Can you tell what this is? It’s a seemingly innocent piece of old wood with a few holes in it. It looks like the holes maybe rotted through from age but that is not the case, nor is this very innocent. This is the floor of Purina’s cage, and these are the holes she has dug and chewed into it.
Now I’ve always known that Purina is more of a digger than the other bunnies. She has tried to dig out of the rabbit tractors. She is always tossing about her hay no matter what I do and digging through it. It’s not a fiber issue, since her cage was filled with the flakes of wood she ripped off. She gets all manner of woody things to eat; tough sow thistle stems, woody wild carrot roots, branches from our rose and mulberry bushes… The cages are filled with lots of long strand hay as well. She probably gets about half her diet from high-fiber sources for an average of some 25% fiber in her total diet. That’s more than a lot of bunnies get. She just likes to dig. And dig. And dig. And dig.
The positioning of the holes (along the cage divider wall) is in line with this. Although there are a few other areas she’s flaked some of the OSB away from, this particular spot is obviously the worst and it’s positioning is in-line with what I know of rabbit burrowing instincts. Purina was just recently bred (and those holes weren’t there when I went to breed her last week) so now she feels the need to dig a burrow. A long, deep burrow, close to a sheltering point (like a wall), to house her young in.
We’re not really sure how to fix this. These holes are pretty big and they’re in the worst possible spot. There’s no way to just “replace” the floor. That would require removing the wire, the door structure, the middle barrier wall and the neighboring cage floor. Putting in a patch would be nearly as difficult. Putting wire OVER the wood (best of both worlds?) would be nearly impossible to clean.
It may be that we switch Purina’s cage to a wire floor, much to our regret. If it’s the only way to keep her from burrowing out, so be it.
In the meantime, here’s some pictures of the chickens! It’s been a month and the chickens are on the small size by a lot. They should be 3lbs but they are 2lbs instead. Not sure what happened there, but they have feathered out extremely well. From here on out they should be gaining 1lb each week until butcher. By nine weeks they should, in theory, be 10lbs. I don’t think that will be the case. I think they will be 7-8lbs and we will butcher at 10 weeks. Hopefully they will not be crowing by then!