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To each his own ... breed of rabbit, and raising methods!

I cannot imagine cleaning under dozens of rabbit cages on a regular basis. As much as I love rabbits I still have other things to take care of. I would love to have properly sloped concrete floors so the manure could be hosed outside the barn into wormbeds. Failing this, I prefer a dirt floor with wormbeds built under the cages. In fact this is what I have, although they are just wormbeds because worms are in them. I haven't actually built anything. I've had this barn for three years and other than being too small it has worked well.

The secret to ammonia control is good ventilation at the bottom of the barn. Ammonia is heavier than air and sinks. My barn has a 1-1/2 foot opening on two sides at the bottom. These are covered with chicken wire and screening. They can be closed with plastic curtains I got from a poultry supply dealer. I only close the curtains on very cold days. I have never had to use fans to remove the ammonia.

I also have two-foot openings on two sides of the barn at the top. I close them in the winter and open them in the spring, summer and fall. I do use a large fan for cooling in the summer. My major problem is heat, not cold and drafts. I have very little trouble with flies. I believe this is due to the worms. I only clean out the barn once or twice a year.

I also like the J feeders; however, water bottles are for the birds in a large rabbitry. I have a semi-automatic watering system on most of my cages. The few times a year it freezes I stick in bowls. The few bottles I have to fill drive me crazy. The only time I really appreciate bottles is when I have a rabbit that needs to be medicated. I just pop off the water valve and put on a bottle.

My cages vary in size from 24" x 24" to 24" x 48". For my meat rabbits I have larger cages and for the smaller show rabbits I have smaller cages. A rabbit should have .75 sq. ft. per pound of body weight. Some of the rabbits, such as Flemish Giants, should be on solid floors but the rest are in all wire cages. Although these are easier to clean, with long-haired rabbits they have to be cleaned frequently. I burn off the hair with a small propane torch and wash them with ammonia water. The ammonia kills coccidia. Any type of cage system one chooses needs to be sanitized regularly.

In my ideal rabbitry I would have my Fuzzy Lops, a few MiniRex and Himalayans. The Himalayans would make good breeders for pets. Their temperament is so docile even small children can handle them. Right now I have 50 cages of Fuzzies. I would love to have 100 cages of Fuzzies. They are beautiful rabbits. Realistically, I can only handle 100 cages. If I'm going to have other breeds I would have to limit my Fuzzies to 60 cages. I like the Angoras, too, but I would have the Giant Angora instead of the English. The Giants produce 40 ozs. of wool a year and the English only produce 10 ozs. The 30 ozs. of wool more than makes up for the difference in feed cost.

For meat rabbits I have Flemish Giants and New Zealands. I'm very pleased with the amount of meat I get from the cross. But there are other meat-type rabbit breeds I really like the looks of. I think the Champagne D'Argent is really beautiful. I would like to have at least a trio of them.

There are also some breeds I wouldn't have in my barn, Netherland Dwarfs being one. However, it is obvious from shows that many people like them.

I guess my whole point in this essay is everyone likes different things. Tammar Geil likes her trays and Sheila Hoag likes her water bottles. I don't like either. But if it works for them and they are happy that's all that matters. As long as the animals are healthy and well cared for everyone ought to have their own dream rabbitry.
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Title Annotation:rabbit breeding
Author:Dieball, Leta
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Chickens, vinegar, and black boxes.
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