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Morant page 26-30 from The Management of Rabbits, CJ Davies,

Chapter Ill.
THE MORANT SYSTEM OF RABBIT-KEEPING.
The system of keeping rabbits on the grass in movable hutches with wire bottoms through which they
graze has never taken on in England, although it is adopted with apparent success on some of the
largest rabbit farms in France.
Hntches.
Morant hutches, as they are called after the name of the inventor, are made by Messrs. Boulton and
Paul, of Norwich, in three sizes-single hutches, 5ft. by 2it., rearing hutches, and double breeding
hutches, 6ft. by 3ft., costing respectively 22s., 27s. 6d., and 33s., with a reduction on large numbers.
The hutches are fastened together with bolts and nuts, and although the double breeding hutch is a
rather clumsy affair, it is perhaps the most useful type to keep, as it forms a splendid rearing hutch for a
litter of young rabbits when the centre partition is removed. The hutches are fitted with raised nests,
which enable the rabbits to feed beneath them, and as all the fittings slide out the nest can be removed
altogether or only a shelf left in when the hutch is not being used for breeding.
A sliding roof on the French principle would be a great improvement to these hutches, but would no
doubt add greatly to the cost. As the English roof is quite unwieldy in a gale, and the hinges are apt to
get broken if it blows back, the first thing the purchaser of one of these hutches must do is to strut up
the lid and then tie a strong cord from roof to hutch front to prevent an accident on the first gusty day.
In summer the rabbits suffer from the heat under the zinc roofs. Major Morant recommended whitewashing them ; but it is much better to lay on some straw mats, say two deep, of a class which could be
made by any stableman or thatcher. The zinc will feel cool under these on the hottest day. Three pieces
of string threaded through the binding of the mats and passed right round the roof, one in the centre
over the central partition and one at each end outside, where the rabbits cannot gnaw them, will hold
them in position quite efficiently. The English hutches are made with projecting handles, which are apt
to get broken. The French use four broad hooks attached to each hutch, and carry round two poles or
bars, which slip under the hooks and serve to move all, the hutches. This is likely to be inconvenient
when one person is moving the hutches alone, one end at a time.
Cheap home-made hutches on the Morant principle are to be found illustrated in several handbooks. It
is very doubtful whether they would prove satisfactory. Movable hutches must be very strong and well
made to stand the constant shifting. They are exposed to all weathers and will warp, shrink, and crack if
made of cheap, unseasoned timber. Above all, the inmates are exposed night and day to the possible
onslaught of cats, dogs, foxes, and stoats, to say nothing of wild rabbits, and it is highly important that
both material and construction 'should be of the best. As they are now turned out the modern hutches
seem safe.
Perhaps the greatest advantage to be derived from the use of Morant hutches is in the enormous saving
of labour in cleaning out. Under no other system can a large number of animals be so quickly attended
to. Furthermore, young rabbits thrive and grow rapidly in the fresh air and sunshine in a way they never
quite seem to do in ordinary hutches. There are drawbacks, however. lt is first of all essential that the
ground to be grazed over be level- i.e., not covered with ant-heaps or made very irregular by tussocks
of coarse grass, &c. Then the present writer has never had much luck in breeding in these hutches,
although rabbits hare been bred in them. Some does object to the moving, others dislike the raised nest,

others are nervous and desert their young on small provocation, &c. Breeding is, in fact, found to be
conducted with greater success in the ordinary type of hutch in an outhouse, and the mother and young
are usually transferred to a Morant hutch when the latter are between three and four weeks old.
The most serious disadvantage is the great likelihood of outbreaks of parasitical disease if the rabbits
are continually passed over the same ground and allowed to graze it too frequently. There is a great
temptation to do this, because the grass grows so freely behind the hutches.
Rules to be Observed.
The following rules should be observed: Never pass the hutches over the same piece of ground more
than twice in one year ; dress the land every .autumn with basic slag given at the rate of about 5cwt. to
the acre, which will incidentally greatly improve the herbage. If the rabbits cease to thrive on the grass
it should receive a dressing of gas lime at the rate of about 1 ton to the acre in the autumn; if they are
known to be suffering from parasitical disease the land should be dressed with salt at the rate of about
10cw't. to the acre. The French use sulphate of iron for the same purpose.
When a very small area of grass is the only land available it is advisable to move the hutches only once
in the twenty-four hours for cleaning purposes, giving cut grass or green stuff in the racks for the
evening feed. One-eighth of an acre can in this way be made to carry a couple or three hutches during
the summer. It is impossible to keep good grass land tightly fed down in summer with rabbits in Morant
hutches, for it grows more .quickly than it cleans. If moved on to long stuff, rabbits soil without
consuming it, and a few young guinea-pigs with the young rabbits are very useful for feeding down
coarse stuff closely. In any case, a great deal of scything has to be done, and at times the bulk of the
grass will have to be cut and fed in the racks. This also entails a rather tiresome daily cleaning of dbris
from the bottom of the hutches, for which a sink-brush is useful.
With careful management and a good deal of scything and rack and trough feeding, an acre of ground
could probably be made to carry half-a-dozen Morant hutches continually. There would, however, be a
greater certainty of the inmates remaining healthy if the rabbits were accommodated elsewhere in the
winter. The hutches can be raised on bricks and used as stationary hutches in the winter. Wooden
bottoms above the wire are not difficult to fit, and the hutches can then be cleaned out daily with a
small shovel in the ordinary way. At the same time lt must be admitted that this method is not at all
convenient for the cleaner.
Food-Racks.
The best class of food-rack for Morant hutches is an inexpensive, home-made wire bag made of 1 in.
mesh wire netting and about 18in. long and 12in. to 15in. wide. Two of these can be slung by wires
across the centre partition; and if separated and hooked to the front of the hutch inside (over the wire
netting) and filled with hay, they help to protect the inmates in exceptionally severe weather. Smaller
racks are not recommended because, apart from the bulkiness of green food. it is economy of labour in
winter to weigh out enough hay to last for several days with which to fill them.

Morant page 60-62 from The Domestic Rabbit, JC Sandford, 1957

Details of Hutches
Good materials and good workmanship are always desirable, and in the long run a great economy.
Extra time taken in good construction will he hilly repaid during the years of use.
All exposed edges of wooden frame hutches should be covered with metal strip, and as far as possible
asbestos sheeting, if used for walls, or wire mesh to cover door, should be fixed to the inside of the
wooden framing. Ledges and difficult corners should be eliminated.
Litter boards, about 5 inches high, placed at floor level across the opening of the hutch prevent the
young and the bedding from falling out of the hutch when the door is opened. They can be fixed to the
framework of the hutch with hinges or with metal guides.
Roofs of hutches should extend at least six inches to the rear, or, preferably, guttering should be fixed to
prevent water dripping down the backs. The roof must slope sufficiently to carry off all water and must
of course be completely weather proof.
Door fasteners often cause a good deal of trouble. They should be of such a type that they are easily
opened by the attendant but not by dogs or the stock themselves. If possible a type which closes when
the door is swung to should be used.

Fig. 42.-A large type of Morant hutch,


The Morant system was first introduced by a Major G. F. Morant in 1884, the idea at that time being
that these outdoor movable hutches in which the rabbits could graze, should be used for commercial
rabbit keeping.

FIG. 43.-The interior of a Morant hutch showing solid floor portion.


Each Morant is a large movable hutch with the floor partly or wholly covered with a fairly large mesh
of usually about 1 inches. The hutches vary in size from about 2 feet by 4 feet, large poultry arks
being adaptable to the purpose.
The system has some disadvantages in that a good deal of land is required because the animals should
not frequently graze over the same land. The soil should be fairly light, and the surface relatively
smooth. Exposure to strung sunlight during summer will fade the coats of fur rabbits. For rearing meat
rabbits during the summer the system may prove useful. Morant hutches may be laid on rails during the
winter and used as colony hutches if a solid floor is placed in them, for it is very rarely good
management to graze rabbits during the winter months.
Colony Pens

The colony system entails keeping groups of young rabbits, up to about 30 in each group, in large pens.
It is an excellent system provided it is carried out correctly, but is mainly used

FIG. 44.-Colony pens and small pens can be made by using partitioning of wire netting.
for meat rabbits up to the ages of about 4 months. In the past large colony pens consisting of enclosed
areas similar to poultry runs have been used, but the most satisfactory colonies are undoubtedly those
on wire mesh. A solid floor may be divided up by partitions of wire mesh about 3 feet high to form
solid floored colonies.
Colony pens should not be too large and the construction of the metal type of pen is based on an angle
iron framework with a strong mesh. It may be necessary to support the mesh floor, and for this purpose
angle iron may be used, with the mesh supported upon the apex of the angle. It is essential

Morant page 75-83 from Rabbits for Fur & Flesh, CJ Davies, 1918
CHAPTER VII
THE MORANT SYSTEM
The method of rabbit keeping known as the Morant system, from the name of its originator, is the use
of movable hutches with wire-netting bottoms through which the rabbits can graze the herbage on
which the hutches stand.
Although it is nearly it not quite forty years since Major Morant first advocated this system, it has
never been adopted to any extent in England, firstly, perhaps, because it is not as well suited to the
breeding and rearing of purely exhibition stock as the time-honoured method of keeping them in the
box type of hutch indoors, and, secondly, because it requires land. Until quite recently rabbit breeding
was almost exclusively in the hands of town dwellers whose hobby was exhibiting ; and there is no
doubt that a certain amount of exposure to light and weather, good as it is for the health of the rabbits,
rnilitates against their chances in the show pen in keen competition. In France the system has been
adopted on quite a large scale in some establishments, and is reputed successful. Now that rabbit
keeping is becoming widely spread among all classes of the community in the British Isles, and
economic qualities are taking precedence of show points, many people with land will no doubt desire to
try this method.
It is the only way in which it is possible to keep very large numbers of rabbits hygienically with a
reasonable amount of labour.
The accompanying diagram shows a typical Morant double breeding-hutch of the type made by
Messrs. Boulton and Paul, Norwich. All the fittings slide out so that, with the centre partition
withdrawn and some of the nest fittings removed, the hutch can be used, if desired, as a single rearingpen.
This type of hutch is the most useful for all purposes, and is therefore the one recommended. There
should be three to every two breeding-does kept, one hutch housing two does, the other two taking their
weaned litters. Bucks hutches can advantageously be 5 feet by 2 feet, and are best made without nest
fittings, A box (which can be removed when a doe is put into the hutch) should be given to the buck to
lie on and go into in cold weather.
A specification for a double breeding-hutch is as follows : Framing, 1 inch ; roof framing, 1 by 1
inch ; paneling, -inch matchboarding. Roof covered by sheet of zinc. The hutch fitted together with
bolts and nuts: length, 6 feet; to end of handles, 7 feet; width, 2 feet 9 inches; height in front, 2 feet 1
inch; height at back, 1 foot

A DOUBLE BREEDING-HUTCH
8 inches. Central partition, 2 feet 7 inches wide; 2 feet high in front, 1 foot 8 inches at back.
Nest box in the commercial type of hutch : Floor, 14 inches wide, resting on ledges fixed 9 inches
from the ground at the back and front of the hutch. A board 8 inches wide, with a hole about 6 inches
in diameter, or an archway, cut at one end, slides into grooves fixed on back and front of hutch. A
groove formed of two pieces of wood nailed to the centre of this board and on centre of end of hutch
takes a batten which keeps the nest together.
A lid, 15 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, rests on the board and upon strips of wood fixed to front and back of
the hutch. This leaves a space of about 7 inches on top of the nest box in the front part of the hutch
upon which the rabbit can lie.
An improvement to this design would be to make the nest box occupy only the front halt of the shelf.
The advantages of this would be (1) better access to the nest box, which would then be approached
from the shelf on to which the entrance hole would open; (2) a comfortable resting-place on the shelf
outside the nest covered by the lid, which would prevent the moisture which condenses on the roof in
cold weather falling on the rabbit. As now made, does have difficulty in carrying up hay into the nest
box, and young rabbits are apt to fall out, or if they jump down when small, they are unable to find
their way back again through the hole at all easily.
Owing to the height of the hutches in front, necessitated by the raised nest box, the roof is sometimes
hinged to the front to enable a short person to handle the inmates easily. As a general rule it is better
that the rabbits should see the attendant approaching over grass, hence most breeders prefer the roof to
be hinged to the back.
The stay or prop to the roof should be screwed to the centre piece of wood of the roof framing. A light

chain or cord should be attached close to the prop from roof to hutch front to prevent the former being
blown back and broken in windy weather. Wrought-iron hinges should be used, as cast-iron are
continually breaking unless kept well greased to prevent them becoming rusty.
The bottoms of the hutches must be covered with I-inch-mesh wire-netting, tightly strained round the
bottom and stapled to the sides. It stapled to the bottom, the holes made assist in setting up rot, and the
wire is also more liable to get dragged off.
The fronts comprise I7 inches of wood at each end, two 18-inch openings covered by 1-inch-mesh
wire-netting, 18 gauge ( or -inch-mesh netting) in the centre divided by a piece of Wood 2 inches
wide under which the wire stretches. It is almost essential to have shutters over the wire for use in very
cold weather and when breeding. The best form is a hinged door which \vill turn right back over the
panelled half of the front and hook there.
It is most important that only good quality and well-seasoned wood be used in the construction of these
hutches.
Common, unseasoned deal and sapwood will not stand the exposure. The hutches should be painted
three coats outside, and the paint renewed every third year. The insides should be distempered or
whitewashed. The construction must be of the very best, as the hutches may have to withstand the
onslaughts of one or other of the various enemies of the rabbit, to say nothing of the strain put upon
them by the perpetual moving,
SPECIAL DETAILS
lf Morant hutches are to stand in a held occupied by horses or cattle, the projecting wooden handles are
quite unsuitable, and will soon get broken off. Some form of metal handle which drops down will be
required ; or else the French fitting of four broad hooks fixed to the front and back of each hutch,
beneath which two poles, carried round by the movers, can be slipped. As, however, one person alone
may often desire to move a hutch, one end at a time, handles which drop are probably best.
Each hutch is furnished with a zinc trough with turned-in edge, 1 foot long, 2 inches deep, 4 inches
wide, back 13 inches by 3 inches. These troughs slip from the outside through holes 12 inches by 3
inches cut in the backs of the hutches on each side of the central partition, and are held in place by turnbuttons. A ledge of wood over each trough helps to prevent water getting into them in wet weather.
The zinc roofs of Morant hutches are far too hot in summer and condense moisture in winter. They
should be protected by mats of straw, reed, matting, or some other material laid in two or more layers
until the roof beneath feels fairly cool to the hand on a sunny day. Various types of mats are used for
garden purposes and may be suitable ; or straw mats can be made by a groom or thatcher. The mats can
be kept in place by three pieces of fine wire passed round the roof. String holds them equally well, but
is perpetually being bitten through if it comes within reach of the rabbits.
Large wire~netting bags should be slung in the hutches across the centre partition to hold cut
greenstuff.
OTHER TYPES OF HUTCHES
Although various designs of hutch have been advocated, the Morant type seems difficult to improve

upon, and is the one adopted in France, where a pattern very much like the one described has been
Widely put into use. A rather more expensive class of roof, with a centre panel which slides to right and
left, is in greater favour on the Continent than the lid opening used here. Failing a hutch of the original
design, the next best thing is probably a pen on the combined coop-and-run principle, with hinged
wooden roofs to both run and inner chamber. It is important in all hutches of this class to have the
openings so arranged that the breeder can reach easily all over the pen without going on his knees on
the possibly wet grass, for which reason lid or roof openings are the best. Doors at one end of a 4-foot
or longer pen might as well be absent as far as ease of catching up the inmates is concerned.
DISADVANTAGES OF THE SYSTEM
One great disadvantage is the amount of capital required. A commercial Morant double breeding-hutch
used to cost 33/-, which works out to a good deal more per head of stock kept than a box form of hutch
of somewhat similar dimensions. The life of the hutches, too, even when as well made as they usually
are at Norwich, cannot be expected to be as long as that of stationary hutches.
As experimenters often first try this system on a lawn, upon which it works excellently, they frequently
fail to realise that it fails to work as well in an ordinary field which is normally full of depressions, ant
heaps, and tussocks. To get the land grazed evenly and completely by rabbits, the surface must be as
level as an average lawn, and this no agricultural land ever is.
On wet and heavy land, such as in low-lying situations or on clay soil, also in very exposed or cold
localities, the rabbits are not likely to do well in winter. As there is very little for them to graze during
the six winter -months, and most of the food has to be carried to them, the chief advantages of keeping
them out lie in the fact that the daily labour of cleaning out and the use of sawdust are saved.
The most desirable system in the writers experience is to keep all the rabbits in indoor hutches or in
Morant hutches fitted with wooden floors for the six winter months of the year.
A good many casualties occur at times among breeding stock owing to the disturbance caused by other
animals at large. Therefore the ideal system is to breed in ordinary indoor hutches, and draft out the
young ones to be reared on the Morant system from April to October. The danger of this practice lies in
the fact that (1) young rabbits are peculiarly susceptible to parasitic attacks, (2) and unless special
precautions are taken, they are very likely to be exposed to infection if reared on the grass. In other
respects it is the present writer's strong conviction that all rabbits thrive better and young ones grow
faster and receive fewer checks on the grass in the open air during the six best months of the year than
when kept in any other way.
In the spring the grass grows far faster than it is possible to consume it, therefore a good deal of
scything has to be done, as the rabbits cannot pull up very long stuff through the wire, and they
consequently soil more than they eat.
Terrible tales of disaster and loss among rabbits kept on the Morant system have been published in
England, but mention is never made of the actual cause of the mortality as revealed by post mortem
examinations. Until further evidence is advanced, it seems fairer to blame the owner rather than the
system, When one considers the great ignorance displayed by many who keep rabbits, the huge
mortality which frequently occurs in ordinary hutches owing to mismanagement, and the totally
incorrect feeding which is commonly practised, the wonder often is not that they die, but that any
rabbits survive at all in any type of hutch.

METHODS OF MANAGEMENT
On very dry, well-drained, and sheltered land in a mild locality, rabbits can remain out on the grass all
the year round, provided shutters are used at night in winter. Shutters will also be necessary at night all
the year round in the breeding~hutches from a week or two before the birth of a litter until the young
are over the very timid stage of their existence, and are, say, 5 or 6 weeks old.
A shelf should always be placed in hutches which stand on the grass for the animals to lie on off the
damp ground.
The hutches must not be passed over the same piece of grazing-ground more than twice in the same
year, and once is better.
If the hutches are moved from north to south during the early part of the year, they should be moved
from east to west the second time they pass over the same ground so as to get the manure fairly evenly
distributed. lf the area of land available is limited, the hutches should be moved for cleaning purposes
only once every twenty-four hours, cut grass or greenstuff being fed in the racks at night. It is very
seldom that supplementary greenstuff is not required for some of the rabbits, such as at midday for does
with litters, during droughts, etc. The hutches should not usually stand on the same place for more than
twenty-tour hours, or patches will most likely be burnt in the grass.
Concentrated food should be given every morning at the time the daily moving of the hutches takes
place, so that the animals can fill themselves with it rather than with possibly dewy grass. A lump of
rock salt should be kept in every food trough.
Rabbits require water to drink no less than when they are in ordinary hutches, and consume a great
deal, especially in hot weather.
The hutches should never be moved on to frosty grass.
The present writer has adopted the system of keeping a few guinea pigs to run with young rabbits. They
help to eat the grass down closely and pay for themselves.
Ailing or unthrifty rabbits should be removed at once to a. wooden-bottomed hutch from which the
cleanings can be collected and burnt. To allow the sickly animals to remain on the grass is possibly to
sow the seeds of some serious epidemic complaint which may eventually devastate the whole rabbitry.
If it has been heavily stocked during the summer, the grass land should, as a precautionary measure, be
limed (say 2 or 3 tons to the acre) every winter, or dressed with 42% basic slag at the rate of 5 to 10
cwt. to the acre. If there has actually been an outbreak of parasitical disease, it will be necessary to
dress with salt at the rate of 8 to I0 cwt. to the acre.
Nothing is more cleansing to land which has been heavily stocked than to take a hay crop from it.
Breeders usually desire to keep some other animals on the land partly occupied by rabbits in Morant
hutches Fowls are not recommended, unless they are kept on the colony system far away from the area
being grazed by the rabbits. Fowls running about loose among the hutches will probably do more harm
by soiling the grass which the rabbits have to eat, than good by scratching the manure about. Both

species are subject to the same deadly liver disease (Coccodiosis), and although there is no direct
evidence as yet that this disease can actually be transferred from fowl to rabbit, or vice versa, it is by no
means unlikely, and it is hardly wise in the present state of our knowledge to risk the occurrence. If
fowls must be kept in conjunction with rabbits, the best system would be to keep them in movable pens
to follow closely on the hutches.
Cattle, pigs, and horses are undesirable among hutches, and will damage them by rubbing against them,
if they do not actually knock them over.
The sheep is the animal least likely to do direct damage, and the present writer has kept them among
hutches Without any serious troubles arising. At the same time clean ground is best for the rabbits,
which, owing to their confinement, are unable to pass over dirty places and feed elsewhere. Tethered
goats are not likely to appreciate the rich herbage which grows behind the hutches.
A French breeder who worked on a large scale with 150 Morant hutches states that it took two people
about forty minutes to move this number, and that it took an hour and a half to distribute :food and
water to the 800 to 1,000 inmates. Actually tour hours of a gardeners time were spent daily in
attending to the animals. Five acres of land is the minimum necessary for carrying this number of
hutches, and more land is desirable ; five acres does not admit of a daily moving it the same ground is
covered not more than twice in the same year, and it means that the rabbits must be mainly rack and
trough ted. `An English author estimates that one acre will carry five does and progeny.
A trolley, drawn by a donkey or pony, is used to convey the food, water, and other necessities along the
lines of hutches.
With the exception of the points briefly indicated, the management of rabbits on the Morant system is
the same as their management when kept in the ordinary way as detailed elsewhere in this book.
BREEDS FOR THE SYSTEM
The present Writer has kept most breeds, including Angoras, in Morant hutches in the South, has kept
them out in the hutches at every time of year Without special precautions, and has found that they all do
well. The chief, indeed the only serious trouble, is that the light fades the coats of all breeds more or
less ; but the same can be said of any hutches which stand out of doors, and in the case of the fur breeds
the light is not strong enough to do very much harm to the new Winter coats, which are not completely
through until the middle of November.
Very timid individuals of any breed, or timid breeds like Silver Greys, owing to the ease with which
they are upset and frightened, succeed less well in hutches on the grass than the bolder or more
phlegmatic races unless special precautions to preserve them from disturbance are taken.