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Nestboxes
Wayne Hammond
9/15/2015 12:00:00 AM

NESTBOXES - Wayne Hammond

Nestboxes are one of the most important pieces of equipment found in every hutch, barn, or rabbitry. The reason I say this is because, in my opinion, this first place outside the mothers body to live can either ‘make it’ or ‘break it’ for a litter of new born kits.

I don’t think enough is said about such a basic item which is used so often in our barns. Over the years, I have experimented with many types and styles of nestbox. A few of these I would like to discuss at this time.

I think that this first home, if you will, is most important to both the doe and her litter for many reasons. Unlike ourselves, we expect our home to be certain things to us, examples being comfortable size, cozyness and cleanliness.

Lets start with size. How big is big enough or how small is too small? In the beginning, I used a nest box that was large enough to house three does and litters. The nestboxes were fixed outside the cages so I thought bigger was better. Not so I found out very quickly. The doe usually took up residence in these huge nestboxes. She would sleep, rest and use these boxes as her latrine. Not ot say that since using smaller nestboxes I do not ever have this problem but it is not as prominent. The most desirable size is large enough to allow the doe to enter and exit without trampling her young, but yet small enough to make the box uncomfortable to hang around in. I make the boxes for my Californians and Satins from 12” to 14” in length and 10” wide. The box has a higher back, a depth of 5” in the front and 8” to 9” in the back. I also put a partial top on these boxes which allows both a private spot while kindling and later a spot to sit to get away from the young when they become old enough to be a bother (most of us know, who have children, that they can be bothersome!)

The boxes are constructed of plywood, using a thickness of 1/4” to 3/8”. Mostly whatever I can find that is cheap and readily available. Once the boxes have been nailed together, I use a hardware cloth fot the bottom. Hardware cloth is just a fine wire mesh which again comes with various size holes. It can be found at most hardware or farm stores. Use a size that allows moisture to escape, but not too big for little feet to pass through. The next part is a little harder to come by, but is the best product I’ve used. It is a rubber pad, approximately 3/16” thick, that I cut to size for the bottom of the nestbox. These rubber pads are both easy to slip in and out of the boxes and can be kept clean with just normal cleaning. 

I also paint my nestboxes with a good non-lead paint. This does two things. First, the nestboxes are easier to sanitize between litters and it makes the nestboxes more attractive. I can hear the laughter now over the attractiveness idea. It is not for the rabbits so much as for any would be visitors who most certainly want to see inside your nestboxes. 

Around all exposed edges of these nestboxes, you can put a metal cap or edging to deter the rabbits from chewing. This would make replacement more infrequent.

Sanitizing the boxes is a straight forward process. Use a disinfectant/detergent in water after each use. Allow the boxes time to dry after cleaning, if possible in the sunlight. The ultra-violet rays of the sun assist in killing germs and bacteria. The rubber pad may be cleaned more frequently if required, depending on how clean the nestbox remains.

 

 

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