I needed a new grow out cage. Leaving the baby bunnies with their mothers for 16 weeks meant that I was only getting two litters per year from each doe.
My rabbits would be pregnant for a month, each raised her kits for four months until they reached the weight, size and coloring I liked for butchering, then each doe rested for a month before re-breeding. It wasn’t very economical for us, especially when rabbits are supposed to be our main source of protein. Rabbits can out produce cattle, goats and chickens for meat in a year on much less feed pound for pound. But I was falling short.
I decided to take a trip out to Tractor Supply to pick up a 30″x30″ rabbit cage for my french angora doe that is due to kindle in 2 weeks. I wanted to test one out and see how I liked it. I like that the cages are stackable, but they seem pretty flimsy to me. I don’t think a cage like they sell at the store is dog or coyote-proof, and I know for a fact they aren’t Pip-proof, as she proved today when she told me “the bunny cage won’t close…”. I know I left the cage latched, and Roseberry is smart, but she’s not THAT smart.
Lobster traps are predator and Pip-proof, but they are heavy and not as tall as I’d like. I want the bunnies to be able to sit up on their haunches. The obvious solution is to make better cages, but until the house and barn are done that just isn’t an option right now.
So I took two defunct lobster traps that wouldn’t make one whole lobster trap on their best day, cut them apart, patched the holes and turned them into one double wide lobster trap cage for our grow outs to get weaned in. Now I can wean them at 8 weeks, and rebreed their mothers sooner.
All it cost me was some scraped knuckles, a few hours of my time, and some hog rings to attached the two traps together. It’s not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made, but it is undoubtedly the most practical thing I’ve made in a long time.
Yay! Food security!
Well, actually, just breeding rabbits. I’m still waiting for Blackberry to kindle, Blueberry’s litter is 2 days old now. And today I made the decision to breed my French-German angora doe Halle Berry to our silver fox buck, Elderberry.
I have no idea what the kits will look like, but if they are really adorable I might offer one or two for sale as pets and we will go ahead and eat the rest. I don’t think it’s responsible to breed animals for profit. It’s hard finding good homes, and there are plenty of animals out there that need homes already.
In another month, when my rescue Angora, Roseberry, has gained some weight and is looking healthier I will probably breed her too. It would be nice to breed one rabbit each month for a continuous supply of meat, and they would only be bred 2 times a year, with a break for all of them in the heat of summer.
Someone was asking about our cage set up, so I thought I would post a picture of our cages.
We live on the coast of Maine, so my husband has access to used lobster traps fairly inexpensively. So we have repurposed them into rabbit cages with permanent nest boxes on the backs of the cages.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s an ideal set up, the cages are low so the rabbits don’t ever get to sit up unless they are having supervised yard time. I also wish the cages were bigger. We haven’t picked out a forever home for the rabbitry yet, I’m guessing it will end up on the other side of our yard next to our house when it gets finished.
Once we have a permanent rabbitry location, I will rebuild the cages so they open in the fronts, can be stacked, are twice as wide and twice as tall.
But for now, the cages are predator proof, comfortable, keep the animals out of the weather, and that’s as much as I can ask for on a budget of almost zero dollars.