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winter feeding and watering.

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winter feeding and watering.

Post Number:#1  Unread postby a7736100 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:39 am


Is it a good idea to give extra warm drinking water to help them keep warm? Should I also give them more greens, yams, apples and carrots to increase their moisture intake when water is frozen?

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Re: winter feeding and watering.

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Ferra » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:58 am


My "sub-arctic" procedure is to water twice a day with room temperature to "baby bath water" temperature water - I have some rabbits with very little patience who will try to drink right out of my water jug, and I don't wish to scald their tongues. (Because I've done that to myself with tea, and it SUCKS!)

I haven't needed to supply extra moisture through food, though last winter I did offer fodder-blocks of sprouted wheat (they loved it. It was a good deal of work though.) My herd has, until recently, been all rabbits raised in these frosty climes, so I find they're pretty decent at chipping through thin layers of ice to get the liquid water, or alternatively, licking the ice to get a drink as well.

Interestingly enough: One of my first posts here was of an immersion water-heater I set up for my starter herd. It was an interesting and pretty solid concept, I thought. Copper coils with warm water flowing through were integrated into the water bowls to delay them icing over, and a pump and heater resided in a 5 gallon bucket nearby, circulating the heat. The idea was to keep each rabbit with it's own water (so rabbits aren't sharing water - if one got sick, that could cause issues), but still keep them warm with only one system. The concept failed due to the power-supply and controller failing to operate in -25c, slighly humid coniditions. The electronic components gave up the ghost, and we stopped the experiment.
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Re: winter feeding and watering.

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Marinea » Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:14 pm


I supply warm water three times a day when it's freezing.

I also give some oats or BOSS a couple times a week for extra calories.
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Re: winter feeding and watering.

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Truckinguy » Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:14 am


Mine get regular cold tap water and I have a complete extra set of water bottles which get swapped out as often as I can. When I"m home it's three or four times a day and when I"m at work they have to wait until I get home. I've had nursing does raise litters over the winter with no problem with milk production. It's not ideal but I doni't have power out there so it is what it is. They get the same pellets year round with treats from time to time. I should also add that any snow in the colony also acts as a water source to some degree.

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Re: winter feeding and watering.

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Rainey » Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:22 am


Truckinguy wrote:Mine get regular cold tap water and I have a complete extra set of water bottles which get swapped out as often as I can. When I"m home it's three or four times a day and when I"m at work they have to wait until I get home. I've had nursing does raise litters over the winter with no problem with milk production. It's not ideal but I doni't have power out there so it is what it is. They get the same pellets year round with treats from time to time. I should also add that any snow in the colony also acts as a water source to some degree.


That's good to know. We change water twice a day when it is freezing and they all get wheat fodder daily through the winter. But we haven't bred to have kits in winter because I was concerned that milk production would suffer. But reading your post I thought of how our goats give less milk by volume in winter but the same volume of milk produces larger cheeses in winter than in summer. So perhaps the milk would just be richer?

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Re: winter feeding and watering.

Post Number:#6  Unread postby akane » Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:22 am


Colony raising... 5gallon chicken waters on heater bases with the cord run through pvc pipe. I also had those lixit top fill heated bottles but unless you do maintenance on the valves every year they will keep leaking and it's dang hard to get a wrench that will fit the inside to hold the nut for tightening it again and some claim their rabbits can't use the lever valves. I had no issue with netherland dwarf kits in winter using them though. My only water bottle failures to the point of health issues have been regular ball valve bottles in summer.
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Re: winter feeding and watering.

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Truckinguy » Mon Dec 25, 2017 7:27 pm


Rainey wrote:
That's good to know. We change water twice a day when it is freezing and they all get wheat fodder daily through the winter. But we haven't bred to have kits in winter because I was concerned that milk production would suffer. But reading your post I thought of how our goats give less milk by volume in winter but the same volume of milk produces larger cheeses in winter than in summer. So perhaps the milk would just be richer?


I've had rabbits since Feb 2008 and prior to the colony they were in an unheated garage attached to the house. I sure miss the convenience of walking from the house into the garage to do chores but I sure don't miss the poo pans! I still had the water bottles freeze in the winter. I don't breed my rabbits too intensely but I do go year round. There is a slightly higher percentage of kit loss due to the cold but they still produce the same size litters all year. I had a doe raise two kits successfully one year in a particularly cold January. I was sure they would freeze but she buried them so deep in the straw and fur I had to reach in up to my elbow to check them. Those two got all the milk and, boy, they were fat!

As far as I know I haven't had any health problems due to lack of water. As long as they get fresh water two or three times a day they seem to drink their fill when it's fresh and do fine.

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