Rabbit Housing and Routine practices

3.1 Rabbit Housing Requirements:

  • The house must protect the rabbits and keep them from escaping
  • The house must protect the rabbits from predators
  • The house must protect the rabbits from adverse weather
  • The house should allow easy, comfortable access for the manager
  • The house must be self cleaning or easy to clean
  • The house should be of reasonable cost, easy to maintain and be durable.
  • Ideally, rabbits should be kept in cages either outdoor with extended roofs or indoor where the cages are kept inside buildings on platforms.
  • A rabbit unit should be well ventilated, rain-proof and allows some sunlight

3.2 Rabbit Housing Dimensions

  • Standard cages for rabbits should measure: L=80cm, W=60cm, H=45cm.
  • For pregnant does or does with young kits, a provision for a nesting box of 30cm by 30cm.
  • Usually weld mesh wire is preferred because of ease in maintaining cleanliness. The quality of available weld mesh wire in Kenya is however poor and does not last long
  • Many farmers have thus resorted to using all-wooden cages or wooden plus weld mesh wire cages.
  • Multi-tier cages are becoming popular because they safe on space. More than two-tier cages are however not recommended because of difficulties in management.

An outdoor hutch plan for 6 doe and 1 buck breeding unit (economic unit):

rabbit-houseSome examples of Rabbit Houses:

a) Outdoor Cage

outdoor-cage

  • This structure is made of timber walls, wooden floor, iron sheet wall. The front of the structure is made of weld mesh wire. The structure is on a platform of about 1 meter from the ground
b) Floor planfloor-plan

  • This is a floor plan for a 4 breeding females with one buck in the middle. Notice that two female rabbits share the space between them as nesting area
c) Indoor housing with stacked cages

indoor-housing

  • The cages are stacked in order to save on space. The farmer in this case utilises both timber and weld wire mesh.
d) Nesting box:

nesting-box

  • Some expectant does require a nesting box with the indicated dimensions attached to their main cages in preparation for kindling. This nesting box is where the doe will farrow and feed its young until they have grown fur

Handling Rabbits

The ears alone should never be used as the sole means of holding the rabbit.  The best method is to grasp the ears and the skin close to the head with one hand while the other hand takes the full weight of the rabbit at the hips.  For young rabbits up to about 3-4 months old, a suitable method is to grasp the animal across the loins.

Sexing

A part from the sex organs, physically the buck is usually smaller than the doe and often has a broader head.  In the buck, a protruding sex organ appears as a rounded tip, while in the doe the organ is slit-like or v-shaped, and will slope slightly downwards towards the anus.  When the bucks are mature the penis and testicles are easily observed.

Identification

It is important to properly identify your rabbits in order to help you keep records about them. The most common ways of identification for rabbits include tattooing and ear notching. Tattooing is the most relevant in rabbits due to their high turnover. For exhibition purposes rings with official marks are used.

Records

Keep proper records of all your rabbit unit activities:

  • Breeding records
  • Growth
  • Sales and expenses

All these are important to help you understand your rabbit enterprise and for planning. Rabbits with breeding records help avoid inbreeding and can also fetch premium prices when sold to other farmers.