The Littlest Grazers
We’ve made a real effort to cram as much as possible into the past week or so. In fact, in order to find the time to update the blog, Kevin has promised to work twice as fast while I (ShaeLynn) write. We’re moving (more on that in the next post!), we had my family out for a visit, we’re selling the last of our chickens, we’re building another brooder—and we decided to pick this time to expand our rabbit enterprise. Our supplier of breeding stock is a gentleman from Basque country in Spain who raises hormone and anti-biotic free rabbits in his backyard hutches. If the significance of this find hasn’t hit you let, I should mention that in the early years of Joel Salatin’s rabbit operation, they lost a lot of their bunnies because the rabbits weren't accustomed to life free from a daily regimen of anti-biotics. It took them years to get a heartier, and select for rabbits with a consistently solid immune system. So we really hit the jackpot since we got to skip all that.
The main project that goes along with new rabbits though, is rabbit housing! After they reach sexual maturity, rabbits can’t be housed together because they become very territorial and will actually kill each other. So each adult needs its own house. Plus, rabbits are prone to digging if left to their own devices, so open floors are challenging (though not impossible!). We wanted the rabbits to have access to pasture during the day, but be securely closed up (including a slatted floor to prevent digging) at night—and voila! The Bunny Scoot.
Obviously, the chickens are also quite fond of them. During the day, the rabbits have access to both sides. The enclosed end gives them a shady “hole” to hide in when they want, and it has a slatted floor so their waste doesn’t accumulate This is doubly helpful because chickens LOVE the rabbit's droppings because they are just pre-digested plant matter. The open end gives the rabbits plenty of grass to eat during the day, plus lots of fresh air and sunshine if they want it. At night, we take the roof off the open part of the Bunny Scoot, and use it to gently push them into the enclosed area and shut them in. That way they spend the night protected from predators, and unable to dig out.
We’re still tweaking the design a little bit, but the idea is that they will go out on the pasture near the broiler shelters, and get moved onto fresh grass each morning.
Our rabbit operation is also expanding because our babies are growing up. Here they are enjoying their Bunny Scoot. They are growing so fast! We have more bunnies due next month, it's really exciting.