Poop Dishes and Poop Dish Materials
This can be a tricky thing. I have changed my poop dish materials over the years to eliminate smells of urine and be cost effective. I first used shredded newspaper and Carefresh crumbles. The carefresh paper crumbles were expensive and only the "ultra" controlled the smell of the urine but like I said it was expensive and I didn't use this very long.
Next I tried corn cob pcs over folded up newspaper and topped with Ultra Carefresh. Ouch the cost was still killing me even for just one bun. I was using a small, sorta baseball diamond shaped poop dish for Baby when she was my only bun. The back was high so it contained the debris pretty well. But I still wasn't happy.
Then when I got Gracie - wow now I had 2 buns using the same style of poop dishes. This when I cut out the ultra carefresh. Now the cost got better but - well not the best.
Then beka27 on binkybunny.com said use either horse bedding pellets (made from wood) or wooden stove pellets. Now both are safe and let me just tell you I've used both. The wooden stove pellets hold up to moisture longer, the prices on both are about the same in my area. You can get either one usually at any time of the year. Most hardware or home improvement stores have the wooden stove pellets all year but just not out on the sales floor. If you ask for them they will normally hunt you some down. Both come in 40 lb bags. I put down several layers of newspaper (makes for easier cleanup) then a good amount of the pellets and I lightly spray the pellets with water so that they begin to soften up and the buns won't be sitting or hopping on hard round little wooden pellets when they poop. For Gracie and Dino (the bonded pair) I use cat liter dishes - I have three in their room at all times. (The general poop dish rule is to have one more poop dishes then the number of rabbits you have housed together.) Baby the single bun has just one poop dish in her cage. (My buns are not cage kept ever!). So if you are looking for an alternative try one of my ideas out. I don't think you will be sorry. It's very cost effective and on the large cat liter pans I can go several days before having to clean them out -- really get your money's worth. Both horse bedding pellets and wood stove pellets are safe for the buns, I've asked around to many different people and my buns have had no issues with them and I've been using them for about 8 months now.
Note that any smell will be eliminated if it's absorbed by whatever you use in the poop dishes. If the urine is not absorbed, then you will get the smell. The newspaper I use (is plentiful for me as I have family member saving it for me every day) really absorbs the urine very well as long as you have several layers.
I would like to say that at one point, I switched to a knock off brand of Carefresh to save money. Although the buns liked it, the consistency was different and for some reason particles/pcs of it kept getting into Gracie's eye. I had a vet visit for it, then it happened again which we removed on our own. I immediately removed the generic crumbles and Gracie's eyes have been fine ever since. Strange but worth noting.
Update Jan. 2011--- well my buns began to reject the wooden stove pellets. Yes they went on strike and would not poop or pee in their poop dishes. So I went back to the layer of newspapers, crushed corn cobs and then Carefresh paper crumbles on top. I go through about 25 pounds every 2 -3 weeks of crushed corn cob (I have 3 buns remember). It's been quite expensive for the corn cob and some places around me have stopped carrying it. Those that do seem to be out of stock more than it's in stock. I recently found a place that makes it but it's 3 hours away from me and I'm waiting on pricing for a pallet and half pallet shipment. Will keep you posted on whether this works out or not.
I just got a bulk shipment of crushed corncob from a manufacturer. The cob is really tiny pieces and I have not used it yet but will soon. I will certainly give an update on how the buns take to it. It's extremely reasonable, see below for cost comparison:
Pet store brand crushed corn cob is $28.00 (including tax for a 25 lb bag)
New crushed corn cob is a little more than half of this cost per bag with tax and delivery freight cost already included FOR A 50 LB BAG (I had to buy half a pallet load which was 20 bags). But note that I am getting twice as much corn cob per bag for a little more than half the cost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So for a little more than half the cost, I'm getting twice as much. If this works out I will contact the company and with their permission post their contact information for anyone interested.
UPDATE Early March 2011: Well the finely, crushed corncob is a hit. The buns seem to like it and poop in their poop dishes more which is a plus. The corncob has no deodorizer in it, so the urine does begin to smell some if it sits for too many days. I clean and prep poop dishes in batches instead of daily. I have 7 full size liter dishes (for a cat) that are used in the common areas and in Gracie & Dino's room and Baby has about 6 or 7 smaller triangular shaped dishes that I use for her. All 3 buns seem to be accepting the new corn cob at this time. Will update again later.
Mid March: The buns seem to be accepting the new small corn cob so far. Now the corn cob is messier to clean up from the carpet or floor because it sticks to the buns feet and they carry it out of the poop dish. It also is not treated with any kind of spray for smell as the commercial pet brands are. So this starts to stink faster from their urine. It may be because I line the poop dish with newspaper first and it might really just be the newspaper stinking. So I just make sure to not let them sit too long before cleaning the poop dishes. Overall I am very happy with this so far since it is a huge cost saving for me.
End of March 2011: Okay I am so happy with the crushed corn cob that with their permission, I am posting the name and contact information for the corn cob manufacturer that I am now using. You will have to contact them for pricing and delivery options.
Mt Pulaski Products
Website is at: http://www.mtpulaski.com/
They are located a little north of Springfield IL.
I believe this is the exact product I am using for my buns. See this page:
Email Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just tell them that BunnyMama sent you.
I hope this will give you alternatives to what you might already be using as it's always good to save money where you can.
As of May 2013, we are still using the crushed corn cob without any paper product crumbles (Carefresh) with newspaper on the bottom. This works the best and cost effective for us with our 3 rabbits.
So for awhile now I stopped adding the Carefresh to our poop dishes - it was getting very expensive and the bunnies don't seem to mind at all. The Carefresh helped to keep the small pcs of corncob in the poop dishes better but we are doing well with out it.
A note on poop dish placement - so while redecorating Baby's room I had to move her out of her bedroom and into mine - cage and all. So while in my room I remembered that rabbits will mark there territory by pooping and/or peeing in the furthest corner away from their cage (sorta like "hey this is now my area and other bunnies should keep out"). So when I moved her in, I put a fresh poop dish in the 2 furthest corners from her cage. This worked very well for the most part - now keep in mind she did sorta poop all over my room even tho she always has total access to it - sorta saying "hey if you are keeping me in here, then I'm pooping everywhere" and she did. When I moved her back into her room, I put a poop dish in the corner where a new area was made for her t hang out in because we changed the furniture placement. Bunnies like to hide behind things but still have clear view of what or who might be coming. I don't recommend moving their poop dishes if you can as they just won't get it - it never occurs to them that the poop dish is over 2 feet - they will go into the same spot whether the poop dish is there or not and take care of business (if you know what I am saying). Once trained to that spot stick to it as much as you can. I now always keep the poop dishes in the same places in each room.