My first hutch, Hare Hilton
by Mike Crowe
I’ve been considering raising rabbits for a couple years now, collecting materials and accessories. A month ago, I was flung into it when a friend discovered two abandoned rabbits (Californians) the family had moved out on and the neighbors were feeding until they could be rescued. They were in a make shift hutch with screen door hooks and chicken wire, with a quarter bag of moldy pellets.
I had a rough idea of how I wanted to build it, with two levels of four units to maximize my space. Other than that, I was clueless. My grandfather had raised rabbits, but he didn't let us kids mess with them much. I found myself on your website, trying to learn what I could. Yours, and Rudolph’s Rabbit Ranch are wealths of information. Additionally, I found that my neighbor had raised 500 rabbits in the past and he showed me his remaining hutch which he now raises his chicks in.
I set to work that weekend building my frame with the suggested 6 square feet per unit. Over-all, it is 8 feet wide (2ft per) and 3 feet deep. I now wish I had not built them that deep as it's not possible to reach the back. The neighbor had built his nest boxes onto the back so the kits would be more accessible, and I used the dimensions from The Nature Trail website, only a little bigger (8x10.5x20 DWL) It took me a few weeks to finish in my spare time, but this past Friday (11/23/12) was moving day for them, and then doubled my herd Saturday with donated satins.
Cold weather is setting in here in southern Indiana (Evansville) and that's presenting some challenges. I know they have fur coats, but understand they can freeze to death. I have equipped the front and sides with heavy rubber roofing flaps to roll down when it gets frigid, but how cold is that cold? I've read that they need ventilation to prevent lung issues from the feces and ammonia, so I want to use them sparingly.
Do I need to hang clamp heat lamps in with them also, and at what temps? What are your feelings about heated water bowls? Will water bottles burst? I’ve stuffed the nest boxes with straw, but he keeps eating his. She did the first couple days, but now sleeps in it. The two new satins haven’t checked their boxes out yet. I built them with wire bottoms, lined them with cardboard cut from 30 packs, and picked up pine shavings for bedding today. They also had red cedar, but I read your advisements about cedar last night.
I wanted to breed them, but this week would have them kindle between Christmas and New Year, so I’d rather wait. I’ll review nutrition requirements again when I get there. For now, are Purina Complete pellets okay? And I have questions about their “salad.” They seem to enjoy asparagus and brussel sprout, cabbage and broccoli leaves from my fall garden, but I’ve read elsewhere those may not be a good choice. Turnip, radish and beet greens are okay?
I’m attaching a few photos and am willing to share more, but I’ll close here for now. Again, I want to thank you for all the information I’ve been able to gather from your website, and I will refer to it often. Any advice you care to share with me would be greatly appreciated. I still have a gazillion questions.