Our rabbits are raised primarily indoors in a large barn.
They live in large raised cages with the bucks separated from the does to prevent unwanted breeding. Rabbits will breed most of the year but keeping a buck in with the does means the does may be continually under pressure and we do not believe that is healthy. Our does take the winter off and seem to enjoy their leisure time.
The raised cages prevent them from coming into contact with waste which lessens the risk of any disease and also keeps them safe from predators. We do our best to make sure the barn is secure but anyone familiar with Weasels and Minks etc, will know that they are capable of gaining entry through the tiniest of holes. One Weasel can and will go through an entire colony of rabbits in a single night and kill them all so our cages are very secure. We also keep lights on in the barn overnight and have a radio playing just to give any potential four-footed visitor with bad intentions the idea that humans are around. Fyi? Our rabbits seem to prefer Country music :)
Our rabbits also have access to outside grazing in the summer. We use mobile rabbit “tractors” to keep them safe and they in turn help keep the weeds out of the garden and trim the lawn. Rabbits can easily over heat and can collapse from the heat so they are only out in the cool early morning and spend the rest of the day in the shade and cool of the barn.
Breeding & Rearing:
As mentioned, although you can breed your rabbits year round, we are not a commercial rabbitry and prefer to gives our girls the winter off. In early spring, they begin to get restless and we will begin introducing them to their respective mates. Rabbits gestate for 31 days and then kindle (have their babies) on the 32nd day. Kits are born blind and almost hairless and are solely dependent on their mother's milk for the first 10 days. By ten days, the kits eyes open and they begin to explore life outside of their nest box and begin to eat solid food. Our rabbits are raised on green food so the kits are born with the necessary gut flora to digest natural food which is not always the case with most tame trabbits. It is incredibly sweet to see a tiny bunny wrestling with a long stem of fresh timothy hay, finally getting it under control only to have a brother or sister grab the other end and run away.
They grow quickly and master the skills they need easily and by three weeks old, they no longer return to their nest box at all. Their mother nurses them at will whenever the little ones demand but at four weeks, she begins to wean them. She limits the length of time and number of times they nurse through out the day until by six weeks, they are fully weaned. We let our does wean their kits naturally instead of hurrying the process as we feel it promotes bigger, healthier kits.