My oldest son has been wanting to build one of these for a while. I took a little vacation time to wrap up some things around the farm and this project was on the list. It’s a hare pen. It measures 6’x3′ and is 24″ tall on one side, 18″ tall on the other. 3/4″x1″ slats are screwed to the bottom on 3″ centers. That’s as much of a plan as you’re going to get anywhere. This is enough room for 8-12 rabbits.
The roof is covered with three scraps of metal we found out back. The two on the ends are nailed on, the middle one is nailed to a couple of boards to give it weight but floats freely and is easily removable so we can load and unload it easily.
At least 70% of the floor space is open to the ground. The rabbits are free to graze to their heart’s content, though they also have access to pellets. We move them a couple of times each day, leaving their manure behind to add to our fertility.
Here are a few links I used to put together my own hare pen. I have fewer ribs than the original Salatin pen but it seems to work fine. My kids can manage it on their own.
Video of the Hare Pen in action (from 1:08 till about 3:00)
Survival Podcast Start at around 31 minutes for this detail.
We haven’t thought about rabbits. Are these for meat or just for fun?
It’s my son’s business. We raise quite a few for meat but have sold some pets this spring as well. We’re still establishing the market so I don’t have a feel for the profitability but boy the manure…look for a post later this morning.
I’m just starting raising rabbits for meat and I really like the idea of doing it this way. I’ve read Raising Rabbits by Ann Kanable and she advises against colonizing a herd because of spread of diseases. Have you found this to be a problem? Do you move them to this setup once you’re able to distinguish males from females to avoid any breeding issues? Thanks for the great blog.
We also have Kanable’s book. Daniel Salatin recommended it to our son along with Bennet’s book when he wrote a letter to Polyface a few years back.
We do work to minimize disease transmission pathways but there is only so much we can do. To cut down on disease transmission vectors we put one whole litter in the hare pen or will mix two smaller litters if we plan to cull them all. I work hard to maintain game habitat on our farm so there is every possibility that our pastured rabbits will find wild rabbit manure or even bump noses with wildlife. To combat this we put a big emphasis on maintaining animal health by offering a varied diet, minimizing stress and culling out weak stock ruthlessly. These are not pets.
We put the whole litter in, we don’t bother sexing them and we slaughter before breeding age. There may be a few males showing interest but the females just aren’t ready. As we slaughter, we look at their overall health and evaluate possibilities for future breeding stock. In short, if the liver looks healthy and the ears are clear we’ll consider keeping a brother or a sister…but never both. Grady addresses that well here. Before you click that link, understand there are graphic pictures of real life happening on that blog.
Aaron did a fantastic job of cooking ours, it was delicious.