Our Experience Raising Rabbits in Tractors:
When we started raising the rabbits a little over a year ago we had high hopes of being able to graze them in rabbit “tractors” in our backyard. Our yard is about 1/2 an acre where we could move them around so we were just certain it would work. Turned out it was quite a pain and not very successful.
At first we had a complete open bottom with wire only on the outside 4 inches of edge, which they almost dug out several times with this setup. We then tried a large fencing wire trying to keep them in but not limit their grass consumption. They still dug quite large holes with this although they now couldn’t escape.
Ultimately we decided that the following reasons it just wasn’t the right fit for us at this time:
Reasons Why We Don’t Pasture Our Rabbits
The current grass that is planted is just not a fast enough growing variety to keep up with the needs of a confined rabbit. Even with our continual efforts of reseeding the areas the rabbits had been in we were not happy with the condition of our yard when we were grazing them. Had this been our property and we REALLY wanted to have the rabbits graze we would have ripped up the current grass and reseeded with a fast growing pasture grass or a pasture/clover mixture.
With only two rabbits in the pen we needed to move it at least once a day (twice would have been better) to keep up with their grass needs and in order to discourage digging. With a full litter in the pen we would have to be constantly moving the pen. This proved to be a challenge to keep up with in our busy schedule and they often did not get moved frequently enough.
This setup also proved to make it much more difficult to harvest their manure which we desperately need to improve our garden beds.
- Dead Rabbits:
We live in the south so summers here are a big problem with rabbits, as they do not like hot temperatures. We found that as we moved them through the yard it was inevitable even with our very well shaded backyard that some part of their pen was in direct sunlight during the course of the day. After losing two rabbits to heat stroke, we went back to the drawing board.
Rabbits are natural diggers and when they run out of grass…or are hot….or scared…or bored…or breathing… they dig big freaking holes.
We are renters so we are very aware of the fact that we want our work on the house and yard to be improving the property and not tearing it down. Filling in holes everyday and having to reseed the grass there definitely fell into the tearing it down category.
Ultimately we decided that we still loved their tractor homes but that they needed to be raised up for ease of maintenance and their health at this point. In the future if we have a large pasture this may change but for the backyard rabbit flock we believe that the cons outweigh the benefits.
Do you pasture raise your rabbits?