Once you decide you want to raise some rabbits on your homestead (congrats!) you will ultimately need to decide if you want to raise them in cages or in a colony. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, neither is right or wrong. You just need to figure out what is right for you. You need to consider how easy or hard it will be to clean up after them, breed them, round them up as needed, and what is best for them “healthwise”.
Raising homestead rabbits in cages is exactly what it sounds like. You have multiple cages for your rabbits, each pretty much getting their own cage. A colony is one large pen or caged in area where all your rabbits (or most) live together as a group.
Rabbit Colony Benefits and Advantages
- Can be easier to clean – Instead of cleaning out individual cages you have one open area, usually on the ground which you can rake, mulch, etc.
- Feeding and watering is easier – Just try to set out some food and watering areas in a couple different places within the colony to avoid fighting but depending on the size of your herd this can be easier than filling bowls and water bottles in multiple cages.
- A colony is a better opportunity for rabbits to socialize and play.
- The setup cost is usually cheaper because you don’t have to buy so many cages, feeding bowls, watering bottles, etc.
Rabbit Colony Disadvantages
- Rabbits in colonies are not handled as much by human caregivers so they tend to be more like wild rabbits. They are often skittish and more apt to scratch and claw you up when you touch them.
- Rabbit fights can happen and this may lead to injuries that you must then care for.
- The ease and cost of one pen for a colony is diminished when you need other pens or supplemental cages for rabbits that need to be separated due to fighting or for grow out purposes.
- Rabbits in colonies are more susceptible to parasites and diseases because they are on the ground. Having all the rabbits together makes spreading those illnesses much more common.
- A colony typically requires more room than cages so if you are limited on space this may be a problem.
- A pen will usually need to be moved to access new greens and not oversaturate the area with waste.
Rabbits in Cages – Benefits and Advantages
- Collecting manure for your garden can be much easier when using cages. You can place trays underneath the cages to catch the waste and then once a day or so just empty those trays into a bucket which can then make its way to your compost bin.
- Handling the rabbits is much easier because they cannot run away and this makes some daily/weekly one on one time easier to achieve. They get used to used to you and being handled in general. You avoid being clawed to death ala Monty Python.
- You have total control over breeding. No surprise litters! You have to feed and care for all those critters so having control over the size of your herd is a big benefit.
- Less space is required to raise rabbits in cages.
- Cages are often more secure from predators than a colony pen.
Rabbits in Cages – Disadvantages
- Can be harder to clean at times.
- Cages are usually less aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
- Cages provide less protection from the elements (snow, rain, wind) so you need to build covering over them if they are outdoors.
- Less playtime with other rabbits.
Figure out what will ultimately work best for you and take the leap!