Feeders and water - Meat Rabbits

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JOhn B

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I just recently upgraded my J feeders for growouts to the wider ones. So, I’ve gone from a 4 inch wide feeder to a 12 inch wide feeder and I am so glad I did. If you can afford to get them from the beginning, go for it, I say.

Note: I did not cut open the cages to fit the feeders. Instead, I wire the feeders in. During my initial setup for my main breeder cages, I did cut holes to fit the 4 inch feeders. I will never do that again. Sure, by cutting the holes, the filling side of the J remains on the outside of the cage for ease of filling, but once that hole is cut, adjusting the location of the feeder is no longer an option unless you cover the original hole, etc. so, I will never cut holes again. Besides, opening the cages every time one feeds has more good attached to it than negative: opening the cage slows you down which means more time to assess the resident, to speak, to interact, to make sure all is well. The only positive to not having to open the cage each time we feed is time saving for the feeder. The time saved does not offset all of the benefits gained by the rabbit when you open the cage to feed each day.

I recommend water bottles, but to answer your question about transitioning rabbits from bowls to nipples, the best advice I received when I was faced with this transition is: rabbits can smell water, even in the bottles or in the lines of a watering system. When transitioning, the biggest mistake people make is leaving an easier drinking option in the cage, i.e., an open bowl or the steel ball nipple. The rabbit will always choose the easier course. If you provide the water in the nipple system, provide no other source of water and the rabbit will learn to use it due to not having another choice.

If you’re concerned about algea growth, you can do what I do in warm months: keep 2 bottles per cage, each day remove the first bottle and replace with a freshly filled second bottle, empty first bottle, keep first bottle lid open to air out and set empty first bottle indoors to completely dry out over the next 24 hours. The next day, replace second bottle with first bottle and air out second bottle as described. Do this rotation daily and you drastically reduce algae growth. It also gives you a daily opportunity to look into each bottle to inspect for issues. By following this system, last summer there were only abut 2 bottles that needed extra cleaning efforts.
Thanks @KelleyBee . I will go ahead and and get the larger feeders for the grow out and keep the 5" for the does and buck. I am going to go with the bottles for now. Any brand I should stay away from? Have you tried the flip tops?
 

MnCanary

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Yeah, I have heard about the frustration of frozen nipples. What king of bowls do you use? Do you have any issue with poop or getting tipped over?
I use heavy bowls that I buy from thrift shops and similar places. They do sometimes get dirty. Setting the bowls on a little platform helps reduce the fouling. To avoid tipping, some rabbits get a brick in front of the bowl, to hold it in place. Or a clip through the wire, onto the bowl edge.

My rabbits are mostly in pens or extra-large cages, so using a bit of space for a brick isn't an issue. My methods for feeding and watering aren't consistent from rabbit to rabbit. I just try to find a system that works for each of them. For instance, I can use large cottage cheese plastic bowls for some rabbits, and they never chew them. Other rabbits have destroyed those in a day or two.

For feed, some rabbits get an E-Z Plastic Croc that clips to the cage wire---I can hang them high enough that the food stays clean, and low enough that the rabbit can stand and still get to the pellets. I've seen cages where they hang J-feeders higher for the same reason. That doesn't work if there are kits in that cage unless a separate low feeder is provided for the kits.
 

rockyhillrabbits

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The adult Rex I got in March had been using bowls instead of bottles. The breeder told me they drink more out of a bowl but it didn't take me long to switch them to a bottle. I hate bowls. I will put a heavy weight bowl in with pellets in it when the babies start eating pellets so everyone has a chance to eat but won't use them for water until it gets super hot. Then I will get a big shallow dish so they can lay in it or beside it to keep cool. Most of the time they just spill it.
As long as the bottles are washed when they start getting yucky looking there shouldn't be an algae problem. I have heard if you add some apple cider vinegar to their water it will prevent that, but I have not tried it. ACV also has health benefits for the rabbits too, so it wouldn't hurt.
 

Olbunny

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We use just feeders for our does. The get one cup per day when on a maintenance diet. And I keep the feeder full when they are working n having kits. Works good both ways.
Feeding grow outs. I had to figure this one out by trial n error. To supply a days worth of pellets to a pen full of almost ready friers was the hard part. Without then climbing in to the feeder n pooping n peeing. Ended up using a 4" black pvc pipe. A 24" long piece for the top, a 45 degree elbow so the pellets fall through. And a 12" long piece that I cut a 2" slit in the top of goes through the wire into the pen. Use a plastic cap on the pen end. I like a coffee can for a lid. Easier to get off , on.
I can use 2 per pen at separate ends to help make sure that they all get fed properly. The survival of the fittest tendency will enter into the pen and the smaller friers can get picked on.
I use a 5 gallon bucket with a rubber grommet in it. And a 5/16" plastic tubing to deliver water to the nipples in the pens. I do have a small bowl under the nipples to catch any drips as some prefer to have a sip out of the bowls too. And I can save water.
During the winter 6 months we have to use heated water bowls. 2 does share 1 bowl. In the first picture the water system isn't set up yet but bucket set on top of first pen a main water line with drop points will be installed
 

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