Adult rabbits are hardy animals, capable of bearing cold winters in metal cages. Their babies, however are not. So, what’s a breeder to do? Drag those clunky old cages inside, maybe, but we don’t have many indoor spaces to house our rabbits. Our greenhouse has sort of worked well but space is limited and it’s pretty far from where our rabbits live the rest of the time.
We stumbled onto one very attractive solution, a rabbit house. Of course building a shelter for our rabbits was necessary but much more exciting was the prospect of abandoning the cages altogether. Keeping our rabbits in cages and hutches has long stood out as contrary to our pasture-raised ethos. Happy animals don’t live in cages.
For years, we have wanted to liberate our rabbits from their cages. When we first started with just a couple of rabbits, we moved their cages to fresh pasture daily but even that seemed cumbersome. We’ve let them out in the past, giving them fenced-in areas to run and play. The rabbits were clearly much happier and seemed to get along pretty well. But that was not a solution. The rabbits were not better protected from bad weather and they were not secure. Escape was too easy and the fencing wasn’t enough to keep the dogs out. It was like taking children normally kept locked in their room out to the park.
Not only will the rabbit house better protect our rabbits from loose animals and bad weather, it’ll make our jobs easier. No more filling three dozen individual water bottles and portioning out food into three dozen individual food dishes. No more carefully keeping tabs on which bucks bred with which does and when. With our rabbits living together in a single house, we can just fill a long trough with food and another with water. The bucks can breed happily whenever they please, and the does can happily runaway if they please. Surprisingly, we hear, from the link above, that they will breed more often than we humans would schedule them to do (less rest in between for the bucks). And the cleaning couldn’t be easier.
We began construction on our rabbit house just before winter. We decided to place the building behind our current rabbit location, a nice flat area that is easily accessible and gives good shade for the hot summer months (rabbits don’t do well in heat). It started with a two ton layer of gravel to create good drainage, a key element in our design. Our Rabbit House is being built from our own milled wood, of course, from frame to siding. We love that everything we build now can be done this way! After the frame was built, we used a billboard tarp as the roof. Next, we wrapped the frame in the tyvek. We are currently in the middle of adding siding to the house. The construction process has gone slower than we hoped due to severe winter weather but it is coming together. We are excited to finish construction and see how the rabbits react to their new home! (more…)