Education:Rabbit Project Care and Management

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Rabbit Project Management

How to house your rabbits.
How to keep them safe.
How to feed and water them.
What to do each day and each week.

Housing

The housing for your rabbits must:
  • be clean at all times
  • have access to plenty of fresh air
  • have protection from hot or cold weather
  • be protected from ALL dogs and other predators!

Design

  • Rabbit pens [cages/hutches] should be kept sanitary at all times and located in an area allowing for plenty of fresh air and some sunlight.
  • Each cage/hutch should protect the rabbits from bad weather, all dogs, other animals and must provide enough room for growth.
The most important point in building your rabbit cage/hutch is sanitation!
An open-air, self-cleaning cage/hutch is recommended. :A modern rabbit cage/hutch is constructed with welded wire.
The floor is made with 1/2-inch by 1-inch welded wire.
Sides and tops are built with 1-by-2-inch welded wire.
All-wire cage/hutches are more sanitary and durable than a wood cage/hutch.
Cages can be hung in a building with adequate ventilation.
This type of housing is more efficient than outside housing, especially when equipped with attached feeders and automatic watering systems.
Pelleted feed rations have eliminated the need for hay in rabbit cages/hutches.
The size of the cage/hutch depends on the size of the breed of rabbit. Cages and Hutches can be purchased pre-built.
Remember, it's easier to care for your rabbits in a well-built wire Cage or Hutch as opposed to temporary poorly built wood ones. Open-air, self-cleaning cages/hutches will help to keep your rabbits cool.
These cages/hutches can be kept cleaner and diseases can be controlled more easily.
To keep your rabbits from overheating, do not place the cage/hutch in direct sunlight.
Place the cage in partial or complete shade with good air circulation.
Cages should be approximately 24"D x 36"L x 18"H with attached feeders and water supply.

Temperature Control

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Extreme Cold and Heat will Kill Your Rabbits!
On hot days [90 degrees and above], place frozen water bottles in the cage and have fans blowing on your rabbits.
On harsh cold days [38 degrees and lower], protect your rabbits from the elements. If a frost is in the forecast, bring your rabbits indoors (garage,etc) until the temperature rises back to 38 degrees or higher. Rabbits love the cold weather!

Predator Control

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Be alert! - Protect your project...
Your cages must be protected from other animals, especially dogs!
Dogs kill an amazing number of unprotected 4H-FFA rabbits every year! Never allow ANY animal near your cages!
Dogs will pull the feet off of your rabbits through the wire flooring of an unprotected cage. This is a horrible death and can simply be avoided by making sure You have taken measures to protect your rabbits' cage area!

Environmental Control

Provide your rabbits with a clean and healthy environment!
Prevent flies by removing the rabbit droppings at least every other day! This will also reduce the urine odor!
Urine build-up will irritate your rabbits' breathing passages and burn their eyes!
Rabbit droppings are a great fertilizer for gardens and flower beds!
Just keep it clean!

Feeding

Type of Feed

Rabbit Pellets
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Never feed your rabbits any "extras"!
Not only will these "extras" stop your rabbits from eating their daily feed rations
it will cause them to scour (diarrhea) and die.
Use good quality commercial feed pellets.
Purchase a feed that contains between 16% to 18% Protein!
Pellets should be firm and not broken into small particles. The particles (fines) will not be eaten and will be wasted.
Keep your feed dry, out of excess heat, free from insects and rodents.
This can be done easily by storing in a container like a garbage can with a tight fitting lid.
Do not store your feed for more than 3 or 4 weeks. It loses its nutritional value if it is stored longer than that.
Do not let stale or moldy feed accumulate in feeders. If feed is dusty, try to sift it before feeding. The dust may harm your rabbit's respiratory system.

How Much Feed & Water

If raising a pen of 5 rabbits, a 50lb bag of feed should last 5-6 weeks.
A household measuring cup can be used to feed - 1 cup per rabbit per day!
Never let your rabbits be without water!
Change the water often and keep the container clean.
If the weather is hot, add ice cubes to the container throughout the day.

When to Feed

Feed your rabbits once a day in the Evening!
Rabbits enjoy their "supper meal" just like you do!
A good feeding habit/schedule would be to feed your rabbits just prior to your having your supper meal.
Always clean and empty the feeder. Remove any uneaten feed before refilling.
Your rabbits are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and eat at night.

Weight Gains

Your rabbits will weigh approximately 1 1/2 to 2 pounds when you get them.
Weigh your rabbits when you get them and record their weights.
Each rabbit should gain approximately 8-10 ounces per week.
This is why we stress the importance of weekly weighing! Know and record your rabbits' weights!
Weekly weighings will help you determine which 3 rabbits will be chosen as your show pen!
The ideal weight on show day for your 'pen of 3' should be very close to 5 pounds per rabbit.

Tasks

Daily Tasks

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You can have a very successful project if you
give your rabbits the daily attention that they require!
  • Evening Feeding . . . feed the recommended amounts!
  • Keep the water container full and clean at all times!

Weekly Tasks

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Attention leads to Prevention!
Do a complete check of each rabbit. Look carefully for any physical problems such as
  • broken toenails
  • eye problems
  • earmites
Treat your rabbits' ears with mineral oil to prevent earmites
Weigh and record your rabbits' weights
Work and 'pose' your rabbits, preparing them for show day!




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