Rabbits, Rabbits, Everywhere!

This was too cute to not share.  We don’t see wild rabbits very often anymore, probably due to the feral cat population.  So my husband actually called me from his car to check out the rabbit in our front yard.  Something look familiar?

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She was running it right back to the same spot under the tree.  I daresay, we’re going to be having baby rabbits in the front yard soon.  (And please forgive me on the long grass – we’ve had a ton of rain, and it’s only been a week and a half since I mowed.  Haven’t been able to do it again because it’s been too wet.)   I’m going to have to resist the urge to look, as I don’t think a wild rabbit will be as forgiving with her babies being disturbed.  The other nice thing is that it’s not in the BACK yard, so as long as they don’t do something dumb – (i.e. go in the back yard), they’ll be safe from the dogs.

Otherwise, everything is going well here.  The newest litter is squarely in the “So cute my cheeks are going to burst” stage.  All 7 are still surviving, and harassing Little Mama.  No litter from Big Mama yet, but she should be due either tonight or tomorrow night.  Part of the fun is finding out how many she’ll have.  She’s not as..bulbous as last time, so I’m thinking less than 8.

No more bites on selling the rabbits, which is fine.  I expect it’ll take some time, if at all.  Not many people selling around the area, but supply tends to reflect demand.  We need to fill our freezer, anyways!  The older kits are growing well.  I suppose I can start calling them “Juniors” soon.  (That’s what they’ll be until 6 months, at which point they’re technically “seniors”.)

 

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We actually had a somewhat hot day, so I put a frozen gallon jug in the hutch for them to cool off by/lick/explore.

 

 

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Bunny Photobomb!

 

 

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And…pile of fuzz.

 

That’s it for now, kind of in a holding pattern.  I’m going to hold off on the automatic watering system for now, though I’ll start planning it soon and pricing it.  Hopefully tomorrow or the next I’ll have a new litter to report on!

 

Rabbit Litters Day….Oh, Who the Heck Knows?

Well, I’ve lost track.  Too many babies!

The new litter is about 14-15 days old, and doing great.  Despite the unfortunate peeing incident, they’ve done well.  They’re definitely about to be out of the nest box, their ears are up and they’re a lot more awake than usual.  (And they’re starting to hit that stupidly adorable phase)

Big Mama should be expecting soon.  In fact, tonight, I was debating as to whether or not to put her nest box in. (Approximately day 26 or day 27).  Well, I went out after deciding to put in the nest box, and this is what I saw:

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Big Mama with her “haystache”.  In retrospect, I had wondered why she was digging at the bottom of the cage this morning.  I feel silly now for not realizing why! (For anyone who doesn’t know, carrying around a mouthful of hay is a very good sign of pregnancy)

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And, within a minute or so..all you can see is a little bit of rabbit tush.

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My father-in-law made some lovely catch pans for us. 🙂  They’re going to work splendidly, and look SO much better!

I’m also working on a website…it’ll be up and running shortly!  Hoping it will help with marketing in time.

 

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A few photos of fluffball adorableness. 🙂

Guide to Being an Effective Parent

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone, and for all who have sacrificed – we’ll never forget those who gave all and those who came back.

No pictures today as we’re out of town, but I wanted to make certain I recorded my thoughts on parenting.

Now in fairness, we’re not parents (yet).  Someday, hopefully.  So I’ll stay away from anything about homeschooling vs. not, breastfeeding or not, etc.    I’ll stick with down and dirty basics.  So, without further ado…

HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE PARENT (mammal edition)

1.  If your offspring is helpless, keep them in a place reasonably safe and protected. 

2.  If  your offspring is helpless, feed them. 

3.   Don’t eat your offspring, unless they’ve perished (or perhaps are going to perish shortly regardless of intervention).

4.  Don’t pee on your offspring unless a jellyfish sting is involved.

Little Mama was in the running for new mom of the year until she screwed up #4.  And I didn’t see any jellyfish around.  Seriously, who does that?   We’re not talking “she now pees a little when she laughs” pee that comes with pushing babies through holes that were previously left to their own devices, either.  Oh no, it was a “Hey I just drank 5 beers over the last 2 hours” kind.  Rabbits are odd critters. 

So I gave baby rabbit baths 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave.  They were dry by the time I saw what happened, but if you see above paragraph – I wasn’t going to leave them without cleaning them up.  And now, I fear what I’ll come back to.  If they can make it through her crazy, they’ll be out of the nest box in another week or so anyways. Good luck little kits…good luck!

Onto Greener Pastures!

(Litters Day 49 and Day 10)

Good morning everyone!

Our “Bachelor pad” has now literally turned into “The bachelor pad” – 5 brothers were sold to a 4H girl for her meat pen/show projects.  That leaves our one poor little boy bunny with a mucked-up toe. (Dog nibbles, grr.)  His toe is actually healing quite nicely, but it’s pretty evident there was an issue – so he’s really just not fit for showing.  I have him listed for sale though, in the event someone is looking for a pet or breeding rabbit.  Regardless, the sale helped fund another 5.5 bags of feed.  Given the fact I’ve gone through 3 bags of food so far, that’s not a bad deal.  (Of course there are all of the material costs…so it definitely does not count as profit)

 

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The buck and his new, swinging, solo bachelor pad.

Worst case scenario, he’ll be one of the ones who ends up growing out and going to plate.  I didn’t start this looking to be a selling breeder, but as our upfront costs were a little high – at the moment I wouldn’t mind having rabbit sales help offset some of the investment.  Whatever doesn’t sell helps to offset our food bill.  I think it might be a little too ambitious to expect this to equal out to a “net zero cost” hobby/foodsource, but it has the potential.  I’m going to start placing some physical advertisements around the area and at feed shops, see if I get any interested buyers that way.  (Right now I’m using Craigslist, Ebay Classifieds, and I recently found a “Pennysaver”.  Plus Rabbitbreeders.us)  I’m keeping my eyes open for any other free advertisement opportunities.   So far Craigslist garnered my first sale.  To advertise in the paper is nearly $20, so for the prices I’m looking at selling these buns for – just doesn’t make sense.

So from the original litter, we now have 3 rabbits left.  One buck (see above), and two does.  One doe is already ear tagged, and has reached a lovely weight of 3lbs even today.  The other two buns are around 2lb 13oz  (doe) and around 2lb 15oz (buck).

The litter of 7 is doing well.  Their age snuck up on me, and I was surprised to go in this morning and find out one has its eyes open already.  I thought it was an anomaly until I counted the days – 10 already!  Wow.

Big Mama is expecting another litter soon – in about a week.  Especially with the nice weather on (kind of), and she is really in excellent condition – I’m planning to keep them “popping”.  I’ll evaluate after each litter though, if their weight starts dropping too much, etc. – I’ll give them a few extra weeks off.  The breeding does get all kinds of extra treats, including oats and lots of greens.  (Dandelions, etc.)  I’ll admit, I slip greens to the buck too.  🙂   The big kits are on greens as well.  Technically it will slow down how quickly they “grow out”, but at this point I’m not terribly worried about it.  They’re healthy, and the extra stuff from the lawn is helping supplement the feeding bill.

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Eyes are starting to open!  Just one of the seven kits so far.

 

 

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Comparative shot in the box.  They’ve easily doubled in size since birth, but I suppose that’s not “too” hard when you start off a little over 2 ounces!

 

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The buck in the same box.  For now, he fits.  (If I fits, I sits?)

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Lilacs, I think, are possibly one of the best things about Spring.  This is our tree in full bloom – wish it would last longer, but I’ll enjoy it while I can. 🙂

Off to the Show! (Litters Day 45 and Day 6)

Good afternoon!  So far, all of the babies are surviving and thriving.  The Greenhouse is a balmy 83F, though I have a fan going in there (extra ventilation!) and it’s only about 8 degrees warmer than outside.  All of the rabbits have shade and plenty of water, and no one is doing too bad as far as looking uncomfortable.

S0 in a turn of events, we had a rabbit show about 30 minutes from here.   After some emailing back and forth with the very nice organizer, I decided that even though I didn’t feel ready – I would bring a rabbit or two so I could get an expert opinion on them.  I’m certain there are multiple schools of thought on showing rabbits and the backyard (meat) breeder, and I won’t pretend that I’ve spoken with many folks at all about it.  The concept, if you’ve been exposed to any showing/judging of any critter – is that each breed has its own “Standard of Perfection”.   Does a backyard breeder with purebreds need to concern themselves with attaining this Standard of Perfection if all they are doing is using the bunnies for their own table?  But here is my take, and why I’m now more seriously considering getting into showing.  (For the record, 3 months ago when I started I had ZERO interest.)

1.  The New Zealand is a meat rabbit, and its standard of perfection encompasses that.  (Unless I happen upon some weird trait which makes it look like a bodybuilder.)  Better understanding what traits to select for will ultimately help your own herd produce more meat.

2.  Selling rabbits can be an excellent way to diminish the $ cost of raising rabbits.  If you are selling, purebred bunnies with parents that have judged well will often sell better.

3.  If you do transition into any sort of selling breeder, being known for quality stock in your breed (even on a small scale) will help immensely with word of mouth and more customers.

4.  It’s fun!  Plus it appears that rabbit shows can be a nice way to hock your other wares. (There were people selling jelly at the one I went to!  Means I may be bringing pickles along to my next one..)

Now that’s out of the way, I took two rabbits in.  I went in initially with the plan of having a judge look at them, and at the least tell me if there were any “faults”.  (I really don’t want to breed faults through my herd, unless again – I stumble across a fault that is unusually beneficial for meat production.)  They didn’t have ear tattoos (I need ink yet), and the entry fee was all of $3 a rabbit.  To me, that was worth the information I would get.  Long and short, rabbit people are wonderful and helpful – and not long after I got there I had an explanation of what to do, how to do it, and my two buns had new ear tattoos.  I took my buck, as well as the doe I intend to keep from the older litter.

The buck placed 3rd in his class (Senior white new zealand buck) – out of 3 rabbits.  Hah.  He has a fault which the judge called a “Crease”.  Basically, his body doesn’t start soon enough after his head.  His daughter (The other one I took) was too young to actually show as a junior. (She’s almost 3lbs, she needs to be 4.5lbs).  That’s okay though – I got what I came for – the judge took a look at her too.  He said she is a very nice doe, and extremely promising.  So – long and short – I’ll take her in again to the next show I attend, whenever that will be!

And now, for the pictures…

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Waiting for our turn!  The “pet taxi” is a cleaned-up garage sale buy (Score!) – and the itty bitty one on top is my little doe in my cockatiel carrier.  Hey, it works!

 

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I took this photo due to the giant mound of fur that is a rabbit (being held by the guy on the table.)  There are some very interesting looking rabbits.

 

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This was the New Zealand judge.  They divide it up into “Open” and “Youth” shows.  The show I went to did both, this was the youth group going first.  (Blacks, reds, whites)

 

 

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Panorama shot!  I guess I wasn’t surprised at how many people were there, but at the same time – I guess there are quite a few rabbit folks out there. 🙂

 

 

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A shot of one of the new kits.

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And finally – the litter on a fairly warm day.  The sun isn’t on them all the time, just when I move the tarp so I can take a picture.   (By the night, they’ll be back in a pile!)

 

Litter – Day 42!

The first litter has marked 6 weeks old today.   Time sure flies!  The litter weight, for comparison:

6 Weeks:  18.69lbs

5 Weeks: 13.65lbs

4 Weeks: 8lbs 10oz

3 Weeks:  5lbs 3/4 oz

They are now officially all out from Big Momma, and eating/growing on their own.  The largest one is one of the 2 does, clocking in at 2lbs 8 5/8oz.  Pretty good, I’d say! As a group, they gained more than half a pound apiece over the last week.

As for Little Mama, her 7 kits are doing very well also. (Day 3 now, technically) I can’t get over how full their tummies are.  (You’ll see in the picture, it looks like they’re going to burst)  She had them mostly uncovered yesterday while it was warm out, and when I went out this morning – she had covered them completely under a nice mound of fur for the night.

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One of the new kits this morning.  Big, full bellies!  And they’re starting to get just a tiny little bit of that white fuzz.

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These are the boys, enjoying their bachelor pad.

Baby Bunnies Everywhere (New Litter Day 2)

It’s been a great week so far.  The weather is awesome (Low 70s), the greenhouse is keeping cool, and we have lots of bunny babies.  The brand new Momma bunny is actually doing very well with her kits.  When I went out this morning, she had pulled a TON more fur (a lot of it on the bottom of the cage – I was wondering when the bunny bomb would go off) – and she had put more with the kits.  She also hopped up and fed them too, their bellies are nice and full.  As this is her very first litter, I’m still prepared for the fact that she is learning – and I may lose kits from her inexperience.  But so far, it’s going splendidly.

Big Momma (my proven doe) is down to just one kit left in the cage with her.  I left one in there just in case the other doe had milk issues.   All of her kits are growing, and growing fast.  Official weigh-in day is tomorrow, but I can tell you that they’re all over 2lbs.  One is almost 2.5lbs, and they’re 6 weeks tomorrow.  I’m very happy with that rate of growth, and growth rate will be a primary thing I select for with future breeding.

Now..for the pictures!

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One of the baby does.  She’ll be 6 weeks tomorrow – and already 2lbs 7oz.  I’m going to use this little box for growth comparison, plus it sits nicely on the scale.

 

 

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One of the kits that was born yesterday.  A little over 2oz (though I won’t be able to weigh the same kit every time, so the weight will just be an idea of growth).  Pretty amazing to realize that it only takes 5 weeks to go from this to the picture above!

 

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The two baby does being adorable.  They have the highest chance of sticking around, as I do want to expand the number of adult buns we have to 6.  Of course, if we end up overrun with rabbit in the freezer, I might reconsider scaling it back to 4 or 5.