Breeding rabbits in the winter can be a real challenge!  Here in Michigan, temperatures often stay below freezing for extended periods and can drop below zero frequently. Losing litters to over or under heating with portable heat lamps has been heartbreaking and one winter we had a guardian angel watching over our bunnies (and barn) when the plug on an under-the-box type nest heater melted and burned!
Now we bring all of our nestboxes indoors in cold weather.  In the past, this has been a tiresome task.  Wooden nestboxes are heavy, retain moisture, don't stack easily and a gust of wind can take all of mama's fur into the next county on the way to the house!  Necessity truly is the mother of invention....I went to Menard's, a home improvement store, and bought a bunch of Rubbermaid tubs. The tubs are relatively inexpensive, mine cost only $2.45 each.  Each tub measures approximately 10" x 15" at its widest point on the outside and 7" deep.  The tubs come with a snap-on lid which can be labeled with the doe's name or ear number.  I drilled a few holes in the bottom for drainage and two or three holes near the top of one long side of the tub.  The top holes are used to secure the nest-tub in the expectant doe's cage with plastic zip ties.   Unlike traditional wooden nestboxes, the tubs are lightweight, stack easily with the lids on, and take up little space when not in use, they are also very easy to wash and disinfect. A stack of 4 tubs can easily be carried by one person.  Once in the house we place the nest-tubs in a safe area and open the lids for good ventilation.
The new nest-tubs have been well accepted by our Mini Rex and Silver Marten does with minimal chewing on the plastic.  We put a few handfuls of wood shavings  in the tub, zip tie it to the side of the doe's cage on day 27 of gestation and provide the doe with straw to build a nest. After kindling, we cut the zip ties, put the lid on the nest-tub and bring it into the house.  We return the tub to the doe twice daily when we do chores.  The tub no longer needs to be zip tied in to the cage, the weight of the kits will prevent the doe from tipping the tub when she jumps in.  If the bedding becomes wet or soiled we add wood shavings to a new tub, a little straw, and transfer the kits to the clean, dry box.  A piece of gypsum drywall can also be cut to fit the bottom of the tub for weight to prevent tipping instead of zip tying the tub to the cage.  The drywall also adds extra insulation from cold and absorbs moisture.  These tubs also fit nicely into the pre-made "drop" nests that can be purchased from commercial cage dealers.  Larger breed rabbits could possibly be accommodated with larger Rubbermaid tubs.
Next time you are struggling with heavy, nasty old wooden nestboxes or just need extra nestboxes in an overpopulation emergency try thinking"out of the BOX", try a TUB!
Click HERE for more photos!