Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thoughts on the Rabbit Tractor

Benny and Joon have been living in the rabbit tractor for a couple of days now, and I'm refining some of my ideas on it.

First off, for shelter, I would like to make the platform into a full shelter instead of having the plastic boxes on it.  If it were enclosed on three sides it would be a snug fit for winter, and for this hellacious wind we're having.  Today I went out to find the bigger box on the other side of the rabbit tractor because the wind caught it and blew it away.  Hopefully no one was inside!  I tied both of them down but think a solid shelter would be better.

Also, I mentioned in my last post that it was awfully heavy.  After trying to move it today with a bum wrist, I HATE the weight of it.  Just the cattle panels and 2x4s come to 150 lbs.  That doesn't count wire, slats, the plywood platform, food, water and nest boxes.  I imagine it comes to about 180 total.  We put wheels on and while that helped a lot, it's still really hard to lift and drag it across our bumpy yard.

Tonight we went to Big R for supplies to start making a second one.  I was trying to decide between 2x2s and PVC pipe, and considering shortening the whole thing to 30".  Turns out PVC pipe is CHEAP!  Call it PVCheap. ;)  We paid $5.69 for 1.5" diameter by 10' sticks.  We're going to drill holes to fit the cattle panels down in, then wire tie the panels to the PVC for extra security.  The PVC will be the two long parallel sides, and braced by 2x2s with screws to make sure it can withstand the pressure of the cattle panels.  I'll write it up when we finish.

Another issue is the shade.  The tarp needs to extend over at least half of the rabbit tractor to make sure there's enough shade - half of the time the open ends will be south facing so there just won't be enough shade the way it's set up now.

I was going to put J feeders in with pellets to supplement their pasture, but I'm leaning toward keeping alfalfa hay available at all times along with a salt lick.  The rabbits will be moved often enough they won't run out of pasture.   I'll experiment with a hay feeder, and then in the winter I'll need to add in pellets I think.

Lastly, for now at least, is the open top of the cattle panels.  I caught Joon hanging from the top of the hardware cloth yesterday.  She didn't make it out and was down before I could get my camera, but I bet she'll figure it out if she gets serious enough.  I'm going to use some leftover 1x3 wire to cover the top and make sure they can't jump out.  It will also take care of any cats who might change their minds about rabbit dinners.

I'll be picking up my NZ breeding pair this week or next so I need to get this finished.  I'll post my progress once there is some.

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