Advertisements

Monthly Archives: March 2012

THE BENEFITS AND USES OF RABBIT MANURE

Anyone who comes to the rabbitry and my homestead will see our many gardens. I have been asked many times what is your secret. You must use miracle grow they say. I just chuckle, thinking they just opened up a can of worms, and worms love rabbit manure! And now they are going to hear it! Now they get to discuss all about rabbits any there purpose on the homestead, the conversation will start about the many benefits and uses of rabbit manure, but more will come. I am determined to spread the word of raising rabbits, and all the many benefits that go with it. That’s how I came up with our slogan – Raising Meat Rabbits To Save The World!

Rabbit manure is one of the best manures for your organic gardens! It will increase poor soil by improving soil structure and also improving the life cycle of the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Rabbits are very good at producing an excellent source of manure. It is rich in many nutrients and very simple to use. One doe and her offspring will produce over one ton of manure in a year.

Rabbit manure is packed with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and many minerals, lots of micro-nutrients, plus many other beneficial trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, sulfur, copper, and cobalt just to name a few.

N – P – K VALUES – Rabbit= N- 2.4 P- 1.4 K- .60, Chicken=N- 1.1 P-.80  K- .50, Sheep=N- .70 P- .30 K-.60, Horse=N- .70 P-.30 K- .60, Steer=N- .70 P-.30 K-.40, Dairy Cow=N- .25 P-.15 K-.25  As you can see by the nutrient values of farm manures and how they measure up and rabbit manure really shines! Rabbit manure also doesn’t smell as strong as other manures making it easy to use.

Nitrogen(N)- Rabbit manure is higher in nitrogen than sheep, goat, pig, chicken, cow or horse manure. Plants need nitrogen to produce a lush green growth. Nitrogen helps plants grow greener and stronger helping the plant reach its full potential. This is great for all those quick growing salad greens! Great for the early growth of tomatoes, corn, and many other vegetables.

Phosphorus(P)- Rabbit manure is also higher in phosphorus than the other manures. It helps with the transformation of solar energy to chemical energy. Which in turn helps with proper plant growth. Phosphorus also helps plants to withstand stress. Phosphorus in the soil encourages more and bigger blossoms helping with flowering and fruiting also great for root growth.

Potassium(K)- Potassium helps with fruit quality and reduction of disease plants will not grow without it. Plants use potassium as an enzyme to produce proteins and sugars.They also uses potassium to control water content.

More than just the awsome NPK values of rabbit manure it is loaded with a host of micro-nutrients as well as organic matter that improves soil structure, drainage, and moisture retention. Vegetable gardens, pastures, and flower gardens all will benefit from using rabbit manure. It helps retain soil moisture and soil structure.

Rabbit manure is one of the few fertilizers that will not burn your plants when added directly to the garden and can be safely used on food plants.

Grab a handful from under the hutch and use it as is, or work it into the topsoil. Rabbit manure at first glance many seem to be less powerful than commercial fertilizers but in reality they are better and healthier for your garden providing food and nourishment for your plants as well as earthworms and other beneficial animals and microorganisms in your soil. So why use chemical additives that are know to kill all soil life. Some manures have to be aged so they do not harm your garden, Bunny Berries can be used fresh as is. This is also a very organic way to add nutrients back to you soil.

HOW TO USE-

Use It As Is – “Bunny Berries” – Because rabbit manure is dry,odorless,and in pellet form makes it suitable for direct use in the garden. It can be applied any time of the year and helps give your plants a boost during the growing season or as a storehouse of nutrients when applied in the late fall and winter. Because it is considered a cold manure there is no threat of burning plants and roots. So use it as a top- dressing, mulch around plants, bury in the ground under transplants or just working it into the soil right from the rabbit. This is the easiest way to use your Super fertilizer! Grab a handful and add it to your garden today. The Berries are a time release capsule of goodness for your soil. This is the way i use it the most in my gardens, so the next time you find yourself knee deep in rabbit poop just add it to your garden!

Compost It – Composting rabbit manure is an easy process and the end result will be ideal fertilizer for gardens plants and crops. I only compost the rabbit manure/urine/shaving mix i get from my drop pans in the stack a hutch setup. Simply add to your compost bin or pile and add in equal amounts of dry straw or shaving to the manure (Unless like me you only compost the shaving/poop mix-the shaving have all ready been added plus the urine starts the heat up fast!) you can also mix in your usally composted materials grass clippings, leaves ,kitchen scraps. Mix with a pitchfork and keep the pile moist not saturated you may have to cover it with a tarp. It will take any were from a few months to a year depending on how often you turn it. I have heard some of my composting friends complaining that their compost pile will not heat up. The poop/urine/shaving mix is the best compost activator i have seen. Add it, turn it, and it will heat up! If you can get your hands on even a small bucket of this mix every now and then you and your compost pile will be in nitrogen heaven as far as composting rabbit manure goes rabbit manure is nitrogen on steroids it will get your pile hot and breaking down at accelerated rates .Those friends with the cold compost piles are usally here on cage cleaning day with buckets and shovels. Now if i could just figure out to have them do all the cleaning chores!

Manure Tea – “Bunny Brew” – Rabbit manure tea is the colored water that manure has been steeped in and is full of nutrients making a concentrated liquid organic garden fertilizer! The nutrients from the manure dissolve easily into the water were it can be added to sprayers or watering cans. To make the tea, put a heaping shovel full of rabbit manure in a burlap bag or porous cloth with the four corners tied together. Put the bag in a 5 gallon bucket and fill with water. Allow it to seep in the warm sunshine for a week. Remove the bag and suspend it above the bucket until it stops dripping. You can speed up the process by putting manure directly into the bucket with the water and let it sit for 3 days, stirring daily. Then put some burlap over the top of another empty bucket (making a strainer) and pour thru the cloth to strain out the solids. Suspend the solids in the makeshift strainer above the bucket until it stops dripping. In both processes the solids will not have released all their nutrients to the tea, and they will still be a beneficial soil amendment (put into the garden or compost pile). If you have many plants, you may want to use a big barrel by using the ratio of 1 part manure to 5 parts water. To use the Tea, dilute it until it is about the color of kitchen tea, which should be about one cup of the concentrated manure tea to a gallon of water. Use it to dip every new plant before you transplant them. Dip only the root ball, until bubbles stop coming to the surface (also do this to trees and shrubs before transplanting). Also wet furrows before planting, and fill holes with it before you plant trees or shrubs. Wait until it is all absorbed into the soil allowing all the nutrients to permeate the nearby soil of the plant you are planting. Making and using manure tea is a great way to give your garden crops the extra boost they need for optimal health and growth. Give once a week as a fertilizer and throw out your miracle grow! Experience will tell how often to use and how much. Now that you know how to make bunny brew, you can use it all the time to give your plants that extra boost!

Growing worms- I am not going to go into this in to much detail in this post as i am writing up a post on benefits of raising worms and rabbits together for sustainability. Although fresh rabbit manure is considered one of the best organic garden fertilizers it is also the best worm feed and bedding. You can grow and raise worms directly in the rabbit droppings under cages, or hutches, or making boxes and adding the manure to those. Rabbit manure along with wasted feed makes some of the best worm feed there is. When properly cared for red worms eliminate unsightly manure piles, odor and fly problems. The best worm to use is the red worm or red wiggler(Eisenia fetida). You should have about 200 to 400 worms per square foot of surface area. To start off add bedding material to the bed. Bedding could be any combination of carbon material-shredded paper,decomposing leaves, hay, straw, peat moss, ect. Remember that worms cannot eat dry rabbit manure so maintain moisture level so the bedding is damp. Worms do not like salt and rabbit urine contains salt so you must remember to remove wet urine spots regularly adding them to the compost or directly to the garden. Keep adding a thin layer of your carbon material of choice to cover the surface of the bedding and loosen the bedding occasionally with a fork do not use a shovel(worms do not like being cut in half).The rabbits and worms will do the rest. You can remove and harvest worms and replace bedding every 3 to 4 months, if the worms are doing their job. Join The Rabbit Revolution! Subscribe to our blog and get the updates as they are posted. The Benefits Of Raising Worms With Rabbits For Sustainability will be a good one! I been working on this one for a long time!

Making Methane- This is something I will be experimenting with this summer with a 55 and 30 gallon barrel the 30 gallon nesting inside the 55 gallon barrel with a slurry of rabbit manure, shavings and urine mix being anaerobic composted to make methane. I will be trying to run a lawnmower engine hooked to a alternator to charge my battery bank stay tuned for this one! I will be posting the information on making and using this unit soon!

Hope this answers all you questions on rabbit manure and its benefits as well if you have any question or other ideas please let me know I will post them or add them to this post!

Advertisements

FIRST AID KIT FOR THE RABBITRY

Injuries and other problems with your rabbits will respond with great success if the care is immediate rather than delayed for hours or even days. If medications are handy you are much more likely to treat the rabbit, rather than if you must go out and buy it and bring back to the rabbitry. Following are some of the items i think all rabbitrys should have on hand. Keep in a box or duffel bag ready for use. A rabbit can undergo a variety of injuries caused from a simple scratch to the more severe like becoming overheated. Think ahead at the potential hazards and prepare your kit accordingly.

Antibiotic Cream or Ointment- This can be obtained at most farm store and can be used to treat most injuries initially. Clean are with peroxide first

Antiseptic- Peroxide or equivalent to cleanse infected areas prior to the application of healing medications

Antiseptic Soap- This should be available to thoroughly cleanse the hands prior to working with sick and infected animals and right after

Baby Food – Use when your rabbit refuses to eat; it’s easy to get baby food or canned pumpkin into a feeding syringe.

Chlorhexidine Solution– Use to flush wounds.

Disposable Scalpels- These are very convenient and can be used to open abscesses that develop. Dispose of them after use

Electrolyte powder- Can be mixed with water and added to drinking water for stress(really good in hot weather)

Eyedropper – To administer saline apply certain antiseptics. Also to feed orphaned kits

4-Way Acid Pack –  Use 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. This additive is good for keeping rabbits drinking in very cold or very hot weather as they like the taste of it therefore drinking more water. I use it when I wean kits or anytime they are stressed. It also keeps good flora in their digestive system. 4 way acid pack contains organic acidifiers, electrolytes, bacteria and enzymes.

Styptic Powder (or flour) – If you trim your rabbit’s nails a little too short and they begin to bleed, dip the paw into the flour.

Gas Medication (Simethicone) – Use in case of a gas emergency. Various brands for babies are acceptable, including Gerber’s Gas Relief Drops.

Gauze and Cotton Balls and Q-tips – Use to clean and care for wounds. Also for the application of medicine

Hot water bottle- A hot water bottle can be used to help warm up a rabbit when it becomes too cold. A rabbit that has become too cold should be brought indoors and warmed with blankets. Place the hot water bottles on the outside of the blankets and not directly against the rabbit’s body. Good for warming up chilled kits, wrap in the towel and put kits next to warm gently

Hydrogen Peroxide— Use initially on wounds. Thereafter use the chlorhexidine solution as hydrogen peroxide inhibits the tissue’s healing.

Kaeopectate- This anti-diarrheal agent can be given two to three times a day(1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)for sudden acute diarrhea

Mineral Oil – For the treatment of ear mites and skin irritations.

Nail Clippers- These should be available to trim toenails periodically so that animals will not injure or tear long toenails

Neomycin Opthalmic- This is a very good stuff and should be kept in all rabbitrys. This work great for nest box eye (matted closed). Apply two to three times a day

Neosporin (non-pain relief) – You can use this if your bunny has a minor cut or wound.

Preparation H – This is used to treat the occasional sore hocks. This should be applied daily for five to seven days

Probios – Administer to rabbits who are not eating. Helps to restore balance in an upset stomach. BeneBac is another widely available brand.

Rubbing Alcohol – For sterilizing scissors, tweezers and other tools.

Saline – For gentle wash around the eye area in case of irritation.

Scissors and Forceps – Use to trim the fur surrounding a bunny wound. Be careful! Rabbit skin is extremely elastic and is difficult to see through the fur. Be certain that the skin remains clear of the scissors. Also for removing foreign material from the wound area

Stethoscope- To listen to you rabbits digestive system and monitor them for GI Stasis

Syringes- Of various sizes for administering food and liquids. For force feeding food, water and giving oral medication. Also good for flushing wounds and abscesses.

Super Glue – To put a tear or cut back together since stitches are not really an option in most cases. Apply a dab of super glue to edges of cut and hold together

Thermometer (digital, do not use glass) – A digital thermometer can be used on a rabbit rectally. The temperature of a rabbit should range from 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (38-40 degrees Celsius). A temperature over 104 degrees Fahrenheit could be a sign of heat stress which is extremely dangerous for a rabbit.

Tincture of iodine solution- This should be wiped over the entire abscessed are before any are lanced

Towel- Large enough to wrap a rabbit in to restrain him. This will stop the rabbit from scratching you and struggling while you force feed, giving a needle, clip nails,check teeth etc

Tweezers

Udder balm(bag balm)- this is a healing ointment that can be applied following the antibiotic ointment to keep the wounds soft Also for chapped or irritated skin. Good for nursing Does to prevent chapped and cracked teats

Normal Body Temperature: 101.5-103 F
Rectal Temperature: 103.3-104F; 38-40C
Heart Rate (pulse): 130-325 beats per minute
Respiratory Rate: 32-60 breaths per minute
Life Span: 5-12 years
Breeding Age: Males, 6-7 months;
Females, 5-6 months
Pregnancy: 29-31 days

Emergencies can happen at any time and you want to make sure that you are prepared to avoid problems. Many of the items that you should include in your Rabbit First Aid Kit can be found around the house. Learn to recognize rabbit diseases and treat at the first sign of illness should it become necessary. Isolate ALL new arrivals for two to four weeks. Water and feed them after the rest of the herd has been cared for. Beware of lending or borrowing rabbits for breeding. This is a good way to bring disease to your herd. Posting Soon! Common Diseases and problems in the rabbitry and how to treat. Join The Rabbit Revolution! subscribe to the website and get updates as they are posted!

FEEDING ORPHANED KITS

Rabbits nurse only ONE TIME a day, so if you think that she is not caring for them based only on the fact you don’t see them feed…think again. But if you are sure she is neglecting them, if they are dehydrated, cold, obviously ignored, of course, something must be done!. I usally breed two or more does the same day so they will all have their litters at the same time. Should any problems or extremely lager litters occur i can foster some kits to other does. A well-fed baby will have a very distended tummy. If the babies have not been fed, they will have sunken tummies, their skin will be wrinkled and they will be dehydrated. If your worries begin on the day of the birth, wait a day before attempting to do anything. Some mother rabbits do not feed their babies until the evening of the first day or early on the second day. If the mother rabbit has died, cannot or is not feeding the babies, you can attempt to hand feeding them. Bottle-feeding infant rabbits usually results in the babies’ death within a few days to weeks. Hand feeding is terribly unsuccessful because there is no milk replacement formula that is 100% adapted for infant rabbits. The milk of rabbits is the richest of all domestic animals. It contains from 13 to 15 per cent of protein, to to 12 percent of fat, 2 per cent of sugar, and 2 to 3 per cent of minerals. An important point is that the doe’s milk output increases with litter size but the baby rabbits get less milk each than they would in a smaller litter. Depending on genetics, milk production will not increase above 8 to 12 baby rabbits. The most likely potential disease to cause infant/weanling death is mucoid enteritis. Although it does occur occasionally in weanlings who have been fed by their mothers, it is seen much more often in hand-fed babies. It shows up as severe diarrhea, or refusal to eat. It also causes bloating and gas. Mucoid enteritis is caused by a bacterial overgrowth, usually of Clostridium spiroforme, in the hindgut (cecum) of the baby, as the normal microflora are attempting to establish. These normal microflora help the baby achieve adult digestive capabilities. As babies wean off of milk onto adult solid foods, the gut pH gradually changes by getting a lot of help from the mother’s changing milk ingredients. By day 10 of age, the babies eyes will have opened, and they will begin eating their mother’s cecotropes, (also called “night feces” or “cecal droppings”). Cecotropes help provide the babies with essential nutrients and later, inoculate the hindgut with the essential flora that is needed to metabolize a diet that is changing from milk to solid foods. Cecotropes are clustered, soft gel-like “bunches” of fecal matter, which are covered with a light mucous film and resemble a raspberry in shape and size. They are manufactured in the adult cecum through “hindgut fermentation,” and contain high concentrations of proteins, B and K vitamins, fiber, ash (nitrogen-free extract) and unidentified “energy” elements, as well as the hindgut microbes. Cecotropes are an important part of a healthy rabbit diet and are usually eaten directly from the anus as they are produced. In hand-raised babies, it is essential to provide adult cecotropes to the babies after their eyes are open. Usually, the babies will eat the cecotropes immediately, because it the natural thing for them to do. However, if the babies do not eat the cecotropes on their own, add two to three of the individual pellets in the cluster to the formula at one feeding per day for three to four days. As the babies begin to explore adult foods, it is important to monitor their fecal output. At the first sign of “mushy” stool, re-introduce cecotropes to them, in formula if necessary. No substitute milk formula supplies immunity from disease nor are most rich enough to supply the energy needs of the rapidly developing babies and without overfeeding them. For these reasons the prognosis is not good for the babies. Infants lose the suckling instinct quickly, so if hand feeding is to be attempted, it must be started within 48 hours. Nothing is as good as a mother rabbit for a baby bunny, but it is possible to hand-feed orphans. There are many milk replacers for dogs and cats that do not contain the right ingredients that the rabbits need.I have herd that you can use these with cream or goat milk added but have no experience with this. I got this formula a long time ago from a breeder. His wife used it many time and she told me she had great luck with this mix. They had a small rabbitry and only had two does that they breed at different times and one doe would have 12+ kits in a litter they would take 2 or three out of the litter. She would keep them in her apron pocket and feed them until they were 4 + weeks old. You will need baby dolls bottles to feed them, an eyedropper or a syringe with no needle. the eyedropper or the bottle are the easiest to use(she used an eyedropper) if you use the syringe do not force the liquid out or go to fast with the feeding you can suffocate the kit by doing this.

FORMULA-
1 pint 2% milk
2 eggs yolks
2 tablespoon powdered milk
2 tablespoons kayro syrup light or dark either will work
1 teaspoon bone meal

Mix good and keep refrigerated until needed. Just warm up as much as needed. Warm to 90 degrees(just like babies milk test on your wrist to see if it is warm enough). Then feed the kits what they will readily consume. You will know they are full when they do not want anymore. Feed them what they will eat twice a day at about 12 hour intervals. Their body functions do not start functioning properly until they are about three weeks old. After each feeding it is important to make the bunny defecate and urinate to keep the intestinal tract and urinary system running smoothly. Use a soft cloth or a cotton ball moistened with warm water and gently stroke from between the bunny’s front legs all the way down over the anal area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine, and keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are replicating the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom (as well as to keep the nest clean). The stool will be soft and may be varying shades of green and yellow. Be sure to clean baby’s mouth with a damp cloth or paper towel, so that no milk dries in the hair. You should be able to raise the kits successfully using this formula. I have seen this work and the kits survived and some were really good rabbits!

BREEDING RABBITS BY THE MOON

Full moon view at the rabbitry

Full moon view at the rabbitry

How did breeding rabbits or other farm animals get tied in with the phases of the moon?

Is this hillbilly folklore or fact? And where did this concept of breeding by moon phases actually come from? These are some of the questions I will try to answer.

The moon has played a huge role in Witchcraft, Greek mythology, Native American stories and Roman mythology throughout history. Both the Greek goddess Selene and the Roman goddess Luna had the moon under their control and human fertility in their power. Today many couples struggling with fertility will try to conceive by the various phases of the moon.

Hunters will hunt deer based on phases of the moon. Fishermen fish at different times of the moons cycle. Even worms breed by the phases of the moon (I see this all the time in my worm beds and the night crawlers in the pasture).

Gardening is often done on moon phases (something else I practice). Considering the mythological role the moon has played in history it is no surprise that rabbits can be bred by phases of the moon. The moon phases do make sense when you think about it…rabbits are nocturnal to begin with and the moon phases have a lot to do with fish and bird migrations, tides, and other wildlife events.

At the local hospitals they swear that the full moon brings out more “weird” cases also talking to the local police and fire/EMT people they say the same thing .

Back about twenty years ago I started to get nothing but bucks out of a few of some really good does. Wanting to save some does out of their litters for replacement breeders, I tried different ideas, different feed, Apple Cider Vinegar treatment (which I now do all the time), and nothing worked I still got bucks.

So I talked to a few old timers and they told me to try to breed on the new moon for more does. They bred horses this way and they swore by it, so I gave it a shot. Low and behold 6 does and 2 bucks in both litters and ever since I have tried to breed by new or full moon with great results. Not 100% successful but you will see that’s there is a definite result! Hillbilly folklore I think not!

I have herd of bad results of breeders that bred on a lunar eclipse on a full moon resulting in unusual amounts of kits born small. Some does that were proven good mothers scattered litters on the cage floor for the first time ever. Some does had difficult deliveries (again proven does) and entire litters were born dead.

I did some research myself and in over 300 individual litters showed that rabbits bred during a full moon phase or waxing had MORE kits, than rabbits bred during a new moon or waning stage. During that research I did not keep track of the sexes (wish I had- kicking my self in the behind) just the litter size. I have been recently keeping track and have had some good results, a lot of breeders think I am crazy to believe this system, but it work for me! So keep track and tell me how you make out!

A way to identify a Waxing or Waning Moon is to look at which side is “incomplete”. When the Moon is illuminated in such a way that the side facing West is “incomplete” the Moon is Waning (getting smaller) newer. If the side to the East is “incomplete” the Moon is Waxing (getting bigger) fuller

How it Works- Two things come into play when breeding by the phases of the moon. The first is whether there is a new moon or a full moon. Breeding during a new moon increases the number of does in a litter. Breeding by a full moon increases the number of bucks in a litter.(This I have recently kept track of and have had good results!)

The second thing that comes into play is the zodiac signs. The various signs either produce good, poor or best quality of the bucks or does. For example does bred during Aries, Gemini and Sagittarius have a tendency to produce poor quality bucks according to the theory. When you combine the moon phases with the zodiac signs you then can breed for specific results. So if a New Moon occurs during a zodiac time that produces the best does that when you should breed for does. Like if a New Moon occurred on July 17, which is during the zodiac sign Cancer that would be a great time to breed for does, because the New Moon produces the most does and Cancer produces the best does.

Some breeders also claim that breeding a hard-to-breed doe on a full moon will always be a successful one. Adding to that their are breeder who claim that there are particular moon phases during the year that will result in the best quality of animals, or also to increase hardiness.

I hope this post sparks some interest for people to keep track and let me know your results good or bad. Join The Rabbit Revolution! and subscribe to this blog page to keep updated when we have new posts.