Rabbit Keeping



1. Extensive system:

Total dependence on forages and kitchen wastes.


– Cheap

– Easy to provide the quantity of food required


– Forage availability varies with season

– The quality of the forage reduces during dry season

– It is labour intensive

– It can introduce diseases and health problems

2. Intensive system;

Total dependence on prepared concentrate foods from the feed mill.


– High levels of production

– Little risk of disease introduction


– Very costly

– Depends on the feed miller (in terms of availability and quality)

 3. Semi-intensive system:

The use of forages supplemented with prepared concentrate foods. It falls between the extensive and intensive system in terms of advantage and disadvantages. It is also the system that is most suitable for the small-scale producer.



Rabbit housing and equipment differ from country to country. Factors that affect their design include;

  • Climate
  • Raw materials (Availability and cost)
  • location
  • Scale (large or medium) and system of production (Intensive, Extensive or semi-intensive)
  • Size of the rabbitry
  • Expertise of the rabbit production


The optimum temperature in a rabbit shed is around.

Effective ventilation is required to control extremes of temperature and also to remove ammonia. Housing is a critical issue for rabbit health. Poor ventilation will result in irritation to the respiratory tract and susceptibility to infection from bacteria. Heat stress will cause major rabbit mortalities and reproductive failure.


 Housing should be able to prevent against injury within the hutch, rain, direct sunlight, direct and indirect wind and predators such as dogs, cats, rats, ants, man, etc.


A.Natural ventilation systems

Can use wind and animal heat to move air.

Natural ventilation can be provided with a high gable roof, a ridge vent, and open sides with flaps that can be opened or closed depending on the atmospheric requirements.

In high wind areas, a stub wall or wind baffle outside the open sided sheds is needed to reduce wind velocity.


Natural ventilation is low cost,


Lack of control over air movement, inability to lower the inside temperature of the rabbitry below that outside, and over-ventilation.

B. mechanical ventilation systems

Are used in environmentally controlled buildings, using fans to provide required airflow.

The advantage

There is the ability to control rate of airflow for effective removal of moisture, heat and ammonia;


There is the high initial and operating cost

The need for backup systems in case of power failure.

Evaporative cooling systems may be used in a hot, dry climate. A water sprinkling system on the roof of the rabbit shed will help to reduce high temperatures.

 Space requirements

Sufficient room is required for caged rabbits to move around, to feed and drink without difficulty.

The minimum legal standards for different classes of rabbits are given below:

  • Doe and litter (5 weeks) 0.56 sq.m (total area)
  • Doe and litter (8 weeks) 0.74 sq.m (total area)
  • Rabbits (5-12 weeks) 0.07 sq.m (per rabbit)
  • Rabbits (12 weeks or more) 0.18 sq.m (per rabbit)
  • Adult does and bucks for breeding 0.56 sq.m
  • Cage height (>12 weeks) 45 cm

If the floor of the cage is of wire mesh material it should be of woven or flat construction. The square mesh of the floor should not exceed 19 x 19 mm for adults and 13 x 13 mm for kittens. The optimum for rectangular mesh is 50 x 13 mm. The thickness of the wire mesh should not be less than 2.5 mm diameter (12 gauge). Cage arrangement can vary depending on the size of the enterprise. Multiple deck configurations require a faeces diverter or multideck conveyor belt.

Feeders and watering equipment

Good feeding and watering equipment will supply feed and water in hygienic condition and will avoid causing discomfort or stress to the rabbits. A feed hopper in a cage should have a sufficiently big opening and should be large enough to feed all the rabbits in the cage at the same time. An automatic watering system can be installed. The drinking nipples of the watering system should be at optimum height from the floor of the cage, around 10 cm from the floor of the cage and they should not project more than 2.5 cm into the cage. It is always advisable to have a backup system to ensure that rabbits have access to water in case of a failure of an automated system.

Cage systems

Individual rabbits are kept in cages or hutches. Hutches may be constructed of wood frames with wire netting at the sides and base. All wire hutches last longer and are more expensive. They may be built in one, two or three tiers

Two or three tier hutches are used where there is insufficient space but requires more labour than single tier

Cage measurements

Doe and her litter or weaned upto market mass

  • 1.2m by 0.6m by 0.6 m

Individual mature rabbits

  • 0.8 to 1 m in length, by 0.6m in height , o.5 m in breadth

NB: Rabbit may also be raised on solid floor on litter of wood shavings (economical but risky of disease outbreak is high)


Judy Vanessa

Judy Vanessa is an accomplished explorer,a passionate animal health extension practitioner and author. She loves writing about farming articles in various sectors.

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