Water is life. It is wrong to assume that rabbits obtain sufficient water from their green food.
- Rabbits consume a surprising amount of water and it is important that this is readily available.
- Rabbits need plenty of fresh and pure water.
- They should have free access to it.
- Without regular water supply, your rabbits can never have a fast growth rate.
This contributes to failure of many farmers.
There are two system of serving water to rabbits, namely;
- Open Drinker System and
- Automatic Watering System (Nipple System).
Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. There is no perfect system in life! As at today, in Bella Rabbits World, we use Open Drinker System with the use of Concrete Drinkers.
Open drinkers can easily get contaminated and lead to cocci and other diseases. It is more stressful to manage but it is cheaper and gives room for flexibility when there is need to administer drugs in water for a particular set of rabbits. It also helps farm managers to know if a particular rabbit is drinking water or not.
In fact, one of the signs that a good rabbit farmer is expected to observe when a particular rabbit is sick, is avoidance of water. This helps in timely intervention to ensure that the rabbit is taken care of before it becomes too late. Farmer needs to ensure that the water bowl is strong and relatively heavy to avoid being overturned in each cage and fill the bowl with water twice a day depending on water the farmer feeds his or her rabbits.
The water bowls should be scrubbed at least once in 3days to prevent algae growing. Water that the farmer cannot drink should not be given to rabbits. This last simple sentence should not be compromised. It was mentioned by the the CEO of Bella Rabbits World (Mr Samson):
I always use tank water in Bella Farm to drink Garri. My Business Director used to laugh at me whenever I do that. He used to perceive it as humility and risk taking until I told him the reason for my action. Water that I cannot drink, should not be given to my rabbits.
On the other hand, Automatic Watering System is more expensive, but it saves time of farmers, the rabbits always have water , they learn very quickly how to use it. It saves the farmer the headache and stress of managing the farm. Usage of automatic drinker is not very flexible when administering drugs.
Another disadvantage is that many farms’ automatic drinkers are not flexible in adjustment or let me put it this way; many farmers don’t know that a good automatic drinker should be adjustable in height to enable young rabbits that just left nesting box to get access to water immediately when they start taking solid food.
Some users of this system observe that they don’t experience impressive weight gain at 3weeks because the rabbit has started eating solid food but no access to water.
In some cases, farmers ignorantly kill their kits and come online for experienced farmers to guess root cause(s). This contributes greatly to high mortality in some farms.
Kudos to poultry farmers, they know that once chicken gets no access to water from automatic drinker, their death is inevitable. They pay attention to drinkers to ensure that water drips when touched. They also adjust it when the chickens are very young. It shouldn’t be permanently fixed but few rabbit Engineers know this important fact.
I implore all users of this system to check their drinkers regularly and ensure that kits get access to it immediately they start eating solid food to prevent high mortality.
Regardless of its disadvantages, with a very larger number of rabbits and few staff, an automatic watering system should be installed. It saves labor and eliminates contamination of water.
As I said earlier, no perfect system! Farmers should go for what they feel comfortable with. According to Bella Rabbits World of today,
we prefer open drinker but when we move to our permanent farm, we will consider both drinking systems.
Some farmers also supplement automatic drinker with open drinker in a nursing cage in order to ensure regular availability of water. User of open drinkers should also be very careful when kits are getting out of box to avoid them drowning inside the open drinker container.
In Bella Rabbits World,
we change it to a flat drinker to ensure safety and easy access of kits to water. This helps us to get fast weight gain. Water is very key. In fact, water is life!!!!
There are many factors that determine water consumption in a rabbit farm, namely; weather, condition and age of rabbits, moisture content of feeds, nature of grasses etc.
The amount of water consumed varies with age of rabbits, type of ration, season, and stage of production. During warm weather, a doe and her kits will drink about 1-2 liters in 24 hours but eat less. In cold weather, rabbits eat more feed and, as a consequence, increase their water intake.
A feed that has high moisture content reduces water consumption but when feed content is very dry, they drink more water.
This can be observed from a feed with dried cassava peels or very dried maize, hay, dried cocoyam peels etc, they drink more water when placed on such feeds.
A rabbit that eats pellets drinks more water because if you take 100kg mash for pelletizing and drying, you may not get more than 95kg after being pelletized because the water/moisture content has reduced drastically during drying process.
This is one of the reasons for relatively higher growth rate in pellets than mash because they drink more with pellets.