Breeders: How do you give your rabbits exercise?

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Jadette

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Or is the answer that they don't get exercise?
I used to let my does out together to run around in a ~600 sq feet area that I had dedicated in my yard for my rabbitry for a few hours, and then let my bucks out together afterwards. But as my herd has grown, I'm getting certain does not getting along with other does, and certain bucks not getting along with other bucks. So now I have to let them out several groups. It's also taking me longer and longer to corral them back into their pens. There are some days that I'm just too exhausted to coordinate their play/exercise time.
Perhaps my setup isn't ideal where they basically get to free roam the entire space? Do I just divide it up (but then it would be a much smaller space for each group) and have them all out at once?
Just curious how others are doing this.
 

Preitler

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Apart from my 2 house bunnies I have 2 pairs of breeding does and one buck. During the day first the 2 young does (currently they are 5 with the three 6mo old left over from last year) get free roam of the 200m² fenced in garden, when I come home from work the two retired does get out which go back to their hutch by themself after an hour, and the buck spends evenings and many nights out adoring the girls through the wire.
In summer both groups are out during the whole day, the senior does in a seperate fenced in part.
Actually, I will try to let them out together. When this happened in the past by accident there always were some tufts of fur, but it seems that my dominant 9yo Fury gets more mellow - last time even one of the young does was sitting with the two old ones in their hutch, and they got along. Would make things much easier.
But the buck must not be anywhere out of his hutch when any of the girls are, I learn from my mistakes - last year I was close to being overwhelmed, there were 6 litters instead of the planned 2. We can learn a thing about determination there.

Getting them back in is easy, I just shake the pellet pail and they come running. I use pellets just as treats, and they always get something when they come when called. In summer when I'm working in the garden I open up the fence and let them out the meadow and wood at times, it's only the offspring that's sometimes difficult to herd back, but when I see they don't want now I try again 20 minutes later and usually it works then.
From time to time there are little Houdinis that are just a PITA. Last year I was the laughing stock of the neighbourhood because I was chasing 2 kits for an hour every day around the neighbours shed - took me a while to figure out how they kept escaping - they waded down the creek around the fence, and climbed an almost vertical 2m high stone wall.

It's more nagging them back then herding when they aren't in the mood to go back, takes a lot of patience. Sometimes, when something spooked them this is necessary. But most times I just call them and go ahaed with the pail, without looking back much, then it takes a few minutes for them to make up their minds and come.
Most times they don't obey accept my suggestion right away, in the evening I call my 2 free range house bunnies in, and usually nothing happens for 3-5 minutes, then I hear little furry feet.
 
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majorv

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I agree that the more you have the harder it is to exercise them. Our Polish were lap bunnies so didn’t really move around much when I let them out. With our Tans we set up a long carpeted running board on sawhorses and let them run up and down, a couple at a time. Sometimes we’d bring a few in at a time into the house to run around. It wasn’t an everyday thing, not with 20+ rabbits. We never let them run in our yard because then we’d have to worm them.
 

Happy Hollands

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UM the answer to your question should always be yes. Rabbits, or any other animal for that matter, should never be cooped up in a small wire cage their whole life. To stay healthy, exercise is a must.

To give all of my bunnies ample exercise, they each get their own individual pen in our secured grassy yard. It does tend to take a lot of time to carry all of the rabbits out in to the playpens and back to their enclosures afterwards. A trick I have found over the years is holding one bunny and putting another in a carrier for transport! As for catching the bunnies when it's time to bring them in? Well, instead of looking like a crazy person chasing the bunnies around, adjust the pen shape so there is a small area of the rabbit can hop into and you can close part of the pen behind them (If that makes any sense). Adult rabbits used for breeding purposes should not have contact with other rabbits (same or different sexes) because of the many risks including hormonal fighting / accidental breeding can occur.
 

Jadette

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Getting them back in is easy, I just shake the pellet pail and they come running. I use pellets just as treats, and they always get something when they come when called. In summer when I'm working in the garden I open up the fence and let them out the meadow and wood at times, it's only the offspring that's sometimes difficult to herd back, but when I see they don't want now I try again 20 minutes later and usually it works then.
From time to time there are little Houdinis that are just a PITA. Last year I was the laughing stock of the neighbourhood because I was chasing 2 kits for an hour every day around the neighbours shed - took me a while to figure out how they kept escaping - they waded down the creek around the fence, and climbed an almost vertical 2m high stone wall.
Lucky you! My rabbits are not as crazy for pellets as most other buns are. They are spoiled with all the wheatgrass and edible plants in my garden and would rather hang out in the veggie garden than return to their hutch for pellets!
And I know what you mean about the Houdinis being a PITA! I have one particular lionhead that will just hide behind the only unreachable area behind a storage shed whenever I tried to herd her back in!

I agree that the more you have the harder it is to exercise them. Our Polish were lap bunnies so didn’t really move around much when I let them out. With our Tans we set up a long carpeted running board on sawhorses and let them run up and down, a couple at a time. Sometimes we’d bring a few in at a time into the house to run around. It wasn’t an everyday thing, not with 20+ rabbits. We never let them run in our yard because then we’d have to worm them.
I certainly do give my rabbits exercise, but I am struggling with getting them the recommended 3+ hours a day. Now that I have to have them go out in groups, they usually get 1-2 hours on weekdays. On weekends where I am home all day, they'll double that. Maybe it's okay to not hit the "recommended" amount every day. Heck, humans are supposed to get at least 10,000 steps a day, and I am certain that I don't hit that consistently!

UM the answer to your question should always be yes. Rabbits, or any other animal for that matter, should never be cooped up in a small wire cage their whole life. To stay healthy, exercise is a must.
I agree, and that's why all of my rabbits are not in small wire cages. :) I house single rabbits in double decker hutches that are 4'x2' in size on each floor. Bonded buns are paired in double decker 4'x4' hutches (though they are a pain to clean. I might be getting rid of them longterm). Probably still not big enough to get a decent zoomie in, but big enough for them to stretch out a bit. I still think they need time outside of their generously sized hutches though.
I just visited a local rabbitry. They had at least 100 buns in 30+ cages all housed in a 6 car garage. I just don't see how they can manage to give all those rabbits daily exercise. That time commitment would just be insane!
 

majorv

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The answer is unique to each breeder, period. If you keep the number of rabbits manageable then it’s easier.
 

LadyGrey

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My 4 breeding does are cage free and roam my house freely. The buck is allowed to frolic with the girls when he has his pants on for a few hours a day. When the weather is nice a special door is unlocked and my little colony takes trips outside together for a nice grazing session. All my lops are utterly ridiculous in their athleticism, one jumps/climbs 4 foot fences and most of them feel comfortable taking 3 foot jumps off my counters.
 

Jadette

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My 4 breeding does are cage free and roam my house freely. The buck is allowed to frolic with the girls when he has his pants on for a few hours a day. When the weather is nice a special door is unlocked and my little colony takes trips outside together for a nice grazing session. All my lops are utterly ridiculous in their athleticism, one jumps/climbs 4 foot fences and most of them feel comfortable taking 3 foot jumps off my counters.
After posting about your buck with pants on, how could you not post a pic!? :p
 

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