Foraging plants for 2 giant rabbits & raising them in an apartment room, is it possible?

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Bike guy

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I'm a passionate forager who gets most of my food from nature and I live in an urban area which is very close to forest. I'm looking for the possibilities of self sufficient life in an apartment. I'm growing plants in balcony, raising red worms in the room etc. (in a nut shell I'm one of those survivalist, forager, amateur botanist and self sufficient weirdos lol)

Now I'm planning to raise 2 continental giant rabbits in one of my rooms for their litter's meat. I saw some great sites that raise rabbits merely with natural foods and I convinced that it might be possible. Finding foods in my forest for my future rabbits will be easy, there are hundreds of edible plants in our forests that rabbits also like.

I live alone in a flat with total of 4 rooms and I do not use most of them, so I can assign one of the rooms for rabbits or make a lets say 3 m2 (32 square foot) rabbit cage in a room.

Here is my questions;

-Is it possible to raise meat rabbits indoors in an apartment room? Smell of the rabbit urine seems to be a big problem. Feces and urine can be automatically collected just like the other rabbit farmers did with 45 degrees trays that collect them, but will it be sufficient for the smell?

-Rabbits shed too much fur, can I overcome it indoors?

-Will it take too much time to care for 2 rabbits and their litters?

-Foraging for myself is easy, but rabbits eat too much. How many kilos of food do I have to forage them daily?

-According to most of the sources, you shouldn't feed your baby rabbits with greens until they are 3 months old, this will highly narrow my foraged diets. But those "forage for your rabbit" sites claims the opposite, according to them if the cubs are accustomed to greens since they are young, they will not be diarrhea. Which one is true?

These are my questions. I really want to raise rabbits but don't want to regret for these reasons. Please share your opinions.

 

Preitler

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-Is it possible to raise meat rabbits indoors in an apartment room? Smell of the rabbit urine seems to be a big problem. Feces and urine can be automatically collected just like the other rabbit farmers did with 45 degrees trays that collect them, but will it be sufficient for the smell?

Well, two rabbits are not much of a problem, can be litter trained and such. Raising litters is another matter, that would be a challenge. A lot depends on your setup, local climate, ventilation, where you can dispose of (better, find someone who has use for it, it's great for gardening) the wasted forage and manure.
But honestly, "apartment room" does sound like a lot of ....compromises... would have to be made. Like, no heating because of the necessary ventilation. Lots of time spent on cleaning.


-Rabbits shed too much fur, can I overcome it indoors?

I don't think that is much of an issue, I have 2 free range house bunnies, well, yes, the fur gets everywhere, but this is a matter of your standards of cleanliness - mine are pretty low, tbh.
-Will it take too much time to care for 2 rabbits and their litters?

Most time will be collecting forage, I can mow an unused meadow, and takes me about 1h per day, plus 20 minutes in the morning to care for my 3 pairs (1 breeding, 1 seniors, 1 pets)+ offspring. Collecting in the woods would take me much more time, also, I would quickly have to expand my radius.

-Foraging for myself is easy, but rabbits eat too much. How many kilos of food do I have to forage them daily?

i might be overdoing it, but I gather about 15-20kg of forage daily for my now 12 rabbits. Much of it gets wasted, or more correctly, turned into usefull garden stuff. But mine spend half the day outside too, they can graze in the garden whatever they want.

-According to most of the sources, you shouldn't feed your baby rabbits with greens until they are 3 months old, this will highly narrow my foraged diets.

That's not true. The kits can eat everything the doe eats. They get their first set of gut bacteria from their dam, and can digest whatever she eats. Green forage is the most normal, natural diet possible. No problem there. In my opinion, the more diverse their diet, the better.
That saying comes from introducing rabbits raised enbtirely on hay and pellets to green stuff - there caution is adviced. But not with rabbits that grow up with it.

But those "forage for your rabbit" sites claims the opposite, according to them if the cubs are accustomed to greens since they are young, they will not be diarrhea. Which one is true?

Welcome to rabbitTalk :)
 
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Bike guy

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Well, two rabbits are not much of a problem, can be litter trained and such. Raising litters is another matter, that would be a challenge. A lot depends on your setup, local climate, ventilation, where you can dispose of (better, find someone who has use for it, it's great for gardening) the wasted forage and manure.
But honestly, "apartment room" does sound like a lot of ....compromises... would have to be made. Like, no heating because of the necessary ventilation. Lots of time spent on cleaning.




I don't think that is much of an issue, I have 2 free range house bunnies, well, yes, the fur gets everywhere, but this is a matter of your standards of cleanliness - mine are pretty low, tbh.


Most time will be collecting forage, I can mow an unused meadow, and takes me about 1h per day, plus 20 minutes in the morning to care for my 3 pairs (1 breeding, 1 seniors, 1 pets)+ offspring. Collecting in the woods would take me much more time, also, I would quickly have to expand my radius.



i might be overdoing it, but I gather about 15-20kg of forage daily for my now 12 rabbits. Much of it gets wasted, or more correctly, turned into usefull garden stuff. But mine spend half the day outside too, they can graze in the garden whatever they want.



That's not true. The kits can eat everything the doe eats. They get their first set of gut bacteria from their dam, and can digest whatever she eats. Green forage is the most normal, natural diet possible. No problem there. In my opinion, the more diverse their diet, the better.
That saying comes from introducing rabbits raised enbtirely on hay and pellets to green stuff - there caution is adviced. But not with rabbits that grow up with it.



Welcome to rabbitTalk :)
These are the answers that I'm looking for, thank you Preitler :))

The room I'm planing to raise the rabbits have 2 windows with 45 degrees angle, so I think opening both will be enough for ventilation. I do not use that room for anything else.

I live very close to the sea, the winter and the summer is highly mild, we never get frost issues.

I can use feces and urine for my plants in balcony, also my redworms can eat the feces.

But being have to forage 10-20 kilos of plants every single day is a real problem.
I'l consider your all answers and wil make a desicion this week. I found some nice and healty rabbits being sold close to my house, actually the only giant rabbits that I found within 50 miles to me, so I don't want to miss the opportinity and have to decide this week.

BTW these are the rabbits that I'm planning to buy.


The guy is selling 5 "velikan" rabbit (this is the name of the continental giant rabbit in my country) for 84 dollars which is highly cheap considering their breed, they are so young. I'll not buy all of them, only chose 2 rabbits. (Adult indigenous rabbits are 3-7 dollars but they are too small, the white rabbit in the video is indigenous)
Anyway, thank you for your time and answers. Your answers were so interesting that I burned the food while reading lol. BTW I surprised that you are also foraging for rabbits. Thank you for your warm wellcome too :))
 

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Here is my questions;

-Is it possible to raise meat rabbits indoors in an apartment room? Smell of the rabbit urine seems to be a big problem. Feces and urine can be automatically collected just like the other rabbit farmers did with 45 degrees trays that collect them, but will it be sufficient for the smell?

yes, it is possible to raise rabbits in an apartment. Consider all the pet people who have litters of bunnies. So very doable. The litter...you'll have to play around with what litter works best for you. When I had indoor rabbits I found the best litter to be 1. either a combination of paper litter with pine shavings worked well, OR 2. even better were horse stall pellets. Daily cleaning was a must. And two giant rabbits along with their offspring produce WAY more fecal and liquid waste then you might be aware of.

-Rabbits shed too much fur, can I overcome it indoors?
I don't find that rabbits shed overly much regularly. They do moult a couple of times a year and that fur fall-out is a bit of a pain, but still easy enough to deal with.

-Will it take too much time to care for 2 rabbits and their litters?
Depends a lot on how you raise them. You will need to contain the babies or you will have pee and poo everywhere. (or waterproof everything). I find daily management of 20 rabbits takes about 1 hour daily). For two rabbits, the basic care (empty litter pans, fresh food and water) would take you no more than 20 minutes. If you are foraging for food, probably add another hour to that.

-Foraging for myself is easy, but rabbits eat too much. How many kilos of food do I have to forage them daily?

I've never fed a complete forage diet so I really couldn't tell you how they eat, you'd have to figure that out. I don't know if they eat as much as you'd think. Can't imagine it taking you more than an hour to forage.

-According to most of the sources, you shouldn't feed your baby rabbits with greens until they are 3 months old, this will highly narrow my foraged diets. But those "forage for your rabbit" sites claims the opposite, according to them if the cubs are accustomed to greens since they are young, they will not be diarrhea. Which one is true?

Baby rabbits eat what mama eats. if you raise a foraging diet, the kits will grow the gut bacteria necessary to deal with that.
 

MsTemeraire

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The guy is selling 5 "velikan" rabbit (this is the name of the continental giant rabbit in my country) for 84 dollars which is highly cheap considering their breed, they are so young. I'll not buy all of them, only chose 2 rabbits. (Adult indigenous rabbits are 3-7 dollars but they are too small, the white rabbit in the video is indigenous)
Giants grow very slowly, and also eat more than other breeds. They may not be suitable for you, as they have large litters (10-12, sometimes more) and you'd have to keep them til about 4-5 months until they are big enough. That's a lot of rabbits in an apartment, and they will need to be kept separate from the parents. Also, you will need a way to separate the buck and the doe -the parents - as continual litters all the time isn't good for the doe. If she is kept with the buck, she will become pregnant again as soon as she's given birth, and another 10-12 kits will arrive 4 weeks later, and so on and so on.

I would look into what breeds are commonly kept for meat in your country, as these may grow faster, with better feed conversion and a better meat to bone ratio. But the above applies re space - one room may not be enough unless you can make some kind of escape-proof enclosures for separating them.
 

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Your rabbits will need grass 24/7 if you want to feed them from nature. During the summer a pick grass for my rabbits and it's all they eat until the winter. It is definitely possible.
 

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I think the smell will become an issue when the babies come. they are constantly peeing and it gets everywhere! I don't see much use litter training the babies considering they are to be used for meat.. but that's just me.

Foraging 100% of their diet will be hard because like many have mentioned they need hay or grass 24/7... so you'll want to stock up on it. Also, they waste a lot of food lol.

I have 5 adults and 19 babies (for now) in stacked cages (self cleaning) and I have to rake out the room every few days. Mind you my rabbits are outdoors in a sort of coop if you will so they have full ventilation but the coop still stinks! Having the setup inside would require constant cleaning and sanitizing. Males and females or all ages manage to pee on the wall behind their cage! you'll have to put plastic up everywhere.

that said you only keep the babies for 5 months or so, and afterwards you just have your breeding pair. but do this twice a year or more and you have a lot of work on your hands foraging and cleaning.

You also need to consider where you will butcher them. in an apartment it could get messy. but I have seen some you tubers butcher over the sink so I suppose this is just a question of preference. I prefer butchering outside for ease of cleaning up, but that's just me.
 

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I have 5 adults and 19 babies (for now) in stacked cages (self cleaning) and I have to rake out the room every few days. Mind you my rabbits are outdoors in a sort of coop if you will so they have full ventilation but the coop still stinks! Having the setup inside would require constant cleaning and sanitizing. Males and females or all ages manage to pee on the wall behind their cage! you'll have to put plastic up everywhere.
I will make a self cleaning system too, probably similar to yours (angled trays and PVC pipes), but I'm surprised that they somehow pee outside the tray. I haven't build the cage yet, should I make a wider tray beneath the cage to catch all the pee?
 

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This is my cage plan, it is 2 to 1 meters and 1 mt high. As far as I see, the problem with the common self cleaner cages is the angle is too low and the waste usually do not get its way to the bin and stops in half way. I think 45 degrees angle will solve this problem but this means too much height. So in order to prevent the height that will be lost, I will use multiple trays and pipes. Drawback is I'll have to use 2 bins & in order to catch the waste that comes from 8 main pipes, the bins have to be wide, at least 1 and half foot wide.

I bought some chicken wire today, but will not use the wire under the foot of the rabbits. I will buy thicker wires covered with plastic for the floor.

I haven't illustrated but there will be simple pee and poop diverters too. Probably some drills at the PVC will work for this.
 

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I would look into what breeds are commonly kept for meat in your country, as these may grow faster, with better feed conversion and a better meat to bone ratio. But the above applies re space - one room may not be enough unless you can make some kind of escape-proof enclosures for separating them.
Unfortunately I do not have much choice about meat breeds, there is only continental giant and New Zealand breeds. Rabbit meat is regarded as unusual food in my country, more than %99 people has never eat rabbit meat in their life. Also %20 of the population regards rabbits as sacred animals and never eat them (mainly Alevis and Alewites). So I don't have much choice.

But there is a third breed, native/local breed, it is much more smaller. Many people use it as pet, it is hardly used as meat rabbit. Have no idea about its meat and bone ratio. Does it make too much difference? I can go with a smaller native breed but it is not an actual meat spieces and have no idea about how much meat does it gives.
 

JG3

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I'm a passionate forager who gets most of my food from nature and I live in an urban area which is very close to forest. I'm looking for the possibilities of self sufficient life in an apartment. I'm growing plants in balcony, raising red worms in the room etc. (in a nut shell I'm one of those survivalist, forager, amateur botanist and self sufficient weirdos lol)

Now I'm planning to raise 2 continental giant rabbits in one of my rooms for their litter's meat. I saw some great sites that raise rabbits merely with natural foods and I convinced that it might be possible. Finding foods in my forest for my future rabbits will be easy, there are hundreds of edible plants in our forests that rabbits also like.
I saw you said above, you have New Zealand rabbits as an option as well. I would suggest that breed over giants. Giants eat more, making it so it isnt worth it to raise. They take longer to grow, and they produce more bone than meat. To be the most efficient with the feed to meat ratio, get the New Zealands.
I live alone in a flat with total of 4 rooms and I do not use most of them, so I can assign one of the rooms for rabbits or make a lets say 3 m2 (32 square foot) rabbit cage in a room.

Here is my questions;

-Is it possible to raise meat rabbits indoors in an apartment room? Smell of the rabbit urine seems to be a big problem. Feces and urine can be automatically collected just like the other rabbit farmers did with 45 degrees trays that collect them, but will it be sufficient for the smell?
Possible? Yes. No different than any other animal/pet. Smell with just the buck and doe would be manageable, but once you have babies, I think it would be a challenge, and the amount the babies poop is insane. I currently have a litter of 7 and the amount of poop they produce is crazy. I’m new to rabbits, so was shocked. LOL Babies free feed, So they eat more than adults and well, it’s gotta go somewhere. Depends how much smell you can put up with, consider neighbours too if in an apartment and ventilation.
-Rabbits shed too much fur, can I overcome it indoors?
Only my bucks shed. My does lose like no fur. And only one buck I find it’s excessive in. But if indoors, vacuuming would take care of it easily. It’s not too much to handle.
-Will it take too much time to care for 2 rabbits and their litters?
It doesn’t take much time. Morning and evening chores of feeding, watering, cleaning when needed, that’s about it. How you feed will determine the time in that regard, foraging twice daily would be time consuming when babies are present. Adults alone would be manageable in my opinion. Also consider who or how you will feed them if you’re sick or need to be away. Will it be possible for someone else to help and know how? I am currently transitioning my rabbits to natural feed but I’m still going to keep them used to pellets, so if in an emergency I need help, it’s easy for someone to just give them pellets.
-Foraging for myself is easy, but rabbits eat too much. How many kilos of food do I have to forage them daily?
If you want to natural feed, Another option is growing fodder in your apartment. You can search and find lots of threads on it here. The book Beyond The Pellet is good, as well as the book, Raising Poultry and Rabbits on scraps. I know that isn’t fully self-sufficient because you would have to buy the grain to sprout, but it’s an option to supplement on top of forage, if you don’t have time to forage enough. With fodder, they eat 6% of their body weight in fodder. I assume forage would be the same. Also consider rabbit nutrition, are you going to be able to get enough protein, fat, vitamins and minerals with what’s available for forage. If deficient in some things it can affect fertility and health in general.

What are your winters like in your climate, will a lot of things you forage in summer die off until spring again? How will you store food for over winter? Or will you grow the fodder for winter feeding?
just questions running through my head to ask yourself.

-According to most of the sources, you shouldn't feed your baby rabbits with greens until they are 3 months old, this will highly narrow my foraged diets. But those "forage for your rabbit" sites claims the opposite, according to them if the cubs are accustomed to greens since they are young, they will not be diarrhea. Which one is true?
Babies can eat everything their mother has eaten, they eat the mothers cecotropes which populates their guts with the bacteria needed to digest everything the mother eats. So if the mother is raised on greens, babies will have no issues. If mother isn’t on greens, you can slowly transition her to them over time and eventually the babies will be able to eat them too.
These are my questions. I really want to raise rabbits but don't want to regret for these reasons. Please share your opinions.

 
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JG3

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I will make a self cleaning system too, probably similar to yours (angled trays and PVC pipes), but I'm surprised that they somehow pee outside the tray. I haven't build the cage yet, should I make a wider tray beneath the cage to catch all the pee?
Yes, you will want plastic around everything and wide trays. Rabbit pee is corrosive and stains, etc. Bucks especially will spray their pee. It doesn’t just drop straight down. And the babies are especially messy!
 

Bike guy

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I saw you said above, you have New Zealand rabbits as an option as well. I would suggest that breed over giants. Giants eat more, making it so it isnt worth it to raise. They take longer to grow, and they produce more bone than meat. To be the most efficient with the feed to meat ratio, get the New Zealands.

Possible? Yes. No different than any other animal/pet. Smell with just the buck and doe would be manageable, but once you have babies, I think it would be a challenge, and the amount the babies poop is insane. I currently have a litter of 7 and the amount of poop they produce is crazy. I’m new to rabbits, so was shocked. LOL Babies free feed, So they eat more than adults and well, it’s gotta go somewhere. Depends how much smell you can put up with, consider neighbours too if in an apartment and ventilation.

Only my bucks shed. My does lose like no fur. And only one buck I find it’s excessive in. But if indoors, vacuuming would take care of it easily. It’s not too much to handle.

It doesn’t take much time. Morning and evening chores of feeding, watering, cleaning when needed, that’s about it. How you feed will determine the time in that regard, foraging twice daily would be time consuming when babies are present. Adults alone would be manageable in my opinion. Also consider who or how you will feed them if you’re sick or need to be away. Will it be possible for someone else to help and know how? I am currently transitioning my rabbits to natural feed but I’m still going to keep them used to pellets, so if in an emergency I need help, it’s easy for someone to just give them pellets.

If you want to natural feed, Another option is growing fodder in your apartment. You can search and find lots of threads on it here. The book Beyond The Pellet is good, as well as the book, Raising Poultry and Rabbits on scraps. I know that isn’t fully self-sufficient because you would have to buy the grain to sprout, but it’s an option to supplement on top of forage, if you don’t have time to forage enough. With fodder, they eat 6% of their body weight in fodder. I assume forage would be the same. Also consider rabbit nutrition, are you going to be able to get enough protein, fat, vitamins and minerals with what’s available for forage. If deficient in some things it can affect fertility and health in general.

What are your winters like in your climate, will a lot of things you forage in summer die off until spring again? How will you store food for over winter? Or will you grow the fodder for winter feeding?
just questions running through my head to ask yourself.


Babies can eat everything their mother has eaten, they eat the mothers cecotropes which populates their guts with the bacteria needed to digest everything the mother eats. So if the mother is raised on greens, babies will have no issues. If mother isn’t on greens, you can slowly transition her to them over time and eventually the babies will be able to eat them too.
These are the questions that I've been asking myself for weeks, nice questions.
Plant diversity significantly reduces in winter here, so I'm planning to store dried herbs. Also I might increase the amount of twigs in winter just like the wild rabbits do.

I don't worry about vitamins and minerals, but protein and especially fat might be problem. There are many legumes and herbs that high in protein in my area such as clover, vetch, spotted medick or tedera but I'm not sure how will I meet the rabbits fat needs. I made a great list of protein contents of the most common local plants of my area but I haven't done the same for fat yet.

I also haven't decided yet whether to add some controversial foods to rabbits diet or not such as fir, spruce, juniper, wallnut, maple, rose, fig, oat, plum etc. I think there are two different perspectives about these plants.
 

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It has been 6 days since I bought the rabbits, everything was perfect until today. My bunnies do not eat dry or half dry leaves and twigs, if the leaves are freshly cutted they eagerly eat them. Today I gave them some herbs and tree leaves and twigs that I harvested 3 days ago, leaves were half dried and they protested me. If this situation continious, I'll have to say goodbye to my plans to feed them mostly with foraged plants. Considering the long winter that I was planning to rely on mostly dried plants, you can guess how upset I'm right now.

Is it normal? All sources in internet says they eat dry leaves and herbs too. Either they are not accustomed to dried leaves or my rabbits don't know how to use internet lol.

What should I do?
 

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you might need to mix them in gradually or present them in a different way. Perhaps mix them in some hay?
Today I gave the dried leaves with some hay, mostly wild oat hay and millet hay with grains on it. They ate the hay but not the leaves. Tomorrow after foraging I will put the twig ends in the water to prevent wiltering but this will be a temporary solution.
The previous owner fed them mostly with grains, carrots (lol) and with plenty of fruits, which is not exactly a proper feeding. He said he never gave them greens except some lettuce for a few times and never leaves or twigs. They ate their first herbs, twigs and leaves at my house. You should see them eating fennels and blackberry leaves like hungry hyenas eating their prays. For the last 6 days, I gave them at least 17-20 different kind of wild plants and trees daily, and change the plant spieces the next day. I was soo happy to see them eating the wild plants like crazy but today everything has changed when the plants get dried.
 

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How are they doing? Generally it is recommended to change a rabbit's diet slowly... introduce just a little of a new plant one day and see how its bowels respond. Adding other new foods slowly over time.
 

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How are they doing? Generally it is recommended to change a rabbit's diet slowly... introduce just a little of a new plant one day and see how its bowels respond. Adding other new foods slowly over time.
I was going to do this to prevent diarrhea but they were so happy with their new food that I couldn't resist and gave them what they want, which is greens. But I still kept giving them their previous main food too, which is a mix of different grains that I took from the previous owner. Only one of them have a slight diarrhea issue, but it doesn't look serious. She is cheerfull and look happy. The others are completely fine.

They were so scared at the first day, sticking together, not moving and doing literally nothing. I bought 6 rabbits, a 2 years old mother and her 9 weeks old 4 cubs, they are giants. There is another baby, not her cub, she is 3 months old and either a New Zealand or Turkish red eye.

The guy said the mother was attacked by a street dog last month and lost one of her ears, this explans why mother is the only one still holds back from me and move away when I try to touch her. She probably couldn't get over the travma. My relationship with the others are improving very fast, they do not fear me anymore and being more active and energetic everyday.
 

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Bike guy

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I made the cage out of leightweight pine wood in case I'll have to move it. It is 2 metres wide (6.5 feet) and 2 metres height, (only cage inside is 108 cm/3.5 feet height). It is 120 cm/4 feet deep.

Within 4 days I'm hoping to make 2 new worm bins and combine it to hutch BTW, will make a nice and functional system. They will be 2 vertical cylindrical worm bins under the cage and they will be trommel screeners at the same time. The urine will not enter the bins, it will go outside through downspout.

My simple waste collecting system is usually blocked by hays, maybe 1/3 of the hays, twigs and leaves goes down and blocks the system. Tried a few different feeder systems but didn't work. I have to solve this problem too. Haven't made one of "hay feeders" yet and I don't think that will work neither.

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Preitler

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It has been 6 days since I bought the rabbits, everything was perfect until today. My bunnies do not eat dry or half dry leaves and twigs, if the leaves are freshly cutted they eagerly eat them. Today I gave them some herbs and tree leaves and twigs that I harvested 3 days ago, leaves were half dried and they protested me. If this situation continious, I'll have to say goodbye to my plans to feed them mostly with foraged plants. Considering the long winter that I was planning to rely on mostly dried plants, you can guess how upset I'm right now.

Is it normal? All sources in internet says they eat dry leaves and herbs too. Either they are not accustomed to dried leaves or my rabbits don't know how to use internet lol.

What should I do?

Completly normal, just offer good hay additionally. When it gets colder the plants get fewer and less palatable after freezing , mine gradually switch to hay easily enough although they do enjoy green morsels that can be found throughout winter. I also feed apple, pumpkin and topinambur in moderate amounts throughout winter.

They might be picky eaters, but they do not starve in front of a bowl with good quality hay or whatever.
 
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