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Oh the weather outside is frightful...

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DharmaBuns

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Pardon me, but this is going to be a bit long!

As the Starks like to say (Game of Thrones) "Winter is coming." In beautiful Northern Michigan, it seems to be coming much more quickly than normal. My concern for the well-being of my buns is growing. This is my first year breeding/showing Tans, so I'm really trying to figure out the best way to keep them warm. I realize that rabbits do much better in the cold than they do in the heat, but winter can get pretty nasty up here. I live in the northern part of the lower peninsula (confusing, eh?) and we get really really bad storms/cold coming in from the lake.

My bunnies (currently 3, but hopefully my does are pregnant!) are in a side of my garage. It's become the designated "bunny area", so they're free from any sort of draft. My concern is that it will just get SO COLD. My wonderful husband has already thought ahead and set up a heated watering system, so at least I won't have to worry about THAT. It's been getting down into the lower 40's each night, and it's been absolutely miserable (rainy and windy) the last few days.

They've got lots of hay, and each bun actually has one of these:

http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2753302

Are these suitable? My dad actually bought them for me as a present after my doe won Best of Breed. I thought it was very thoughtful that he thought of me and my 3 buns, and I obviously couldn't turn them down, but will these work? If I stuff them full of hay each night?

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I'm also concerned for the well-being of the babies once they're born (if pregnant, should be between Nov 10th - 13th for both does.) Have any of you done the 'bring the babies out to moms once/twice a day' method with any success?

Sorry that this has gotten so long!
 

laylabunny

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I worry too! I live in NW PA and this time of year I start lining their cages with straw. I cover the bottom of their cages with it and once a week strip everything out since the poo can no longer just drop through. I also keep hay in front of them. One, to keep them from eating all the straw; and two, to keep them warm. Eating hay generates a lot of heat and I figured if it works for horses, it should work for bunnies too! It creates a heck of a mess, but even though I have to change it out every week, it's definitely worth it to keep my buns comfy. As far as babies go, I'm not breeding any more after this next bunch that is due at the end of this month until spring. As long as they stay in the nestbox until they get some hair on them, they should be fine. You'll need to keep a sharp eye in case they are born outside the box.
As long as there aren't any drafts, they should be fine. I keep my rabbits in a car port and it's amazing the difference between in there and outside. It's not a tropical oasis by any means, but just being out of the wind makes a huge difference. Lucky you with heated waterers! Tis the season for taking down bottles and breaking ice out of dishes... sigh lol
 

mistyjr

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I have had my rabbits in the shed, I give them lots of hay and feed extra for colder months. I live lower michigan, And Its getting very cold, I heard snow is near :(
I want to use the old feed bags and cover up the windows in the shed, And make sure they have plenty to eat and drink, And when I have babies at all times, I bring them in the house until they are ready to be with momma on their own, I take them out once in morning and once at night. I am also breeding everybody next month!
 

DelightfulEccentricity

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I live in western Michigan, it IS getting cold out. I won't worry about my buns as they're living in the basement, but I can recall dealing with winter and bunnies when I was basically taking care of my brother's rabbits. On the coldest of days or the chilliest nights, I'd take an old beat-up comforter out and drape it over his rabbit hutches. It helped to hold in their body heat a little, and kept the cold air away. Worked really well...I'd be freezing to death to get out to them, and end up sticking my hand into a nice not-frozen hutch. :)
 

DharmaBuns

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So, it will be fine for them to be in REALLY cold temperatures, so long as 1) they're out of the wind/drafts, and 2) they have hay to snuggle in? I'm hoping that they actually use their houses, but at this point they just seem to be hunkering down behind them (silly buns!)

I had thought about putting a blanket over them at night, I wonder if that will really help? I suppose it's worth a shot. I'd just be devastated if something happened to them due to the cold.
 

DelightfulEccentricity

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The comforter we used wasn't in great shape, but I was always shocked at how much heat it retained inside it. Sometimes, with my brother's biggest does, I'd find that their water wasn't even totally frozen in the morning, meaning the ambient temperature had to've been high, compared to the bare elements.

My dad reminded me earlier via text that some of the nomadic people in Siberia survive in simple tents on the icy landscape...they build an outer tent, then they sleep in an inner tent, and a single lit candle plus their natural body heat keeps the temperature in the fifties and sixties...whereas it's lots below zero outside and windy to boot! So I would imagine a blanket over their cages in a garage would be like a luxury suite to most buns. :)
 

laylabunny

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:nod Yes, blankets do work. I've used them as well when it gets subzero outside. I would just be sure that you don't mind a few holes in it. Mine always liked yanking them in through the wire lol.
 

BlueCamasRabbitry

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I don't use anything to keep my rabbits warm. Rabbits do MUCH better in the cold temperatures than you would think - but of course it doesn't hurt to line a cardboard box with hay, or put up plastic siding on 3 sides/roof of their hutch if outdoors.

My rabbits are housed in a shed, so I normally just increase their amount of hay, or give them a box to snuggle in - which they usually just tear up, lol.

As long as the outdoor hutch/cage is placed out of direct drafts and protected from blowing rain, they should be okay. :)

Emily
 

majorv

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My rabbits are outside. Our winters aren't as bad as those who live up north, but last winter we had quite a few nights with hard freezes. I agree that as long as the rabbits are protected from rain and wind, they should be able to withstand cold temps. We had a stretch of4 straight days where the temps never got above freezing and I opted to put my rabbits in carriers and bring them in the garage. If it gets into the low 20'sat nightthen I'll put a nestbox in the cage for them to snuggle in.

When my daughter had Californians for FFA we lost a week old kit during the winter because he got out of the nestbox somehow and we didn't notice it.When we have litters in the cold weather nowI always check/count them before I go to bed to make sure all are in the box. We've saved a few kitsdoing this.
 

DharmaBuns

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Thanks, everyone!

I was just concerned, since the temps here at night can get well below 0 every night. Often times with the wind chill (and sometimes without!) it's below 0 during the day as well. Not very nice, I must say.

It's *possible* that some time in the future, I'll be able to actually bring my rabbits inside. Right now we have a large room that actually doesn't have anything in it. It would be wonderful to be able to bring them all inside for the winter. We'll see though, the room is currently occupied by 5 guinea pigs and a cockatiel :p
 

mistyjr

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Its been nice this week until tuesday :) and then its supposed to go back down to 40's, :( And i heard snow is coming early! :(
 

CCWelch

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Sorry this is gonna come across as harsh..... My rabbits are part pet but mostly livestock. They live outside in cages that have roofs, they get a box with straw in it to burrow down into in the coldest weather.
I lost 3 rabbits to the heat this summer, I have never lost a rabbit to the cold, not even a baby. I raise mostly 6 class rabbits, the only two 4 class breeds I have are English Spots and Mini Lops.
Note: Rex seem to have more problems with the cold than most other breeds and I am sure the miniaturization of many of the breeds has made them less winter hardy as well.
 

RAL Rabbitry

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I live in New England and it gets below zero here. My mini-rex do just fine and have never lost one to the cold. They are in an uninsulated but not heated addition on my garage. The windows are open every day for ventilation. I give them hay and extra feed such as sunflower seeds in the cold weather and they are happy. They prefer the cold to heat. The does do fine with their litters and I do not bring the litters in at all. If it is going to be super cold I put a 60 watt light bulb in a metal shade over the box away from curious mothers and they are toasty warm.
 

RoscoTheRat

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I live in New England, but I bring my rabbits in during winter time.

You could give them extra hey to nest in. That's what I do before they come in and it starts to get cold.
 
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