First, this Mother Earth News article from the late 1970s. In it the author lays out her system of a 10×20 foot, cement floored cabin. She filled it with hay for burrowing, and placed cigar boxes around as nesting boxes. She figured she could host 2 bucks and eighteen does in this space, plus their litters. Eventually she added a run with cemented floors for extra space.
This system made a colony system easily manageable. Every month, or twice a year, she would clean out the coop and wash down the cement floors. She discovered the does pretty much self managed their litters by sealing up the nesting boxes with the hay.
This was my main inspiration for our system. Unfortunately, I cannot find any documentation on if this system is still working now (some thirty years later), or if she gave up, or why she gave up (if she did).
The folks over at Vela Creations have another system. They experimented with the colony style, and found they had issues with disease and general management (which is something that could very well happen to me in the long run, too). They came up with a hybrid system in which three females have separate dens that are connected, but can be closed off and isolated if need be. I like this system, and, if we find a place of our own and the common problems of colony style present themselves in our system, I would probably build a version of my own. (Over at permies.com (or here), one of the authors at Vela Creations posts a little about the design of a semi-underground colony-style rabbitry for his hotter climates.)
Farming by Backyard has another, similar system. I emailed her, and she now has her main breeding does and buck in individual cages, because she had issues with rats getting at the litters. Once the litters are old enough, they’re back in her first system.
Emancipation Acres has their operation running in their barn. They keep the bucks separate from the does, but are still able to have nose to nose contact. They always have access to fresh hay, and they eat a grass/alfalfa hay mix which additional pellets, sunflower seeds, calf manna, and oats given as a supplement. I haven’t heard from them yet whether they are still using this system, or if they’ve had any major issues. But their website is still updated regularly, and they still have their pages on Colony Style Rabbits, so one can assume it is still a successful system.