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My wife raises show rabbits, and about a year ago we switched to stacking cages with trays instead of hanging cages. (We switched to an insulted building in order to run an AC window unit due to heat issues every summer)

In order to reduce on the ammonia and oder, we have been using, as litter in the trays, a product called Equine Pine which is "made of 100% pure Pine pellets". After use, the pine pellets seem to turn into something closer to a corse sawdust. My wife also sometimes sprays the litter with a product called Zaps It.

So we have a slowly growing pile of former pine pellets and rabbit manure. (All of which at one point was soaked in rabbit urine). There's also a little rabbit fur and a bit of straw.

The pile isn't really doing anything though. The parts of it that are a year old look about the same as parts that were only added last week.

Should I buy or make a compost bin for it? Do I need to add something else to it?

Would red wiggler worms help, or would this be a medium that you could raise them in?

I've read a little about it in the past, but I don't have any experience with composting.

Edit: The pile is about 8 foot by 5 foot, and is maybe 2 feet tall at the tallest point. With nothing to contain it, it's kind of a sprawling pile.

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I was always told that pine was bad for rabbits (example: rabbit.org/care/shavings.html ) –  DA. Jul 1 '12 at 23:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

We use something similar with our horses, and it composts nicely... though I'm guessing there's a lot more urine in what goes into our pile.

How big is your pile? Composting won't really take off until you have about 3x3x3'. You don't need a bin.

Adding kitchen vegetable scraps will help it along -- bury the scraps with the bedding to cut down flies and odors. Adding lawn clippings in thin layers will also help.

If your pile is under cover (i.e. does not get rained on), you may want to add water to help the composting process.

Edit:

With respect to size, try piling it up a bit higher so that it measures more like 4x5 and 4' high. The act of piling it up will stir it to introduce air, which will help composting.

If you can:

  1. Soak half the pile with the hose for a couple minutes
  2. Get 1-2" of lawn clippings on that half
  3. Then scoop the other half on top of the clippings
  4. Hose the whole thing down again

You may get some composting. Check it in a couple of days -- does it heat up? If it doesn't heat up, it's very likely that you've just got way too much carbon, and you need to add quite a bit of nitrogen to make it balance out. The rabbits are just for show? (If you process them for meat, the blood would be a helpful high-nitrogen addition to your pile.)

That bedding also absorbs (by design) tons of water. If you're ever tossing out water (e.g. dirty animal buckets), get in the habit of tossing them on the pile. And if it's in a place where you can do so without getting in trouble, feel free to pee on the pile -- you'll add water and nitrogen for double the win.

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Added the size to the question. Do you think it's not tall enough? The rain should be hitting it. –  Tim Jul 1 '12 at 20:41
    
You might also have a lot more manure in yours, relative to the amount of pellets. We change the trays weekly when it's cool, but more often when we have to close the windows and run the AC. –  Tim Jul 1 '12 at 20:46
    
Yeah, I'm sure we've got more manure in ours... bunny turds are tiny compared to horse turds. :) But the urine is the key component because that's where all the nitrogen is (which turbocharges the compost process). –  bstpierre Jul 1 '12 at 21:00

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