Managing rabbits in the cold

Most of the United States is experiencing colder than normal temps.  For most people that just means dressing warmer and adding an extra blanket to the bed at night.  For farmers or homesteaders, it means getting creative to keep our animals comfortable.  I unfortunately live on a small plot of  land and I do not have a big barn to put everyone in.  My animals are outside in smaller houses and pens because that is all we have room for.

Bunny its cold outside!  We have a shed that we use for a Bunny Barn.  It is a small 12 x 12 shed that holds 8 rabbit cages.  In the past we have tried to heat the shed with an electric heater, but it cost a small fortune.  Over the summer we have spent some time and money insulating the shed.  My husband used rolls of insulation and linoleum, so the rabbits could not eat the fiberglass insulation.  We also moved the cages a little bit away from the wall to extra make sure that the insulation was not in the bunnies reach.  In the picture below you can see the back wall of the shed, just pretend it is nice and neat and there is not stuff piled on top of my food storage cabinet.

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We also put ridged insulation on the door to try and keep in as much heat as possible.

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Water is always the biggest challenge.  We remove all water bottles when the temperatures drop below freezing and put in water bowls. We have to transport our water from the house and we use empty milk jugs.  A great discovery we have this year is that if we place the gallons of water in the compost, they do not freeze.  I know there are some of you thinking this is just gross, don’t worry, the water stays clean and it allows us to give the rabbits non frozen water.  We are going to be building a larger scale compost water heater now that we know it works on a small scale.

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Normally, all of our rabbits fit in the shed and we do not need to use outside hutches.  We had a great Fall, so we needed to use outside pens as grow out pens for some of our bunnies.  I put 7 young does in a large hutch and we also have a buck, that we just got back from another farm we sold him to.  The decided to get out of rabbits. He is from great breeding stock and we would like to add him back into our herd. He was kept outside at the other farm so we hoped this would not be a shock for him.  My other bucks are spoiled rotten and would be very upset outside.   I have added a lot more hay and straw to the outside hutches.  We give them areas where they can completely get out of the wind and did I mention we had A LOT more hay.  The rabbits move the hay around and make a very nice warm nest with it.  I also covered the hutches with large tarp dumpster bags.  This is to help keep any snow out of the hutch and to cut down on the wind.

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We go out 2 -3 times per day and change out the water.   They seem to be doing Ok.  They are eating well and enjoying the extra hay.

These are the things that we are doing to protect our buns from the cold.  What do you do?

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