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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dealing with the Heat Wave

It's hot here in the South- it's hot all over the country right now.  In my little corner of North Carolina, we hit 104 yesterday.  Yeah.

My barn has had many modifications made since last year.  I put in a quality insulation, I reduced the number of rabbits and cages I maintain.  I also have the better AC and I blocked my windows to keep the sun from shining in and heating up the barn.

Some people don't have AC. So what can you do to help keep your rabbits cool?

Fresh, cool water.  They can't be without water in this heat.  Make sure it's fresh and cool.  You can even put ice in the bottles for longer relief.  I bought a little tube-shaped ice maker- you fill it up with water, stick it in the freezer and you get 24 round sticks of ice that fit perfectly in the bottles.  That really helps cool off the bottles.

Frozen Tiles/Frozen water bottles.  If you have the space, I like to keep one set of water bottles freezing and one set of frozen ceramic tiles at any point in time.  The tiles take up less space, so they are great for those with little freezer room. It gives the rabbits something to lay on or near to cool off and some even lick the frozen items.

Frozen Banana/Carrot.  These frozen treats help cool them down and put moisture in to the bunnies.  It can get so hot they don't want to drink, but they love their treats! I freeze the bananas whole then cut an inch hunk out of them, peel and all.  (Yes, this was a tidbit I submitted to the  NJWRC newsletter, so it may sound familiar). 

Spray them with a hose.  This will make their wool or fur kinky.  What's worse- extra grooming or dead bunnies?  That's what I thought.  Don't be afraid to soak them.

Cut down the wool.  Same situation as with the hose- you won't be able to show them a while, but don't be afraid to shave those wooled breeds down because of that.

Ice the ears.  If anyone seems to be particularly struggling, rub ice on their ears.  Rabbits use their ears for circulation, cooling the ears down cools down the rabbit.

Remove excess hair from nestboxes.  If it's really hot and your does are generous pullers, don't be afraid to take the largest part of the hair out.  You do have to worry about the littles overheating.

Bags of ice in front of any fans you have can really help cool the temps down.  However, with fans there is always a risk of fire unless the motors are totally enclosed. Make sure to keep them clean!

Bring them in.  If push comes to shove, bring your rabbits in the house with you. You can return them to the barn at nights when it cools down (as long as your house isn't kept too cool).  I've gone this route before and it's a pain, but it's worth it.

Good luck to everyone! I've read about too many losses already, my thoughts are with everyone!



Jessica said...

I have a couple other suggestions if you don't mind :) For those that do not live in areas with high humidity, evap/swamp coolers are awesome. They are cheap to run, like 1/4 the cost of an a/c, and you can leave windows cracked, doors cracks, etc so if the electricity goes out for some reason, you still have ventilation. I freeze ice to put in the cooler where the water goes. I made a custom ice tray that fits and allows plenty of room to still have water flow. I only find this necessary to use on days when we reach triple digits. My barn was put in a shady area and is insulated with a cooler that says it's for a 1500 sq foot house. My barn is 26x8 - which is less then 300 sq feet. It stays about 25*-30* cooler then outside, depending on humidity. I do have friends that have outside barns. They soack burlap bags in ice water and lay them over the cages with a commerical fan blowing down the center. I know other people with misters and with fans that have misters attached which work in areas with dryer heat that keep outside barns. I also suggest leaving them alone. The more you mess with them, the hotter they will get. Wait until after the sun goes down or do grooming and such early in the morning. We keep our a/c set at 76. Usually, the barn is cooler.

Keep said...

Oh no, I'm glad to see more suggestions :). Unfortunately my area has high humidity, so I tend to not even think about things like swamp coolers!