New Rabbit Barn! Advice?

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golden rabbitry

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I've outgrown my old rabbit barn and we are building a new one! It's 10'x10', 6' sidewalls and 10' peek. I'll put in a loft for storage.
My main question is: I wanted to originally make the wall areas by the cages removable for ventilation (cutting strips where cages are and removing them in summer). basically make the shed as ventilated as possible. But would a closed system be better? Have it the exact opposite, no air going in or out so I can put an AC in and not worry about the cold air leaving. I have a swamp cooler in the current barn that isn't very practical because the back door is mesh. I have fans for the outdoor and indoor cages.
What do you think? Is a closed system with a good AC better than a completely ventilated barn?
 

hotzcatz

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A new barn is always good!

Is there any way to do both? Have removable ventilation and also be able to close it up for A/C? Hinging wall segments by the cages would be easy to open and close the 'windows'.

Here in Hawaii, we're always concerned with cooling with breezes since electricity rates are too high to use A/C. If there are open-able vents down near the floor and a vent up at the peak of the roof, the cooler air can come in from below and go up through the building and the hotter air can exit from the peak. If some tasty to bunnies plants were planted along the sides, that would further cool the air before it vented into the building.

White roof to reflect heat and big roof overhangs to shade the side of the building are other building techniques we use in Hawaii to keep things cooler.

Is there any way to have overhead hay storage that will automatically fill feeders? I've not figured out details since we can't afford hay here ($38 for a small bale) but if we did feed hay, it would be an interesting thing to figure out.

Oh, and an automatic water system makes keeping multiple bunnies so much easier.
 

Rabbits by Accident

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You mostly need to protect the rabbits from the wind and rain. They handle cold just fine. How cold does it get in Hawaii? I'm in Texas, but it gets down in the teens. Fortunately it doesn't usually stay cold long. My area is about the same size as your new area will be. It's in a corner of two buildings so two sides are solid and two adjacent sides are open. I thought tarps would work as removable walls but when it gets windy here in on the prairie, it gets WINDY and blows for days at a time - the tarps blew into the rabbit area - all the way up to the ceiling, and were useless and NOISY. So on the north side with the worst wind I put up 3 4x8 sheets of OSB (what I had sitting around) I screwed down the two on the corners and left the middle one unattached. The middle one acts like a sliding door. I slide it open and clamp it to one of the fixed doors and I have a 3 1/2 foot opening that allows great airflow. The other side is partially blocked with another piece of plywood and a hideous green tarp which I can open.

So, my set up looks horrid, but it works very well. You could take the idea and do a classier version LOL. In the summer, they get full airflow, and on warm days in the winter, I can open both sides and get good airflow. Best of both worlds and no ammonia build up.

- Liz
 

Zee-Man

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You could have your siding (T-111, plywood, etc) attached to the framing in horizontal strips. Have some strips be as tall as the cages. Those would be attached using hinges. When air flow is wanted open the cage strips. For cheap ventilation, work in ridge venting. That too should be hinged to allow opening and closing. Check out green house ridge venting for inspiration on this.

Here in Delaware we can get as low as 10F and as high as 100F. Rather than build an enclosure such as a barn, I opted for hides. Rabbits like to be able to hide. The hide protects from wind and creates a small area that is easier for the rabbit to keep warm. I put card board on the wire mesh floor. But frankly, Dosiedoe preferred to chew that up and scatter around the hutch. My original design for the hides was to attach them to the hutch using hinges to enable me to open them up for cleaning, etc. This year I will remake them as simple boxes with hinged lids.
 

Albert

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I've been an hvac engineer longer than I care to mention. Damn I just worked it out it's 41 years!

So here's my little bit of advice. Installing an a/c unit in an uninsulated lightweight exterior building will do a few things.

The unit will run itself into the ground and you'd be lucky if you get 2 years+ out of it.
Your electricity bill will look like the debt of a third world country.
When it does work the humidity in the space will drop. I don't know if rabbits are good with dry air but it can cause dry eyes in humans.
If you drop below the dew point metal surfaces like cages will start to sweat. In other words condensation will start to form.

Having good airflow (maybe assisted by a fan) with a route out for the heat (normally at high level) is always preferential, even for an office building.

Also if you build your new barn on a good thick concrete slab that will act as a great heat sink for the summer.
 
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hotzcatz

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Wonder what Golden built? It's been awhile since the original post.

Golden is in California, which can have a wide range of temperatures depending on where the exact location may be. Hawaii has some differences in temperature, depending mostly on elevation although location has a little bit to do with it, too. Where the bunnies are here (we're at about 1,100 ft elevation), if it gets below 55 °F ( 13 °C ) we complain bitterly about freezing to death. If it gets above 88 °F (31 °C ) we moan about how we're roasting to death. Of course, we also howl if the tradewinds blow the wrong direction (well, they aren' tradewinds anymore when they do that) and we get real grumpy if they blow more than 10-15 mph. Personally, I think we're terribly spoiled as far as weather goes, but we like it that way.

The buns seem to do pretty well here even though it doesn't get all that cold for them. They don't seem to mind the humidity too much, either. They don't get official buildings to live in, though, just hutches out in the yard under a shady tree.

Thanks for the A/C info, Albert! I'd been thinking of maybe getting some sort of heat or cooling for the people house, but it doesn't have any insulation so maybe not. Not anywhere to put insulation, either. The walls are made of vertical 1" thick boards. One side of the board is the exterior of the house, the other side of the board is the interior of the house. Kinda like a bunny hutch, I guess.
 
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