Senda Verde Permaculture Eco Center

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Farming Rabbits and Chicken tractors


Ive really appreciated the fact that my Goat and my Rabbits dont need any type of special feed, they will eat what grows naturally and the Rabbits are happy with weeds that would be good only for the compost.

Ive been keeping Rabbits since mid October when my sister and family were over for a week.
Edhan and Eilidh treated me to three, two does and a buck, Morag, Heather and Hamish.

Edhan and Eilidh helping build the roundwood porch

Unfortunatley Hamish, the buck, exploited a leak in my rabbit hutch and Carmela took her chance. I finished him off for Sunday dinner.

Rabbit easier than plucking chickens

I also appreciate how easy and quick it is to prepare Rabbit, much faster than plucking chickens so Ive decided to up my Rabbit production.

In John Seymours excellent book "self sufficiency" he reckons with two does and a buck you can produce up to 90kg of Rabbit per year, fantastic for me and also for the dogs.

On breeding them he says:

"You can leave young Rabbits on the mother for 8 weeks, at which point they are ready to be killed. If you do this you should remove the mother 6 weeks after she has kindled (given birth) and put her to the buck. After she has been served return her to her young. Remove the latter when they are 8 weeks old and the doe will kindle again 17 days after the litter has been removed, gestation being about 30 days."

Buck HQ on right hand side Does and family on left

I have just finished the Buck HQ using recycled materials, an old desk I found rammed down the side of the barn, roundwood cut from my land and bits and bobs of timber. Wood mulch from the river as bedding and a few logs here and there and it looks good.

Recycle, repair and reuse

The buck will have an outside run too but its been too wet to work outside and change the combination of chicken wire that will seperate buck, does and chickens on the outside of the barn.

Outdoor run for all with private access to duplex suites

Tuesday is Viseu market where they sell all the livestock so Mr Rabbit might have to spend the first few days indoors till I get around to rejigging the partitions and giving them all outdoor space.

Carmela demonstrating the new chicken tractor

Chicken Tractor.

I mentioned in my last post that the chickens have been running totally freerange. I saw no point in confining them after the ducks mullered the veg garden and they have been doing a grand job of scratching and cleaning different beds. As spring approaches and im getting ready to plant out, that has to change.

My first chicken tractor, more or less recycled materials

Ive just finished building my first chicken tractor, it can be moved around the land and allow them fresh grazing whilst being secure and water tight at the same time. Im going to use some metal arcs Ive got with a shade netting covering to extend their run, it will also fit to any shape or size of raised bed ive got.

Run can be extended with more metal hoops and shade netting to fit raised bed size

The indoor chicken coop and outside run is still a little up in the air at the moment. I had some meat chickens, naked necks, that Im currently culling and they are around 3 to 4 kg and taste very good so I might go that route again.

6 berth with perch

My friend and chicken aficionado Lynn has put some eggs in her incubator so I could use it for those keeping the best of breed to use in a second chicken tractor and filling the freezer with the rest at 3 months. We will see.

The chicken tractor and egg machine

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