By Laurie Stroupe
We installed a misting system inside the barn this summer. Several people have asked how I like it. The truth is that I love it and I hate it.
I don’t have to worry about the rabbits getting too hot.
I love it because it makes the barn very comfortable, even when the temperature outside is 99 degrees. On the hottest day of the year, I was able to stay in the barn during the middle of the day as long as I pleased without overheating. I didn’t have to worry about any of my rabbits getting too hot. I didn’t need any ice, nor did I have to run back and forth all day, worried that I’d find a dead or dying bunny.
I hate it because everything is wet. I am most concerned about rabbits getting wet. We have put up some plastic sheets above the end cages to reduce the water flow on those bunnies. I don’t think we have our system quite ironed out yet, but we’ve improved things dramatically. The first day we tried it, I had some rabbits that looked like drowned rats. It didn’t seem to bother them, given the extreme heat, but they looked awful.
The “mist” seems to be more like a shower. We have tried changing the level of pressure on our regulator and still nothing comes out like a fine mist, unfortunately.
The floor to the barn is fairly wet on the days we’ve used the misters. That’s not a huge problem since there is a gravel floor. But where mud has built up over the gravel, things can get a little slippery.
Wet feed and hay is a concern.
My biggest concern, besides wet bunnies, is wet feed and hay. I really fear mold and mildew growing on their feed and causing its own problems.
I have changed my feeding schedule so that I feed my buns later in the day once the mister system has been turned off. On really hot days, few rabbits are eating during the day anyway. By doing that, I can dry out feeders and make sure that the bulk of their feeding takes place in relatively dry circumstances. I do have to discard any leftover feed the next day because I do not want to risk damp feed causing a problem.
I have also reduced my hay allotment to make sure they finish it before the mister must be turned on the next day.
Another concern is how the mister will affect my newborn kits. Luckily, we’ve hit a relatively cool spell since my newest babies were born, but it’s likely to get hot again before they graduate from the nest box. I did move them all to cages further away from the misting nozzles. We’ll see if it helps.
The mister is also a problem with my fans. I did purchase one completely sealed barn fan this year. It’s wall-mounted and I love it. But it was pretty expensive. I plan to add at least one more next year. I also purchased a huge floor barn fan and was disappointed to realize that it is not sealed. So I’ve had to move it away from the misters and right in the middle of my center aisle. It’s a real pill to have it there. Like most rabbitries, I do not have a lot of spare room for walking around. Having to move the large fan and my three smaller floor fans away from the misters has caused a problem. I hope to solve it sometime during the next year by building a shelter outside of the main window for the large fan. That way, it can blow air through the mist without getting wet. It will also free up the floor space that I value so much. And, once I’ve replaced two of my floor fans with wall-mounted, sealed fans, I should be one happy camper again.