Rabbit fur, it's what helps rabbits keep warm in the winter. It has a
great insulating effect and even holds up when wet, though not as perfect as wool.
Rabbits are one of the easiest livestock animals to keep. Easy to raise, minimal space requirements, and they produce, well............like rabbits. So if their fur is great for winter, why worry about them?
Because, like your goats, rabbits have a few things you can do to keep them healthy and happy in winter.
Water is a mainstay for anyone or animal. Unlike goats, rabbits can and will chew ice if they need water. However, offering them water twice a day during the winter is best to keep them healthy. Like goats, you don't want to give them hot water, you want their natural thermal ability to keep them healthy during extreme cold weather. Offer them
room temperature water, around 60-70 degrees. Though you can buy heated water bottles, usually some metal dishes will work just fine.
Metal bowls allow you to hit them in a bucket to break out ice instead of hauling them inside daily to thaw. Having bowls that clamp to the cages can be a pain to remove daily. There are metal bowls drop into
brackets, brackets clamp to the cages, and are more convenient. You can find them in most pet supply catalogs'.
Whether you keep rabbits in a colony (in one cage) or you keep them in separate cages, they need shelter like any other animal. You want to provide a shelter of some kind. Keep rabbits protected from the wind, rain, and snow. Most people have outside cages with roofs of some material. Wire on the front, usually on three sides with a enclosed back. If you don't want to completely rebuild cages, you can usually cover them with tarp in extreme weather, tying them down to prevent them blowing. However, the best outdoor cages, to us are three cages in one, enclosed on three sides with an open wire front. Plywood
is great for a roof, but use something to shed water whether metal roofing or shingles, etc. This way you only need to cover the front with a tarp in extreme weather. The most important part is to keep them dry, let their fur do its job and keep them warm.
Just like goats, you want to feed extra during hard winters. Grass hay, twice a day, will help them maintain their internal thermostats and keep warm. Believe it or not, grass hay will do far better than feeding extra rabbit pellets. The process of digesting the grass hay will help them maintain their body heat and stay warm in severe weather. Don't be surprised if your rabbit seem lethargic or not as active. Rabbits don't sweat, they don't pant, they adjust their body heat literally with their bodies. You'll see rabbits in the summer laying down with their legs out, by spreading their bodies to its full length has a cooling effect on their bodies. In extremely cold temperatures, rabbits will 'hunker down', usually in a sitting position, snuggled down - this is their way of regulating the heat and keeping their body warmer.
environment. It's when we domestic animals that they are limited in their abilities and our responsibility really kicks in. Our job as responsible livestock owners is to assist them in any way we can to survive in the environment WE place them in. When you consider our needs, compared to theirs, what they need from us isn't really a lot now is it? Livestock will give you far more than you ask, for far less than you expect. Truly the blessing is ours, every furry one of them.