Author Topic: New to rabbits  (Read 11107 times)

Offline Lockdown

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New to rabbits
« on: October 28, 2014, 12:43:18 AM »
I am new to rabbits and have recently put in a buck and two does. they willl be bred next month when the does are old enough and right now i am just getting used to taking care of them. I have them in my garage in seperate cages, hung from the wall with a piece of corrugated plastic hung under the cages to catch the droppings and let them fall in to a collection bucket. I free feed hay and was wondering what to do with all the hay they kick out of the cages. Is it possible to just scoop up the kicked out hay, shake out the droppings and put it back in the cage. I know that sounds strange, with the urine on the hay and all, but they are kicking out a huge amount and I was going to use the hay for their bedding also. I need to find a way to not waste so much. Thanks

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Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbitsi
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 12:56:27 AM »
That us why I don't feed hay except for special occasions like Christmas and Easter. If you have good quality 18% feed, you don't need it.

Cedar

Offline Lockdown

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Re: New to rabbitsi
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 07:18:13 AM »
That us why I don't feed hay except for special occasions like Christmas and Easter. If you have good quality 18% feed, you don't need it.

Cedar
what do you use for bedding on the cage floor and do you put it back in if they kick it out?

Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 10:16:58 AM »
Mine are in self cleaning wire cages. That said, I still have to clean them every 3-4 months, as with our higher humidity, hair sticks to the wire when they shed out and then poo starts to accumulate (I never had this problem since 1977, just here now that I really live in Rain Forest). No, they do not get sore hocks from the wire.



When the does are having a litter, they get nestboxes stuffed with oat straw.

The smaller buck cages are on 'this side' of the photo, the first three to the right. The remainder are the larger doe cages. The one sitting on the ground, we were putting the hooks on the pipe to hang them. They are easy to take down for pressure washing. It takes about 30 seconds to remove the cage.

In this photo, this is after the automatic watering system was being installed. I am not sure it is on the other side yet. It was the day we were working on the new system, but it doesn't look like the other side is set up yet. It was soon after the photo anyway.



Cedar

Offline Lockdown

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 11:10:46 AM »
Mine are in self cleaning wire cages. That said, I still have to clean them every 3-4 months, as with our higher humidity, hair sticks to the wire when they shed out and then poo starts to accumulate (I never had this problem since 1977, just here now that I really live in Rain Forest). No, they do not get sore hocks from the wire.



When the does are having a litter, they get nestboxes stuffed with oat straw.

The smaller buck cages are on 'this side' of the photo, the first three to the right. The remainder are the larger doe cages. The one sitting on the ground, we were putting the hooks on the pipe to hang them. They are easy to take down for pressure washing. It takes about 30 seconds to remove the cage.

In this photo, this is after the automatic watering system was being installed. I am not sure it is on the other side yet. It was the day we were working on the new system, but it doesn't look like the other side is set up yet. It was soon after the photo anyway.



Cedar
Nice setup. I guess I didn't ask my question right. I'm mostly wondering if I put hay in for bedding during cold weather and they eat some, burrow or play with some, and kick the rest out, would it be OK to scoop that hay up and put it back in to replenish the bedding to save on hay. Will they eat the hay even though they have urinated and pooped on it. If not, then I can recycle the hay. If they eat what I put back in, is that going to cause a health issue. Thanks

Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 11:50:18 AM »
Rabbits, Musk Ox and Vicuna have the warmest hair of all animals in the world. It is not likely they are going to get cold, unless they are in a windy area or get wet. If you are going to bed them, use straw, not hay. Straw is cheaper and hay is going to seed your garden with grass. Oats or wheat are not nearly a problem as putting grass seed on your garden.

I would not put bedding which has fallen out and pooped on back in the cages. 1. Health issues. You also don't want them to have wet bedding. It is opposite what you are trying to do with bedding in the first place, even if they don't eat it. 2. It is possible it will start to heat up if there is enough of it wet and you don't want to start a barn fire. Think it won't happen? I know a couple people who lost their barns that way and it was not that much area that was composting down.

The only people I know who bed down their rabbits are people like Checkered Giants and Flemish Giants. They have larger pens, usually about 6-8 feet long on some of the show guys, as the Checkers are supposed to run on the table for showing. Flemish can also get sore hocks.. and also it is not easy to make all wire cages that long for these breeds without the bottoms caving out. The larger wooden hutches they had to clean daily. They do through 3 tons of straw a year on some of these guys, just in rabbit bedding.

Now that I sound horrible for not bedding my rabbits, up in Canada when it was colder than -40F day and night for weeks, I would stuff straw into nest boxes and give them to all my rabbits, bucks and does. Some used them and some didn't. Some ate all their straw and most pooped in their nestboxes. But where I am now, it doesn't get that cold. We generally have 12 freezing nights a year.

Cedar

Offline Lockdown

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2014, 08:39:33 PM »
Rabbits, Musk Ox and Vicuna have the warmest hair of all animals in the world. It is not likely they are going to get cold, unless they are in a windy area or get wet. If you are going to bed them, use straw, not hay. Straw is cheaper and hay is going to seed your garden with grass. Oats or wheat are not nearly a problem as putting grass seed on your garden.

I would not put bedding which has fallen out and pooped on back in the cages. 1. Health issues. You also don't want them to have wet bedding. It is opposite what you are trying to do with bedding in the first place, even if they don't eat it. 2. It is possible it will start to heat up if there is enough of it wet and you don't want to start a barn fire. Think it won't happen? I know a couple people who lost their barns that way and it was not that much area that was composting down.

The only people I know who bed down their rabbits are people like Checkered Giants and Flemish Giants. They have larger pens, usually about 6-8 feet long on some of the show guys, as the Checkers are supposed to run on the table for showing. Flemish can also get sore hocks.. and also it is not easy to make all wire cages that long for these breeds without the bottoms caving out. The larger wooden hutches they had to clean daily. They do through 3 tons of straw a year on some of these guys, just in rabbit bedding.

Now that I sound horrible for not bedding my rabbits, up in Canada when it was colder than -40F day and night for weeks, I would stuff straw into nest boxes and give them to all my rabbits, bucks and does. Some used them and some didn't. Some ate all their straw and most pooped in their nestboxes. But where I am now, it doesn't get that cold. We generally have 12 freezing nights a year.

Cedar
Thanks, Cedar. appreciate the advice. I know rabbits are hardy and wasn't really worried about them getting to cold. We get very few nights below 20 during the winter, I just thought they would appreciate a little hay to lay on or burrow in. I would not have put wet hay back in, they kick so much out the dry stuff would have been very easy to separate out. I have seen more than a few barns burn from hay put up wet. I have read other opinions about straw being too sharp and pointed causing injury, which is why I didn't consider it. I did consider nesting boxes when the temperature drops and that is what I probably will do. Should only have to do it a few times during the winter. Thanks again.

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Offline Autofab

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2014, 07:34:24 PM »
Love your setup Cedar. Is that a black american? I'm curious as to your plans for him breeding/genetic wise though this probably isn't the thread for all that.

Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2014, 09:54:53 PM »
That is a registered Grand Champion Blue American (7 legs in National competition, not local) buck named "Pho", and currently he is dead.  And his first litter here is dead... last time a WWOOFer will come here with dogs. >:(

Next month I am hoping to acquire a new Blue American buck to do test breeding to all my does, to test for 'true blue white' genetics. There won't be anything other than Blues and Whites in my rabbitry (for long anyway, if they show up).

The IDEAL Blue American rabbit will have a genotype (the genetic code) of aaBBC_ddEE.
The IDEAL White American rabbit will have a genotype of aaBBccddE.
In this case, breeding an ideal white to an ideal blue would result in nothing but blue and/or white kits.

The American breed is returning from the verge of complete extinction. During the time when it almost completely disappeared, outcrosses to different breeds happened in an effort to save the breed. These outcrosses resulted in a few undesirable colors entering the gene pool. If you haven’t already seen them, things like steels, torts, blacks, and agoutis are frequently hiding under the masking effect of the whites’ “cc” gene. The fact that these things are hiding has led many breeders of white Americans to strictly maintain white-to-white breeding.  If you get whites in blue-to-white breedings, it is actually a VERY good thing. As you now know that the blue parent carries the white gene.

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Offline Lockdown

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2014, 12:35:21 PM »
So, my two does kindled this week. The first one on Monday and the second one sometime last night- this morning. The first one had from what I can tell 5-6 that seem to be doing well. I have tried to move the hay and fur aside to get a count, but it seems to aggravate the doe so I will leave it alone until they crawl out and count then. I went to the cages this morning and found three newborns in the second rabbits  box, uncovered and dead. They were full size(almost large it seemed to me) and well formed, did not appear to be injured in any way. She did not appear to even try to cover them up. This is the first litter for both. I will re-breed her, but wonder, how many chances do you give a rabbit to get it right? Also, since she only had three, I palpated her to see if she may have retained any fetuses. are retained fetuses an issue with rabbits? Thanks.

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2014, 12:44:24 PM »
.

Offline Lockdown

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2015, 11:41:03 AM »
So, my two does kindled this week. The first one on Monday and the second one sometime last night- this morning. The first one had from what I can tell 5-6 that seem to be doing well. I have tried to move the hay and fur aside to get a count, but it seems to aggravate the doe so I will leave it alone until they crawl out and count then. I went to the cages this morning and found three newborns in the second rabbits  box, uncovered and dead. They were full size(almost large it seemed to me) and well formed, did not appear to be injured in any way. She did not appear to even try to cover them up. This is the first litter for both. I will re-breed her, but wonder, how many chances do you give a rabbit to get it right? Also, since she only had three, I palpated her to see if she may have retained any fetuses. are retained fetuses an issue with rabbits? Thanks.

Lockdown.

Any thoughts on how many chances to give this doe to do it right? Thanks

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Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2015, 11:57:56 AM »
Oops. I forgot to answer that. I will after i get back.

Cedar

Offline The Morgan Hill Homesteading Project

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2015, 07:02:07 PM »
Cedar,

Can you recommend any introductory books on raising rabbits? I want to start with two dogs and a buck as well.

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2015, 07:14:14 PM »
,how many chances do you give a rabbit to get it right? Also, since she only had three, I palpated her to see if she may have retained any fetuses.

If I am generous, three. She could lose up to all three in one litter however.

1. Must have 8 or better born (on my Americans, I now want 10 or better, if they have less than 8, she is dinner)
2. Must have at least 8 raised (on my Americans, I now want 10 or better)
3. Be over 4.0 pounds at 56 days (get a good scale). My new number for my herd is 5.5 pounds or better at 56 days
4. Be of good disposition. Is mellow, doesn't flip out at the drop of a hat, NO AGGRESSION! Absolutely NOT!
5. Breeds easily and I get 5 litters + a year.
6. Be of good conformation, even if a crossbreed.
7. Produces kits of good conformation.

If it is questionable about weights or conformation, I will breed her to a different buck. It could be the buck throwing poor weights, which is why records on each individual animal are a requirement with me. It is the only way to really know your herd.

Rabbit rarely retain fetuses. And in 30-some years I still suck at palpating. I don't know anyone who can do it well.

Cedar,
Can you recommend any introductory books on raising rabbits? I want to start with two dogs and a buck as well.

Hopefully two does and a buck, as interspecies breeding for meat is not going to get you very far on this project  ;)

I highly recommend joining the ARBA for a year, and you will receive the "Official Guide Book: Raising Better Rabbits & Cavies" with your membership as well as the "Domestic Rabbits" magazine.
https://www.arba.net/join.htm

I cannot find the Oregon one at the moment, but this will work
http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/files/2011/12/publications_projects_rabbit_project_reference_manual.pdf

Good handling photos
http://msue.anr.msu.edu/uploads/234/43264/rabbits/Rabbit_Fitting__Showing_Guide.pdf

This is an OK video.. not perfect, but ok
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBcdz7FaZyg

I highly recommend these and this is what I have been using since 1977
Buck record http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/buck_performance_record_0.pdf
Doe Record http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rabbit_production_0.pdf

You might want to study this http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/4h/4-h1601r.pdf

Read this thread on judging/selecting/culling meat breeds
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=49277.msg558565#msg558565

Cedar
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 07:47:43 PM by Cedar »

Offline Lockdown

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2015, 06:12:08 PM »
If I am generous, three. She could lose up to all three in one litter however.

1. Must have 8 or better born (on my Americans, I now want 10 or better, if they have less than 8, she is dinner)
2. Must have at least 8 raised (on my Americans, I now want 10 or better)
3. Be over 4.0 pounds at 56 days (get a good scale). My new number for my herd is 5.5 pounds or better at 56 days
4. Be of good disposition. Is mellow, doesn't flip out at the drop of a hat, NO AGGRESSION! Absolutely NOT!
5. Breeds easily and I get 5 litters + a year.
6. Be of good conformation, even if a crossbreed.
7. Produces kits of good conformation.

If it is questionable about weights or conformation, I will breed her to a different buck. It could be the buck throwing poor weights, which is why records on each individual animal are a requirement with me. It is the only way to really know your herd.

Rabbit rarely retain fetuses. And in 30-some years I still suck at palpating. I don't know anyone who can do it well.

Hopefully two does and a buck, as interspecies breeding for meat is not going to get you very far on this project  ;)

I highly recommend joining the ARBA for a year, and you will receive the "Official Guide Book: Raising Better Rabbits & Cavies" with your membership as well as the "Domestic Rabbits" magazine.
https://www.arba.net/join.htm

I cannot find the Oregon one at the moment, but this will work
http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/files/2011/12/publications_projects_rabbit_project_reference_manual.pdf

Good handling photos
http://msue.anr.msu.edu/uploads/234/43264/rabbits/Rabbit_Fitting__Showing_Guide.pdf

This is an OK video.. not perfect, but ok
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBcdz7FaZyg

I highly recommend these and this is what I have been using since 1977
Buck record http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/buck_performance_record_0.pdf
Doe Record http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rabbit_production_0.pdf

You might want to study this http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/4h/4-h1601r.pdf

Read this thread on judging/selecting/culling meat breeds
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=49277.msg558565#msg558565

Cedar

So, with # 1&2 do you require that right from the first litter. Doe #1 had seven and they are doing good. So if doe # 2 only has 4 or 5 next time and doe # 1 only has 7 again, do you count that or do you let them age into it. This is only their first litter. Thanks

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Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2015, 06:27:14 PM »
So, with # 1&2 do you require that right from the first litter. Doe #1 had seven and they are doing good. So if doe # 2 only has 4 or 5 next time and doe # 1 only has 7 again, do you count that or do you let them age into it. This is only their first litter. Thanks

I require that from the first litter. I do not generally breed commercial types until they are 6-7 months old, and my Americans not until they are 8 months old.

You work with what you have. If you only have 2 does and they are both crummy, do the best you can, save the best two does out of your best doe, breed them when they are old enough, and cull out the worst doe. Or go buy some quality breeding stock. It will save you money and time long term. But you can grade up within your own herd, it will just take longer and alot of culling.

The #2 doe who is only giving you 4-5 per litter is wasting cage space for a different doe who will produce you 15-20 more kits a year, which is 50-80 more pounds of meat for the same amount of feed. Say that chicken is $2/lb right now (rabbit is worth alot more though) at the grocery store. That small litter producing doe is costing you AT LEAST $100-160 dollars per year in the pocketbook of wasted cage space and meat. Most does I keep around 2-3 years, sometimes 4 if she is exceptional. So if you keep her 2 years, she will cost you at least $300 that another doe could be producing for you.

Doe #1, I would give another chance. Breed her, breed her 5 minutes later and then 8 hours later. You should get a higher litter rate doing it this way.

Doe #2, since you have her, and it sounds like you only have 2 does, give her a go again. If she has a small litter or doesn't take care of them, I would stew her. She is costing you money.

Do you have commercial type breed/s, or crossbreeds from commercial type breeds? How much do the does weigh? Don't guess, use a good scale. Not a bathroom scale. Make sure you do not have like a Mini Lop cross rabbit, or a medium sized or smaller breed, as they will produce smaller litters.

One of Z's smaller Californian does produced 12 kits per litter for 4 years.  I did eventually cull her out though and gave her to a 4-H kid, as the Americans were producing more weight on a kit by almost 2 pounds at 56 days, so "Callie" was sent down the road to free up the cage space for a better producing doe.

Cedar- who cannot wait for the freezer to be over so we can clean cages!

Offline The Morgan Hill Homesteading Project

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2015, 09:48:37 PM »

Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2015, 10:15:02 PM »
A local with rabbits for sale.


Stay away from anyone who is selling 4 week old kits.

1. They will likely die on you.
2. If they don't die on you, they will likely be stunted.
3. They only started to maybe start eating at 4 weeks, not eating well, and still need their mothers milk
4. There is no way in Hell that you can even begin to judge their conformation.
5. Or their weight


Cedar

(Cedar mumbles under her breath about idiot unethical uneducated backyard breeders)

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2015, 10:27:09 AM »
Cedar

What is your opinion of these rabbit cages that require some assembly?

http://www.bassequipment.com/Home/Rabbit+Cages/default.aspx

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2015, 10:37:12 AM »
I love Bass and recommend them. The last time I was building cages, it was more cost effective for me to buy from Bass, than it was to buy wire rolls of 1x2" and 1/2x1" like I normally do. I think all of our holes (rabbit cages) are from Bass currently. But I now have roll wire to replace bottom wire after 6 years of use.

Get at least 30x36" cages..even for bucks. And get the largest J-feeders. Just make all the cages 'doe ready'. Even if you think you will not be moving rabbits around much, you will be at some point down the road. Spend another $1 per feeder and be done with it. (Also order a 2-3 hole rabbit carrier).

Get the GOOD J-clip plyers. Don't get the cheap ones. My friend Beth has my good ones and she is 3 hours away... Z has a crappy cheap pair which I curse at every J-clip I apply. You might also want to get the J-clip removers as in a few years you will have to replace the bottom wire, or remove a J-clip you messed up on applying.

I like having swing out doors, which is an option on these cages. I don't mind the swing in/updoors, but they do get in the way sometimes.

When you put your cages together, remember to PUT THE 1/2" side of the bottom wire UP.. and not the 1" side up. The rabbits need to stand on the 1/2" side.

Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2015, 06:34:19 AM »
any recomendations on where to get wire for self made cages. I went to local farm box store and will cost more to make my grow out pens than I like. I am making the cages to the space I have 6' x 30" on one side, then same on the other. I made my breeders above them in pens and the growers will be directly under them (lowers are covered with EDPM waste diverter). Left over wire will be used to daytime rabbit tractors on the lawn.

36" x 100' 1/2" by 1" 16 ga galvanized for $160

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2017, 08:50:29 PM »
Cedar

What do you know about automatic watering systems?

Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2017, 08:59:38 PM »
Cedar

What do you know about automatic watering systems?

I have a love/hate relationship with them. In the summer it is the only way to keep water to a mom and litter. Where you are, I would recommend it as well. They are pretty easy to hook up. You can use a reservoir tank like I do (was that set up when you were up with me?) out of a 55 gallon tank, which kinda pressurizes the line. Friends used a toilet hooked to a garden hose to their main water source.

In the winter months if I have freezing, I have a reserve water crock/pan for each cage though, as I drain the water when it is a hard freeze. Then I water 3x a day and dump the water after 15 minutes. They catch on pretty quick.

I HATE water bottles.. they can often vapour lock.

You just have the two hole cages, right? I got half your message on my phone. Send pics..

Here is that thread I was speaking of for you to look at
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=49277.msg558565#msg558565


Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2018, 05:39:55 PM »
I found some cages on craigslist for free. there and 4 (four) of the and they are 30 inches long, 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide. what breed of meat of adult rabbit can I fit in there?

Offline Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2018, 05:46:06 PM »
I'd go with California, New Zealand, Palomino, Florida whites, anything but the giant breeds.

Cedar

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2018, 06:02:18 PM »
Cedar

I talked to dad today. he said that I if I am going to put the rabbits in metal cages that the cages have to be raccoon proof. he has seen or heard stores of rabbits getting there feet eaten off, which cant be a pretty sight. what has your experience been with this?

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #27 on: March 04, 2018, 06:32:23 PM »
Never seen raccoons and possums do anything but get into j-feeders.
Seen LOTS of rabbits loose toes to dogs. All rabbit kills i have seen are 100% domestic dogs.
Weasels get into nest boxes. I never had that happen, but friends did.

Cedar


Offline mountainmoma

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #28 on: March 04, 2018, 08:43:51 PM »
Cedar

I talked to dad today. he said that I if I am going to put the rabbits in metal cages that the cages have to be raccoon proof. he has seen or heard stores of rabbits getting there feet eaten off, which cant be a pretty sight. what has your experience been with this?

The racoons here definitely eat animals like chickens and rabbits thru the wire of cages, if they can get their little raccoon hands thru, they will kill thru the wire and pull out pieces. Hardware cloth is small enough to be racoon proof.

Offline The Morgan Hill Homesteading Project

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Re: New to rabbits
« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2018, 07:25:37 PM »
When butching rabbits what type of blade should be used. I have seen/used disposable exacto knife blades but don't know what I am looking for now that it has been 9 months since I did this. I think jack had an item of the day like this.