Breeding rabbits is considered to be quite profitable, interesting, but troublesome. In order to create the most natural living conditions for animals, many rabbit breeders equip them with housing in the form of digging holes. Such houses must comply with all standards and be located in special places.
Features, pros and cons of pit cultivation
Despite the fact that rabbit breeding in pits was popular in ancient times, this technology continues to be relevant today. Many breeders refuse this type of maintenance, as they find it difficult, but in rabbits living in pits, mobility increases and growth is stimulated. In addition, compared to other methods of keeping, pit cultivation has many advantages, among which the main one is budget. Up to 200 rabbits can live in one cozy mink at the same time, which allows you to save money on the manufacture and installation of aviaries or cages.
Before you start breeding animals in pits, you should know the main features of the organization of such housing.
- The need for arrangement in such a way as to avoid the spread of unpleasant odors. During their growth, rabbits lead an active lifestyle, and unpleasant odors can appear in the pits, the installation of drainage will help prevent this. The bottom of the shelters is covered with a net, and hay is laid out on top.
- Ensuring blocking of the exit from the pit. So that animals cannot get out of the mink on their own, the depth of the structure must have the correct depth, the optimal indicator of which is 1.5 m.
- Conducting constant control over the breeding life of rabbits: it is impossible to allow a male and a female from the same litter to interbreed. If this moment is missed, then the breed will be able to grind in the future. In addition, improper crossing of animals will lead to the development of various diseases at the genetic level. Also, the health of the animals should be monitored all the time, since if one individual falls ill, the epidemic can spread to others. With the right conditions and a balanced diet, breeding rabbits does not die.
- Walking burrows must be additionally protected from predators; for this, they are usually covered with special grates. Keeping rabbits in open buildings is not allowed.
The main advantages of the pit content include:
- material benefit;
- saving territory (even if you plan to keep a large number of livestock, you will need a small area);
- simplicity and convenient care;
- providing animals with high resistance to diseases and improving their immunity (rabbits additionally receive useful microelements from the soil);
- accelerated reproduction (in females with this method of keeping, the maternal instinct increases);
- cost savings on the purchase of feed;
- providing rabbits with comfortable conditions as close as possible to natural conditions to which they are accustomed in the wild;
- increasing the taste of meat.
As for the shortcomings, they also exist:
- the possibility of inbreeding (related mating), which may further lead to the degeneration of the species;
- the difficulty of monitoring the diet, which should be different for each age of the rabbit;
- inability to follow the mating process;
- the development of alienation from people, "pussies" become wild;
- the difficulty of isolating sick individuals.
In addition, pit content is not recommended for large breeds with valuable fur. Animals in minks lead an active lifestyle, constantly fight, so their skins are damaged.
How to make a pit?
Recently, many owners of summer cottages prefer to grow rabbits in pits, since it is not difficult to make such shelters with their own hands at home, even for novice rabbit breeders. Pits can be dug anywhere, the only exception is areas with rock formations and permafrost, since it is very difficult to dig holes there . It is also not advisable to choose areas where sand predominates in the soil, since the earth will crumble. The most excellent option for digging holes is clay soil.
Before choosing a place for minks, it is important to pay attention to the level of groundwater passage: if they are located close, then the pits will be constantly flooded. In this case, the rabbits will also start digging burrows on their own not down, but vertically up, which, in turn, will lead to their mass escape. It is impossible to plan the construction of houses on the slopes: animals can dig through them, as they usually create passages up to 20 m long.
The penetration of direct rays of the sun into the pit is also not allowed; it is best to give preference to shaded areas.
When the issue is resolved with the location of the pit, it remains to choose its size and proceed with the arrangement. Usually, holes are dug to a depth of at least 1.5-2 m. Their shape should be square, up to 2 m long.If there is a desire and strength, then you can dig a hole 3 m long - the animals will be much more spacious in it and the reproduction process will accelerate .
After digging, you need to do the following work.
- Reinforce the walls well to avoid shedding the soil. For this, it is allowed to use various materials, it all depends on the financial capabilities of the rabbit breeder. Most often, the walls are lined with slate sheets, while it is important to take into account the climatic conditions of the region: if there are cold winters, then you will have to additionally lay insulation. Only three walls are reinforced with a slate, while the fourth is left under the mink, the hole into which must be placed above the floor at a height of at least 20 cm.
- Then the floor is covered with sand in the pit, since it absorbs moisture perfectly. A mesh is laid on top of the sand and a layer of straw is laid, which should be replaced with a new one as it gets dirty.
- If you wish, you can also additionally build a small house above the pit - it will protect the rabbits from predators and bad weather.
After the hole has been dug and equipped for the settlement, the main thing remains - to decide on the breed of rabbits that you plan to breed. To do this, it is important to decide in advance what the rabbit breeder wants to get: a lot of meat or valuable fur. If the main goal of growing is the first option, then the following breeds of rabbits should be preferred.
- Rex rabbit. This type of animal is notable for its complex maintenance, but if you make a lot of effort, then the result is high-quality meat that is both dietary, lean and juicy. An adult rabbit reaches a maximum weight of 4.5 kg, this breed is ideal for pit keeping.
- Flander rabbit. It is considered one of the best meat breeds of rabbits, since adults weigh up to 25 kg. The only thing is that for such "giants" it is recommended to make separate pits, in which 10 to 20 individuals could be accommodated.
- Gray giant. Rabbits of this breed are known for ease of grooming and rapid weight gain. The maximum achievable weight of one animal does not exceed 15 kg. The main advantage of the breed is that it can be kept with other breeds.
As for the choice of “eared ears” to obtain valuable fur, experts recommend breeding the following breeds.
- Viennese pigeons (Viennese pigeons). The skins of these animals are considered to be of the highest quality, they are distinguished by high strength and softness. In addition, individuals of this breed are resistant to diseases and changes in temperature.
- Butterfly rabbit (Butterfly). Animals of this breed have perfect fur, it is soft, high quality with interesting "patterns". Also, rabbits are perfectly adaptable to any climatic conditions, which allows them to grow in pits.
- Risen rabbit (Risen). Rabbits of this breed have a coat of different colors, which can vary from black to light sand and even blue. Animals are demanding to care for, so their maintenance is costly and difficult.
Before giving preference to a particular breed, it is necessary to take into account its characteristics and requirements for content. Experienced rabbit breeders recommend breeding several breeds in the pits at the same time, for this they dig separate burrows.
Despite the fact that most breeds of domestic rabbits are unpretentious in care, they still need to pay a lot of care and attention, since with this method of rearing animals are more susceptible to diseases. The main thing in keeping animals is a properly composed diet, the basis of which should be greens. Additionally, rabbits are also fed with hay and oats. To do this, even at the stage of arranging the pits, you need to install drinkers and feeders. It should be noted that water is very important for animals, its volume should be three times the volume of dry food.
In addition to the main food, the animals need to be given various roots and branches. Sometimes they can be fed with hay. It is important not to forget about dry bark, rabbits will be able to grind their teeth on it. The branches contain many important trace elements and vitamins necessary for the body of animals.
The most useful are willow and oak branches, although they can be replaced with rowan, poplar and maple.
During feeding, you should observe how the pets will behave - in the event that they start fights, you will have to lay out the food in a more spacious area, increasing their number. Sometimes livestock breeders give the rabbits compound feed, but they should be strictly selected for the appropriate breed of animals. For example, you can not feed the "eared" compound feed, which is intended for cows and chickens.
It is easy to breed rabbits in pits, but it will be difficult for novice livestock breeders to cope with this business in the early stages.
To raise healthy animals and get high-quality fur and meat from them, you must adhere to the following recommendations.
- When rabbits are kept in a pit, active reproduction is observed, therefore, during this period, it is necessary to ensure that individuals from the same litter do not interbreed. For this, one male is planted in a pit with six females. From one rabbit a year, with proper care, you can get up to 30 babies. Therefore, it is best to keep no more than 20 females on the farm.
- No less interesting when raising rabbits in holes is the question of how to catch them. Experts recommend waiting for a certain time until the animal crawls out of its hiding place, then immediately grab it by the ears.
- So that animals do not lose their instinct to dig holes, they need help - to pull out the first burrows with their own hands. Another option would be to place a rabbit from a previous litter in the pit that has not “forgotten” how to do it.
- Sometimes in the pits where the rabbits live, rats start. Regular garbage collection and weed management will help prevent them.
It is also important to consider the following tips for populating the pit:
- it is possible to place 3 or 4-month-old young growth in such houses for the first settlement;
- it is necessary to settle in the house gradually, launching ten individuals into the pit, while it is best to give preference to experienced rabbits (they are launched first);
- after the relocation of "fluffies" to a new home, you cannot drastically change their usual diet, as this will become a lot of stress.
To make the animals feel comfortable, the floor of the pit should be covered with a 10 cm layer of straw. This will also help to eliminate unpleasant odors. The issue of installing feeders and drinking bowls deserves special attention. It is recommended to fix them on one side of the wall. Thanks to this, it will be easy to monitor whether there is enough water and food for the animals. Food should only be added as needed.
When arranging pits, one must not forget about the installation of ventilation, otherwise the animals may suffocate. To ensure good ventilation, it is enough to put one metal or plastic pipe in the roof. Its shape should be S-shaped, this will exclude the ingress of snow and water.
Despite the fact that rabbits raised in pits are highly immune and disease-resistant, they still rarely get sick. The main problem with this kind of content is blindness. It develops due to insufficient lighting. In addition, animals are often exposed to invasive diseases that are caused by improper nutrition.
Therefore, rabbits must be constantly provided with clean water and quality food.
An equally important problem is the development of infectious diseases, which begin to appear as a result of wounds from fights and rat bites. This can be prevented by installing protective fortifications on the pit and placing a certain number of individuals in the pit.
If rabbits do not breed for a long time, then this indicates the wrong conditions in their maintenance. When they are revised and become favorable, the animals will begin to actively mate.
The construction of a rabbit pit is described in the following video.