By Laurie Stroupe
It may be a toss-up as to whether I like being a rabbit breeder less in January/February or in July/August. First, I have to say that a bad day with bunnies is better than a good day doing most anything else. But since summer is upon us, I’m leaning toward saying that I dislike July and August the most.
The most obvious reason, of course, is the heat. I didn’t make it out to the barn today until noon. It was really uncomfortable there. We live just against a mountain range and I know it is cooler here than in many places right now, but it is still hot.
Andrew placed a sprinkler on top of the barn to help cool it. Our cold well water helps take away some of the heat, and the mist through the windows feels good.
I turned the sprinkler on earlier today when it was very hot. Then we got a tremendous downpour of rain. I mean buckets of rain. I wasn’t too happy when Andrew looked out through the pouring rain to see the sprinkler on. So, I dashed through the waterfall and turned it off. I was soaked to the skin.
The rain stopped completely ten minutes later. Within twenty minutes, the sky was blue. I, however, was still wet.
My barn is designed with three aisles. The first two, in the main part of the barn, were built with opposing windows. There is a 20″ barn fan on each aisle which makes life there livable for the bunnies. The third aisle is in the overhang. It has a fan and just one window, on the north side. I thought it was clever to build a solid wall on the south end of the aisle so that I would have a place to put my feed can out of the sunshine. Yes, I made that decision in the winter.
What I did was create a pocket of very hot air that has no place to escape. So Andrew and I are planning to put in a window as soon as we are able, but in the meantime, I had to buy a fourth fan for the barn. As soon as I put it in the barn today, it started to rain very hard (the second time today) and I had to unplug it five minutes later. Of course.
Lord of the Flies
The second reason I like summer least is flies. Biting flies. House flies. Strange tiny flies. Big ugly flies. I hate them.
I’ve tried lots of things to catch flies in the barn, but nothing works better than using the fly swatter once a day and keeping fresh fly ribbons hung up.
Of course, keeping the manure emptied is the most important thing.
A Different Fly Tactic
I’m going to be trying something new to me for flies. My long-time breeder friend Linda Norris suggested Sweet PDZ. I bought three 40# bags at Southern States today (Tractor Supply did not have it). It was $9.99 per bag. A young lady who works at Tractor Supply says she uses Sweet PDZ with her horses and it’s great. She uses it right in the stall. It is not a pesticide, but it should keep flies reproduction down.
My final reason to dislike July and August is all about breeding. I’ve had 50 babies born in the last eight weeks. I’m not likely to have half that many in the next. Those does give me that “it’s too hot to breed and who wants to be pregnant in August anyway” look. And then, if you do manage to get those does bred, you find out 31 days later that you buck is temporarily infertile from summer heat. It’s total frustration.
Yes, I’m already looking forward to the cool breezes, easier breeding and lower fly count of fall.