RABBIT KEEPING: How to keep rabbits safe on a farm.

Living on a farm is amazing. You're in the countryside surrounded by fields and trees, the sound of animals replace the sound of traffic, and the city lights are replaced by the stars. I mean, what more could you ask for? 

But farms aren't just a great place for people, they're also a great environment to raise pets. Today, we're going to look at protecting one of the more defenseless pets you might choose to have; rabbits

To a rabbit, a rural setting with bales of hay, as well as plenty of grass to chew is literally a dream come true. But with country life comes dangers you might not come across in the city or in suburban settings. The most important thing you can do for your rabbits is know how to keep them safe! 

In this article, you'll learn how to supply the safest rabbit hutch, as well as the best way to provide protected outdoor exercise time, and how to discourage predators from coming near your rabbits in the first place. So read on, my friend!

Selecting the safest rabbit hutch

Let's face it, pet rabbits are most vulnerable when they're out of your sight. Which means, when they are out of sight, they should be safely tucked away in a secure hutch. Rabbits have no way to defend themselves, so you'll need something highly protective between your rabbit and the threats presented to them from predators and the weather. (I'm sure you've heard the horror stories from when sneaky foxes make their way on to farms and find themselves alone with the chickens [1], but it could just as easily be your rabbits)!

With the heavy presence of pets and livestock on a farm, predators will undoubtedly be lured to the area in the hope of finding prey. Before getting rabbits, the first thing that should be on your list is a quality rabbit hutch that's suitable for the outdoors - whether or not you plan to place your hutch outdoors. In fact, it's best if you place your rabbit hutch in a barn or a shed, and the building should have a door that can be kept securely closed.

You might be wondering why I've recommended you get a hutch designed for outdoor use if the rabbits home will be kept in a secure shed or barn. The fact is, mistakes happen. Should you leave the door open by accident, a predator-proof and weather-proof cage will help provide an extra layer of security.

You'll find that rabbit hutches are typically built to protect rabbits from predators as well as adverse weather conditions. I recommend going for something sturdy, on raised legs with a section for your rabbit to hide away should it need to. The Lazy Buddy rabbit hutch is a brilliant example of a home with these qualities. 
Exercising your rabbits

Exercise is a crucial part of a rabbits routine regardless of where they live. With farm pets such as dogs, they're often given the run of the land to exercise freely. This is something you can never do with a pet rabbit. The countryside hosts a range of predators that are just waiting for their moment.

You need to make sure that when your bunny is getting its exercise, it always does so under your supervision. It can be risky even turning your back on your rabbit for a few seconds. Where I live, we have falcons, eagles, neighbor's dogs -- You never know what could be circling overhead or lurking nearby just waiting to make a move.

That's why, even if you're supervising, you should never let your rabbit roam free around the farm. Exercise needs to be performed in a rabbit pen with a roof or wire cover. 

It's not just foxes and other predators on foot you need to worry about. Birds of prey pose a massive threat to your rabbit. Your presence along with an enclosed pen blocking their access should help avoid any attempted swoops for your bunny.

Avoid encouraging predators on the prowl

Discouraging predators requires a bit of common sense! Take steps to reduce the appeal of your farm environment to predators. This can range from not leaving meat in your compost pile to not leaving excess dog food lying around outside. These sound like small steps, but they can go a long way toward protecting your rabbits. This doesn't just apply for pet rabbits, the same measures can help protect your other livestock too. 

To wrap up, farm life can be great for bunnies providing they're kept safe and secure! You'll want to keep them in a sturdy good quality hutch within a secure barn, shed or other out building. When it's time to exercise don't take your eye off them, and make sure you have a rabbit run with protection from aerial threats.

Foot Notes:
1. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2012/jul/11/chickens-foxes

Let's chat: Do you keep rabbits on a farm? I'd love to hear from you in the comment below. 

Until next time...

Joy--Fearless Farm Girl,

"Farm girl: it's a verb, because it's what you do."

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