Well, the wait is finally over! I am pleased to announce that we have 2 new litters over here. One is a red/broken red litter and the other is a blue/broken blue litter. In my last blog I wrote that we were expecting 3 litters but our white doe, Clara Belle, did not take. It was her first breeding and we were not at all concerned that she did not have any kits. We also had another litter from our very experienced black doe, Darcy, but she decided to have them on the wire for the first time ever and we were not home to catch it in time so, of course, we lost them.
I wanted to share both our successes and our losses with you to show that it even happens to those of us who have been doing this a long time. Even with all the planning we are really at the mercy of the does but we still do all the necessary things to get ready.
These things happen from time to time and we choose not to lose sleep over it. We continue on with the program as if nothing happened. To do anything else would not make us very successful. We are constantly "studying" our stock and trying to learn their behavior in hopes that we can better prepare for the future but there are no "fool-proof" guarantees.
We have simply learned to try to adapt and overcome. I hope you guys are getting something from these blogs. Drop us a line and let us know. Until next time....
Today I began making preparations for 3 litters that are scheduled to be born on January 17th. In doing so, I wanted to share what we do to get ready for that much anticipated day.
We begin by preparing the nestbox itself. While there are many different options when choosing a nestbox, from plastic buckets and cardboard boxes to the store bought options from your local feed store on online shop, we choose to build our own boxes. We use 3/4" plywood for our boxes and they are put together with screws. We keep several on-hand but we also have precut patterns should we find ourselves in a bind and have to build one pretty quick. Trust me, at some point you will forget to do the bunny math and find yourself a box short so it is best to plan ahead. Some folks frown on using wooden boxes but I feel that as long as they are cleaned and disinfected after each use they are perfectly fine. Cleanliness should always be a top priority regardless of what type of box you use.
The bottom of our box is lined with cardboard for easy cleaning when it is time to remove the box and if mom happens to chew it up it is no biggie. We then place 1 to 2 inches of pine shavings on top of that for added cushion and to help keep heat in the box. That is followed up by a layer of hay. We also place a substantial amount of hay in the cage with mom for her to use as she sees fit. If she begins to use it for the box it is a sure bet she is definitely ready to kindle.
When placing the nestbox in the cage be sure to consider where best to put it. Do not place it on the side that mom has chosen for her bathroom as this may lead to a very dirty box well before the kits are scheduled to arrive.
I also try to position the box in such a way that I can "observe" activity inside the box without having to get too hands-on. Remember, that we see with our eyes and not with our hands. The most I will do once the kits have delivered and mom is out of the box is to do a quick count just by feeling around in the box. As tempted as I am to want to see the color, I usually wait at least one day before further invading mom's space, especially if she is a first-time mom. She does not know what to expect from me and I do not know what to expect from her. I am a little more confident with my experienced moms but I tend to give first-timers their space.
At any rate try to keep mom as comfortable and as calm as possible. She is about to work very hard for you and you should do everything you can to make sure is treated very well.
That is all for now. See ya in about 3 days...
In Part 1 of this topic we discussed where to acquire breeding stock. Now let's talk about what factors should be considered when selecting your stock. I prefer to think of it in a lot of ways like purchasing a new vehicle. First, you decide on a brand. In this case, our brand in the New Zealand which is now considered the number one meat breed in the country and quite versatile.
The next thing we decide is color. Do we want red, blue, black, white or broken? Maybe you just want to focus on one color when getting started until you get a better understanding of how it all works. One mistake I see with newcomers is trying to do too much too fast and then they become overwhelmed. This usually leads to frustration and discouragement and they get out before they have barely gotten started. If you decide, however, to go all out and start several color lines then, by all means, be my guest. Of course, you are probably going to need a crash course in color genetics.
After you have settled on a color, next comes body style. For a better understanding on that subject I would suggest you obtain a copy of the ARBA Standard of Perfection. You can order a paper copy or you can download a digital copy onto your device. You might also want to, again, talk to some experienced breeders and attend a few shows so you can get a clearer picture of what is desired. Some of you may be thinking that you only want to breed for meat purposes so why would it matter what the bunny looks like. I personally think that it is especially important if your purpose is meat. When you go to the store for meat, do you pick just any old cut of beef or do you sort through each pack until you get what you consider to be the best looking piece for the price and take it home to feed your family? I think the answer is clear. We all want the best quality we can get for a reasonable price. At any rate the goal should be to produce good quality stock no matter what the intended purpose might be.
Well, it finally happened. We received snow, and only snow, here at the rabbitry. That may not seem like a big deal to some but for those of us here in eastern North Carolina it is pretty remarkable when we actually get a measurable amount of snow and it is not accompanied by sleet or freezing rain.
We spent the last couple of days trying to get ready for the blizzard of 2018...lol which was only about 2 to 4 inches of snow. We have 2 barns here at the rabbitry but we noticed that one was significantly warmer than the other. This is probably due to location and design. Since we had recently sold all of our available bunnies and had more room than normal we elected to move all of our bucks into the doe barn where it is warmer. You can imagine the excitement that created when bucks who had never had any interaction were placed side by side for the very first time. It was a fun scene! The rest of our time was spent filling cracks and stuffing holes to stop any drafts we found. I have learned that feed bags serve more and more purposes everyday. I am very happy and somewhat relieved to say that the "warmer" barn never dropped below freezing which meant no frozen bottles or crocks and no hauling water from the house. I call that a win!!