|IAGARB GUIDELINES FOR STANDARDS OF GERMAN ANGORA RABBIT CAREBy Alexis Woodbury
Reprinted with permission from IAGARB: www.iagarb.com
1. Construction. Buildings or structures where German Angoras are housed should be of sound construction, weatherproof, in good condition and well-maintained to provide for the rabbits’ well-being, to keep rabbits contained, dry and clean, to provide rabbits easy access to fresh food and water and to protect them from injury, extreme weather, vermin infestation and predator attacks. Interior walls and other surfaces should be waterproof and easy to clean.
2. Ventilation. Housing should be well ventilated at all times to maintain the rabbits’ health and comfort, and to minimize drafts, odor, condensation and stagnant air. Fresh air should be provided by means of windows, doors, vents and/or exhaust fans.
3. Lighting. Ample light either by natural or artificial means should be provided.
4. Storage. Feed and bedding should be stored in containers or structures which protect perishable supplies from weather damage, mold growth, deterioration and contamination by pests and vermin.
5. Site Selection. If at all possible, housing should be placed under large shade trees or in locations that take advantage of shade and good airflow. Housing should be placed away from large areas of concrete or asphalt.
1. Construction. Cages should be constructed out of 14- gauge galvanized welded wire. Tops and sides should be constructed out of 1″ x 1″ or 1″ x 2″ wire; the bottom should be constructed out of ½” x 1″ wire. Cage parts should be secured with J-clips. Sharp edges should be filed smooth or covered with protective materials like edge facings to prevent cuts and injuries to rabbits and humans. Cage parts should be replaced before wearing out and causing injury.
2. Cage Size. German Angoras should be provided with cages that are large enough and tall enough to accommodate the rabbit’s normal activity level, behavior, size and allow for freedom of movement. German Angoras should be caged individually with the exception of does with litters. Floor space is calculated by multiplying cage width by cage length and subtracting space occupied by food and water receptacles. The recommended cage size for an individual German Angora rabbit weighing 5 ½ to 12 pounds (2.5 to 5.5 kgs.) is 30″ deep by 36″ long by 24″ high or 24″ deep by 48″ long by 24″ high (a minimum of 7.5 square feet not including space occupied by food and water dishes). The recommended cage size for a German Angora doe with a litter is 30″ deep by 48″ long by 24″ high (a minimum of 10 square feet not including space occupied by food and water dishes).
1. Feed receptacles. Acceptable receptacles include crocks, J-feeders or pet dishes that have smooth edges, are easy to clean and show no signs of rust or cracking.
2. Water receptacles. Acceptable receptacles include crocks, plastic or glass bottles with drinking tubes or watering systems that don’t leak and are easy to clean.
3. Nest boxes. Nest box design and maintenance are crucial to raising healthy litters of German Angoras. A nest box should be large enough for a doe to get into, move around and build an adequate nest. Select or build a nest box to provide the doe with an extra 2 or 3 inches of space in front of, beside and behind her. Recommended dimensions for a drop nest box are 12″ wide by 18″ long by 8″ deep. Minimum recommended dimensions for a solid steel or wire in-cage nest box are 11″ wide by 18″ long by 9″ high.
1. Feed. Feeding an appropriate diet is probably one of the most important requirements for maintaining rabbit health. German Angora rabbits should be provided with a fresh, well-balanced feed of consistent quality and quantity that meets the daily requirements for their condition and size. Milling dates should be printed on feedbags. Do not purchase feed with a milling date that is more than six months old. Routine feedings at the same time every day are recommended.
2. Water. Water is the most important element in a rabbit’s diet-rabbits will not eat if they are thirsty. Clean, fresh water must be provided daily. If winter temperatures drop below freezing, provisions should be made to either keep the water thawed or provide thawed water three times throughout the day.
3. Hay. Grass hay should be included in the German Angora’s daily diet as a means of providing adequate fiber and promoting hindgut health.
4. Treats. Healthy treats can be given in moderation, but should never replace a well-balanced feed. Treats may include small amounts of apple or unsprayed apple branches, rolled oats or barley, black oil sunflower seeds or unsprayed dandelion leaves, just to name a few.
1. Primary Housing and Cages. In order to maintain rabbit health, primary housing and cages should be kept clean and reasonably free of fecal matter, hair, cobwebs and other debris. Wire cages should be washed or sanitized routinely by washing all surfaces with hot, soapy water followed by a clear-water rinse, by using a safe and effective disinfectant or with steam or flame. The rabbit should be removed from the cage when it is being sanitized. Trays, if used under the cages, should be emptied and cleaned frequently to prevent odor and waste buildup. Worm beds, if used under cages, should be maintained in a sanitary manner.
2. Food and Water Receptacles. Feeders, feed dishes and/or crocks should be washed on a regular basis to prevent molding, deterioration or caking of the feed. Water bottles or crocks also should be washed regularly to prevent algae growth and water contamination.
3. Nest Boxes. Cleanliness of the nest box should be monitored on a daily basis. Replace soiled or urine-soaked nesting materials with clean materials-one half at a time. Clean and disinfect nest boxes when litter is done with them.
4. Waste Disposal. In order to minimize odor, disease problems and vermin infestation, animal and food wastes should be removed from the rabbitry and disposed of on a regular basis. Trash accumulation should be prevented.
5. Pest Control. Effective measures for controlling insects, parasites and pests in the rabbitry should be implemented and maintained.
6. Rabbit Health Check. Rabbits should be checked daily for changes in behavior and health.
7. Shearing schedule. A shearing schedule of every 90 days is recommended for German Angoras.
1. Sunlight. When sunlight is likely to cause overheating or discomfort, shade or awnings should be provided to protect rabbits from direct sunlight.
2. Temperature Extremes. The ideal temperature range for German Angoras is 58 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. When atmospheric temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit, cooling should be provided by the use of misting or sprinkler systems, fans, ice bottles, air conditioning and/or other means. When temperatures fall below freezing, extra bedding or shelter should be provided for warmth and comfort. During temperature extremes extra care must be taken with young litters and recently shorn rabbits.
3. Rain, Snow and Wind. Rabbits should be provided with protective shelter that allows them to remain dry and clean during rain and snow. Shelter is also necessary during strong winds.
4. Protection from predators. Outdoor housing should be fenced off or enclosed to prevent entrance of predators.
5. Drainage. Drainage which rapidly eliminates excess water should be placed around the housing perimeter.
6. Shorn rabbits may require coats and supplemental heating regardless of the temperature.