So you’ve decided to jump in and start raising your own meat rabbits. In my last rabbit related post I described the type of rabbit you want and a little bit about what you’ll need to get started. In this post I’ll go into greater detail about housing your rabbits outdoors.
One of the biggest considerations is how you’ll keep your rabbits safe from predators. Every night I see coyotes, foxes, racoons, and feral cats prowling my property. It’s imperative that you provide a safe place for your rabbits to escape them as well as any dogs that might wander on your land.
Rabbit hutches can be as simple or as grand as you want (and can afford). There are a few “rules” for properly housing your outdoor rabbit but glamour isn’t one of them.
This hutch is available on Overstock.com and is quite fancy! I’ve actually never seen a hutch with an “attic” before and I don’t know how much your rabbit would have to store up there. I think this is a palatial hutch for the single, pet rabbit but expensive and not really workable for more than one rabbit.
I prefer housing in the middle. Below is a list of my requirements for outdoor housing. Remember, keep your adult rabbits housed separately to avoid fights.
Our winters can be extremely cold so I have an outside and an inside wall with insulation in the middle. This insulation can be as simple as straw pushed down between the two panels. Be sure the straw can’t get wet or it will not only lose its insulating qualities, it will mold and could even spontaneously ignite! Plywood is great for the walls of the hutch.
I use hardware cloth for the majority of the floor. Rigging the hardware cloth to either swing down or slide out for ease of cleaning is a time saver. Just be sure that nimble-fingered raccoons can’t remove the floor. Part of your flooring should be solid so that predators can’t reach through and also to provide insulation. Something as simple as a wooden box open on the front will work.
The does should have a larger hutch than the buck as they will be sharing quarters with their kits at least part of the time. There should be a panel of hardware cloth on the front of the cage to provide air circulation and to give your rabbits a way to look out on the world. Be sure this panel is not too small to hook the hanger for your water bottles & feeders through.
Be sure to have a hinged door so you can reach into the hutch for feeding, cleaning, and checking on your rabbits. You want to ensure that the doors lock so raccoons (those clever little critters) can’t simply open the door and feast on your kits.
The roof of the hutch can be simple plywood as long as you use something to protect it from rain/snow. You don’t want your investment rotting and you don’t want your rabbits getting wet and cold. This material (from Lowe’s) is inexpensive and easy to use.
Finally, be sure to think about the elements when placing your hutch. If it faces south will it be too hot? In the winter will the prevailing winds make it too cold? From which direction do most of your storms come? A protected area with enough shade for summer and enough sunlight for winter is what you want.