Thursday, 5 March 2009

Composting with rabbits!


As the owner of two rather large rabbits, I get quite a lot of rabbit droppings to dispose of. As rabbits are vegetarians their manure is perfect for making compost, and I thought I would show you what happens when you use rabbit droppings in your compost bin.

Rabbits should always have a ready supply of hay and/or straw as bedding, and if they are litter box trained the bedding materials stay clean and dry and although you could put that hay or straw straight into the compost bin, every week or so I clear out the used bedding, mix it up with shredded paper and use it to fill their litter trays. I can get unlimited shredded paper from my office, but I also shred the few bits of mail that I receive (I don't get much junk mail now as I always ask to be removed from mailing lists).
I make up about 10 litter trays, which usually lasts about a week, as I change at least one every day. Our rabbits have one litter tray inside their house, and two outside. Rabbits are actually very clean animals and in the wild would never urinate in the same area they sleep in. Unfortunately, many people keep rabbits in housing that is much too small, and they have no choice but to go in the area where their food or nest area is. If you've been here before you will know that I've gone to the other extreme and given them lots of room .

Anyway these are the litter trays all made up:

And when they're full, the whole lot gets emptied into the compost bin.

Give it a quick stir around... add a few kitchen scraps and garden waste

Keep adding to the bin until it is full right to the top, and then just leave it undisturbed for a while.

And in no time the worms will start doing their magic...

Then after a few months, it will look something like this....

Ready to dig into the garden.
Our compost bins never really get smelly; I have three of the heavy duty plastic bins, but even in really hot weather I never notice a bad smell. All my bins stand on the soil, which helps with draining away excess moisture and allows the worms to get in. I have a couple of old bits of carpet which I put over the top in very cold weather, just to make sure the worms don't freeze, and it's surprising how quickly it all turns into very nice compost.
I've just emptied out one of my bins and have spread the contents all around the garden, and used some to top up pots with perennials and shrubs in. All the rabbit droppings, paper, straw, waste vegetable matter etc have made a really lovely dark rich compost for improving the garden soil, and it's completely free!


Joanna said...

Thats such a good idea to make up lots of boxes. I'm affraid captain rupert has a standard hutch and is not so lucky on day he might have a house like yours. He is out everyday to play in the garden and house so I think that makes up abit for him. What I do with the toilet waste is use it straight in my pots and garden, its so good! I also use all the wood shavings from when we chainsaw up logs for the fire. I like the idea they are not bleached but must smell all natural for him. Its better for the plants too as it rots really quickly rather than the bleached ones that come in a friends horse compost that take ages to rot. I put a pile of captain rupert stuff under our little bramble tree so many worms had moved in when I weeded the other day it must be good.

Justin said...

Is it safe to put this compost in your vegetable garden?

ASG said...

I just dump our rabbit's litter box directly into the garden for most of the year. We use "Yesterday's News" litter, made from recycled newspapers. When I have plants growing in spring and summer, I empty the litter tray in an unused corner of the garden, then spread it around in the fall after all the plants are done. I do this for flowers and vegetables, and it works great. Breaks down quickly, and the soil is now very rich.