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Winter Care

On January 18, 2011, in Learning Center, Rabbit Care, by tina

Its the middle of winter now and its been a very cold one here in the midwest and across much of the nation. Keeping the rabbits comfortable when they live outdoors is a top priority for healthy and happy bunnies. Water is the most important nutrient a rabbit must have. In the winter its a challenge to keep water in front of  rabbits that is not frozen. For caregivers it may be several trips a day bringing out fresh water. Some rotate crocks, others bring out hot water to melt the ice, and some are even using electric water bottles to keep the water from freezing. As long as the rabbit can get fresh water every day it will help them eat better. They need these calories when the temperatures tumble to help them keep their bodies in condition.  Check over the rabbits body on a regular basis, running your hand over their back and sides. It can tell you if they are keeping in condition or if they are losing weight.  If you find they are losing weight try giving them extra pellets and hay. Many use a variety of grains added to their feed over the winter months to add that extra boost of nutrients. A popular one is sunflower seeds. Oats, wheat, safflower seeds are just a few of the others that have been used. Their are different preferences to what to use, what works for one persons rabbit may not work with another.  Experiment with different grains and find out what works for your rabbits. What they prefer to  eat  and body condition over time can tell what works for you.

Keeping rabbits protected from the harsh winter elements is very important. If using an outdoor hutch make sure they are protected from winds, snow and freezing rains. Having the sides and back covered along with a good solid roof. A rabbit does need some fresh air so have part or all of the front open so they can have ventilation. Having rabbits in a shelter, barn or even garage is another good option. Make sure it is not air tight, they need some ventilation here to.  Just making sure they are protected from the cold winter weather will help keep a rabbit in good health.

When shearing needs to be done, looking for days the temperature will be a better for a few days in a row.  Days the sun will be shining and winds are not bitter are good. Rabbits sheared in the winter should  always be given extra protection so they can keep warm. When shearing make sure to leave  some wool length on them,  about an inch of wool in good. Stuffing the cage with lots of hay and straw will keep help keep them warm and give them something to nibble on to clean out their system at the same time. Making little coats out of fleece is another option or put in a box full of straw they can hop in and keep warm. Just make sure a sheared rabbit has some kind of extra protection to stay warm until the wool starts to show some growth again. Angora wool does grow fairly quick  so it won’t take that long.

To sum it all up when it comes to winter care your rabbits health and welfare depends on you to keep them comfortable and protected from what ever harsh winter weather comes your way.

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