Sustainable Dreams

Raising Rabbits on Wire vs. Solid Cage Floors

Housing rabbits has been a fairly controversial topic among rabbit breeders. Raising rabbits, whether for pets, show, or meat can be quite rewarding in many ways. It can also be expensive, so you want to get those costs down as much as possible, but you also want happy, comfortable animals if they are to remain healthy. This post compares the pros and cons of raising rabbits on wire floors versus raising them on solid flooring.

When I began my rabbitry a few years ago, I started with all wire cages. My first rabbits ever were New Zealand Whites, and these wire floor cages worked out very well for me. Using wire for the floors allows the waste to fall through, and your rabbit stays dry and clean. They all seemed comfortable, happy, and healthy with the wire set up. After a short time raising the NZW's, I decided to add Rex and Flemish giants to the mix. This is where I began to see problems with all wire cages.

My Rex were getting sore spots on their hocks before they were even breeding age. Rex have thinner, and shorter fur cover on their feet and hocks than any other breed. I added tile to each of their cages so they could get off the wire as needed. It help some with those sore feet, but I still found myself treating sore hocks on a regular basis.

Flemish Giants on the other hand have super furry feet and hocks, so you would think they'd be
alright on the cleaner wire floors. They were great for a while, but as they matured in size, they began getting small sores between their toes. Paying closer attention, I notice their weight was a big factor. Even though their feet and hocks were well protected by thick fur, when they moved around in the cages, their toes poked through the wire, and sometimes caused injury. I was treating little sore spots between the toes, and even had a couple giants twist their toes enough to break them because of their weight while playing or even just moving around. I had a herd of Flemish Giants and Rex that just wanted to lay around.

Lowes Cage Wire
I switched my previous wire bottoms with a better, 18 guage wire that is easier on all their feet. Still though, these upgrades weren't working good enough to leave things as is. My budget however didn't anticipate replacing all of my cages. I wish I had known these differences before hand, but now it was time to make a decision about the future of cages in my rabbitry.

Solid bottoms can get gross really fast. They need to be cleaned off a couple of times a day in order to keep your rabbits clean. For a while now, I have been making pads from banana trees for them to rest on, as well as using tiles and bin lids to cover the wire. Some of my rabbits keep their house very clean, and others are the dirtiest little creatures you've ever seen. I believe I have mostly cleaner rabbits but the few that aren't are my best rabbits. How ironic!

Brainstorming as all us frugal people are constantly doing, I thought it would be a good plan to litter train rabbits while still with their mothers. The goal is that they keep their waste in one area (this is often a behavior for them anyways)...the litter box. This would allow me to have wood floors for them, instead of all wire.

I have come up with a cage floor design that I believe may be my answer to cleanliness even with solid bottoms. Unfortunately, I have already put my resources into testing various things for the rabbits feet, that my budget will not allow me to build the new cages until after Christmas. I won't actually be building new cages, but they will all be modified with good, mostly solid floors.

Ive been to several rabbitries that have all wire cages and they say they don't have sore feet or hocks in their herds. Some say they do have issues with sore feet, but the cleanliness factor outweighs treating sore hocks. Consider that many breeders actually farm rabbits, so their are some pretty big rabbitries out there. It would be difficult for most people to clean cages like would be necessary for solid bottom cages, so they continue with wire. Where it comes to cleaning constantly...I would prefer wire, but my Rex rabbits feet say they get the best option I can bring them. After all, they work hard for us!