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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits

So today, after chores, I went out to check my supply of rabbits.  I don't have as many as I need, that's for sure, and you can never have too many rabbits, right??  Okay, well maybe you can, but right now I just don't.  I have folks wanting to buy breeder rabbits from me, so I'm needing to up my supply.  So, we went to work getting some rabbits bred.  I raise New Zealand whites and Californians.  I used to also raise Flemish Giants, but didn't have as much of a market for those.  The rabbit market has been down quite a bit for me; however, in my area, I seem to be the only one that has hung on.  I don't know why that is, but it is.  Maybe folks are just smarter than I am and have figured out it costs quite a bit to keep all these rabbits on hand, when you aren't getting many sales.  A 40 pound bag of rabbit food costs almost $10 and that only lasts me 3 days, and I truly don't have very many rabbits anymore.  We used to have about 150, now we are down to about 25 give or take a bunny.

I love raising rabbits, for many reasons.  They are such easy keepers and don't requite a ton of time.  That said, they still must have fresh water and good food, and feeders must be kept clean.  There are so many different types of rabbit feeders, and it just depends on your preference and what works well with your rabbit.  For my preference, I choose the cast aluminum crocks.  They hold up well through tough winters and lots of ice in them.  We have broken a couple of them, but that's over 6 years, so I don't consider that too bad.  They come in many sizes, so that if you have a large litter, you just put out a large pan, one rabbit, a small pan.  I use them for both feed and water.

My rabbits are fed only alfalfa pellets, of 16% protein.  I have tried in the past to feed hay, but every time I do that, I end up with sick or dead rabbits and I just have decided to stop that experiment all together.  Likewise, unless a rabbit is "off its feed", I do not feed table scraps of lettuce, carrots, or anything else.  Not because I don't want to treat my rabbits, but because I don't want to "mis-treat" my rabbits.  Rabbits have a very touchy digestive system, and the slightest change can turn a healthy vibrant rabbit into a dead rabbit extremely quickly, and rabbits do not do well with vet care.  Again, they are just too nervous.

Now, I'm probably going to offend some folks here, but I need to state this right up front.  We try very hard to eat from our farm, because we just can't afford not to.  In this day and age, I don't see how families are able to make it without supplementing their food from home, which everyone, and I mean everyone, from one point or another, CAN help raise their own food, even if you live in a high-rise apartment house.

Most of the "critters" on our farm are edible.  Rabbits included.  Now please, if you get offended by someone eating "Fluffy" for goodness sakes don't rant on me here.  I have been brought up with the notion that God gave us meat for eating, and with very few exceptions, I am willing to try it all, and have tried more than a lot of folk have, and enjoyed it.  Okay, nuff said about that.  I do butcher my own rabbits.  Yep, I'm a female and it can be done.  Men are not the only ones who can perform this gnarly task.  Its really not so bad, but I heard it phrased exactly right once.  If you get to a point where you enjoy killing the creature, rather than being a bit hesitant about doing it, but still willing, then you should never be doing it.  Anyway, probably more information than you wanted.  However, I just must warn you, at some point I will be talking about butchering and may even show pictures or a video, so please, just be forewarned that this is part of what this site is about.

Okay, all that being said, I went to a homestead site that I enjoy very much, some of you may enjoy it as well,  I have posted in a couple of places on there that I am looking for some New Zealand (NZs) and some Californian (Calis), does and bucks.  So we'll see if I get any response.  I did do 3 breedings this morning, so hopefully in a month, we'll have NZ babies.  Around March 16, I should have 2 nice litters of Calis.

Well, have to get ready for work.  Tomorrow we'll talk more about breeding rabbits, the hows, the whens, and the what to look fors.

Have a blessed day everyone and thanks for looking at my blog!  :)

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