A well-positioned water nipple allows for comfortable drinking.
This section deals with the equipment required to start a rabbitry. This include feed containers, a water system, hay ricks, storage bins for feed, cleaning equipment, nest and transport cages, and a first aid kit.
Feed containers must be supplied for all types of feed used. Pellets are best fed in hoppers that clip onto the outside of the cage so that pellets can be given without having to open every cage door. Feed hoppers or bowls should be fastened to the cage to prevent the rabbit from tipping them over and wasting the feed.
A feed container used to feed a doe and her litter, or a group of rabbits together in a cage, should be long enough for all the animals to comfortably eat together, next to each other.
Containers can be made of galvanised metal, pottery or even cut-off cooldrink bottles. These the rabbits will chew but they can be easily replaced. Feed containers used to feed to young stock should be narrow enough to prevent the babies sitting on the feed. All feed containers must be kept clean at all times.
Fresh water must be available at all times and is ideally available through water nipples. Automated water systems in rabbitries are the least labour intensive method for providing water. Although they can be of great advantage, it is very important to ensure that nipples are never blocked or drip. They do require management.
The biggest disadvantage in using the nipple system is that the farmer never knows how much water his rabbit has taken in a 24 hour period. This takes away a very good gauge on the health of the rabbit. However, provided the overhead tanks are kept filled, they do ensure that each animal has water at all times. Medication required by the entire herd can also be feed through the automated system.
Hay is essential for the well-being of all rabbits. It is best fed in a holder known as a ‘rick’ or the rabbits will sit on the hay and soil it. Hay ricks can be on the outside of the cage and the rabbit pulls it in through the wire or can it can be attached to the inside of the cage.
All feed must be stored in sealed bins to ensure freshness and to keep rats and mice out of it.
By Karoline Steenekamp