Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've always enjoyed Do-It-Yourself projects.  I like the satisfaction of knowing that I had a part in making the final product.  The added benefit, if all goes well, is the cost savings.  Rabbitry buildings and rabbit cages make ideal DIY projects. offers tons of free rabbit housing plans:

Rabbitry Buildings
From the 7 room (separate rooms for: breeding bucks, quarantine, cage repair, office, etc.!) large-scale rabbit building to the smaller 2 row barn, there is a plan to suit most needs.  The one that I like is University of Wisconsin's 8' X 8' rabbit house with gableroof (click on plan #6233) and optional concrete or wood floor.

Rabbit Cages
Dr. Tom Smith, Jr., Extension Poultry Science Specialist, wrote a short article on the Homemade Rabbit Cage.  In it he talks about cage design, materials, and construction.  He discusses both conventional cages (rectangular design) and quonset cages (rounded tops).  I prefer the conventional style because of the stacking capability.  I understand that the quonset style uses less wire and it's easier to reach rabbits from the back of the cage because of the way it opens.  You can also feed hay easily and efficiently with this style.  If you turn the cages back to back, it creates a v shape to hold the hay for both rabbits.

I must admit that while I like researching these plans, when the time comes to build something, I prefer to just eyeball it.  I glean what I can from a quick read-through, but I've never been good at following instructions/blueprints.  I just don't have the patience for it.  My father was a structural engineer so this admission, although truthful, would probably not make him very proud;-).  He passed away years ago, but as I write this post I think back to the rabbit hutch he built for me when I was about 10 years old.  It was great.  It was a two compartment hutch with an attached nest box.  I loved it!  I could just lift the lid on the nest box to peek in on the babies without disturbing Velvet (Netherland Dwarf doe), which I did about 100 times a day!

Anyway, I enjoyed doing a 3-part series of posts this month on one general topic, the Rabbitry building/setup.  It was my first time to do a series on one subject and it was fun to do.  I want to thank all my blogger buddies and rabbit world friends that have commented on these posts, sent e-mails, or have otherwise provided advice or words of encouragement.  Your help is immeasurably important to me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Judge's Favorite ! :-)

I had such a good time at the Crosby show!  What a turnaround from the last show.  It's amazing how different two shows can be.  The weather was about the same (brrrr...freezy cold) and the venue was similar (horse barn...although Crosby has a partial concrete floor - yay!), but the big difference was that I met my goal!!  I was hoping to just get to the point where my rabbits would place in the middle third of their classes and I'm happy to say that I reached that goal in Crosby. 

The day got off to a bad start.  Hissy had a fairly loose stool, so I had to leave her home.  I may have given her too much calf manna or too many greens or who knows.  Thankfully she's almost back to normal now.  It was disappointing, but it was probably for the best.  Her coat has improved tremendously since Victoria, but she still has a little way to go to get back in tip-top condition.  

So, off I went to Crosby with my one little bunny in tow.  When I went to get registered, the guy looked up from his paperwork...smiled...and said, "Just one?"  "Yes sir, just the one."  "Well at least you came out," he replied - LOL.  We found a place ringside, on the concrete, to set up - yay!  Big Daddy also was looking a lot better than he did in Victoria.  Both his coat and flesh condition improved significantly on the calf manna and he loves it!  The little stinker nudges the regular pellets out of his food cup to get to the calf manna.  Is is just me or does the calf manna smell like licorice?=) 

The judge in Show A was awesome!  I must say that Big Daddy was awesome too, hehe.  He turned on the charm and she just loved him.  He was enamored with the smells on her coat and, it seemed, with her.  He reminded me of the dogs at Westminster when they bark a friendly bark, tail wagging enthusiastically, while the judge is evaluating them and everybody laughs and starts clapping.  Go ahead Big Daddy, I thought, play up to the judge.  Hey, at 7 months, in a sea of big boys, he has to use what assets he has.  So, he sniffed away and then started to slowly climb up her coat with his front feet to get a better look at her.  I'm biased, but it really was so cute.  Anyway, she took her time going over each rabbit and then started to place them.  I was so nervous.  When it came time to place and comment on him, she said "This is the judge's favorite.  He is my favorite..."  She repeated "favorite" 3 times...not in a BOB kind of way, but in a personality way.  Needless to say, I was beside myself.  He got a "very good" on head, "good" on type, and "fair" on crown.  He placed 9 out of 19 in the class.  Someone more experienced at exhibiting may have shuddered at that.  I was just ecstatic.  I can't imagine feeling any happier if he had won BOB.  I wouldn't mind finding out someday, though;)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dream Barn

This is the second in a series of posts I'm doing this month on the Rabbitry building or setup.  Right now, I'm utilizing a spare room in my house, but as I expand I will need to continue to reevaluate the setup.  When I imagine what my dream barn might look like, I naturally consider the wants first and then the must-haves.  To me, A dream barn, as opposed to a practical building, would be as aesthetically pleasing;-) as it is functional.  It's gotta be cute!!  Okay, it doesn't have to be cute, but it would be a nice bonus.  Dr. James McNitt, a professor of animal science at Southern University and A&M College, suggests that "ventilation, sanitation, and observation are three extremely important concepts in successful rabbit management."  Since I live in Texas, I have to also add climate control to the list.  Triple digit Texas heat waves actually push this requirement to the top of the list.  

                Lofted Barn 8' X 8' - $1865 + tax

So, with this checklist in mind, there are a couple of companies that I really like.  My favorite is  Leland's Industries.  Of the many options that they offer, my absolute favorite is the Lofted Barn.  All of their buildings are customizable and the custom options are relatively inexpensive.  For example, adding a 2' X 3' window is only $50 and an extra set of doors is $150.  I like the idea of having double doors in the front and back, so that it can be opened up to help with the airflow and to bring in lots of natural light when I'm working in the barn. 

They also offer a rent-to-own option.  Like any payment plan, it costs quite a bit more overall ($86.34/month x 36 months = $3108e), but it's a way to get the building sooner with less out of pocket up front. 

               Elizabeth House 4' X 7' - $1475 + shipping
I also like a company called The Green Chicken Coop.  It's a bit unconventional for use with rabbits, but I like the look and size of their designs.  These buildings are also very portable.  They sell wheel and handle kits ($249) too, so the unit can be easily moved whenever and wherever necessary.  

Some modifications may be necessary to use this building to house rabbits instead of chickens, but this company also offers low-cost customizable options.  Adding an electrical package is an additional $125 and extra windows are $45 each (2 are included).  This is a smaller building, but bump out options can also be added to increase the size.

Screened double doors with Plexiglas inserts
Linoleum floor (instead of slatted floor)

My dream barn may not be feasible right now, but it is fun to dream.  The best option short-term may not be the best long-term solution.  I'm trying to keep both in mind, so that I don't make a mistake that I'll regret later.  That may mean a smaller building now that can be used to house bucks(?) later or it might mean a building that can be added on to in the future.  

Dr. McNitt also suggests keeping individual needs in mind when designing rabbit housing - what works well for one person may not work as well for someone else.  I think that's true, but I also learn so much from what works for others.  He adds that the rabbit housing investment will most likely be a fairly substantial one, so any blunders may have to be endured or at least worked around for years to come.   Rabbitry buildings come in all shapes and sizes, which "may mean a cage in the garage or carport, a hutch in the back yard, or a special building with cages for hundreds of animals" (click here to read article excerpts and outline or to download McNitt's full 25 page manual on rabbit housing).  I love how open most rabbit people are.  They're so willing to share what works for them.  I hope to take a little here and a little there to find what works for me. 

Monday, February 13, 2012


Our first show of 2012 was a cold one!  As I drove the two hours to get to the show, I was filled with anxiety.  I was excited about showing my two convention rabbits for the first time and worried about the terrible condition of Hissy Fit's coat and Big Daddy's ability to compete as a very young senior.  

I was glad that it was a comment card show, since I find it hard to take all the judge's comments in.  I tend to focus on the bad and forget the good.  Unfortunately, it was the first time for the girl that did the writing, so there aren't that many comments on the cards.  Although if it had been my first time writing, I doubt that I would have done as good as she did.  Some judges talk pretty fast.  I need to learn how to record the judge's comments on my own comment cards as I've seen some others do.  Surprisingly, Holland Lops were underrepresented at this show as compared with most shows I've attended.  In the senior classes, there were 6-7 rabbits (usually there are more than twice that many).  The competitors that were there with the most entries were some of the best in Texas.  So, we were in very good company.

Big Daddy, as a 7 month old senior, did as well as could be expected, I suppose.  He looked so small compared to his neighbors (current weight is 2 lbs., 12 oz.).  The judge had a lot of good comments about him.  Some of the more constructive comments were about the improvement that is needed in his flesh and coat condition.  He's still young and we can work on that.  The buck that won the class was 6 years old!   
My little guy next to the gorgeous, massive buck that came in 2nd
Deb Jones, a Holland Lop breeder from Wyoming shares her insight about this topic on the HLRSC website:

"This is not a breed that competes well as a young senior. For those wanting a quick maturing rabbit, Hollands are not the right choice. However, the longevity of a show career when showing this breed of rabbit is well worth the wait. Very few breeds enjoy the length of time competing on the show table that Hollands do. Especially Holland bucks. I have known bucks that are still competitive at 5 years or more. Very few breeds can do this."

So, there's hope for Big Daddy as he matures.  It would be great if he grew into his name =)
Hissy Fit was truly a molty mess.  The judge was nice in his comments when he said, her coat was "on vacation."  If it wasn't for the fact that I just have two rabbits, I would have left her at home.  Her coat is usually one of her best qualities.  Lindsey at 4 Kings Rabbitry posted last month about going "Molty to Gorgeous in 3 weeks."  She shared her success with using half calf manna/ half pellets to restore coat condition.  I had planned to take her advice, but my tractor supply only had the 50# bag in stock which would have expired many times over before I used it all with my current bunnies.  Fortunately, I was able to find a 10# bag this weekend at the TSC in Victoria.  I only have 2 weeks before the Crosby show, but I hope to get them both in somewhat better condition by then.  She's a nice size (3 lbs., 3 oz.) so I hope to not add too much weight on to her, while still improving her coat condition.  That's the goal, anyway.
Same doe, less than a month later not posing & in full molt. Ugh!
A Perfect Poser with a full show home ;)

I hadn't planned to write this much about rabbit shows this month, but I always learn so much at them.  Unfortunately, I was a popsicle by mid morning.  I dressed way too springy for the weather and my mom was feeling lousy, so we didn't stay for the 2nd show.  I hated leaving early, but plan to be better prepared for the next show.  I am pretty competitive by nature (who isn't?), but my goal for showing this year is to just place in the middle third of each class.  I don't expect to place in the top third, but I also hope that I don't continue to place in the bottom third.  It seems realistic and attainable, in theory anyway.  I am new, but the lines that my rabbits are from are well established.  I am learning, however, that both need to harmoniously work together for the rabbit to place well.  Onward and hopefully upward!    

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Special Housing Needs

Lots going on lately as I'm nearing graduation.  I only have one class plus my internship left before I graduate...hooray!  After much searching, I believe I've found the perfect summer intern opportunity.  My degree is in psychology with a specialization in Christian counseling.  CASA (court appointed special advocates - for children) should be a good fit with my internship requirements and the people of CASA have been wonderful to work with.  

Notice Hissy's head in the food bowl :-)
Now for bunny news.  I've relocated my rabbits (just to another part of the house).  Since I live in the 'burbs, I am pretty limited on space.  At this point, I only have my two buns so it's not that big a deal.  The problem is that in the house there isn't much room to grow.  Every time I see a nice rabbit that I think would make a good addition to the rabbitry, I am reminded of my limited space:(  ~ not to mention any kits I might want to keep when I breed my two ~ 

I recently moved the rabbits from the master bath to a spare bedroom.  I typically use this room as a media/craft room.  It has wood floors, so I bought some clear vinyl at Hobby Lobby to cover the floor (the dots on the floor are ladybugs on the vinyl).  I realize that my rabbit housing requirements are a bit unique as compared with others I've talked with, but I wonder if anyone else keeps rabbits in the house successfully... or does everyone house them in a separate outside building?  

Notice also her ample dewlap. "Big" Daddy doesn't look very big next to her.
I plan to devote my February posts to all things related to rabbit housing:  rabbitry plans, building cages or hutches, rabbitry setups I admire, etc. Of course, I hope to also have some show updates or bunny Valentine photos thrown in here and there too!