Feeders & Water Crocks
by Debbie Vigue
We have used several different types of feeders and are pleased with the present setup. At one time we used the metal screen feeders that attach to the cage without having to cut the wire. What I didn't like about them had partly to do with the larger head structure of the Holland Lop. In all fairness, this was before the larger "lop size" feeders were on the market. Some of the more piggish bunnies were getting a line of fur cut off above their nose from pushing their faces into the feeder. This can be unattractive and distracting on show animals' heads. Another disadvantage was the feeders were hard to disinfect. We feed striped sunflower seeds and not all the animal eat the hulls. The discarded hulls would become stuck in the wire screen, often in an upright position. This necessitated scooping out the hulls daily. If we didn't, eating was not a very comfortable proposition for eager lips and sniffing noses. Also, during rainy or humid weather, the feeders would feel slimy and sweaty.
Another type of feeder used were plastic dog dishes. These were easier to keep clean, disinfect and moveable from cage to cage. Disadvantage was life span of dishes being somewhat short.
What we use now are heavy-duty impact resistant plastic lipped crocks. Few animals chew on them and they are easy to clean. They cost more than plastic dog dishes but last longer. Pay now or pay later. We use the metal ring holders. These are not cheap either but save grain and water from being spilled. This in turn keeps drop pans cleaner, lighter and increases their life span. We hog ring them to the wire near the door.
The junior Holland Lops and bucks get the 6 inch crocks. The brood does get an 8 inch crock for water and a 6 inch crock for grain. When babies are eating too, a plastic dog dish with grain is placed in the middle of the cage, so everyone can belly up to the bar, er, crock.
It never occurred to us that crock color was important, just cosmetic. Until we started using them! For water, the lighter colored tan crocks are best. It is easier to see that they are algae free and not fouled. Feed crocks can be either the rust or brown colored one. You can even label the crocks with each bunnies' name.
Economically, buying in quantity is cheaper, usually by the dozen. But if you don't have enough money to replace all feeders/dishes at once, do it little by little. Use those show pay back checks or sell a couple of pets and buy a few at a time. Because of their longevity, you'll seldom, if ever, have to replace them.
Before the heated barn, we used metal dog dishes for water. During cold months warm water could be poured over the back which made the ice pop out easily. These are expensive to buy, but virtually indestructible.
Except for breakage, ceramic crocks work well and are easy to clean. They are heavy so rabbits seldom tip them over.
We use water bottles only at shows. We can easily monitor how much an animal is drinking, the water remains clean and no water dish means more carrier floor space for bun to relax in. Our rabbits receive fresh water twice a day. Some breeders using water bottles don't give their animal enough fresh water. They add fresh water to the stale water and allow algae to build up on the inside of the bottle. In the Northeast wintertime makes the water bottles seasonal at best. Also, a doe and litter consume a fair amount of water. Having a water dish allows more animals to drink at once. A thirsty bunny isn't pushed out of the way by sibling rivalry or piggy-mom. If you use water bottles, verify they are working properly frequently. At shows I've thought an animal wasn't drinking well but upon further investigation discovered the metal ball was stuck not allowing water through.
We've never used hay racks. We feed hay daily by placing it directly on the cage floor. It is probably not as sanitary as a hay rack, but neither is the rabbit getting hay chafe in his eyes by tugging it out of a feeder.
I hope this article will make you aware of the many rabbit keeping equipment options available out there.
HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002