By Leslie Samson
In the last couple of months, excellent ideas were shared by members on our chat list relative to the extra care rabbits need in very cold weather.
I have incorporated many of these good ideas into my own rabbitry and have found them to be successful. To those who have been generous with their solutions to minimizing winter stresses – I thank you and so do my rabbits!
From Monika Yost – Quite some time ago she suggested a “warm room” for newly shorn rabbits and for litters. I do have a small area off of the main rabbitry, which I was able to separate with an insulating barrier.
From Charlene Schultz – The marvelously simple addition of a few incandescent lights aimed at newly shorn rabbits has proved to be very effective for reducing any chill the rabbits might feel. The rabbits will sit right under the lights. Because their ears are long, the light reaches them first, warming the blood, which then warms the rabbit. When the lights are used in the warm room, the entire area stays quite comfortable.
I also place empty feedbags on top of each cage to hold in the lamp warmth. The cages are stuffed with hay for more insulation.
Protected above with a roof and below with a soft bed of gut cleaning hay, all the rabbits needed were nice coats and extra calories.
I have found it necessary to increase the size of the coat pattern I had been using. A tight coat does not provide the same warmth as will a slightly loose coat. When I make my coats, I will make them in three sizes for my rabbits. The fabric I use is a heavy polar fleece or a berber fleece. These thicker fabrics have less of a tendency to catch on the natural nap of the coat growth and “ride” back on the rabbit. A pattern follows at the end of this newsletter.
For extra calories in the winter, I will offer a little extra feed to all of my rabbits. During especially bitter cold, double rations are given. Newly shorn rabbits are offered all the feed they like. If they appeared to be stressed, normal daily rations of Dr. Cheeke’s YQ+ may be offered twice a day instead of once.
Pattern for Bunny Coat
Click on each graphic to open another window showing the pattern larger. If the new picture looks too small, try clicking on it if you use Firefox to enlarge it. Internet Explorer should open the graphic at the right size.