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Original:Back Yard and Commercial Rabbit Production 7

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A Complete Handbook on Back-Yard and Commercial Rabbit Production (Peace Corps, 1982, 92 p.)[edit]

The rabbitry and its equipment[edit]

Housing[edit]

1. Any building whether expensive or inexpensive can shelter rabbit hutches as long as it protects the rabbits from predators, wind and rain, and in addition a house should provide plenty of light and ventilation.

2. As much as possible, use locally available materials to cut down on cost. Bamboo is an excellent material for lowland construction.

3. A good rabbit house, though, should be located in an area where both the caretaker and the rabbits feel comfortable.


Hutches[edit]

The type of hutch and equipment for any rabbitry will depend on where the rabbitry is to be located, climate and the amount of money to be invested.

Before starting to build your hutches, the construction and equipment should be designed to minimize labor needed in caring for the herd. Furthermore a neat design and convenient arrangement should be considered to insure the best working environment.

Many types of hutches are in use and no one design is entirely suitable for all purposes or all conditions. Basically, hutches should be well ventilated and should provide maximum comfort for the rabbits by giving adequate protection from all kinds of weather and predators. The animals must be protected from typhoon, winds and hot sun and they must be kept dry.

In order to save on expenses, materials around your own home should be used whenever possible. Scrap lumber and bamboo are good building materials. Chicken wire of different sizes are also used in the construction of many hutches today but, depreciation is extremely high.

Provide individual cages for mature rabbits. The cages should be no more than.762 mm deep so you can easily reach the rabbits, and.609 mm high. Make the cages.9144 mm long for small breeds, 1.219 m for medium-size breeds, and 1.219 m to 1.828 m for giant breeds (All figures are for inside measurements). Whether you arrange the hutches in single, double, or triple tiers depends upon how much room is available. If you have enough room, waist-high, single-tier hutches are preferable as they are most convenient for observing the rabbits and will also save time and labor in feeding and management. The inconvenience of squatting or stooping to feed and care for rabbits in the bottom tier and of having to use a stool or ladder for the top row of a three-tier arrangement results in additional labor and time as compared to a single-tier arrangement. And worst of all, good sanitation is sacrificed in the long run.


Rab P08.GIF
FIGURE 7: 2-CAGE, ALL WIRE QUONSET HUTCH

Rab P09.GIF
FIGURE 7

STEEL BAR (Round)

5/16 DIAM x 20 - 4 pcs.

WELDED WIRE #16

1 x 2 - 4' x 10'

¾ x ¾ or ½ X ½-2' X 6'

G.I. WIRE

#16-1/5 kl.


NOTE:

This style hutch must be hung inside the building where it will be placed. From this sketch, you can make more improvements and add more cages.

The quonset style hutch features a door that opens up over the top. Then, when open, the door does not occupy aisle space or interfere with feeding and cleaning operations. In addition, when this type of hutch is single-tiered at waist height, you can reach all the corners without placing your head and shoulders inside the door opening.

Quonset-shaped hutches can be adapted to fit any type of rabbitry where hutches are housed. They are most easily constructed in 2 hutch units.

Wood-Frame and Wire Hutches - In the Philippines, the most economically constructed rabbit hutch is a combination of wood and wire. The skeleton is wood and the flooring, sides, and top are all welded wire to insure sanitation. The wood frame is an external skeleton while the welded wire is attached inside (Fig. 8). The positive characteristics of this type of hutch are its durability and excellent ventilation and sanitation. (Fig. 9)

Rab P10.JPG
FIGURE 8 - Wood frame hutch with galvanized wire placed inside wood frame.

Hutches may be supported in several ways. If you use corner posts, make them long enough (about 1.067 m high) so that you can clean underneath and do other work around the hutch. Cement blocks beneath the corner posts will increase the longevity of the wood. In areas where ants pose a problem, a depression cut into the blocks can serve as containers for any locally available insect repellent or a gas and oil mixture. You can support a hutch by resting it on a crosspiece nailed between the studs that support the shed, or you can hang it from the rafters or ceiling of the shed with heavy wire or light lumber.

Bamboo Hutch - Bamboo is one of the most economical of all hutches materials when used with a nipa or cogon grass roof. The design is the same as for the wooden frame-wire hutch. For the sides and flooring, use 25 mm wide bamboo slats spaced 16 mm or 19 mm apart. Place the rounded portion of the bamboo slats facing the inside of the cage to eliminate gnawing by the rabbit. To prevent strangulation or breakage of the rabbit's feet, use straight bamboo for the flooring.

Rab P11.GIF
A: WOOD FRAME AND WIRE HUTCH - DOUBLE FACE

Rab P12A.GIF
B: WOOD FRAME AND WIRE HUTCH - DOUBLE FACE

Rab P12B.GIF
C: WOOD FRAME AND WIRE HUTCH - DOUBLE FACE

BILL OF MATERIALS FOR RECTANGULAR WOOD AND WIRE HUTCH

S4S LUMBER - For Framing


2" x 2'' x 6' - 2 pcs.


2" x 2" x 8' - 6 pcs.


1" x 2" x 8' - 10 pcs.

WELDED WIRE - 16


4' x 8' - ¾'' x ¾''



(Double 1" x 1" to make ¾")


4'x3' - 1"x2"


4' x 24' - 1" x 1"

COMMON NAILS -


1-½-kl.


2 - 1-kl.


2½ - ¼-kl.

HINGES - ¾'' X 2" - 8 pcs.

ROOFING

S4S LUMBER -


2" x 2" x 10' - 2 pcs.


1 " x 2" x 1 2' - 4 pcs.

* FOR NIPA

NIPA

- 3'L = 120 pcs.

BAMBOO

- 5'L (med.) - 2 pcs.

S. RATTAN

- 20 pcs.

PLAIN G.I. SHEET

- 12" x 6'

*FOR G.I. SHEETS

G.I. SHEET

- 32' x 6' - 6 pcs.

ROOFING NAILS

- 2" - 1 Kl.

Hutch Floor - Several types of floors are used in hutches, and each has its particular merit.

Wire mesh floors are used extensively where a self-cleaning type is desired. They are a necessity in commercial herds, where it would be impossible to provide enough labor to keep solid floors in a sanitary conditions. In installing this type of floor, examine the wire for sharp points which result sometimes from the galvanizing process. Paint the galvanized wire with iron paint to lessen depreciation. Always put the smooth surface on top. Though solid floors in the long run pose problems with sanitation, this can be minimized if the floors are sloped slightly backwards to provide proper drainage. You can use hardwood or bamboo slats as flooring also. A combination of solid floor at the front part of the hutch and a strip of mesh wire or slats at the back may be used.

When using an all-wire mesh floor, it is advisable to place a resting board made of plywood inside the cage to eliminate sore hocks. The dimensions would be determined by the size of the animal; i.e., large enough for rabbit to rest comfortably.


Feeding equipment[edit]

It is desirable to use feed crocks, troughs, hoppers, and grass mangers that are large enough to hold several feedings to save time in filling. Use a type that will prevent waste and contamination of the feed.

Crocks. Crocks especially designed for rabbit feeding, (about 6 inches wide and 3 inches tall) which are not easily tipped over, have a concave lip that prevents the animals from scratching out and wasting their feed. The chief objection to these is that the young rabbits get into them and contaminate the feed. Earthenware and ceramics are the best suited materials.

Bamboo Troughs - can also be utilized for commercial feeds. To form a concave container, 1/3 of the side should be cut away between the two nodes. To prevent the container from tipping, attach it to the side or floor of the cage with wire.

Grass Mangers - are either U or V-shaped and made of mesh wire 1" x 2" gauge 16. The 2' inch is placed horizontally while the 1 'inch is verticle to allow the rabbits easy access to the grass by pulling. Ideally, grass mangers are usually constructed between two cages to save space and labor but they can also be placed at the front or side of the cage although it is more cumbersome for the animal and the caretaker.

Hoppers - (See Fig. 10) Feed hoppers of the proper design and size save considerable time and labor. These can be constructed from metal, wood, ceramics, or other readily available materials. They should hold at least several days supply of feed and be placed within the hutch or suspended on the outside of it. The opening through which the rabbits obtain feed should be not more than.10 m above the hutch floor so that young rabbits can readily eat. This is especially suited for complete rabbit feed pellets. An expensive feed hopper that will hold about 15 pounds of pellets or home mixed feeds can be made from a common square 5-gallon can or can be constructed using plywood, lawanit or ceramics. Using the 5-gallon can first cut off the top. Then cut holes in two opposite sides. If the hopper is to be hung on the side of the hutch, cut a hole on one side only. The holes should he 110 m high, 110 m from the bottom, and.025 m from each side. Bend the rough edges inward to give a smooth edge all around and to acid rigidity. Take a.025 m x.10 m x.34 m board and cut it diagonally into two equal triangular pieces. Use these as supports to the baffle boards which are nailed to them.

The baffle boards, of.0125 m plywood, should extend.()25 m below the bottom of the side openings of the can. The space between the lower ends of the baffle boards permits the pellets to flow clown as the rabbits eat. Cut the baffle boards to fit snugly against the insides of the can so feed cannot slip by!. Mount the top corners of the baffles so that each baffle will rest against the top edge of the can.

Cover the exposed edges of boards with tin to prevent gnawing. Put a finishing nail in the outer edge of the triangular piece supporting; the baffle, and trend the nail to hook over the lower lip of the opening to hold it and the baffle in place.

You can save hutch floor space by using a hopper with a feed opening on one side only and by placing the hopper only part way into the hutch. Cut an opening large enough to accommodate the hopper in the side of the hutch. Then wire the top of the hopper to the hutch for support. One short baffle on the inside opposite the hopper opening will keep feed out of the rear corners.

A one-compartment feed hopper is used when only one kind of feed is given. When nixed feed that the rabbits can separate is offered in the hopper, the feed will he selectively consumed. The rabbits scratch out and waste the part tines prefer not to eat. You can prevent this waste by using a hopper with a concave mouth and individual feed compartments.

Caution must be taken to insure that no moisture enters the can during rain showers. If moisture does enter, mold may develop. When this moldy feed is ingested by the rabbit, it causes the build-up of fluids and gas which the rabbit is unable to expel. Bloat and death of the animal will result.

Rab P16.GIF
FIGURE 10 - DESIGNS FOR FEED HOPPER MADE FROM 5-GALLON CAN

A common mishap to be aware of with litters is when the uneaten portion of feed is spoiled by urination of and fecal excretion by the bunnies who climb into feed hoppers.

Pelleted rabbit feed contains salt which will eventually corrode the metal can. If mash is used, a higher rate of corrosion will insue due to the minute particles clinging to the sides of the can. To reduce rusting by coating the can with iron paint is a practical but expensive solution.


Equipment for watering[edit]

Contrary to popular belief and practice, rabbits do need clean, fresh water at all times. During hot weather, a doe and her litter of 6 or 8 will consume about 2 litters of water a day. Here are suggested water containers:

Crocks: inexpensive and yet sanitary, earthenware crocks are used quite extensively in the rabbitry.

Enamel Cups: the most sanitary and easier to clean than the crock style. They may he tied to the side of the cage to prevent spillage by the rabbit. (Fig. 11)

Rab P17.JPG
FIGURE 11 - Enamel cup for water wired to cage to prevent spillage.

Ceramic Crocks: also recommended if they are within a reasonable price range.

Bamboo Troughs: practical due to their availability but pose a problem due to their susceptibility to algae formation.

Cans: sometimes utilized but, again, problems arise when rabbits eat the rust formed on the can. I Thus their use is not warranted. However, 1 liter-sized plastic oil can, can be cleaned and cut for both water and/or feed containers. These c an he attached to the cage with wire to prevent spilling.

Automatic Watering: automatic watering systems are widely used in commercial rabbitries in the States. Though they are very expensive to install, they could easily he adapted to commercial rabbitries in the Philippines.

Automatic watering systems are better than the conventional type of containers. They eliminate the tedious and time consuming chore of washing, disenfecting, rinsing, and filling. They supply fresh, clean water for the rabbits at all times. When an automatic watering system is properly installed, dirt and fur will not collect in it and plug it up.

While there are many positive aspects to automatic watering systems, the negative must also he considered. It takes time to train rabbits in using this system. In the beginning, water consumption may decrease to a level where production may be drastically affected. If the drinking valves are not properly installed and maintained, water leakage and dripping may eventually corrode the wire mesh.


Nest boxes[edit]

When a doe is ready to kindle a nest box is placed in the cage for her to give birth in. This is a carry-over from habit of wild rabbits who kindled inside trees or holes in the ground.

No one type of nest box is best suited for all conditions, hut all should provide seclusion for the doe at kindling and also comfort and protection for the young. Nest boxes should be large enough to prevent crowding while small enough to keep the young together. All types should provide good drainage and proper ventilation.

Counterset Nest Box: A type of nest box used in the U.S. is the counteract type, where the box is recessed below the hutch floor. These may be placed at the front of the cage and fitted like drawers for access from the exterior of the hutch. They have the advantages of providing a more natural environment, since rabbits are burrowing animals, and of allowing the young easier access if they should be displaced from the nest at an early age. The young can jump out of the standard type nest box, but they often cannot jump or climb back in. When the litter becomes divided, this means that some of the young may go hungry. The doe usually nurses her young at night or in the early evening and morning hours. If the litter is divided, the doe will either nurse the young in the nest or those on the hutch floor. She will not nurse both groups, nor will she pick up the young and return them to the nest.

The counterset nest box is easy to keep clean because the inner drawer can be slipped out for washing and disinfecting. These drawers also can be interchanged from one hutch to another. When the young no longer need the inner drawer it can be left out to provide more space in the hutch.

BILL OF MATERIALS FOR NEST BOX AND DRAWER

Nest box:
Sides. - Two pieces of lumber,.025 x.30 x.427.
End. - One piece of lumber,.025 x.20 x.31.
Door. - One piece of lumber,.025 x.30 x.31.
Cover. - One piece of.003 x 30 x.31 hardboard
Bottom. - One piece of 16 gauge galvanized wire,.025 x.0125 mesh,.30 x.45.

Nest drawer:
Sides. - Two pieces of 003 inch hardboard (tempered),.184 x.43.
Ends - Two pieces of lumber, 025 x.20 x.25.
Bottom. - One piece of 1/8 inch hardboard (tempered),.216 x.43.

Miscellaneous:
Nails. - Use 025 or 05 nails to fasten the end, top and sides of the nest box,.05 to fasten the nest drawer, and 031 roofing nails (large head) to fasten the wire bottom to the nest box.
Protecting strips. - To prevent chewing and splintering, nail 26-gauge galvanized sheet metal, bent to form a.0125 x.016 angle, to the exposed edges of the nest box and drawer.
Hinges. - Two 025 strap hinges for the door.

In shaping the sides of the nest box for the slanted roof, you can use the piece of number cut from the rear of each side to build up the front. The completed sides should be. 4125 long, and should slant down from 2064 tall at the rear.

Suspend the completed nest box in the hutch by the cradle of No. 12 wire at the rear and the three remaining strands of hutch flooring in the front. The cradle of No. 12 wire can be made in three sections to fit down each side of the box and under the bottom, or in one long piece. In either case the wire cradle is merely hooked onto the hutch flooring next to the next box on one side, passed down and across beneath the box and up the other side to again hook on the hutch floor. This provides adequate support for the rear of the nest box. Slip the three strands of flooring into notches cut into the front end of the nest box just above the door.

To prevent the nest box from slipping to the rear and losing the support of the floor wire at the front end, the side boards of the nest box can be cut so as to extend a little above the back boar of the nest box. Then as the back board comes up under the hutch floor, these side boards project a little above the floor and prevent the nest from being pushed to the rear.

To help keep the nest dry, cut some.006 drain holes spaced.05 apart on the bottom of the nest-box drawer.

Standard Nest Box: It is a characteristic of most does to choose a corner in which to kindle her young, therefore, the standard nest box is the most practical because of its mobility. Some signs exhibited by the doe to display which corner she prefers for kindling are scratching and gathering grasses or newspaper there to serve as nesting materials.

The nesting materials could be of local sources such as trimmings of clothing or soft grasses but shredded newspaper is the most ideal since it is free from mites and other insects, the usual causes of ear canker and skin mange.

Place the nest box in that area where the signs are observed 25 days after breeding or a week before kindling to allow her to prepare for actual kindling.

The box must be tilted at the front with a.05 x.05 block of wood so the doe kindles her litter at the rear of the nest box where they are protected from possible injure when she enters or exits during nursing(Fig. 12).

Rab P20.JPG
FIGURE 12 - Standard nest box.

After each use by the doe and her litter (30 days after kindling) clean, wash, and disinfect the nest box. If commercial disinfectants are not available, use a boiled solution of one kerosene can of water to one small cup of salt... pouring it while it is hot into the nest box and drying it in the hot sun. Burning cogon grass or newspaper inside the nest box will suffice in sanitizing it for use.

For an inexpensive nest box use the ready-made fish box found in the market which is.55 long,.25 high, and.35 wide. It can be easily adapted by following the design of the standard nest box. Again, to help keep the nest box. Again, to help keep the nest dry, cut 1.006 drain holes spaced.05 apart in the bottom of the nest box.

Rab P21.GIF
FIGURE 13 - STANDARD NEST BOX