Monthly Archives: January 2012

Apple Cider Vinegar For Rabbits

Apple cider vinegar has lots of benefits for the domestic rabbit. It contains a potent combination of vitamins as well as being full of minerals, some are potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and many more. ACV also contains helpful enzymes which provide many health benefits.

My rabbits get ACV in their water in 3 month cycles. 3 months on, 3 months off, 3 months on, etc. There is nothing harmful in ACV so it will not hurt the rabbits. Some older rabbit books reference ACV as a additive to their daily water giving it continuously to the complete herd. I plan on to keep putting ACV in my rabbits water,  as I have seen the results in my herd! Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to a gallon of water. Start with one and work up to two, sometimes I do not even measure it just add a splash in a gallon jug and good to go.

So you should consider ACV as a daily preventive health maintenance program or just a monthly health tonic it is up to you, just remember to keep a jug handy were you fill your bottles and crocks so it is handy. You will see the greatest effect from this treatment about 4 weeks after beginning the ACV. Give it time and you will see the improved look and health in your rabbits.

I use the organic ACV with the mother in it so it is alive and still has all the valuable probiotics. Even regular ACV has great benefits just make sure it is apple cider vinegar and not apple colored/flavored distilled white vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar keeps the rabbits immune system up also preventing urinary tract problems like infections and bladder sludge (this is caused from excess calcium) and promotes a less potent urine therefore reducing the smell.

ACV keeps the rabbits body’s ph regulated, clearing up skin conditions and infections. This adjustment in ph will also help with weepy eyes and other eyes issues.

ACV is known for keeping the rabbits fur softer and shinier.

Many rabbit breeders feel that by adding ACV to your rabbits water this will result in healthier rabbits by increasing the nutrient absorption capabilities of the G.I. tract as well as helping with the whole digestive process. Extensive historical use in veterinary studies indicate that ACV added to feed or water can cure a mastitis infection and reduce the transmission rates of the bacteria in most livestock.

ACV is also said to boost fertility rates and produce more female kits in a litter, also said to make the does more willing to breed.

ACV makes rabbits unattractive to fleas and mites by making the rabbit smell off. Making it a great repellent and health tonic. You can also mix a few drops of ACV and a little mineral oil to treat for ear mites by dropping 4 or 5 drops in each ear holding the ear flap closed for a minute or two. then gently rubbing the base of the ear.

It can also be used as a cleaner for cages and crocks as well as keeping the green algae from growing in water bottles in the summer.

If you bring your rabbit to a show or transporting them, the water will taste the same as the water from home.

With so many uses cleans and disinfects, kills garden bugs, kills weeds, and the health benefits for your rabbits you should include ACV in your rabbitry.

Poultry people add it to their flocks! Horse breeders to their horses! Rabbit breeders to their rabbits! Keep a few jugs on hand your homestead animals will thank you.

Thanks for reading! Rise And Shine Rabbitry – Raising Meat Rabbits To Save The World!  Join The Rabbit Revolution, Like Us On Facebook!

TANNING RABBIT PELTS

Crème d argent pelt

Crème d argent pelt

Rabbit pelts have been used for many years as fur, in the manufacture of felt, and for a variety of miscellaneous toys and other items. With the development of many synthetic fibers and imitation furs, the demand for pelts by furriers has decreased. Today there are few if any market for furs in the United States and is considered a waste product in many a commercial slaughter house.

Whether the pelts from meat slaughtering should be saved and prepared for marketing will depend upon the market demand and value, the type and number of rabbits being slaughtered and the time and facilities available for preparing the pelts. It is unlikely that the small homesteader slaughtering his own rabbits will find it worthwhile to process the skins for sale. But for the homesteader this waste product is a value worth more than just monetary gain but a way toward self sufficiency a wide variety of needed items can be made with rabbit pelts

Rabbit pelts vary widely in quality and value. The different types of fur characteristics vary depending on the breed type, such as the Rex, Satins, Silver Foxes and other fur type breeds(also know as dual purpose rabbits- meat and fur) Pelts from the young of any breed are normally of poor quality and of less value than those from adult animals. The young fryers pelts are thin and can tear, but are still usable but the older rabbits make a stronger finished product. Those with dense winter coat that is not easily removed from the pelt, are most the most sought after.

Preparation of pelts for market begins with the removal at slaughter. Exercised care to avoid cuts or tears, and remove body fat that often remains attached to the pelt. As the pelts are removed, turn them inside out while still warm and moist. Place them on wire stretchers or shapers with the front leg casings on one side. Shapers can be made from No. 9 gauge galvanized wire. The shapers extend or expand the pelts to their full length, but do not stretch them out of shape. Fasten the rear legs to the ends of the wire shapers with a clothes pins or some other fastener. Some people split the pelt down the belly. This works great if you are freezing them for later use.(I do this if I am freezing them)

Hang the pelts in a well-ventilated drying area, but not in direct sunlight. After the skins are dry the wire shaper is removed. Do not use salt or other chemicals on skins, but as they are being packed for storage or shipment, naphthalene (moth crystals) or paradichloro-benzene may be placed in the packaging container as an insect repellent.

There are so many ways to tan fur, here is just one of many. Freeze the hides until you have enough to tan (I usally wait till I get 6 or more). I keep them turned inside out. This process is a salt / acid process. This works very well and makes some nice pelts for coats, hats, and my favorite blankets. Wear safety glass and rubber gloves when using this acid mix it is very dilute but will still irritate your eyes.

Tanning Rabbit Pelts

1. After dressing the rabbit, toss the raw hide (split down the belly, not cased) into a Ziploc bag and put it into the freezer. Do not salt or dry out, you don’t even have to flesh them either. When you have 6 or more, you’ll have enough to make it worth your while to tan.

2. Thaw out the frozen hides, run under warm water to remove ice.

3. Rinse well and squeeze out excess water – DO NOT WRING THEM!!! SQUEEZE ONLY!!

4. You will need: 1PLASTIC 5 GALLON BUCKET
2 LBS. ROCK SALT(OR ANY CHEAP SALT)
8OZ . BATTERY ACID (can get at any Automotive store and is cheap)
STICK OR WOODEN SPOON – for stirring
A SCRUBBED BRICK OR ROCK to hold the pelts from rising to the surface of the solution.
There are many other pickle solutions. I have use this method and am happy with it!

5. Run 1 gallon of HOT water into the bucket, add salt and stir to dissolve. Add 1 gallon of cool water (not cold). Water temp. should be about 70 degrees.

6. Slowly add acid by tipping the bucket toward you and allowing the acid to dribble down the inside into the water. Be careful not to splash liquid and stir carefully with a non-metallic spoon or stick till blended. You may want to wear rubber gloves for this. ALWAYS WEAR EYEPROTECTION! Remember the old saying when using acid and water “Water to acid prepare to be blasted” ALWAYS add the acid to water slowly not the other way around!!

7. Lower the completely thawed hides one at a time into the bucket. Submerge in liquid with the stick and slide brick or rock down the bucket upright and allow the rock or brick to settle on top to the hides. At this stage the acid is not strong enough to do any real damage to your skin but you don not want to splash it into your eyes!

8. Put a piece of plywood on top of the bucket and stash away in the garage or closet where no one will disturb it or get into it. Make sure that wherever you put it, it will stay at approx. 70 degrees. Too hot and the hides will be damaged, too cold and the tanning process will be delayed.

9. Leave the bucket alone for 1 week. Put your rubber gloves on then gently remove hides from the acid solution with the stick. Allow them to drip over the bucket then SQUEEZE to remove excess liquid. Do not take to the sink. Run under cool water and add dish detergent to remove the remaining acid mixture. Rinse and squeeze out.

10. At this point the flesh on the underside of the hide should be thickened and somewhat separated from the hide. Grasp a piece on the edge and you should be able to simply peel the flesh off, often all in one piece. Be very careful with junior hides, as they tend to be very thin and easy to tear. If the flesh is very tight on the hide, it isn’t “prime” yet and should be returned to the acid solution for a few more days.

11. After fleshing, return the hides to the acid solution and leave for another week (can be safely left for up to a year).

12. When you pull out the hides after at least a week, remove the pelts and swish them around in soapy water. Squeeze as much water out as possible. Now lay pelts over the porch railing, back step, or make a drying rack to allow the pelts to drip dry. At the first sign of drying (white patches on the flesh side), work the hides gently over the back of a chair, 2X4, fence post, rough rope ect. pulling the pelt back and forth and then pull gently till the flesh side turns white all over. Pelts can be thrown in a very cool clothes dryer and tumbled for a while to help the drying/softening process.

13. Once the hides are worked till soft and completely dry this takes LOTS OF ELBOW GREASE! If you have allowed the pelts to dry stiff without working them, toss them in a pan of water to soften and then start over with the drying/working process. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes each to work the hides to a nice suede like softness. Rub the fur side over the back of a chair also to make the fur soft and natural looking. After you are done with the tanning solution, add a couple cups of baking soda to neutralize the acid. This makes it completely safe to dispose of. Good luck!!! Let me know how you do!

I am currently writing up a post on NATURALLY TANNING RABBIT PELTS so stayed tuned. JOIN THE RABBIT REVOLOUTION! Like us on Facebook and subscribe to our blog to get all the newest post as they are posted!

Basics Of Raising Meat Rabbits On The Homestead- Part 1

RabbitsYou may ask why meat rabbits? I will go over the basics for why I believe everyone should be raising meat rabbits on the homestead. I could go on forever about the benefits of raising rabbits for meat, but for quick easy convenience I will only list ten reasons why everyone should be raising rabbits. Then I will cover basics of housing, feeding, and breeding information. I will eventually get into writing more about each of these subjects in more detail, and will be writing a part 2 to this series answering any question you have on part 1 and processing your rabbits, tanning pelts, and using the best fertilizer know to man, rabbit manure! Will be posting updates on the goings on at the rabbitry! Show you our hillbilly solar powered rabbitry setup for the off grid rabbit production and more. Join The Rabbit Revolution! LIKE US ON FACEBOOK for daily updates and rabbit information.

WHY RABBITS?
1. Rabbit meat is very high in protein and very low in fat and cholesterol

2. You know were your meat comes from and the type of life the rabbit had, no medications or hormones just good tasting healthy meat

3. Rabbit are easy to raise! even working a full time job 2 does and 1 buck will only take a few minutes in the morning and evening and time on weekends to clean cages,even the youngsters can do the chores

4. Rabbits can be raised in country and suburban areas(could even be raised inside).They are quiet and clean no one will know you have your own meat supply

5. Rabbits have a high reproduction rate each doe should raise at LEAST 36 fryers a year(average 6 litters,6 fryers in each litter)and could produce even more by raising more breeding stock out of the best of your litters

6. Rabbits can be raised many different ways-colony raising,natural feeding,pasture raising ect. the rabbits will adapt and flourish with good management

7. Rabbit are easy to process takes only 15 minutes a rabbit from cage to freezer (or grill)Rabbit can be cooked many ways, any chicken recipe can be changed to use rabbit in place of chicken

8. Rabbits are very efficient-they will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water that a cow will produce 1 pound of meat.Your rabbits will be ready to butcher in 8 to 12 weeks with a 50%up to 65% dress out from live weight

9. Rabbits will grow well on food items that do not compete with food items grown for human food.Rabbits are a inexpensive way to supply good healthy meat for your family

10. Rabbits have other by-products good for the homestead.The best manure know to mankind,awesome pelts for blankets,hats, gloves and other crafts,ok that was 10 and i could list 50 more ,I could also write pages on just the added benefits of rabbits other than meat!

Housing For Rabbits-

There are many different types and styles of hutches or cages. The housing needed will depend on the climate, location and the amount of money you have available. It is not necessary to go to a big expense to build hutches. I have seen some of the best rabbits raised in hutches made from second hand lumber and some old wooden boxes. Hutches can be built to be used outdoors or put in any shed or outbuilding in your backyard as long as they are in a dry draft free environment. You should construct hutches that will allow for easy feeding, watering, and cleaning. Clean cages mean clean rabbits! Most rabbit cages are made of wire, this provides easy cleaning and they last longer than cages made of other materials. The floor wire is usually 1/2″ x 1″ and sides and tops are 1″x2″ wire. This is what they use in most commercial rabbitries.

The most common outdoor hutches are usually made of wood and wire, some with just a wooden frame with a wire cage hung inside. It is important to have protection from all predators even dogs and cats. Proper ventilation is a must when they are raised inside or out, but make sure the rabbits are not exposed to wet winds or drafts. Rabbits can withstand cold weather better than hot weather. Once your rabbits start to grow they will need to be separated make sure you have extra space available. Cage size for medium sized meat breeds are 24″W x 36″L x 18″H or 30″W x 36″L x 18″H for breeding cages, cages for bucks or young replacement breeding stock can be housed in a 24″W x 24″L x 18″H or a 24″W x 30″L x 18″H. Rabbits can be housed and raised many different ways as in a colony setting were multiple rabbits are bred and raised in pens or on pasture in rabbit tractors. It is up to you to decide how you want to raise your rabbits check out other breeders and how they raise their rabbits.

Feeding Rabbits-

Feeding rabbits is probably the most important part of raising rabbits, also the most argued. It is what controls the health and condition of the rabbit (even good genetics in rabbits cannot override a poor feeding program). Most people who begin with rabbits overfeed their herd. Feeding once a day is enough only pregnant does and growing kits need extra feed. Always feed on a regular schedule a rabbit becomes accustom to a set feeding schedule and will become agitated and restless when the schedule is not kept. A constant supply of water is a must and should be changed daily. In the winter try to change frozen crocks as much as possible, at least two times a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. When you get your rabbits be sure to ask what feed they are using try to get some of the same brand from a feed store or buy some from the breeder. If you plan to change brands make sure to mix some of the new feed with the old brand for a couple weeks before switching over to the new feed completely. Any change of diet to rabbits should be done slowly! Rabbit pellets are usually dark green in color and has the nutritional requirements to produce a healthy rabbit and excellent growth in young. Check the labels and feed as manufacturer recommends. Pellets are easy to feed and requires less labor than natural feeding or pasture management. Pellets have changed a lot in my time raising rabbits and not for the better. More corn and soy and less alfalfa based feeds are sold, most all products are waste products from mills, most are GMO grown and round up sprayed, so read your feed labels and choose your feed for your rabbits informed. There are still some good rabbit food companies out there!

Grass hay is one of the most important item in the rabbit diet, it should be fed in unlimited quantities. A rabbit fed only commercial rabbit pellets dose not get enough long fibers to keep the intestines in good working order, the long fibers of hay push things thru the gut at the right speed. Hay is also good for preventing intestinal impaction caused by ingested hair. Alfalfa or clover hays should be fed restricted as they are to rich in protein and calcium to be free fed. Fresh vegetables help keep the intestinal contents hydrated, which make them easier for the rabbit to pass. Rabbits love fresh, fragrant herbs right from the garden. If your rabbit shows any signs of stomach problems, such as runny stool take away the pellets and veggies and feed only grass hay or even straw until stools harden up.

Green feeds are the natural food of rabbits. These are rich in protein minerals and vitamins, being soft and tender they are easily digested. They should be included in your feeding program. Rabbits can be fed lots of types of greens, including lawn clippings, cabbage, kale, safe weeds (do your homework lots of good weeds for rabbits out there), waste from your vegetables from the garden, prunings from fruit trees, sweet potato vines and lots more. Any green feed not eaten should be removed from the hutch daily. Roots may be grown and used fresh or saved for feeding in the winter months such as carrots, sweet potatoes, mangles, rutabagas, turnips and beets. This is just the basics of feeding rabbits, I will do a lot more on this subject in my future posts!

Breeding Rabbits-

Rabbits of medium size (most meat breeds)are ready to breed when they reach the age of 5 to 8 months of age-some breeders go by weight not by the age of the rabbit. Many young bucks will attempt to breed as early as 3 months it is best to separate them at this age, you do not want does that young to get pregnant the young will be small and there will be few kits in the litter, it also stunts the growth rate of the doe itself. Just as important do not wait to long to breed your does or the first time they will be hard to breed. While doing your chores in the rabbitry if you notice a doe trying to nose and scratch her way into other cages or rubbing her chin on things like feeders, and crocks she’s ready to breed.

When looking at the does sexual organ if her vulva is moist and bright pink to a reddish color all the way to the tip, she is ready to breed. As the cycle is waning the vaginal opening becomes a bright purple. Rabbits are induced ovulators, meaning ovulation does not occur until the actual mating by the buck. Always take the doe to the bucks cage. Does are very territorial about their cages and will attack the visiting buck and can cause serious harm to the buck. A ratio of one buck for every 10 does is necessary, the buck may be bred up to 7 times as week effectively. The doe usually accepts(lifts her tail and raises her back end)the buck will mount her vibrate and then he will fall over to the side or even backwards, some bucks are very dramatic! Within a minute he will be right back up to repeat the mating. I usually return the doe to the bucks cage for a re breeding 6 to 12 hours after the first mating. This improves conception rate and increases the number of kits in a litter. Keep accurate records of the day you bred the doe! The does gestation time is 29 to 32 days, usally right on day 31.

You should test her for pregnancy between the 10th and 14th day after breeding. The best way is to palpate by checking the lower abdomen of the doe with your thumb and forefinger checking for nodules about the size of a marble. The other way is to take her back to the bucks cage and if she runs around growling and trying to avoid the buck she is most likely pregnant. This method is inaccurate as some does will breed again and will already be pregnant or refuse to and will not be pregnant.

The gestation period is the time from mating to kindling and is 31 to 32. The nest box should be put in the does cage on day 27 from when the doe was bred (remember those accurate records a good litter of kits on the wire and you will not be happy). Fill the nest box 1/2 to 3/4 full with nesting material such as straw (my favorite), hay, shavings, dry leaves ect. I also put some nesting material in the cage so the doe can pick up some to add to her nest box. The doe will make her nest and by the time she kindles will be pulling fur. Watch expectant does often especially if they are first time mothers, If she has her kits on the wire you can put them in the nest box as long as they have not been chilled, if they have been chilled they should be warmed immediately and put back into the box and covered with fur. If the doe has more than 8 kits you should foster them to a doe with a smaller litter, unless you know the doe to be a good producer of milk.(A doe only has 8 teats so only so many kits can eat at once).

After the doe has kindled and seems to be mellowed out it is time to check the nest box, give the doe a treat (I usually give a small piece of apple or banana) and while she is enjoying her well deserved treat check the litter, remove any dead or stunted young and put the nest box back in the cage. 8 good healthy kits have a better chance and will grow faster than a litter of 12 to 14 weak kits. It is best to check the nest boxes every day the first week and every other day after that. By checking on the kits you will see if they are eating buy their plumpness and full tummies. A doe only nurses her young one or twice a day for only 2-5 minutes. If the doe is not feeding them, place the doe in the nest box and hold her until the kits start to nurse.

The kits are born naked and blind they will grow very fast, in about 2 weeks their eyes will open and in 3 weeks will start to leave the nest box. You can wean the kits from 4 weeks at the earliest and at the latest 8 weeks depending or your breeding cycle. It is important to keep the doe and kits on full feed and plenty of fresh water to keep them all healthy. The young rabbits should weigh 4+ pounds at 8 weeks of age now it is time to slaughter and select the fastest growers for your replacement breeding stock, or to move them to grow out cages.

This has only been a basic of raising rabbits. I plan on doing a few more of this series the next will be on slaughtering – selling- and using everything from your rabbits! Also answering any questions anyone has. Thanks for reading! Rise And Shine Rabbitry, Raising Meat Rabbits To Save The World! Join The Rabbit Revolution! Like Us On Facebook and subscribe to our blog page to get the newest post as they are posted!