March 12, 2013

Rabbit tractors

Skyview Acres' rabbits are raised on the ground, on fresh pasture daily.  We studied a lot of chicken tractors, checked out Polyface's and Nature's Harmony's rabbit tractors, and started brainstorming for a design we liked.

Considerations:
  • Hutch for kindling and protection from weather and predators
  • Enough grass area for a doe plus her litter
  • Keeping pellet feed dry during the rain
  • Easily movable
  • Seasonally friendly - not too hot in the summer, protection from snow and cold in the winter
  • Durability
 We searched and searched all over the internet to find others keeping rabbits on pasture but we didn't find very many examples.  So we got creative and started building.

The first version rabbit tractor was huge - 6'x4'. The hutch had a solid floor. We only put wired along the perimeter of the base to keep the rabbits from digging out.  It was very, very heavy.

First rabbit pen
For the second rabbit pen, we used the same basic design but left half of the hutch floor as wire.  It was the same size and was built to house one doe plus her litter.  Even with some design modifications, it was still pretty heavy.

The third had a full wire floor for the hutch and the wood was ripped down to more manageable sizes so the overall pen was lighter.

At this point, we realized we were going to need a lot of pretty large pens if we continued with this design.  Eventually, we made it to our final design: a single pen split down the middle so it housed two rabbits with their own hutches and grass area.  The hutch doors were on placed close to the outside of the framing so the feeders could be attached to the hutch close to the center divider. This helps keep the feed protected from rain even during very windy storms.  Having the hutch doors to one side also gives the nesting boxes a little more protection from cold winds; boxes are placed against the center divider, not in front of a door.  The final big change was putting 1" sq wire along the entire bottom of the pens.  This keeps the rabbits from digging out and keeps predators from digging in.


We're pretty pleased with the final version of the rabbit pens. They're lightweight and can be easily moved each morning to new grass.  The rabbits have room to run and are able to hide out in the hutches if they choose.  There are only two challenges we're working on - the lids are too lightweight for strong winds if we use vinyl roofing and trying to move the pens in deep snow is pretty much impossible.  Right now, we put old tires on the roofs when the wind is 15mph or higher.  We're still working on the snow issue.  Fortunately we didn't have a lot of snow this winter so we have a few seasons to think about some solutions.

We're in the process of writing up construction plans for the pens. We'll let you know when they're ready!

7 comments:

  1. Very cool! I have seen this type of thing for chickens, but had not thought about rabbits. Great work.

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  2. You are my inspiration! Just need more pasture...

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  3. We solved the lid issue with bungies. Our lids are hinged on one side and the side that opens has a One by two that extends out to make a "handle". We run a bungie from the "handle" to a ring at the base of the cage.

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  4. Did you ever get those plans written up? I just recently made a rabbit tractor that i think works pretty well but also has a few design flaws. I'd like to see some more detail on yours!

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  5. I have begun building a rabbit tractor. I think it's going to be too heavy though. Do you have your plans written up yet? I need more help so that the next rabbit tractor I build is lighter. Thanks!

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  6. Have you had any trouble with the rabbits not eating the grass due to the wire on the bottom of the run?

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  7. Looks like a great rabbit tractor! Have you had a chance to draw up the plans?

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