Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Breeding like rabbits

For several years, I've owned some form of rabbit. We had some as pets for a while, I had some from a friend at an old job who didn't want his any more, and now we have some real breeders for meat, fur and fertilizer.

I built a make-shift rabbit hutch when we first had our pet rabbits, and it's worked fine since then. In fact, some recent tornadoes ripped through our area and flipped the entire hutch (bunnies and all!) completely over. I'm no Bob Vila, but I'm pretty proud that the hutch stayed together through that insanity. And the rabbits didn't even get hurt, either, although one of the cages was broken open. I'll let you take a second to imagine me running around in the pouring rain, trying to catch a wet rabbit in the backyard. Go ahead, I'll wait.

So as we plan to start breeding our rabbits next month, I know it's time to start on another hutch. The plan is to have two males and two females, each producing a litter at alternating times. That way, we'll be efficient with the feed and limited storage space while we raise the babies for meat after 3-4 months.

I gathered up some scrap wood, purchased the remaining parts needed, and started on a second hutch.

I'm not too picky on looks, and the old hutch seemed to serve its purpose, so I mainly followed the old plans -- with one modification. The old hutch had 24 1/4" spaces for each cage, and the cages are 24". So it was a tight fit getting those in and out. I decided to give this one an extra inch for each cage.

A few hours later, we now have room for six cages. Unfortunately, Tractor Supply was all out of cages, but I'll assemble the other one I do have, separate the girls (who are sharing a cage now), and have one hutch be for the boys and one for the girls. Then when the litters are born, then can share the remaining two cages (after being weaned from their mommies) until they're old enough to be culled. They shouldn't have a problem with fighting or mating if they share a cage, as long as I cull them early enough (3-4 months).

So that should be plenty of room, right?! I have a feeling I'll be building another one of these some day, but hopefully it's after we move!

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