AccomodationBooyong Conservation RetreatCabin GardenConservationOrchardProjectsVegetable Garden

Bunnies – What are they good for?

Our guests are loving the bunnies, and I have to say the kids and I are enjoying them too! However, after selling baby bunnies in Sydney over the last few months Poppy, Jack and I have been questioning whether its ethical to allow the bunnies to continually breed and contribute to the population of domestic pets in NSW. Although everyone whose purchased a bunny from us have been lovely, kind and thoughtful (many purchasers have often brought two bunnies so they have company). Each time we sell a bunny we are left with questions – are they going to be cared for and ok? Do we really need more bunnies as domestic pets? The market is often saturated and buyers want specifically breed Mini Lop designer bunnies – even for a retail price of approximately $30.00.
 
Additionally our caretaker Bob has been challenged with our male rabbit Thumpster jumping the fence of the new hutch he has created to continually mate with the two females. We built the new hutch to control the breeding (9 baby bunnies a month is ridiculous) separate the sexes and give the females a break. The new enclosure is lovely, shaded by trees, the ground is lined with wire and covered with dirt to allow depth to dig holes and they have hay and wood stumps to tunnel through. We are also able to enter the hutch and give the bunnies a cuddle. Despite these efforts the two females are once again pregnant and we can expect nine more cute baby bunnies this month. December and January visitors will have the pleasure of watching and playing with the cute little bunnies which is fantastic. But clearly, the next part of the bunny hut challenge is to contain them and build a roof! 
 
Our greatest concern is the bunnies getting out and breeding within the Conservation area, which would be an absolute disaster! Because Rabbits have a small mouth and little teeth which are perfect for close grazing, they search out tiny native seedlings and remove them before they can grow and reproduce. They are also responsible for soil erosion as they eat native plants, leave the topsoil exposed and make it vulnerable to weeds and weather erosion. The removal of this topsoil is devastating to the natural environment. Feral rabbits also compete for feed and shelter with native animals who at Booyong Conservation we are committed to protect!
 
So this led to ask; what are they good for? 
 

Rabbit manure – Rabbit poo helps poor soil by improving its structure and moisture. Rise n Shine Rabbittary

 claims that one female and her babies will produce over one tonne of pooh each year. The benefits of Rabbit manure are – that it can be used any time of the year, doesnt smell, is rich in nutrients and can be used directly in the garden as it wont burn young plants. It is a cold manure which means you dont have to compost it for months prior to use. Its also ideal for leafy greens and tomatoes due to it’s high nitrogen content. The phosphorus it holds encourages flowering and stimulates root growth. The potassium improves fruit quality and helps control water content and it can also be added to the hole you dig  before you plant as a slow fretilizer. 
 
Compost – You can add it to your compost bin and mix it in. 

Bunny pooh tea – To make liquid fertilizer,  place a shovel of rabbit pooh into a piece of cloth and tie it together. Place the bag in a bucket and fill with water ,allowing it to stand in the sun for one week. The general rule is one part pooh, five parts water. The contents of the bag can be added to the garden or compost and the concentrated liquid fertilizer can be added to watering cans or spray bottles to feed your plants.

Growing Worms – Bunny pooh can also used as worm food or bedding. 
 
And lets not forget the value they hold in cuddles, I so enjoy giving them a cuddle and watching them interact and play. At Booyong we often congregate around the Bunny Hutch, having a conversation and watching them play. Animals are wonderful for our physical, emotional health and overall well-being. Research suggests people with connections to animals have “large capacities for love, empathy, and compassion”. In our busy and hectic lifestyles we are becoming increasingly stressed and anxious and the role of animals is becoming more important. So we’ll keep them for now. They are a wonderful contribution to Booyong, amazing pets, easily cared for, more personable than expected and great for the garden!