February 2017 Rabbit Litters

We had babies born again! 11 were born to our NZ does Oreo (broken black) and Blue Velvet (solid blue). 9 made it through the challenging first week and by all accounts seem to be doing well.

I took a video of the babies and a few other things around the rabbitry this month.

Rabbits at five weeks old

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The rabbit kits turned five weeks old yesterday. I weighed them and did a preliminary sexing too just to get some practice.

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Blue Velvet has the following (consider the sexing very tentative): doe 2.0lb, buck 1.9lb, doe 1.75lb, and the runt (in picture above) is a doe 0.8lb. We’ll see if we get visited by what experienced rabbit folks call the “sex change fairy” later on.

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The two surviving black kits of Oreo both showed snotty noses yesterday and one had audible wheezing to their breath. Despite both growing well I culled them first thing this morning to protect the herd. Her two REW (red-eyed white) kits are a little slower growing but seem healthy so far. One is a buck at 1.59lb and the other was hard to judge but probably also a buck at 1.6lb.

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I will cull Oreo soon as the kits are at a weanable age. I placed an order for most of the supplies I will need to process her. Not sure if the kids will be willing to eat her. I will not force them. Once their mom is culled I will start a quarantine countdown for the two white kits and keep the best surviving one as I promised Maria we would keep an REW breeder if at all possible.

I love the ears on these rabbits. Both the black and the white kits are fascinating when backlit by the sunlight. The white ones were more cooperative so I managed a pretty good close up shot of its ear:

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Rabbits at four weeks old

 

Bunny tickles!
Bunny tickles!

From last week there isn’t much of a change in appearance, just size. I’m starting to track the kit weights now. Blue Velvet’s 4 kits weigh 1.29 lb, 1.18, 1.09, and a runt weighs only 0.51. Oreo’s surviving 4 kits weigh 1.19, 1.15, 1.04, and 1.0. Not sure how this tracks with wanting them to be ~3.5lbs at 8 weeks for 5lbs by 12 weeks but we’ll see.

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Weight gain in rabbits is affected by both genetics and feed program. I know our feed isn’t optimal as I have not found a brand of pellet available here that has the hallmark bright green color of a very fresh product.
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I finished a second hutch yesterday and moved Blue Velvet and her litter into one of the compartments. They have more space than the cage they had been in and the top access design of my hutches makes it much easier to clean them. Between rabbits’ tendencies to poop on top of their hay and the poop being frozen (though not so much in the milder weather we’re getting this week) it often needs a little encouragement to fall through the bottom cage wire.

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I’ve been attempting to breed this week too, to little avail. Stewie, our lone mature buck, lost his virginity quite quickly by getting one falloff but has not gotten any more. The does have not been lifting and most are growling at him. Being the winter solstice, it’s probably the worst time of year to try breeding because does are affected by hours of daylight. Not sure if I want to keep trying or give it a couple more weeks and try then.

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It’s been fun seeing how active the little kits are. Until I moved Blue Velvet and her litter to her new hutch, they were right next to Stewie’s cage, so I could watch them while keeping an eye on the breeding sessions. One thing that particularly surprised me is that they can climb the cage wire and get to the top of the cage!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas for those who celebrate it.

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Rabbits at three weeks old

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It’s been a rough week in the rabbitry. The litter I’ve been photographing is definitely sick, with snotty noses on at least one kit so far (I culled it this morning). So we’re no longer handling that one (except for me to check noses) to limit the risk of transferring disease back to the rest of the herd. After talking with my mentors, the goal is to hopefully get some healthy kits that are immune to whatever their mom has (probably bordatella).

Following that, yesterday I found all nine colony kits dead. Based on the damage (they were eviscerated and some eyes were eaten) I suspect rats got in and ate them. I had hoped with all of the modifications that the colony was rat proof, but it obviously isn’t. I am abandoning colony style raising for now. The location I picked up against our garage is proving very difficult to adequately seal against predators.

The progress so far.
The progress so far. 

I was already planning on building some hutches to hold the growouts but with the deaths in the colony I will build more of them and transition back to all cages. Colony raising has a lot of pluses so I will possibly revisit it in the future. The hutch pictured above is 30″ deep and 96″ wide. Access will be from the top, which I’ve found much easier when needing to handle the rabbits. I thought about also installing a front door but I’m going to try top-only on this for simplicity’s sake. I can retrofit a front door later if I decide I want one.

So we’re down to 4 healthy kits and 5 maybe-healthy-maybe-not kits. Once the new hutches are complete and the colony does have a week to adjust back to cage life, I’m going to breed them.

Enjoy some more pictures of this litter as they turn 3 weeks old. These have an interesting size spread, one is over 400g, two are about 320g, and the last is barely over 200g.

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First farm births

These are not our first baby farm animals (we had one-day old chicks this summer) but these are the first animals born on our little homestead. Our 2 caged New Zealand does both delivered kits today, one had 4 and the other had 7. This is a very exciting development for us!

Assuming they survive we’ll see if, in truth, we have the heart to harvest the ones we don’t sell or keep as additional breeding stock but for now it’s a wonderful shot of new life as we head into the dead times of winter.

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This one kit was wriggling a lot and was hard to photograph.
This one kit was wriggling a lot and was hard to photograph.
Oreo pulling fur for the nest pre-labor. A veritable fursplosion!
Oreo pulling fur for the nest pre-labor. A veritable fursplosion!
Blue Velvet started pulling fur later than Oreo but delivered sooner.
Blue Velvet started pulling fur later than Oreo but delivered sooner.