BUNNY WATER IN COLD WEATHER
It's snowing here in eastern New York State:
I love this time of year! But, the increased work involved with getting outside rabbits through the winter is temperature dependent. On days when it is colder, water becomes a vital issue.
Back in the beginning I used water bottles with metal sipper tubes year round and would spend time thawing the tubes each feeding session. This required a bucket of hot water to dump the bottles into to melt the ice in the tubes. And I found that within 15 minutes, the tubes would freeze again in 5* weather. Even using warm water did not increase the time window by much. So, if bunny did not drink QUICKLY, he/she was out of luck til the next feeding time.
Have you ever watched a rabbit drink from the sipper tubes? It takes a while to get even a mouthful that way. In warm weather, this is not an issue and actually keeps chins tidier, but drinking from a bowl is faster, and in cold weather this is a plus.
So, now I use bowls for water in the winter. After trying indestructible metal and seeing how it can stick to frozen fur (yikes!) and pottery bowls which were pretty and heavy but breakable, I have settled on plastic bowls (shown below) that I now keep IN STOCK AT COUNTRYWOOL. These bowls are guaranteed for 5 years, and I have some 8 year old bowls that are working well. The beauty of bowls, and these bowls in particular, is that the bowl is graduated in size, with the bottom narrower than the top, so frozen water shapes can be tapped/smacked out easily before you add fresh water.
Having a hard surface to smack the bowls against will help in REALLY cold weather, as the ice crystallizes right to the bowl and shatters when you break it. I have a routine where I work with 2 frozen bowls and hit them against each other.
So now, instead of lugging a pail of water and sloshing it over my shoes twice a day, I take a gallon jug of room temp water (I keep an old plastic milk container filled and waiting by my back door). Each rabbit gets a full 8 oz of water twice a day, and this has worked well for the last 7 years of winters.
Because of this new style of watering, I have found I can water 12 rabbits with 1 gallon. So, my limit for keeping rabbits over the winter is 12. Strange how we decide these things.