ollowing the arrival of our new rabbits we’ve been observing and tweaking their management, slowly moving them from the caged rabbits on dry food that arrived to a more natural free range existence on grass. It has been easy to spend time with them – they are fun characters!
We wanted to ensure the move to rabbit tractor was trouble free and took time getting their tummies prepared for the change in diet. In setting up the structure for the rabbit tractor the key things we saw as important from the start were:
- Keep the internal edges in the hutch to a minimum – they will quickly deteriorate due to both gnawing and the effect of mess on theses corners.
- Wire mesh flooring off the ground to again allow their mess to drop through and lift the hutch off the ground.
- Keeping the structure light and strong for both hutch and run to make it easy to move on a daily basis.
- Rabbit and vermin proof.
- Recycle as far as possible from materials on the farm.
- Top opening for easy access to the rabbits and hutch checks
The hutch was constructed on a sawn down pallet the width of some weld mesh shelving we had spare from a previous greenhouse. Above this we built a skeleton using reused 2×1 with tongue and groove off-cuts inside for the side walls. The front was made of two sheets of Polycarbonate glazing, one fixed sheet and another sliding one, with a stopper, as the door. These glazing panels were from a previous greenhouse that was not strong enough for the weather on our farm – but perfect for keeping bunnies cosy!
The roof was a spare sheet of corrugated steel cut to size, with a wooden frame that fits snugly onto the hutch.
This has worked really well. We didn’t need any additional materials and the overall structure is solid yet light. It is easy for two people to move – especially as the external skeleton makes it easy to carry.
The base has had a light layer of straw and so far does not appear to get dirty or smelly, thanks to the wire floor. The rabbits have no wooden edges to gnaw. Thankfully so far we have had no vermin to test it and judging from their behaviour the rabbits are very happy with it.
The base is made of 3×2 making it sturdy and too heavy for any predator to lift off the ground. From the rectangular base we have 4 hoops of alkathene water pipe. For our test system we’ve used 6’ chicken wire folded in half to create 3’ sides as we had this readily to hand. We are planning to buy in some weld mesh to upgrade this, however so far the system appears very robust. One end was enclosed with more polycarbonate sheets giving the rabbits a wind barrier.
The structure feels solid yet easy to carry between two. It is proving completely rabbit proof and for 10 rabbits the 8’x5’ on a particularly grassy patch is completely stripped in 1.5 days (15 hours). When moving the structure the area just cleared has a reasonable dense covering of bunny poo. The only additional purchases required for the run was a length of 3×2.
We couldn’t resist adding a tube within the run as it is a natural desire for rabbits to go into holes and clearly they appreciate this toy – and we love watching them play Newton’s cradle through it…
We love seeing the rabbits in a much more natural environment and plan to create more rabbit tractors and a rabbit colony for the adults. We will spend time now observing this first tractor and considering improvements we could make to the system but in the meantime we’ve started to consider time leaks in the system.
Here is our web of connections to help us locate everything for efficiency: