Note from Mary-Frances at RRR&WF
This site first made its debut in 1997. The breeders list
appeared three years later. I have gotten a lot of positive
comments about the content and how it has helped people get started
with rabbits. Since that is the reason for this site, I am glad
to see it fulfilling its goal. You may have noticed that all the
information and services, including the breeders list and classified
ads, are completely free of charge and mostly free of outside
advertising (the guestbook and classified ads on Bravenet have some
ads). Since this site started, many others like it have sprung up
with only "teaser" information to try to entice visitors to buy an
ebook or two. Though this site remains free for you to use, it is
not free for me to maintain. One way you can help support this
site, at least while Amazon allows Ohio residents to have affiliates,
is to access it through this site. Better yet, just click on Amazon
here and bookmark it.
Every time you shop using that bookmarked link, you help keep
RudolphsRabbitRanch "on the air" so to speak.
Back to Rudolph's
What About Pasturing?
Pasturing chickens has become popular, but does it work for
is not the same as colony raising. Let's look at the difference
between the two. In colony raising, also known as "colonizing the
herd," the entire herd, or most of it, is housed in a common
area. This method is more common in Europe, where it has enjoyed
some success, than North America. Disease can easily spread and wipe
out a colonized herd faster than one where the rabbits are housed in
separate cages. Colony rearing has other problems such as
cannibalism, fighting, and escape. For these and other reasons
RRR does not recommend this practice.
Whereas colony raising entails having most or all of the herd in one
fairly large space permanently, pasturing entails having a subset of
the herd in a smaller enclosure that is moved periodically, usually
daily, but can be done more frequently. Though pasturing has
become in vogue in recent years it is actually a very old idea,
previously called the Morant system of raising rabbits, named after
George Morant who detailed it in Rabbits
as a Food Supply & How to Fold Them on to Our Poor Pastures
published in 1883 and available as a free ebook.
RRR has pastured rabbits on a very limited basis. The enclosures
are similar to large wire cages on wheels very close to the ground,
half protected from the weather. Only half of the cage is
protected from the weather to allow for an indoor-outdoor type
environment. The bottom wire spacing is 1" x 1" instead of the
standard 1" x .5" to better allow the grass to come through.
(Rabbits must have some sort of bottom on their pasture enclosures or
else they will dig out.) Usually this large of a spacing is not
recommended for rabbits because it can be hard on their feet.
However since only fryers are pastured (smaller than adults), and for a
short period of time, perhaps six weeks, this is not much of an
farms has a different approach to pasture cages. Others might
use chicken wire, though this can easily rust, so is not recommended.
Some of the pros of pasturing are that rabbits are given access to more
natural feeds and some believe that translates to more nutritious
meat. Some drawbacks of pasturing is that because the rabbits are
basically on the ground both predators and diseases have better access
to the rabbits. RRR has seen an increase in the incidence of
liver coccidiosis in pastured rabbits. Though the rabbits may be
eating grass, this has not been sufficient to fulfill all their dietary
needs, so the grower may still need to feed pellets. The breeder
can also expect slower growth on pasture, possibly because of low-grade
disease or insufficiency of the ability of grass to fulfill all the
rabbits' nutritional needs for quick growth.
Because of the drawbacks, RRR recommends pasturing only with
caution. Any breeder that wants to try it is welcomed to, but
should try it on a small scale first to see how it works in his area,
make adjustments, and only then decide if it is right for his situation.
Back to Rudolph's
Comments, corrections, or suggestions may be directed to the page
author, Mary-Frances Bartels
Page last modified March 12, 2021.