In our cold northern Indiana climate, raising rabbits in the winter presents only a small challenge. We raise Havanas, LionHeads, and Angoras, all breeds that have lots of hair. As a matter of fact, it’s harder to keep them cool in the summer!
But, what I have learned along the way:
Rabbits need water. And water bottles can freeze hard in the winter, and fast. We tried to use those fancy schmancy heated water bottles like these from my affiliate partner, but since we have 20 cages of rabbits, they added up fast. AND, to boot, they only lasted one season before they fell apart. The back would break off, or the top would come off, and the whole thing was just junk. So, we went another route. We got each rabbit 2 water bottles, and one would be on their cage, and the other inside, thawing. 3-4 times a day, we would simply exchange the bottles for unfrozen ones. Sure beat trying to run them under hot water to thaw!
Rabbits need hay. They actually need good quality hay year round, but we found it was more important in the winter. Why? Well, we would go through about 1/2 flake of hay per day, giving each rabbit a handful in the morning, and in the evening when we did chores. They could “hide” under it if they got chilly, and munch to their hearts content. In the evenings, they would normally hide under it for a while and keep themselves warm. They have like an R30 rating for insulation, so I think they just liked to play.
Rabbits need food. Again, good quality food is a must at all times, but since they expend more energy keeping warm in the winter, we had to up their portions from like 3ounces a day to 4-4/12 ounces. They ate it with no waste! We have on hand an 18% protein rabbit feed that we really like to use. And they like it, too. I guess that’s more important, right?
Rabbits need to be draft free. We have ours in a metal shed-turned rabbit barn, so we have to make sure that the door is closed most of the way in the winter. We don’t close it all the way, because I still want them to have some fresh air, but 80% closed has seemed to work for us. Rabbits can keep warm if they are draft free. Draftiness can make them ill quickly. So keep them out of drafts. When in doubt, close it up!
What are some of the ways you take care of your rabbits during extreme weather?