We love the colony herd experience. Our girls seem to love it too. I wish we could raise them all this way. Note: do not put your rabbits in together like this unless they’ve been socially conditioned for warren living!!
how do you condition them for the colony?
This is a great question and it deserves an in depth post. Mostly its about personality and introducing them young. My colony rabbits for the most part have never experienced being alone in a cage having their own territory. Once a doe fixes in her mind she’s the boss (of her own cage) sometimes its hard to teach her to get along with others. Usually I keep my juniors co-habitating, if show rabbits, and then transition those not going on to show right into the colony. They don’t know any other way to be.
That said, I did a recent experiment and introduced a 3-year old Grand Champion retired show winner and barren doe. I really love her but need the show cage space. She took a hit to her pride and comfort level having so many rabbits around – for about a week or two she hung back on her own, and seemed a little distressed, so I gave her extra love. Now, she’s just part of the pack. By nature these rabbits are community dwelling creatures.
Note: I do not recommend releasing adult rabbits into small enclosures – they can be brutal when fighting. We have an enormous pasture here, plenty of room to get away and adjust.
Once they’re used to community lifestyle they don’t forget. We take pregnant does out and put them back after a couple months at weaning time. However, when removing a doe, the pecking order does get altered, and that doe will lose her place. There are often fights right after removing the doe if she was #1 or #2 as the other does will vie for dominance. This is normal.
The one drawback to colony living is any does at the bottom rungs will abandon their litters unless you remove them into rearing cages shortly after pregnancy. The dominant does I will sometimes let brood under ground as is their preference.
So you see, its really not that hard! You just need enough room so they don’t feel they’re competing for space.