Original Publish Date: 2016-04-20 10:28:58 So this year I decided to add Rabbits and some more Fowl to our little homestead. We started this project by obtaining 2 very nice New Zealand Meat rabbits from Laurie over at Circle M Farms. Laurie ends up being my mentor, so most of my "working" animals have come thru her farm as we both like trying new projects, and we have built a mutual trust that I'll take good care of livestock that comes here. She had decided to cut back on her workload and downsize a bit focusing on chickens. I jumped at being able to try rabbits as I had been considering it for a while. Its still a pretty fast learning curve. Our first litter wasn't the best. I really wasn't quite ready to handle them so out of 7 kits and a false pregnancy, only 2 are left. But the goal is to learn from mistakes. Mom rejected 4 that were very small. One just disappeared. One was stepped on and broke it's leg, then escaped and sadly died of hypothermia out of the nest. Then there were three I thought were doing very good. Until one that was healthy and active a few hours earlier was found dead in it's cage. So now their are 2. But what's important is learning and correcting those errors. Things to learn
- Mom needs to be settled and kept calm during pregnancy.
- Have wire cages of good size for rabbits.
- baby pens need to have openings no larger then 1/2 inch squares so they can not escape.
- make sure you have a good nesting box set up, one with a lip is ideal.
- Mom needs toys and things to chew on.
- Wean bunnies at 4-5 weeks! Their is a chance that leaving them on mom while they are eating pellets can cause severe stomach upset . The issue that caused sudden death in the bunny that seemed otherwise healthy was gastric inflammation, the combination of the milk and feed, mixed in the stomach created a toxic environment in the gut. I know I skinned it and did a bit of a post mortem, no point wasting a perfectly good hide. What I found was a full but inflamed stomach and a very strong smell of acidic urine mixed with blood.
- breed mom back at week 6-8 just after kits are weaned. Apparently rabbits are engineered for back to back litters and although they should get a little break breaks that are tooo long can effect future fertility so it's ok to rebreed. Some facilities do it as soon as 10 days after kitting(birth), while others do a 42 day cycle.