Habitat/plots for rabbits

Discussion in 'Habitat Improvement' started by KYBH4Life, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Jimmie in Ky

    Jimmie in Ky 12 pointer

    With coyotes around brush piles sure don't hurt, at least that is what the sign say's. Only trouble with placing brushpiles is replacing them every few years. Before brush piles I rarely found rabbit sign. But since then I even see a few on occassion while walking the place. With my culling and thinning it gives me a good reason to pile the trash instead of just leaving it to rot where it falls. If you have a bunch of small sweetgum it's hte best place for them.

    I was thinking the other day about how much has changed since I was a kid. Nearly all farms were cut up for rotating fields from pasture to row crop and fencerows were everywhere. Farming was much more diversified than it is today where so many specialize in the high dollar crops. No one worried about speed and eficiency. And now we are trying to recreate some of that with food plots. Jimmie
     
  2. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

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    the swamps of western KY
    One of the greatest aspects or characteristics of rabbits is that you can see a major increase in population in a smaller acreage property. You don't have to have huge tracts of land with continuous habitat. With rabbits you could have a dozen living in the briars and honeysuckle on a pond bank or grown up field corner.

    A 3-5 acre briar patch could yield an almost imaginable rabbit population. It's fairly difficult to kill out rabbits in briar patches especially those mean thumb-sized briars. If it's thick enough that a man can't walk through it or he gets about 10 feet in regrets it, you've got rabbit paradise.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  3. KYBH4Life

    KYBH4Life Banned

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    Thank you sir. I emailed him a couple times this morning and he already ID'd the types of raptors I have buzzing my farm and gave me several links for grasses to plant along with the brush piles that you guys already mentioned. And he was very quick about it too. Nice guy....Jason Nally in case you want to know

    Here is his info

    "The raptor that you are describing sounds like a Northern Harrier. All birds of prey are protected and cannot be actively managed. While predation from birds and mammals can have an impact on small game populations, proper cover will greatly increase their chances of survival. A grown up fescue field definitely does not provide very much cover from aerial or ground predators. Converting these field should be a top priority for small game management. You could also construct brush piles around the perimeter of the field that you are converting to native warm season grasses. This would significantly increase the availability of escape cover on the property.



    Here are a couple of links that will provide you with some additional information on eradicating fescue and establishing wildlife friendly grasses and forbs.

    http://fw.ky.gov/native.asp

    http://fw.ky.gov/fescue.asp

    http://fw.ky.gov/brushpil.asp

    http://fw.ky.gov/wildflow.asp

    http://fw.ky.gov/natreveg.asp



    Please review these links and let me know of any additional questions that you might have.



    Thank you for your interest and feel free to give me a call if you would like to discuss habitat management. You have enough acres to participate in the USDA Environmental Quality Incentive Program, but you would have to dedicate almost the entire acreage to qualify. Here is a link to additional information concerning available funding for habitat improvement projects.



    http://www.ky.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/2013EQIP/index.html"
     
  4. KYBH4Life

    KYBH4Life Banned

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    I'm reading all this info and can't help but think this is going to get expensive. I may just do sections at a time and also do the free stuff like brush piles.
     
  5. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

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    You would be surprised at how much conducive rabbitat you can create with just a chainsaw. On my farm, taking the advice of this forum, I started out with a chainsaw creating brush piles and hinge cutting trees. By the time spring and summer came around I could see a nice increase in rabbits and I even started flushing some nice sized coveys of quail.

    You don't have to drop a lot of cash on creating rabbitat. Brush piles and hinge cutting trees are a cake walk to create and as I mentioned above instant gratification.
     
  6. KYBH4Life

    KYBH4Life Banned

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    Well, just got back in from walking my little farm. I have found about a dozen or so dead trees that are down....about 12-18" diameter that I'm gonna try to drag out of the woods with my tractor and build some piles.....if I can get it back in there. I found 2 dead trees still standing that I'm gonna cut and get a few more piles out of them. I want to lay some cedar on top but they are slim pickens around here. I found a few limbs I can cut off. I knew I forgot something over Christmas....I was gonna ask around for about 30-40 Christmas trees, pick them up and pile them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  7. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

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    If you can use your tractor you'll have a rabbit paradise in no time. I would also consider hinge cutting a few live trees. This will create "living brush piles" which will allow the tree to still leaf out providing additional cover and an easily accessible food source in some instances.

    You're definitely on the right track.
     
  8. Jimmie in Ky

    Jimmie in Ky 12 pointer

    No real expense to creating small game habitat. With some cheap seeds and a bit of thought and sweat you can make a great deal of change in a short period. And probably not be out more than a hundred bucks .

    The most important thing is edge cover. You can do brush piles in woods edges or simply back off the woods edge when mowing and let nature grow it for you. If you don't want to loose open field space learn to I.D. the trees you have and thin that woods edge of the culls to open the canopy and create that edge cover. You don't have to use just cedar alone in making brush piles.

    And this is something I don't work hard at either. I build a pile when I cut more wood or do some culling. I guess you could say it makes me money to do it. I burn wood and sell it as well. The edge habitat I create is a bonus.

    And don't try to soak all that info in at once. Pick through it and find a few ideas you like that are simple enough to do a bit at a time. Like Swampers hinge cutting, he can load a tank of gas in the saw and go home when he runs out that day. It's simple quick and very effective.Or while out on your walks over the place, take a folding saw with you and hingecut a bush here and there where they will do some good.

    Strip mowing is another cheap, simple, and very effective idea any one can implement at any time. It's something your going to do anyway, just not all of it this year. You wind up with strips of tall grasses and forbs that provide cover and short grasses that remain tender and palatable. You don't let the field get out of control either by doing this. In my opinion ,every CRP field in the country should be set up this way.

    Not a bad hobby to have when you think of it. You get some excercise and small game gets what it needs. Not expensive unless you want to make it so. Jimmie
     
  9. KYBH4Life

    KYBH4Life Banned

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    I am reading over one of the links posted above and just now noticed something plainly called "rabbit mix"....3 lbs/acre switchgrass and 5lbs per acre Big Bluestem. I think that's the route I'm going as well as the clover in my already mowed strips. I spoke to a friend of mine today, whose farm we rabbit hunt on. Well, his dad owns it and particpates in the program with KDFWR for wildlife habitat. He told me one little 5 lb bag of wildflower seed was $2000 (hopefully he is mistaken on that). I about crapped my pants when he told me that. Right now for this spring I plan on say 1/2 acre clover and maybe an acre of the rabbit mix. Will try to add in an acre every year. All of this is depending on cost of course.

    Current situation: I have no discs/drill, I have no sprayer. Can I use my grader box with teeth to turn up some new ground? I don't care if I have to go over it 4-5 times. I am totally new to farming when it comes to planting...never planted a thing in my life outside of a class in grade school.

    It's kinda funny, I'm getting excited about spending money and working.
     
  10. GrouseAssasin

    GrouseAssasin 12 pointer

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    Theres no way thats the right price on that seed. Must be some GOOD stuff.
     
  11. KYBH4Life

    KYBH4Life Banned

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    the price of the Big Blue Stem is going to be $350/acre IIRC. .1 lb or 1/10 of a pound is $7.....$350 for 5 lbs. I new to this but that still seems outrageous too.
     
  12. GrouseAssasin

    GrouseAssasin 12 pointer

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  13. bigpuddin43

    bigpuddin43 12 pointer

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    Dont plant 5# per acre of big bluestem, Big blue, indian, and switchgrass can overtake a stand and become to thick for wildlife. You will need some sort of disturbance about every 3-5 years to keep the grasses from taking over and shading out your forbs. Strip disking and herbicide work fairly well. Prescribed fire mixed with disking also does very well. I would recommend .5#/acre big blue, .5#/acre indian, 2#/acre of little blue stem, then go with about 2lbs of forbs. species can vary on them but try to have a few species that are early, mid summer, and late bloomers will keep you always haveing a good food source growing for your rabbits to feed on and seed production for your grassland birds.
     
  14. Jimmie in Ky

    Jimmie in Ky 12 pointer

    KYBH4LIFE,You really need a disc or tiller attachment for working the ground some. You could do it with your blade set to rip, but it would be hard on the tractor, and you really wouldn't get the effect you need.

    If your tractor is at least 25 hp there should be a 6 ft pick up disc around for sale somewhere nearby. Most around here run no more than 450 dollars for a decent disc. If you go the warm season grass route you will need it for firebreaks later anyway.

    Puddin, I had heard switch grass was an invasive but but not the blue stems. Which was why many recomended the bluestems and grahma grasses for summer use. Stands with switch grasses are recomended for summer pastures and hay crops for that reason. Jimmie
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013

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