When most people think of raising rabbits, they think about cages hanging neatly in a row or a bunch of hutches spread throughout the yard. These methods of raising rabbits can seem the most proficient and simple, but there is another option to consider and that is raising your rabbits’ colony style.
There are many advantages to raising rabbits in a colony rather than in cages or hutches. The main advantage is that it allows your rabbits to live in a setting that is more natural for them. In a colony, the rabbits can move around freely while interacting with your other rabbits. They are often allowed to burrow into the ground, even if limited in doing so. They have a lot more room to get their exercise than a cage or hutch allows. This is my preferred way to raise my rabbits. I strongly believe that happy rabbits produce better meat, so raising mine in a colony when possible gives me the happiest rabbits.
Of course, there are a few downsides of raising rabbits in a colony. One of the main downsides is that it requires a lot more space typically. You need a decent sized area to create a colony for the rabbits to move around in naturally. It can also be more difficult to make the area predator proof, especially if your colony is located outdoors. We allow our livestock guardian dogs to roam around the outside of the colony area to keep predators out of ours, and we have netting over the top for any hawks or owls that may see our rabbits as easy prey. The other downside is that you don’t have as much control over breeding. If you have more than one buck in the colony, you will not know for sure which one is the father, which can be an issue if you are trying to keep up with pedigrees. It can also be difficult to know when a doe has kindled and which babies belong to which doe.
Despite the challenges of raising rabbits in a colony, I have found it to be my preferred method. There are many articles online that can walk you through setting up a colony for your rabbits if you want to give it a try.