Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cheap, Light, Quick to Build, Easy to Move Rabbit Tractor

This is the tractor (movable pen) we are growing our bunnies.

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You can see how they have "cut the grass" for us.

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We cut the end of a cattle panel and bent the long sides and ends.

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We put rolled wire fencing on the bottom to protect them from predators but still allow them to eat the grass. Some of the bunnies can go through this, but ours have stayed with their litter mates. Homeschool families love helping each other create. We didn't ask for help, they wanted to be a part of it. We happily allowed it. Working cheerfully (and playfully) together builds strong bonds!

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The top and sides, we covered with 1" chicken wire.

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We covered one end with a silver (sun reflecting) tarp and 
weighted it down with broken cinder blocks. I am awaiting grommets to place in the tarp which I cut from a larger tarp that was torn. We try to reuse everything until it can't be used again.

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You can see where our baby pigs escaped and rooted around behind the rabbit tractor.

We moved it five times a day for 25 just weaned rabbits. It takes seconds to move and one person can do it alone.  I pull the block off, lift the end without bunnies and pivot it to new grass. Then, I go to the other end and shew down bunnies and lift that end and pivot it. I put the blocks back. Easy, peasy! I am happier with this than any other tractor (chicken or rabbit) I have tried over the years.

We plan to build another two of these and divide the rabbits as they grow, or we'd end up having to move the pen more often. Growing them on grass takes longer than hay and pellets but it is less costly.

If you let them eat off the ground, you have to be aware of the potential for parasites and be prepared to treat if need arises. Some people never have a problem, but others have so it is wise to be prepared. Ours dropped off in weight last year during a wet period, so I gave vermicide every two weeks for three rounds. They picked up in weight after the first treatment, but I kept treating to break the parasite cycle. 

This idea can be adapted for other animals. I plan to cut a cattle panel in half long ways and add it to the long sides of a cattle panel bent in the same manner as this one. I am going to use that for chickens.

UPDATE: The younger, smaller rabbits were able to slip through the rolled wire fencing, so I added chicken wire to the bottom too. We made a second tractor with just the chicken wire, and it works well. The rabbits have no problem getting to the grass. In fact, I put it on grass that was knee high which left the rabbit tractor a bit elevated. They ate most of it down to ground level over night!