The Great Rabbit Experiment

You may recall the great rabbit experiment where we were raising rabbits in a dog run.  Well, that experiment sort of failed, primarily because it was too hard to clean the run with the cattle panels on the ground (the cattle panels were there to keep Mica from digging) plus the rabbits we had in there were not meat rabbits and even full grown would not be fryer size.

We then got into the heritage breed rabbits and set up the rabbit barn.  That’s working well.  In fact, I bought some red wiggler worms and put them under the rabbit cages.  Now the chickens had better stay out of the barn.

Anyway, I am having trouble getting the two breeding-age Creme rabbits bred and I was writing two of the women I got rabbits from.  They have both been raising rabbits for many, many years and are worlds more experienced in rabbit raising than I am.  While I was writing one of the e-mails, I clicked onto the local Craigslist and saw an ad for meat rabbits.  I checked the ad and it was for two breeding age New Zealand does, one breeding age New Zealand buck and seven fryers.  All of these rabbits along with cages, water bottles, feeders and what was left of their feed for $50.  I called immediately and they were still available, he had just posted the ad.  He was selling them because he was relocating to Florida to find a job.  I made arrangements to go out to look at them that afternoon.

This seemed to be a deal way too good to be true and I expected to find rabbits in poor condition, but they were not; in fact, they were in excellent condition.  We packed them all up and brought them home.  I put the two breeding-age does in the outside hutch and then put the buck in with the younger doe.  Within a few minutes he bred her and — oh — that’s what is supposed to happen.  In case you’ve never seen rabbit breed, it’s actually pretty funny.  The buck does his thing and then falls over.  Sometimes they squeal before falling over.  This didn’t happen when I put the Cremes in to be bred, well it may have with one, but it may have been too hot when I bred them last.  Rabbits don’t breed (or do anything for that matter) well when it’s hot.  What animal does?

We put the fryers in the dog run and this weekend we’ll get a secure cover over it and that’s where they’ll stay for a little while.  I believe some of them are fryer size, I’d like to let them grow out a little bit more.  Also, I’m working Saturday and as of right now, planning on going on a ride at South Mountain on Sunday so I may not have time to process rabbits.  However, I may not ride Sunday simply because I can’t afford the gas.  Wally is not working Saturday which means he’ll have a small paycheck next week.  We only have three more paychecks to make rent and it’s going to be tight. The lady I am riding with asked if I’d bring Ace along for her step-daughter to ride if her husband decides he wants to go along for the ride, if he does not, then they won’t need Ace.  If I bring Ace, she’ll pay for my gas.  If I have to pay for the gas, I’ll probably stay home.  I can’t spend money on frivolous things like driving to South Mountain.

So now we have rabbits to butcher and eat and the pressure is off for my heritage breed rabbits to get their business done.  We’ve been very anxious to try rabbit and to buy a fryer-size rabbit would cost us at least $10 per rabbit so we got a deal with the ones I got yesterday.  I will probably re-sell the New Zealand buck and for now, keep the does and when it’s time to re-breed them, use either a Chin or Creme buck.  Apparently the younger doe (she’s actually a New Zealand/Californian cross) has huge litters so when I breed her, I’ll make sure I breed another doe about the same time to help foster her extra kits.  From what I’ve been told, rabbits are pretty good about taking on foster babies.  Rabbits only have eight teats so raising more than eight babies is difficult.  The goal with the heritage breed rabbits is to breed them to help maintain the breed and with the hope that the babies will have more value than the commercial rabbit breeds.  There are not too many people breeding either breed in NC so hopefully I won’t have any trouble selling them.  Whatever we don’t sell, we’ll eat.  I’ll keep the extra commercial breed does for now to see how they produce.

I only got half the house cleaned yesterday so I need to get the other half done today.  I’m hoping to get the banana bread factory going as well.  We’ll see how the day goes.

Until later …

One Reply to “The Great Rabbit Experiment”

  1. Michelle,

    It was my pleasure to met you and Wally last Thursday when you came to get the rabbits. Good luck with your Jersey cow.

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