There are basically three systems of rabbit rearing widely known and adopted, and they include the following:
1. Free Range System:
It is one of the easiest ways to raise rabbits, by letting them run around, find their own food, mate as they want, and when you are hungry you can easily trap one for food. This is free range system.
However good it is, it comes along with disadvantages, yes the disadvantages are discouraging;
-very difficult to handle rabbits
-there is easy disease outbreak, eg. Ear canker
-high levels of predation.
By using that system, many people have got discouraged in rabbit keeping because the problems involved are many and inevitable.
2. Colony System
Under this system, rabbits are enclosed in a confined environment or room and left to run around in the enclosure. The floor may be placed with litter, with either wood shavings or husks.
This is more of free range system, however, the rabbits are controlled (mating, feeding)
They almost share the same challenges, except there is less chances of predation in this case than free range system.
Inbreeding can occur if not controlled.
The litter can provide rich mulch or manure for farm use.
3. Cage System
Unlike previous systems, here rabbits are ‘restrained’ in an enclosure, usually a wire cage. Rabbits are placed in their own cells/rooms/ cage.
In some cases, 2 or more young rabbits may occupy a single cell. Weaned rabbits may be placed 2 or 4 in a single cell measuring 1x1x0.5 meters.
Cage system is mostly practiced by commercial rabbit breeders. Some small scale producers are going into this system. This is because it is easier to manage rabbits under this system.
Keen observation is required for this system. Feeding and watering are all done by an external labor. In some rabbitry, watering and feeding are automatic .
Cage system also has the highest start up capital, but it is safe and reliable. We will discuss more of this than the other system.
There are essentially two kinds of housing in rabbit keeping; The stable and The hutches
1. The Stable:
This is a main building in which or under which you place the individual hutches/ cages.
To build a stable is not always necessary, you might have a suitable place under the roof of your own house already.
However, building a stable provides safety and biosecurity of your rabbits. It is a common requirements for commercial producers.
Advise before you build a stable
Although initial expenses for stables are high, they are really relatively low. A good building last for several generations, so the cost per generation are low.
The real high costs are labour, dead or stolen animal, vet service etc. If you start with a bad stable design, it will force you day after day to do unnecessary things, and that is a low initial cost but a high recurring cost
Do not start big, but do not waste time on clumsy design.
Watch and consult relevant people.
Buildings should be constructed in such a way that working is not difficult.
Important features of a stable;
Let us now discuss some features of a good stable, assuming that you need such a building. You can construct your stable keeping in mind of the following guidelines;
-rain, wind and sunshine
-humidity and fresh air