Monday, April 25, 2011

Rabbits Anyone?

For a while now I have been keeping a couple or more rabbits in hutches outside our home in the country.  It has become a hobby of mine since the age of 10, but in recent years I wanted to make a little profit on the furry creatures.   After much prayer and research, I felt I was ready to start the project of raising babies to sell for pets and meat purposes.  This began a long trial-and-error experience of acquiring good breeding stock, mistaking males for females, and finally, breeding... which turned out to be an experience in itself.  But I won't bore you with that.
   Fast-forward to 2011.  I was excited about my rabbit's litter due in early April.  After numerous tries and no litters, and then a dead litter unexpectedly born in mid-March, I had re-bred her and prayed for success this time.  My experiments with food amounts had proved successful even when "Rowena", my only doe, birthed the dead litter, because now I knew what the problem had been with the previous non-existent litters-- underfeeding.  Needless to say, I felt pretty stupid but at the same time quite excited now that I had (hopefully) solved the problem!
John and I checking out the new litter of kits!
   I fed the pregnant doe generously with as much crimped oats, feed pellets and fresh alfalfa hay as she would eat during the 30- or so-day gestation period.  My brother, John, helped me build a nestbox which he attached to the side of her cage.  On April 10, when our family returned from home from a weekend trip, I found ten wiggling pink bunnies in the nest, a day early!  They were covered with fur (which "Rowena" had taken from her neck and made a nice burrow in the box with) and were as energetic as bouncy balls.  I learned from The Encyclopedia of Country Living* (among other useful bits of information) that to touch the babies in order to count them and make sure all were alive and well, I must first dab a little Vex rub on the mama's nose.  This, I read, prevents her from smelling my human scent on her kits "for a bit".  We had some eucalyptus essential oil in the house so I used that.   
 God's amazing creation of Life overwhelmed me with gladness as I touched the pink skin and held one of the tiny wiggling creatures in my hands.  For years I'd dreamed of this moment, and it was here at last!  Witnessing new life for me is both exciting and humbling. 
 In a week the kits were white with a thin layer of fur, and in two they were fluffy balls with long ears and  bob-tails.  On Easter Sunday we had great fun holding them in our arms and on our laps.  They are not so jumpy now as they were when young, and are becoming more adapted to human handling; which is something I want to make sure of-- I've had enough of skittish adult rabbits whose scratches are painful! 

The kits are now two weeks and a day old and growing fast.  It's amazing how much they've grown in two short weeks!  I feel so blessed to be able to witness this, and will be sorry to see most of them go when sold at four weeks.  At six weeks they will be ready to harvest for meat (or kept as pets, of course).  However, I plan on keeping a couple for breeding and look forward to raising many more litters like this one, Lord-willing.
P.S. I'm open to any advise on raising rabbits I can get my hands on!  Also, all comments are welcome and I love to read and learn from what you think of my posts. 
*The Encyclopedia of Country Living can be purchased on Amazon, and includes information on raising everything from pigs to goats.  It's a very informative book chock full of wonderful how-to advise from a life-long farmer/housewife!
 


 

3 comments:

  1. Hi I just found your blog from the "Preparing to be a help meet" site...I am a "professional" rabbit breeder and shower, and thought I'd pass on a great website that has helped me with my hobby: www.thenaturetrail.com

    Also, you do not need to put anything on the mother's nose. As domestic rabbits, they are used to "human" smell, and won't care if their babies smell like us! ;-) This is a super fun hobby...and also hard! (In the winter it can be nearly impossible to get does bred!) But it is very rewarding-especially when you finally get those precious tiny little kits filling your nest boxes!! =) Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment, Carissa! Thank you for the website; I'll be sure and check it out. Yes, I found out later that I didn't have to put something on the doe's nose.:) She's due again any day now and I'm looking forward to more babies!

    ReplyDelete