Friday, May 11, 2012

morning kits

Every morning the little, bottomless, meat rabbit hutches get moved around. They still get feed pellets and water bottles, but eat the grass down to nubs. Usually twice a day it gets scuttled about, leaving a neat square with little brown turds. It's a tight little mowing operation, that.

I like raising my kits this way, out in the sunlight, on the green grass. It's a fun task, too. Moving that small crate and watching them hop along. In a few weeks they'll be in the freezer or bartered off to other farmers, but today is grass and sunshine. They eat and soak up the rays. They watch the chickens, put up wit Gibson's stares, and sleep in a pile in the little sheltered section. They don't know what's ahead tomorrow, neither do we, but at least the rabbits take it all in stride. Focus on the grass. Feel the sun. Stretch like you mean it. Eat till you're full. Always be ready to move.

We all just have today. Live it like meat rabbit.


Blogger Joshua Tolley said...

Joel Salatin's books say he had trouble with rabbits digging out of bottomless cages. Apparently you don't, I guess. Is that just good luck, or is there some other magic involved?

May 11, 2012 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Joshua Tolley said...

Consider this a repeat of my last comment; I forgot to check the "Email follow-up comments" box the first time through. Apologies for the spam.

May 11, 2012 at 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And do binkies!

May 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I haven't had them escape on me, but perhaps it is a matter of time! you could add wire that lets grass in and rabbits can't dig out.

May 11, 2012 at 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Garth said...

We've been keeping our meat rabbits in the barn since we got them last winter. Now that spring has arrived, I've been meaning to do this.

Do you have any problem with them picking up diseases from the local rabbit population? Do you keep the herd that free ranges isolated from any others in your barn? That's my only concern at this point.

Also, did you buy or build that hutch? I really want to get our rabbits out on pasture.

May 11, 2012 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Joshua Tolley said...

Salatin's books go on to say that he tried putting chicken wire on the bottom of the cages, but it pushed the grass over and the rabbits couldn't get it. Eventually he laid chicken wire over his fields. He apparently has to add new chicken wire every five years or so, not because the wire rusts, but because (thanks to his management techniques) the topsoil and compost bury the previous layer too deeply. I'd hate trying to plow those fields one day.

May 11, 2012 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger TwoBlueHeelers said...

Would the rotation to new grass, twice a day, help keep the rabbits occupied so they don't get bored and dig? Seems to work with our chickens. It's comical to watch them run to the middle of the tractor and stand there, chirping to be moved, as soon as they see us coming in the mornings.

May 11, 2012 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I wondered about digging too. I've got some week old kits that I'd like to get out on grass once they're weaned, but I'm worried they'll dig out.

May 11, 2012 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Do you keep the rabbits in the hutches while you move them? I want a lawn mower like that. You're having a meat rabbit workshop in August, right? Hmmm...

May 11, 2012 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I haven't had any trouble with my kits escaping either. Perhaps Joel's are smarter... LOL.

May 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Mine get moved enough, and are in small enough groups (4-6 a crate) that I think they are too busy eating to dig out. But I bought these, they came from and were 80 bucks a pop. worth every penny!

May 11, 2012 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Elizabeth! Not Erin! Come to the rabbit shop!

May 11, 2012 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

I wouldn't even hesitate, but that's the day after my wedding anniversary (7 years, woohoo!), so I do have to check with my wifey. She should be done with her horrible new job by then, though, and I know she wants rabbits, so I think the chances are high...

May 11, 2012 at 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A wire dog crate works really well too. Just slide the bottom tray out. I place the tray upside down on top and wire it down to create a roof. The wire on the bottom of the crate is spaced wide enough that plenty of grass gets through but bunnies can't get out. I have a small plastic tote with a hole cut in the side for shelter. You can find dog crates at garage sales cheap. I use these for my chickens too.
Heather in PA

May 11, 2012 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I've had 6 week old meat kits on grass in just this way without anyone digging out. It could be that I only have 12-18 at a time (split into two tractors) which are visible from the house. If any of them tried anything I'd be out there in a heartbeat....but they never seemed to try. Plus, like you Jenna, I move them twice a day. Maybe they ARE too hungry to try an escape.

May 11, 2012 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Oh to have grass!

May 11, 2012 at 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am new to rabbits and had my first set of new zealand kits today. I am wondering what size u raise them to live weight

May 12, 2012 at 8:51 PM  

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