When we first started our rabbit journey, I maybe went a little overboard on protecting them through cold weather. But I would rather be over protective than not prepared enough. Last year I read on a social media site where a local “homesteader” lost all her rabbit herd to a big freeze. But the reality is that she was careless. Her rabbit’s living areas were not covered in plastic or stacked with straw to help break the winter wind. They didn’t have extra straw to burrow into. And their water was frozen and only changed once a day. This is the wrong way to do it.
With just a few simple tricks, your herd will be ready to go this Winter!
|We cover this entire hutch with removable plastic or a tarp, and then lift it off of them during the day if necessary.|
I stress clear plastic so that there is more sunlight coming into the hutches. Rabbits needs vitamin D just as much as we do. And they definitely will not mate without a good source of it. This can prove a challenge in early Spring months. With that said, we do use tarps over many of our hutches. Just about anything can go around the hutches as long as it breaks the Winter winds from coming in. If it’s not too windy or well below freezing, I lift the tarps and plastic up during the day, on one side, so that they rabbits can get extra sunlight. If your rabbits do not get enough sunlight, it can make them easily sick as well. This is why I prefer clear plastic. If you are using plastic or a tarp, make sure it’s removable, but also make sure it is tightened down. Wind is a major threat to rabbits!
Your other option can be stacking straw around your hutches, but this can get pricey. Straw insulates as well as breaks the wind. Many people prefer this as it is the warmest option. In order for it to work properly, the straw needs to go on the outside of the hutch, otherwise the rabbits will burrow into it and rearrange it for you.
And make sure there is always enough straw for them to keep warm. We go through a few bales of straw every Winter for as few rabbits as we have. Straw is only $6 or so per bale. It’s not that expensive to add extra if necessary. Because straw is an insulator, your rabbits can arrange it in their hutches the way they wish, and they will burrow into it to keep warm.
4. Consider Giving Them BOSS
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) are a treat for rabbits. We call it a “treat”, rather than a “meal”, because if they were to feed on it every day, they would be extremely over-weight. BOSS causes your rabbit to gain fat in their body. While this is bad for mating, this is wonderful insulation for their body in the Winter months. Consider giving them a few extra handfuls of BOSS each month to help them gain a little weight to keep warm.
5. Add ACV to their Water
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) will help keep their bodies alkaline and healthy in the cold months. make sure you use organic ACV with the Mother. In fact, it’s a great way to keep them healthy all of the time. I find that we tend to give it to them more in the Winter, however. The measurement should be 1 tbs. to a gallon of water. Or you can just top off each crock or bottle with a few drops. This doesn’t need to be an everyday ritual, but can be done several times a week.