Providing clean food and water for rabbits
Providing clean food and water for you rabbits is essential to keeping your rabbitry healthy. There are several options available when it comes to giving rabbits what they need to flourish, which can range from inexpensive, homemade items to more costly systems. But spending a little more might just mean a few less minutes you need to spend cleaning every day.
Galvanized metal self-feeders are available at most feed stores for $6-7 each. A feeder is a metal box which attaches to the outside of the cage with a trough which sticks through a hole cut in your cage. Some hang entirely inside the cage. Get the model with the screened bottom so “fines” (dusty bits of the feed pellets) sift through. They only cost a bit more but will save you from cleaning them out all the time. Rabbits won’t eat the fines and the dust could cause respiratory problems if left in the cage.
You can also use dishes or crocks for food dishes but they get mistaken for a toilet by babies, are sat in and get knocked over. Using a feeder will make the process a lot easier and allows you to feed the rabbits without opening every cage door. They also hold more feed for times when your rabbits should have plenty of food available, such as when your doe is pregnant or has a litter being weaned,
Water bottles or watering system
Fresh, clean water is essential for your rabbits and needs to be available at all times. During warm weather, a doe and her kits may drink up to a gallon of water per day. Avoid using any sort of crocks, bowls or open-topped water bottles. As mentioned in the feeder section, rabbits love using bowls and crocks for a port-o-potty and will constantly flip them over. They are also a breeding ground for diseases like liver coccidiosis. If do decide to use a crock, make it a half-gallon stoneware crock that is heavy enough to stay put. Getting one with a sloping sides and a concave bottom will keep it from breaking during freezing temps in the winter.
The hanging water bottle with a dew drop valve is a common and inexpensive solution. If you buy one, spring for the hinge-topped rather than the bottom-filled bottles to save a lot of hassle and time. Remember, bigger is better when it comes to bottle size. You could also build your own bottle watering system with large jugs (such as a bleach bottle) and the dew drop valves themselves but make bottles small enough that you still need to refill them daily so you keep them cleaner. Build a rack to hold the jug upside down and feed the valve into the cage. Punch a few small holes in the bottom of the jug (which has become the top when it’s upside down) to vent it and keep the water flowing. Using large jugs keeps you from needing to add or change water so often, the rabbits will always have plenty of fresh water and freezing isn’t an issue since the jugs are plastic. Each rabbit will need his own bottle and they will need to be scrubbed out and disinfected from time to time with bleach or sanitizer.