Maintenance

I thought I would show the process for cleaning out the rabbitat. It’s a weekly endeavour that gives me an opportunity to inspect my rabbits – check for any new births, see how many adults I actually have, how many bucks, etc – at the same time.

The inside by the end of the week. Lower cubbies are almost completely buried.
The inside by the end of the week. Lower cubbies are almost completely buried.

Here is the warren at the end of the week. The daily chores include two fresh flakes of hay spread out over the main area and stuffed in some of the cubbies, so this is yesterday’s hay on top of the previous week’s hay. Whatever they don’t eat becomes bedding.

A view of parts of both runs, the rabbits, and access for cleaning the coop
Here you can see the rabbits closed off in one run while we clean out the coop. You can also see the seeds starting to sprout in the second run.

I used to clean it out with them all inside it – which was a traumatic experience for all involved … Though I think they enjoyed the freshened home in the end. Since I added a second run I now send the rabbits out of the rabbitat and into the run, closing it off. This is quite the process and takes almost as long as the cleaning process. I keep the lower door closed and grab each rabbit. I stroke it, calm it down, and check for any signs of disease or stress, and the rabbit’s gender.

a picture of the babies set aside for the clean

I carefully check each of the bottom cubbies for any new litters, and gently remove, placing them on the top shelf in a box, or sectioned off with bricks or bits of wood to keep them from falling down. If the babies’ eyes are open, they are placed in a milk crate and kept separate. Otherwise I leave them in their cubby and simply add more clean hay once I’m finished.
I remove all the poopy hay in the cubbies by hand, as it is easy to miss little babies just by feeling for them.

a picture of the tools used in the weekly cleaning
A wheelbarrow, hoe, garden fork, and flat shovel are my tools of choice for this job

I empty the rabbitat of all poopy hay using a garden fork and a hoe. I scrape the cubbies clean with a paint scraper. I usually get two or three wheelbarrow loads full. I plan to hot compost this (the process is already started right in the coop – each forkful is steamy), but for now I’m laying it all out for new garden beds for next year under some tarps. I’m hoping it will all decompose over winter.

Once the rabbitat is emptied, I used to spray Activated Effective Organisms (EM) on the ground, but I found this accelerated the breakdown process, and made it so I’d have to clean out the coop almost twice a week! Instead I spread a thin layer of peat (I’m trying coco-peat now, instead) to soak up excess moisture below the layer of hay.

showing fresh straw strewn around inside

I let it air out for a few minutes, spending the time with the rabbits. The final step is spreading out fresh hay everywhere inside. This takes 4-5 flakes, generally. I place any two week old or younger babies back in the cubbies they came from, the older ones tend to all hang out together, anywhere, so I just let them back on the ground.

Then I open up the run to the rabbitat again, and everyone investigates the changes, munches on some hay, and naps.

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