Automatic Rabbit Feeders

skagit_goat_man_(WA)October 22, 2005

We'd like to raise meat rabbits again but we are gone from our farm for 4 days at a time. To me this means we can't do it. But have any of you purchased or made an automatic feeder that could feed a growing kindle of 5 up to slaughter weight for four days at a time. Thanks, Tom

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Yes. Sorry I cannot remember the dimensions, but they are normal in the UK, and I would have thought in the US too. Basically an open topped box with a cut-out for the rabbits to get at the food.The cage wires need to be cut appropriately. Hold about a week's supply and hook on the front of the cage. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 3:16PM
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Old Mc Donald, Thanks. I have quite a few of those and they are great for one or two rabbits for a number of days. But I found that it just isn't enough for five or more rabbits 8 weeks old or older. I may try adding higher sides to them to increase the capacity. Thanks again, Tom

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 6:43PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

I think it would be possible, Tom, but there are several things you need to consider. If you are feeding pellets, dampness can affect the flow of pellets in a feeder. We have had weeks of wet weather here I find I have to bang on the feeders to make the pellets descend.

A reliable automatic watering system is also necessary and I am sure you have thought about this, but how do you plan to keep it from freezing in winter?

Rabbits need good ventilation too, especially if their droppings are to pile up under the cages. Will you have provision for this?

You don't say what form your rabbitry will take... and you may well have it all under control... but I thought I'd put in my two cent's worth. Having just started with rabbits this summer, I am still at the trouble-shooting stage myself. Keep us updated and good luck!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 4:00PM
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The feeders I used must have been bigger than those you have. Once a week topping up for 8 or 10 fatteners was alll we required. We had 96 cages in an insulated shed with two 15" extractor fans at one end and never had freezing or ventilation problems - but a minimum temperature of only 0ºF which I know is shorts and T-shirt weather for you lot!!! I understand a fine wire heater coil inside the water pipeline is used in US where weather is really cold. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 4:52PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

That's quite a rabbitry, Old McDonald... a well-planned professional venture. It sounded to me as though Tom was interested in having a back-yard rabbitry for his own family's use... and the problem then is that the expense to automate things is sometimes out of proportion to the benefits.

This week we will move the rabbits into the greenhouse until about December and then we will bring them inside for the rest of the winter. Much easier than slogging through the snowdrifts to care for them.

I have heated buckets for the poultry but since rabbits, unless colonized, need individual cages and equipment, that would get expensive. The heating coil inside the water pipeline sounds interesting, but then I would have to run electricity to the rabbitry and that would not be easy. (It would work in the greenhouse though... and is worth considering.) We located the rabbitry on the east side of a huge weeping willow tree so it would get ample summer shade and it is a bit further from the house than the chicken house.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 6:01PM
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I well remember feeding New Zealands to the fryer stage. They almost ate me out of house and home!
Years ago on my rabbit travels somewhere, I came across a guy who had a pretty neat setup with a homemade automatic feeder system. He used the large J feeders in the cage, had 3 "pipes" of 1"(?) PVC tubing going into the J feeder on one end, and the other "pipe" end going into the bottom of a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid.

When you think about it, it's similar in concept to the auto waterer coming from the large bucket with the black thin flex line. I don't remember him having any joints in the piping, as the feed came straight down from the bucket, through the pipelines, and into the J feeders. There was some sort of homemade cap for the top of the J feeders, with the appropriate holes for the pipes. I think he had the bucket sitting over top the roof with a 2x4 support underneath and on the sides, sort of like a 1/3 overhang so the pipes would clear the flattish roof. The system worked by gravity into the feeders, which were mounted on the outside of the rabbit cages. He had this bucket system over each pen of fryers.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 7:47PM
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Maggie, There's always a lot to something that seems simple. We do have an automatic watering system with heater and plan to add the heated recirculating system. The cages will be part of the goat/pig building and have protection from weather and predators. The manure will drop onto a concrete "trough" where it will be flushed into the pig manure catchment basin. Until a couple of years ago we raised 200+ fryers a year. But we were living at our farm then. Now with our absence for a few days at a time I just need to assure the food supply.

Old McDonald, Dicentra, I think I'll play around with increading the capacity of my current feeders and play around with the PVC pipe system too.

At least this is a next-year plan I have time to work on.

Thanks, Tom

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 8:57AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Sorry, Tom, I didn't realize you were an old hand at rabbits and seeking to solve just one detail. I took it that you were starting from scratch. You obviously have everything well in hand.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 3:25PM
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J feeders! I had forgotten that's what they are called. I like the idea of the "bulk" hopper supplying them, but I am always wary of leaving stock for a few days and relying on an "automatic" system. Still, it sounds simple and sensible. The feeders we used had space for 4 rabbits to feed alongside each other at the same time. I had half that width in the doe cages so that unweaned kits could feed alongside their mother, and the same on the buck cages. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 4:54PM
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