs on the ground to prevent dig out and covered with straw that is switched out every week or so or as necessary. I had a vision of a happy colony with all the rabbits bouncing around together but I am now moving toward having four separate compartments with a doe in each one and a separate housing for the bucks where mating will take place. I love my colony and love seeing the kits run around in the straw. It's still just a glorified cage but each compartment will be 4'x5' with one being 6'x5' so there is a lot more room than in the little cages I used to have them in.

Most poop falls down through the straw but there is still poop contact to some degree. However, I have had no health issues so far, organs have been all healthy and normal on butcher day. I do get one kit from a litter once in a while with rattly breathing, usually starts about four or five weeks and lasts for a couple of weeks but no lasting health affects from it and it's always healthy when butchered. I'm sure my rabbits have developed an immunity to whatever is floating around my property by now. All in all I"m happy with my setup, have learned a few lessons along the way and am making adjustments accordingly.

I know my colony isn't on the scale the OP has in mind but hopefully this will help in some way.

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