Raising meat rabbits through an Arizona Summer is not an easy task. It is important to have an easy set up to keep rabbit raising simple, and enjoyable. This post goes a little bit deeper into the importance of keeping your rabbits cool in the brutal heat. Rabbits like cool weather, and can easily overheat. Here are my 5 best tips to keep your rabbits cool through the Summer.
Raising Meat Rabbits Through an Arizona Summer
Plan Your Breeding Schedule
We stop breeding our rabbits in April, so they have the Summer off from raising litters. If you live where it gets very cold in the Winter, you will probably do the opposite. The one time we tried to raise a Summer litter we lost them all, including mom, to heat exhaustion. It was devastating. If you live in an area that gets above 100 degrees, plan your breeding so the does do not have kits in with them during that time of year. Give them a break, they deserve it.
Look around your yard in the afternoon of a hot Summer day. What area has shade? More importantly, is there an area that has shade under a tree vs shade from a wall or building? If you have an area that is on grass and under a tree, bingo! That is where you want to set up your rabbits. If you don’t have a tree to put them under, plant some. There is a dramatic difference between being in the shade of a tree and a shade structure. Up against a wall or building will stop the flow of air, and will radiate heat. I’ll say it again, you want your rabbit cages to be in the shade of a tree all afternoon during the Summer!
Second to having great shade, a swamp cooler (ours is similar to this one) has definitely impacted the comfort of our meat rabbits. We have it set up to run underneath the cages, so the rabbits aren’t in direct wind, and the cool air will raise through convection. (See picture below. On the far left is the swamp cooler. It blows the air underneath the cages, and we have the sides blocked so the cool air goes up.) The constant wind on the rabbit poop helps keep the fly population down (bonus!), and keeps the area dry so there is less smell. Swamp coolers are an initial expense, but they don’t cost very much to run, and can save you a lot of hassle.
Misters are another good way to bring the temperature down. If you have a set up on a porch, out building, barn etc misters are usually simple to set up. The down side of misters is the humidity, and rabbits do not like to be wet.
We always keep frozen bottles filled with water in the freezer during the Summer. Even with the best set up, we give the rabbits a frozen bottle every day during the hottest week of the year. It’s also good to keep them as a back up in case the swamp cooler goes out, or if a rabbit is showing symptoms of heat exhaustion. Giving the rabbits frozen bottles every day, and remembering to collect them at night is tedious work, and takes up a lot of freezer space.
Do you have more ideas? Share them in a comment below! For more information see our raising meat rabbits archives.
Dani wrote Where to Start on Your Homestead Journey to help others find their dreams, and make plans to achieve them.