The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Other => Rabbits => Topic started by: Orinlooper on December 31, 2020, 08:28:47 pm

Title: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Orinlooper on December 31, 2020, 08:28:47 pm
Instead of keeping rabbits in hutches Iím wondering about starting a colony in the wild and just leave them get on with it.

What are the chances they will thrive in the wild so I can just occasionally catch one or two for meat?

I donít have any crops that I would be unhappy about them having, we do have some fruit and nut trees and lots of blackberries but they would be welcome to them.

Apparently there used to be rabbits all over these parts according to an old nieghbour who lived here for decades.

I wonder why they are so few and far between these days?
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 31, 2020, 08:36:25 pm


I wonder why they are so few and far between these days?

1.  Myxomatosis
2.  Ban on fox hunting, so more foxes eating more rabbits
3.  (maybe) other rabbit control measures - shooting, ferreting, etc
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Scarlet.Dragon on January 01, 2021, 12:22:12 am
The big ones are:
1) VHD/VHD2 and
2) More raptors such as buzzards, eagles and kites that pick them off.

Not sure how humane it would be to buy domesticated rabbits and 'abandon' them to the wild, but there's no reason you couldn't fence a relatively extensive area, provide some shelter along with the routine husbandry within it and manage them that way.  I think that's how some of the farm parks operate based on what I've seen.
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Orinlooper on January 01, 2021, 08:34:06 am
The big ones are:
1) VHD/VHD2 and
2) More raptors such as buzzards, eagles and kites that pick them off.

Not sure how humane it would be to buy domesticated rabbits and 'abandon' them to the wild, but there's no reason you couldn't fence a relatively extensive area, provide some shelter along with the routine husbandry within it and manage them that way.  I think that's how some of the farm parks operate based on what I've seen.


There are rabbits wild close to my land

Iím thinking about catching a few and trying to start a colony on my land

Not really fencing them in just encouraging them to thrive in numbers

I have found what I thought to be rabbit holes on my land but never seen any actual rabbits

Maybe itís badgers or something else?
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: landroverroy on January 01, 2021, 12:13:33 pm
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"There are rabbits wild close to my land

Iím thinking about catching a few and trying to start a colony on my land

Not really fencing them in just encouraging them to thrive in numbers

I have found what I thought to be rabbit holes on my land but never seen any actual rabbits

Maybe itís badgers or something else?"
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As a landowner whose land is constantly undermined with rabbit burrows, the thought of a neighbour "Not really fencing them in just encouraging them to thrive in numbers". fills me with horror.


In my experience, rabbits don't need encouraging to thrive, and appear to be second only to rats (in the mammal world)  in their success at thriving.
If you really fancy some free rabbit meat then put an ad on facebook or somewhere locally - advertising your free services in rabbit eradication. I have several people who come on my land with ferrets or shooting. (They always message me when they are coming so I know who's about)


But if you really fancy producing your own rabbits for your own consumption then for heavens sake fence them in securely on your own land. To do otherwise would seem to be somewhat antisocial and not in any way improve your standing with your neighbours.   

Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Orinlooper on January 04, 2021, 08:09:42 am
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"There are rabbits wild close to my land

Iím thinking about catching a few and trying to start a colony on my land

Not really fencing them in just encouraging them to thrive in numbers

I have found what I thought to be rabbit holes on my land but never seen any actual rabbits

Maybe itís badgers or something else?"
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           -----------



As a landowner whose land is constantly undermined with rabbit burrows, the thought of a neighbour "Not really fencing them in just encouraging them to thrive in numbers". fills me with horror.


In my experience, rabbits don't need encouraging to thrive, and appear to be second only to rats (in the mammal world)  in their success at thriving.
If you really fancy some free rabbit meat then put an ad on facebook or somewhere locally - advertising your free services in rabbit eradication. I have several people who come on my land with ferrets or shooting. (They always message me when they are coming so I know who's about)


But if you really fancy producing your own rabbits for your own consumption then for heavens sake fence them in securely on your own land. To do otherwise would seem to be somewhat antisocial and not in any way improve your standing with your neighbours.   



I know some say they are like rats and hard to eradicate

But others say they used to see rabbits everywhere but now they are decreasing in numbers but to predators etc

Iím wondering about making a very large netted area for protection from predators and starting a rabbit colony that will look after themselves and eventually tunnels will spread out beyond the netted encampment

I just want to catch the odd one here and there for broths etc but never too much that the numbers reduced significantly
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 04, 2021, 10:07:16 am

Iím wondering about making a very large netted area for protection from predators and starting a rabbit colony that will look after themselves and eventually tunnels will spread out beyond the netted encampment



You are not listening, @Orinlooper.  Letting rabbits spread onto your neighbours' land is antisocial. 

But if you dig your fencing in deep enough that tunnels will not spread out beyond the netted enclosure, and you keep the fencing in good order, then it sounds great. 
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: landroverroy on January 04, 2021, 11:43:44 am


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 >>>> Orinlooper:  "I know some say they are like rats and hard to eradicate

But others say they used to see rabbits everywhere but now they are decreasing in numbers but to predators etc

Iím wondering about making a very large netted area for protection from predators and starting a rabbit colony that will look after themselves and eventually tunnels will spread out beyond the netted encampment

I just want to catch the odd one here and there for broths etc but never too much that the numbers reduced significantly"  end quote. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>


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Orinlooper - presumably you are planning to keep the rabbits on this 2 acres or so of rough, bramble infested land that you own that is situated a while away from where you live?
Forgive me but this sounds like another of your beliefs that you can keep animals with minimum effort for your convenience as and when you care to visit them. :thinking:
I must point out the realities here, and why practically it won't work.
1. To clear the brambles to the extent that you can securely net the area - ie bury the ends of the net to stop the rabbits escaping would take far more time and effort that you would be willing to put into it. (I've read your previous posts and realise that sustained effort towards achieving a worthwhile and successful goal is not your thing! :innocent: ) Therefore the rabbits will escape or be eaten by the fox.
 2. You clearly have no idea how fast rabbits breed. One pair alone can have produced more than 100 offspring in a year. in the event that you exceeded my low expectations and managed to keep all these rabbits in, how long do you think your 2 acres of land would last to feed the ever growing population?
 3. I believe your intention of keeping low input animals is so you don't have to check on them every day? You cannot  just leave them to "look after themselves". What if some get trapped by the netting or the brambles, or their water has been drunk/tipped up and you're not visiting them for another few days/week? Did you know that a 5lb rabbit can drink as much water as a 24lb dog?  Animals need attention. They are living feeling beings and not there just for our convenience as and when we care to check them.
 4. I see the master plan is that "eventually the tunnels will spread out beyond the netted encampment". So you're still not listening. You're still planning to let this host of rabbits expand to your neighbours land. ??? ??? ???


And all this for the "odd ones for broth etc"
Come on Orinlooper - get real!!
I'm just so glad I'm not one of your neighbours  :relief: :relief:
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Womble on January 04, 2021, 12:21:08 pm
@Orinlooper - We were thinking about something similar recently - did you see this thread on 'warrening' (https://www.accidentalsmallholder.net/forum/index.php?topic=111060.0)?


In the end, I've come to the conclusion that it would be better to have a more managed system for keeping rabbits, and we may still do that. One thought is that since we need to build a permanent poultry run for future bird flu outbreaks, we could combine that with a rabbit hutch and run system. Usually the birds would free range and the rabbits would have the run, but then if bird flu restrictions are announced, the rabbits would get confined to barracks, to allow the hens to have the run.


Overall though, I'm sure it would be more effort than just finding somewhere with a rabbit problem and getting shooting permission.
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Backinwellies on January 04, 2021, 04:29:54 pm
Orinlooper these is a code of practise for keeping rabbits too ... https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2017-11/rabbit-welfare-code-of-practice-summary.pdf

this applies to you if you fence in rabbits ....  you could be prosicuted if you are found not to be caring for them.

Please if you want 'one or two for broths'  .... why not just trap  a wild one when you need it? ... in legal ways obviously. 

This site is for smallholders who work VERY hard to keep their smallholdings going ... and really care for their animals, whatever they are.   Is this you?????
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: arobwk on January 04, 2021, 08:59:23 pm
To add my 4 pennies' worth: 
Wild/free-range rabbits will not eradicate brambles (ref other thread):  like Brer Rabbit, they will simply use any bramble patches to help protect themselves from predators !  So, encouraging rabbits to set up home on oneís land in order to occasionally to take one or two for the pot is a potty idea:  so much better to get ones-self a ferret or two and some nets to take an occasional rabbit from someone elseís land (and, as suggested by others, potentially get paid for the privilege !?).
If Orinlooper wants to control his brambles with minimum routine input, then, the best solution would indeed be a mechanical one.

[Noting landroverroy's comment about rabbits' water consumption: I am wondering where the wild rabbits on my patch get their water from - they are not getting it from me !!]
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: macgro7 on January 04, 2021, 10:39:16 pm
Wild rabbits are much smaller than domestic (meat) rabbits and dont ever eat dry hay, therefore its enough for them to eat grass with dew in the early morning - thats when you see most of them.
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Orinlooper on January 10, 2021, 11:36:34 am

Iím wondering about making a very large netted area for protection from predators and starting a rabbit colony that will look after themselves and eventually tunnels will spread out beyond the netted encampment



You are not listening, @Orinlooper.  Letting rabbits spread onto your neighbours' land is antisocial. 

But if you dig your fencing in deep enough that tunnels will not spread out beyond the netted enclosure, and you keep the fencing in good order, then it sounds great.

My land is surrounded by waste land that full of rabbits

We often see them early morning

Some colonies on our land but some outside

What we want to do is introduce some large breeds to assimilate with the wild ones already there
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Backinwellies on January 11, 2021, 07:46:24 am

My land is surrounded by waste land that full of rabbits

We often see them early morning

Some colonies on our land but some outside

What we want to do is introduce some large breeds to assimilate with the wild ones already there

not sure how legal releasing domestic animals into the wild is.     
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: macgro7 on January 11, 2021, 10:47:32 am

Iím wondering about making a very large netted area for protection from predators and starting a rabbit colony that will look after themselves and eventually tunnels will spread out beyond the netted encampment



You are not listening, @Orinlooper.  Letting rabbits spread onto your neighbours' land is antisocial. 

But if you dig your fencing in deep enough that tunnels will not spread out beyond the netted enclosure, and you keep the fencing in good order, then it sounds great.

My land is surrounded by waste land that full of rabbits

We often see them early morning

Some colonies on our land but some outside

What we want to do is introduce some large breeds to assimilate with the wild ones already there
They wouldn't survive in wild. Unless lmyou live on a tiny island with no foxes and plenty of food and water for them
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: GBov on January 12, 2021, 07:11:14 pm
If you already have wild rabbits living locally and want them to move into your land why not just plant a few rows of forage plants to encourage them to set up housekeeping on your land?

As they are already local but not on your land then your land is lacking in what they want.  Even if you caught and moved them in they would just bugger off as soon as possible.

Turning loose domestic rabbits - despite their wild origins - is a viciously cruel thing to do.  They have no resistance to any parasite or disease, and have no idea what is, and is not, dangerous to them.

Any that survive the learning curve will simply breed right back to their origins so encouraging the wild ones onto your land will save much misery.

Or go to your local butchers in the Autumn and buy some and pop them into the freezer.  Easy peasy and very cheap.
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Terry T on January 14, 2021, 12:12:35 pm
I believe there is a legal requirement to manage wild rabbits on your land because of the damage they can cause to neighbouring land. Might be worth looking into?
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: landroverroy on January 15, 2021, 02:37:22 pm
Maybe it's just me being uncharitable, :thinking: but I can't help thinking we're all being taken for a ride here. :innocent:
First of all Orinlooper says rabbits are few and far between. Then he says there's plenty roundabout. He asks about keeping animals that require least effort, to keep on a bit of land that's a bit away from his house and that he wouldn't need to check each day. (That went down well. ;D )
Next bright idea  :idea:  is to fence in the whole of his land and let them breed. Just to get one or 2 for the pot! This post does not have even the sllghtest hint of realism to me. Can you honestly see the person who wants to keep animals that require no attention actually being bothered to catch the rabbits, let alone kill them, skin them and finally "make broth" out of them? It would seem that even opening a tin of rabbit soup would require an extreme effort. 


I just get the impression we have here a benevolent troll who is just seeing how far he can string us all along. :excited:
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Steph Hen on January 15, 2021, 06:58:15 pm
Not read all the posts, but I did mention crossing our wild rabbits with a big meat breed buck and he about had a fit. I was joking, I think.
I used to walk through some fields on the edge of Stirling. They had clearly had pet rabbit genetics mixed in. I know you always get the odd black one in the wild but these were all different colours and shapes and pattens mixed in with wild types.  There were all the typical natural predators but bunnies seemed to do alright for a couple of years. Then mixi flared up and just wild type present in more recent years.

I donít think thereís much point in changing the genetics, just do what you can to conserve the wildlife you like/want. Some people like song birds and go to lengths to feed them, plant fruit bushes, hedges and put up nest boxes, shoot crows and magpies, etc. If you want more bunnies have a read or watch your land. Work out what you have (camera trap, trap, track,) find out what the constraints are and consider making scarecrows to put off foxes, maybe provide winter hay, etc. Maybe think about growing crops like brassicas and only give them access in the winter when theyíd otherwise be short of food, etc.  They say to hit them hardest in winter, out of breeding season to control numbers, so to get more you probably want to provide them safety and food in the cold months. If you build it they will likely multiply! (Until mixi or one of the other unspellable diseases kills the lot!). You said you dont have any neighbours whoíll mind which is good, this would be completely unacceptable for the majority of country folk!
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: arobwk on January 15, 2021, 09:41:00 pm
I once found a pretty, small, dead, but otherwise (!) healthy-looking rabbit on my land: very attractive solid caramel colour with white underside and blackish points.  (I would buy one if I was looking for a pet rabbit.)  I probably disturbed it's predator and I left it where found: it was gone the next day.  I've not seen another like it (or slightly like it), dead or alive:  the live rabbits I do see fairly frequently are all of the very standard "wild" colour. 

(Not sure what that adds to the thread, but perhaps it supports the idea that domestic and/or wild crosses do not fair that well in a free-range situation !?)
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: GBov on January 25, 2021, 06:27:28 pm
All domestic rabbits come from the wild European rabbit.  The genetics are the same, natural selection drives color and size in the wild, people do it in the domestic rabbit.

landroverroy I think you may be right about trolling but any excuse to talk about rabbits, eh? :innocent:
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: landroverroy on January 25, 2021, 09:25:14 pm
All domestic rabbits come from the wild European rabbit.  The genetics are the same, natural selection drives color and size in the wild, people do it in the domestic rabbit.

landroverroy I think you may be right about trolling but any excuse to talk about rabbits, eh? :innocent:


Why not? :excited: :sunshine:
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: GBov on January 26, 2021, 01:47:14 am
All domestic rabbits come from the wild European rabbit.  The genetics are the same, natural selection drives color and size in the wild, people do it in the domestic rabbit.

landroverroy I think you may be right about trolling but any excuse to talk about rabbits, eh? :innocent:


Why not? :excited: :sunshine:

Mum wants to get me a mug that says WARNING!!! This Person Talks About RABBITS!
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: Steph Hen on February 02, 2021, 10:27:18 pm
All domestic rabbits come from the wild European rabbit.  The genetics are the same, natural selection drives color and size in the wild, people do it in the domestic rabbit.

landroverroy I think you may be right about trolling but any excuse to talk about rabbits, eh? :innocent:

The ancestors are the same, the genetics are not. Natural or human driven selection has driven the changes in genetics of the different populations/breeds. They are the same species but cannot be said to have the same genetics. :coat: sorry
Title: Re: Want to start wild rabbit on my smallholding ?
Post by: GBov on February 09, 2021, 04:29:35 pm
All domestic rabbits come from the wild European rabbit.  The genetics are the same, natural selection drives color and size in the wild, people do it in the domestic rabbit.

landroverroy I think you may be right about trolling but any excuse to talk about rabbits, eh? :innocent:

The ancestors are the same, the genetics are not. Natural or human driven selection has driven the changes in genetics of the different populations/breeds. They are the same species but cannot be said to have the same genetics. :coat: sorry

And yet they breed together and make viable offspring, yes?

Like turkeys, many colors, will breed to the wild population, and yet people go mental when it happens because of the different genetics.  Genetics that started with the parent population.

Human selection favors mutations.

I won't argue that domestic rabbits have different genetics than their wild ancestors because people have worked hard at that but in a situation that mixes both domestic and wild rabbits all of them will eventually, and not take very long, LOOK like wild rabbits.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck!

In a different situation where domestic rabbits are allowed to be feral, all the different colors will still be seen but chestnut/brown will slowly gain over time.  Chestnut will gain faster if there is an active predator population and no one is adding new ex-pet rabbits to the mix.

I know several people who know lots about genetics (like, melt my brain trying to follow them) but I know just enough to, mostly, get the color/temperment I am breeding for.  And when I fail, all rabbits are made of meat! lol