Author Archives: riseandshinerabbitry
You will not be able to quit your day job. But to supplement your income? Absolutely. There is a saying, “There is money in rabbits it’s just getting it out of them that’s hard”! It depends on how you define “profit.” If you are looking for profit with a cash value, you aren’t necessarily going to get ahead with rabbits, unless you find a niche and then spend a lot of time cultivating your herd to fit that niche. However, if you think of profit like being able to eat healthier meat, that costs less cash than it would if you bought comparable meat at the grocery store, then I think you’d profit in that way.
By raising your own meat rabbits, butchering and processing them yourself for your own consumption it is totally worth it! This has benefits in that you know the history of the meat, how the animal was treated, whether drugs were used, and how it was slaughtered, handled, and stored. That is money saved! A rabbits value is worth more this way than it could be if converted in to cash, because the value of money is changing, but we, and other people, are always going to need food to eat. This is just how I look at it. Rabbits are like money in the bank. Money can be made! But a profit is hard to come by with rabbits but it can be done.
Like starting any small business you won’t be an overnight success. You have to market, plan and budget to get money out of rabbits. So, there is money in rabbits but just like anything else, it takes work.
Remember that it cost more to raise junk rabbits than it does to raise good ones. Part of trying to make a profit with rabbits is how much you can save! Learning to keep rabbits healthy and clean is important.
If a doe doesn’t raise her babies consistently, cull her. The longer you hold a rabbit that cannibalizes her offspring, refuses to use a nest box or scatters them on the wire the more feed you have into her and the more you will lose on those offspring if you ever get any. The three strike rule applies to breeding does! Remember if you’re looking at making money you have to look at the little things and the big things. A quarter’s worth of food isn’t a big thing, but a quarter’s worth of food multiplied by 100 rabbits adds up a great deal on a daily and monthly basis! Manage for efficiency.
One group of breeders ran the numbers and in order to make a full time living off of rabbits required an efficient set up of at least 200 working does. Those 8 ounces of pellets that isn’t very much takes on new meaning when you start going through over 100 pounds per day! You notice the spilled feed because that’s wasted money. Keep records up to date and tattoo every rabbit you plan on keeping. Keep weights on the parents, the offspring and how many in each litter. It’s a lot of labor but record keeping will save you money. I go through the rabbitry every quarter and review the does production records and know who to cull and who to keep.
Those just starting out with rabbits need to examine their reasons for getting into breeding rabbits and what their goals are. A common mistake is to start with too many rabbits. A reasonable starting point might be one buck and three does. I recommend that these rabbits be purchased while they are still young. This way they will have a chance to become acclimated to their new surroundings prior to breeding. As the new breeder gets accustomed to the rabbit hobby, then, and only then, should he or she decide to increase the size of the herd, and then slowly. Start slowly!
Learn the basics and learn to do things the right way with a couple dozen does. If you’ve chosen a handful of GOOD rabbits to start with you can easily build a herd by keeping back the best does and only the very top bucks, marketing the rest as meat or feeders. I always say keep the best eat the rest. This way you grow into it and see the amount of work needed. Perhaps when you hit 30 does that might change your mind or perhaps you will find that covering your feed costs is just not worth it! Only add cages as you sell rabbits. MAKE them pay for themselves!
The first step in making money with rabbits is adjusting the attitude to not expect to make money with rabbits. It can be done, but not as often nor as much money as many believe. Start with good solid equipment. Cages, with feeders that allow enough feed to be fed at a time without wasting from digging it out or dumping bowls over, are important. Don’t keep diggers around. Those rabbits that dig the feeders and waste food are another money pit to eliminate.
No backyard meat rabbit breeder should start the hobby/business with the idea of getting rich quickly. There are many scams such as offers to buy back fryers from stock purchased from the swindler and there are lots of them! Sometimes he refuses to buy the fryers. Even if he does pay for the rabbits, the grower is responsible for shipping costs, which can exceed the amount received for the animals. Though rabbits can be prolific, kit mortality can easily be 25% or more when you get into high production. Profits are really only possible with hard and steady work. Secondly you must learn proper management. Rabbits must have proper nutrition or they cannot breed efficiently! A natural diet will not work for this type of production they need high quality pellets to boost production.
Make sure to have a market! If you’re raising smaller breeds this might be pre-killing for snake food or pet food. Larger breeds might be the same or for filling a freezer and selling tanned furs. Compost the manure sift it and bag it up to sell to gardeners. Raise worms in the manure and sell fishing worms or sell the red worms for vermicomposting. By using all the sources of products a rabbit produces will help you make your first dollar!
The most important reason for raising rabbits of course is for meat, you can butcher them to lower your food bill. Does it make you money, NO but saves it from your grocery bill. In order for the cost of the meat produced by a backyard operation to be equal to or possibly better than what would be spent at the supermarket, each doe should successfully raise 36 fryers per year (six litters of six fryers each). Any doe that does not perform properly should be culled. Ideally fryers should reach “market weight” of 4.5 to 5 lbs. by eight weeks of age, and most certainly by 11 weeks.
If the fryers will be sold to a meat processor it should be noted that some facilities will not accept fryers over 11 weeks old. Meat processors also generally prefer white over colored rabbits. For this purpose the Californian, though having dark brown “points”, is considered white. You can sell fryers at “live Weight” or sell the meat after you have processed it depending on your local laws. To locate a meat processing plant, the best thing to do is go to different grocery stores and ask where they are buying their meat from. Explain that you are thinking of raising rabbits and are researching the market possibilities. Many of them will be happy to help you. When you have located several (Make sure to have more than one buyer!) markets who might buy your product, contact them and see if they would be willing to purchase live animals from you.
If possible, set up a contract with them to produce whatever you feel you are able to do. But do not sign anything. Remember they are making more money than you and their profit is higher they have no rabbits to feed, they buy them as cheap as possible and sell them as high as they can. There are lots of swindlers in the meat market. They will wait and offer you less if they know you are sitting on rabbits. Of course a big part of having rabbits is enjoying them.
If you have 40-50 working does depending on breed you might have 100-250 bunnies in boxes and growing at all times. You must have a plan for marketing either commercially for meat if you’re near a buyer or making your own market. Remember if you’re selling commercially they can dictate the breed so sometimes Rex, Satins or colored furs are penalized. If you’re using it yourself this isn’t a factor. Make sure to have more than one buyer. Many a rabbit breeder has been stuck when a buyers does not need the 50 fryers you have ready for him.
Another meat market would be pet owners that feed their animals the BARF (Bones And Raw Food) diet. BARFers, as they are called, aim to provide their cats and dogs a more natural diet than kibbles. A newer, and more inclusive, term for BARF is “raw feeding.” Sometimes a variety of meat sources for this diet are scarce, so these pet owners are more than happy to discover a meat rabbit breeder near them. Selling to the dog food market can be profitable at $4/lb. There is one rabbitry that I know of that did this and just about put themselves out of business because they couldn’t keep up with demand. I also raise my rabbits for dog food. This is a good market you can butcher and sell rabbits as pet food with no USDA restrictions. Also snake and reptile owners need to feed their animals. You can sell rabbits at every age and size for this market.
If you’re using rabbits for meat what will you do with the furs? Throwing them away is not making maximum use and can be wasted money thrown away. Pelts should be saved at slaughter time (If not using right away freeze them to sell or tan when you have more to make it worthwhile. Rabbit pelts can also be sold for a small profit or used to make clothes, toys and other trinkets to be sold as a finished product or just selling the tanned hide (see our post TANNING RABBIT PELTS for more information).
I have sold frozen pelts to people who want to learn to tan and do not even raise rabbits. Remember that fryer pelts are best suited for craft-type projects, while stewer pelts are better suited for use in hats, coats, etc. It is recommended that if you are planning on selling the pelts to a commercial tannery that you raise white rabbits because the white pelts can be dyed to any color desired. I prefer natural colors and have found that local homesteaders would rather have natural colors than dyed pelts.
Tanning them is not always an easy process but not hard to do, but an exchange may be made with a local tanner in which they get to keep a percentage of the tanned hides for them in exchange for tanning a percentage for you.
Also you can raise angoras. You can sell the fiber or products made for the fiber, I find this to be a good bartering item, if you happen to spin, angora blend yarns can sell for a premium If you have an eye towards that expensive angora wool. Remember the amount of time grooming that is needed on top of the feed, special cages, handling to keep the wool clean and other factors needed to keep top quality rabbits. You can make money with angora fiber. I have a few angoras but we use all the fiber we produce. Someday I will get into the angoras more (aha thinking of retirement!)
Rabbit manure is considered one of the best available. The manure is excellent and is the only manure that does not need to be aged before using as fertilizer. It contains more nitrogen and phosphorus than many other manures and more potash than most. Even when applied fresh, it will not burn plants. Gardens with rabbit fertilizer consistently applied most often yield much better results! I screen it, bag it up in feed bags, and sell it with a information sheet in early spring. It all sells out and I have a waiting list for more. (for more poop information check out our post THE BENIFITS AND USES OF RABBIT MANURE) Gardeners may be willing to pay for manure or composed manure for a higher cost. Because of the complimentary nature, many rabbit raisers also raise earthworms (or Red Wigglers). The worms will break down and clean the bed just under the rabbit cages, turning the manure into black potting soil. Several species of worms, most notably night crawlers and red worms, can be grown in the manure. The worms help keep the manure from smelling bad and could be sold to gardeners for vermicomposting or fishermen for bait.
BREEDING STOCK- For Show Or Meat Stock
In order to get top dollar for your stock you have to make a name for yourself. (or should I say your rabbits) Only sell your best for breeders. Do not sell anyone the runts, slow growers,rabbits in bad condition, or ever from a bad bloodline. This is how you get a good name. Sell one junk rabbit and they tell everyone! Sell one good rabbit a they keep the secret to themselves. (But they always come back when they want more rabbits) I have sold many a rabbit that I wish I had kept! There are many misconceptions about showing and breeding rabbits just like every other animal. People see a $75 show animal and think wow $75 if I sold 6 per litter that’s $450 and six litters per year is…wow that’s a lot! They run to the local sale barn and buy old cages and cull rabbits that are “just as good as those at the show.” Remember earlier I said junk cost more to raise! Buy the best rabbits you can find! What they are often buying are breeding problems, attitude problems, health problems and most of the time as far from a show rabbit as you can get.
They don’t do the research so they lose the first two litters and they give everything away swearing rabbits are just a money pit. The big thing to realize is that $75 show animals have hundreds of dollars in breeding behind them and often many years of selective breeding. For every show rabbit there are several that end up in the freezer. It is possible to make a little money if you do things the right way. You must make a concerted effort to market, and market everything! This means from the wasted feed to the poop to the meat to the offspring to the furs. Find a market. If you’re also raising show rabbits pick out those prospects and get them on a show feed. Keep records up to date and tattoo every rabbit you plan on keeping. Keeping weights on the parents, the offspring and how many in each litter is a lot of labor.
I will not really be going to go into this subject because I think it is not worth the money to sell rabbits as pets. It never seems to work out. They feed the wrong food, use the wrong housing, the kid lose interest and the rabbits starve, never have fresh water. My meat fryers have lived a better life than some of the pet rabbits I have sold. There is good money in Easter bunnies and it could be a good market for some, just not for me. I wish the parents would stay more involved!
Always have extra cages, feeders, waterers, bags of feed, bales of hay and shavings on hand so when someone buys rabbits you can offer them more. With shipping costs skyrocketing they are better off paying a few dollars more to you than getting those cages online.
With summer heat on the way , raising rabbits can be very frustrating. Every year you hear of rabbit deaths due to heat. Many days in the summer there are temperatures approaching 80ºF to 95ºF+. For rabbits outside in a hutch (even in a shady area) this can be a death sentence. A rabbit’s optimal air temperature is between 50ºF and 70ºF. Here are some different ways to help keep rabbits cool and somewhat comfortable. As the temperatures rise, so do a rabbit’s chances of getting heatstroke.
Rabbits with thick or long coats of hair, overweight, and young or old are at an even greater risk. Temperature, humidity and air ventilation are all factors that contribute to heatstroke in a rabbit. Rabbits are individuals and could respond to these conditions somewhat differently. It is important to check your rabbits consistently to insure they are comfortable and do not overheat. Early detection of heatstroke and proper corrective steps could mean the difference between life and death for your rabbits.
Before we venture into prevention and treatment, let us look into the signs and symptoms that will help you recognize that your rabbit has or is beginning to get heat stroke.
-The rabbit is fully stretched out. The feet are sprawled apart and the tail is limp.
-Wetness around the nose area
-Eyes are half closed. The rabbit has a sleepy or dazed appearance.
-The rabbit’s tongue is hanging out. His breathing is rapid and possibly labored.
-Fast, shallow breathing
-The rabbit is reluctant to move.
-The rabbit refuses to eat or drink.
The summer heat can cause your rabbits stress and health problems.
-Bucks can go sterile for several months if they are kept in a too hot of environment it takes up to 3 months for them to get back to normal fertility.
-Rabbits can lose condition and eat less food.
-Many times your bucks will go into molts and temporarily lose most of their hair.
-Lastly when a rabbit gets too overheated they can die from heat stroke.
Preventing heat stress is the key. Ways to help your rabbits survive the heat include.-Looking at the makeup of the common domestic rabbit, one sees that he is completely covered from head to toe in a thick fur coat. This leaves no way for the rabbit to perspire. There are virtually no means of which the rabbit can cool his body temperature other than their ears. The ears of a rabbit act as a temperature control mechanism, to warm themselves up or cool themselves down, they are able to do this because their ears are filled with blood vessels which run close to the surface of the ear. When the animal is too hot the blood vessels are able to cool the blood down from the cool air around the ear, the blood vessels are also able to warm the blood by the ears being in the sun, warming the ears and in turn the rabbit
Rabbits and heat are never a good combination, and heat stroke is one of the leading causes of death in rabbits. Fortunately it can easily be avoided, even if you do not have air conditioning.
Wild rabbits would spend the heat of the days in their burrows and go outside at night or early am when it is cooler. Here is a site That has housing ideas for hot areas – http://ressources.ciheam.org/om/pdf/c08/95605275.pdf
-Plenty of ventilation – Fans can be used but not best to have them blowing directly on rabbits. Place a cold, damp towel over a fan directed at your rabbit’s pen. As the water evaporates it will help keep your rabbit cool. Air flow is critical. Have a fan that is circulating the air. This not only makes the area cooler, but can help with the ammonia smell that can build up and increase in strength during hot days. And if possible, have the fan set up so that it is pulling the cool air in and not blowing against it.
-Plenty of shade- Keep them in the shade during the day. Ideally you would use trees to shade your rabbit building or hutches. I have grown sunflowers, pole beans on trellises to help shade my rabbits plus feed them! Natural shade is very helpful. If you have a shelter of some sort made of wood, which is then shaded by a tree, this is optimal. Being under a tree will make a big difference vs. being under a wood cover that is being hit directly by sunlight.
-Frozen ice cubes in a dish during hottest part of day
-Make sure there is enough space for them to stretch out to get cool.
-Ceramic tiles can be provided for them to lay on. If you place the tile in the refrigerator for an hour beforehand it will provide even greater relief
-Plenty of clean cool water. Cool water is important. Make sure they have cool water to drink to cool themselves down. If their water is hot, it not only causes them to drink less, but also keeps them from cooling down when needed. You may need to change their water 3 or 4 times a day during the hot months. And if you have an automatic watering system, make sure you have some way of flushing the system to get the hot water out of the lines and cool water in several times a day.
-Frozen liter bottles for them to lie against. Fill two to three one or two liter bottles about eighty percent full with water and freeze them. Take one out, wrap in paper towels or with a thin, clean rag that you won’t care to be chewed upon. Place this in your rabbit’s pen. This will last between four and eight hours before you will need to replace it with a new one. Place the thawed bottle back in the freezer so that you may use it again. Your rabbit will lay next to, or even on this bottle and get great relief from the heat.
-Evaporative systems like swamp coolers work in dryer climates. If barn is small enough to be closed an ac window unit can be used but again ventilation is stressed.
-Wet piece of carpet-Carpets cut into small pieces dunked in water will retain water throughout most of the day. You will have to watch for soiled pieces and change out for clean ones.
-Wet bricks – Soak them in a bucket of cold water. The bricks absorb the water and retain the coolness for hours.
-Feed in early morning or late in evening. Leave them alone during hottest part of day.
-I recommend spill proof crocks in the hottest part of summer over water bottles as the crockery holds the cool temperature of the water making it less likely that your rabbit will have to drink warm or even hot water
-Misters can be used also. If your aisles are 4’ to 5’ wide, place the mister down the middle. If you use “J” feeders, you may need to cover them to keep the feed dry. Do not let the water mist on the rabbits. Misters will lower the temperature 10-15 degrees in dryer climates.
-Outside hutches – Staple a burlap bag to the roof of the cage and have it drape over front of the cages. Place a soaker hose upside down close to the front of the roof edge. Set the hose on a timer or turn it on manually. The water will run over the burlap and act as a swamp cooler. The rabbits will lay closer to the fronts of their cages for the coolness.
-Avoid keeping multiple rabbits in the same cage. When you have multiple rabbits sharing a cage, their shared body heat contributes to a hotter living environment
When you are able to put most of these together; the cages being under a shelter which is under a tree, with cool water for them to drink, frozen 2 liter bottles in their cages, with air flow from a fan and a proper misting system, your rabbits can get through the scorching summer heat.
If you discover one of your rabbits are over heated there are a few things you can do to help, if caught in time
-Wet rabbit’s ears with a cool wet towel
-Place cold packs against the body moving around slowly but do not leave there.
-If they are alert water given orally is important
-As a last resort, dip your rabbit into cool water, taking care to keep her head and ears above the water. Most rabbits will not like this, and though it is effective, it will likely cause undue stress for your rabbit
If you breed during the summer months, you know how hard it is to keep those bucks from going sterile and keep those kits cool. Here are a few tips for those.
-Keep your bucks a close to the ground as possible. The cooler the better.
-Load the bucks up in carriers and bring them inside during the hottest part of the day.
– Bring the nest boxes inside to keep cool. Number or put the name of the doe on the boxes so you know where they go when returned. If the kits are likely to come out and explore while in the house, set them in your bathtub. If they are all the same color, you may want to number their ears so you know where they go later.
-If you need to breed your rabbits in the summer months I recommend that you use all wire nest boxes to help keep your newborn kits cool. Alternatively you can take your nest boxes indoors for the day and bring them back outside in the evening. If neither option works for you, simply be sure to keep your rabbits in a well shaded environment and maybe try running a sprinkler.
Remember- an ideal temperature for your rabbit is in the fifty to sixty degree Fahrenheit range. Any day above eighty degrees is a potential problem for your rabbit. With care and prevention your rabbits will enjoy many productive comfortable summers.
MAKING SOLAR FANS- I have had a lot of question on my solar fans i use in the rabbitry. I have made many different types some with batteries, and some that just work when the sun is shining. I Have 2 ventilation fans made from 2, 12 volt automotive fans one intake and one exhaust. These i have hooked up to a battery bank on a toggle switch. I am working on a timer to turn on for 15 minutes in 30 minute intervals this is a current project i am working on. I have a small wind powered charger i have made and solar trickle chargers to keep the battery bank charged. Also the lighting is 12 volt spotlights and i will be hooking up an inverter and even a 12volt car-radio and alarm (For rabbit thieves). For my outside hutches a have made smaller fans out of scrap items here is the information everyone has been waiting for!
Solar panels convert energy from the sun using wafer-based silicon to produce electricity. Making a solar fan is ideal for cooling rabbits. You can customize the system as your needs grow to add more panels and a bigger fan (I am constantly updating and changing these as i perfect the setup). All the fan parts can be bought from your local electronics store or found from old computers. When i was taking apart an old computer i discovered a lot of very cool parts that i could use to make stuff. One of the cooler ones was a 12V dc cooling fan. I also got the capacitor off a circuit board (just unsoldered it) I decided upon making a solar powered fan out of it. It’s really pretty basic.
– 6-watt, 12-volt solar panel (Instead of buying a solar panel i soldered solar panels from path lights together to get the voltage i needed)
– Circuit box or any enclosure
-12-volt, 0.25A computer fan
-Large 25-volt capacitor
1. Connect the red (positive) wire on the 12-volt fan to the positive side on the capacitor and to the red (positive) wire on the panel by soldering each connection point.
2 Connect the black (negative) wire on the 12-volt fan to the negative side on the capacitor and to the black (negative) wire on the panel by soldering each connection point. The solar panel will power the fan, and any extra power will be temporarily stored in the capacitor, like a small battery. When there is a shadow over the panel, the stored power in the capacitor keeps the fan going.
3 Cut a hole in the lid and base of the box with a hand or jig saw the size of the fan. Any enclosure can be used.
4 Align the fan in the opening, hot-glue it around all sides and then hot-glue the capacitor next to the fan.
You could also use batteries (AA batteries i got from the solar path lights) and use the solar power to charge the batteries and put the fan on a off/on switch. I took a battery holder (2 AA batteries) and wired it into a 1.5V to 12V step up circuit. Now that i had it outputting 12V i hooked it into the fan. Finally i hooked a PV cell into the circuit so that it would charge the batteries. This is a ongoing project i have been working on to perfect this setup
Questions i have been asked-
Is it mandatory to use capacitors in this project?
Yes it is absolutely mandatory to use a capacitor as the solar panel will power the fan, but if there is any extra power generated then it will be stored in the capacitor just like a small battery. In case there is a shadow over the solar panel then the stored power in a capacitor will keep the fan running.
How can the output of a solar fan be enhanced?
To improve the power of your solar fan, just double the output of the solar panels. You can do this by using more solar panels and by connecting them in series-parallel.
1. Before connecting the various parts, make some holes on the box and then connect the various parts in such a way that the fan and solar panel will stay outside the box and rest will be inside it. Pass the wires through the holes on the box first and then connect.
2. You can customize your fan as your needs grow by using more panels and a bigger fan.
3. Check the connections using a multi-meter.
I have also seen some solar fans on eBay i do not know how sturdy they are but they were very inexpensive and they also had larger more expensive ones .
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I will be posting what to grow and feed your rabbit on a natural or pellet free diet. To better understand this you must know how a rabbits digestive system works. One of the most interesting aspects of a rabbit’s body is their digestive system. Rabbits can eat a wide variety of plant material. They can process nutrients from many plants that are indigestible to less adaptable herbivores or omnivores. This ability helps make rabbits highly successful in all types of environments around the world. Understanding how your rabbit’s digestive system works is important so that you can feed your rabbits the right way and one that is most efficient for the rabbits. Rabbits are herbivores ,a rabbit has an esophagus, stomach, and intestinal tract like other mammals. However, because they often dine on plants that are high in fiber, they have developed a strategy for dealing with this called hind gut fermentation. This is where the indigestible materials break down into manageable chemicals. Many other herbivores including horses, guinea pigs, and chinchillas, also have this type of digestive system.
The digestive process begins in the rabbit’s mouth. The rabbit’s prehensile lips grab the plant material first and then the front teeth called incisors — four upper and two lower — neatly slice off pieces of plant material. The food is then passed to the molars (the back teeth), where it’s chewed into small particles. A rabbit chews food about 300 cycles side to side and then it finally gets swallowed down the esophagus. The nibbling/grinding action of eating the hay keeps the teeth worn down and the calcium helps to keep teeth and jaw structure strong
The food goes into the stomach, but the real action isn’t there. The stomach stores the food and the contents are sterilized before moving to the small intestine. Rabbits have a large stomach for their body size to enable them to eat large amounts of plant material quickly. They graze primarily in the a.m. and p.m. with little else during the rest of the day, depending on what’s available, the weather, and so on. Taking a purely scientific look at the digestive system of a rabbit reveals a fascinating process. These animals have a particularly efficient way of dealing with the indigestible parts of their plant diet.
While in the small intestine up to 90% of the protein, starches and sugar are absorbed from the food. Then the undigested fiberous material moves on and is sorted. Rabbits have a very large blind sac called a cecum that is located where the small intestine and the large intestine join together. This would be in the same place as our appendix, but in the rabbit this organ is very large and contains a wonderfully diverse population of healthy bacteria, yeast, and other organisms working to help the rabbit digest his food.
When the food in the small intestine reaches the cecum and large intestine, the gastrointestinal tract knows which materials to divert into the cecum for further breakdown. The materials that were already digested in the small intestine and that don’t need to make this little side trip to the cecum pass directly into the large intestine as waste. The hard waste that bypasses the cecum is moved through the colon in a circular motion and forms perfectly round hard balls as the little round droppings you see under your rabbit’s cages. There are two scent glands on either side of the anus. This scent is deposited on the waste pellets as they pass. That is why rabbits uses their poop pellets to mark their territory.
What is happening in the cecum? The multitude of microorganisms are breaking down the indigestible fiber and turning it into digestible nutrients. Every 3 to 8 hours the cecum contracts and forces the material back into the colon where it is coated with mucus, In order for the rabbit to use these nutrients he must take this material and move it through the digestive tract one more time. So, at certain times of the day (which is within several hours after a rabbit eats a big meal) the material from the cecum is packaged up into small round moist pellets called cecotropes. The rabbits get a signal in their brain about when these little clusters of goodness are ready to be passed out of the body; the rabbit eats them the minute they emerge. Your rabbit will often look like they are grooming their hind end, but actually the rabbit is taking in these nutrient-rich cecotropes.
The various types of fiber in a rabbit’s diet is not only there to be used for nutrition, but is vital to keeping the rabbit’s gastrointestinal tract in excellent working order. The indigestible fiber is particularly important in making the intestines move along smoothly. You could think of it as sort of “caress” the lining and keeping things moving smoothly. A diet that is low in appropriate types of fiber and too high in rich carbohydrates can lead to a sluggish intestine and cecum and subsequent serious disease. Normally you don’t see any cecotropes in your rabbit’s cage; at the most, you’ll see a rare one here or there. Cecotropes are soft, green to brown, mucous coated, and have a stronger smell than the waste pellets. If you see a number of them in your rabbit’s cage, it may indicate a diet too rich in protein or another, more serious condition
Ensure that you feed your rabbit with high fiber from fresh green plants such as carrot-tops, Broccoli rabe, turnip greens, parsley, dandelion, watercress or mustard. As a treat, you can offer it pieces of pear, apple, peach or melon. A low fiber and high carbohydrate and protein diet can interfere with the rabbit’s digestive system. Low fiber can as well lead to abnormal fermentation, pH changes, changes in the population of the good bacteria, as well as slowing down the cecum and colon. These disruptions results to an environment that might favor overgrowth of bad bacteria making the rabbit prone to diarrhea and other bacteria-related conditions. Stay tuned for -GROWING AND FEEDING RABBITS NATURALLY- JOIN THE RABBIT REVOLUTION! LIKE US ON FACEBOOK! AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG to get our updates as they are posted!
I have used two basic processes for slaughtering rabbits. The first method is achieved by holding the rabbit and then hitting the rabbit on the back of the head with a blunt object. I use a short piece of re-bar, which seemed to work very well. Just use good aim and do not hit your hand. The second method also works well and is my method of choice. This method is called the “broomstick method.” Basically, you lay the rabbit down on the ground, and put a bar across the back of the neck stepping down on either end of the bar, with a swift motion, you pull up on the hind legs, dislocating (breaking) the neck of the rabbit. This is called cervical dislocation. It is an extremely quick method for killing the rabbits, and leaves little room for any mistakes to be made. Others use a high powered pellet gun or a 22cal pistol or rifle. I have seen and used a “Killing Board” this was a board with a V cut in it. The head of the rabbit was slid into the V and pulling fast and hard downward, it dislocated the neck and was extremely quick. I will be making some of these and will post more information on this
I think it is very important for you to take good care of your rabbits, and even when it comes time to butcher them they need to be handled humanely. That is why I will use these two methods that dispatch the rabbits very quickly, and with as little physical pain to the rabbit as possible. I use the second method the most .The second method can be used without a fear of dropping the rabbit, and making a poor hit to render the rabbit unconscious.
After dislocation or stunning, the rabbit is hung by one of the hind legs above the hock joint. Either with rope or hook the rabbit Thur the rear hocks. The head is immediately removed to allow complete bleeding. The front feet are then removed. The next step is to cut the skin around the hock joints of the legs and then to cut between these points across the lower part of the body. Remove the tail and pull the skin down and forward over the body(like taking of a sweater). The skins of young or fryer age rabbits are easily removed in this way, it is more difficult to remove the skins of older rabbits. If skins are saved for marketing, they should be handled as indicated in the TANNING RABBIT PELTS post in the January 2012 section.
After the head, forefeet and skin are removed, the carcass, while still hanging, is opened to remove the innards. Make a cut from the lower part of the abdomen near the anus to the mid-point of the lowest rib. The intestinal tract and lungs are normally removed. Liver, kidneys, and heart can be put aside to use or freeze. Remove the carcass from the hanger and cut off the rear feet at the hock joints.
Wash the carcass with clean, cold water to remove hair and any other soil or debris, and store it at a cold temperature. Do not hold dressed carcasses for any length of time in water as they absorb excess moisture which becomes considered as a contaminant.
Dressed rabbits may be packaged whole or can be cut into parts. To cut up a rabbit you need a very sharp knife and have a clean towel handy to wipe your hands, and a bowl for trimmings. I always start by removing the front legs, which are not attached to the body by bone. Slide your knife up from underneath, along the ribs, and slice through. Next comes the belly. A lot of people ignore this part, but if you think about it, it’s rabbit bacon! And who doesn’t like bacon? This belly flap becomes a boneless tidbit in whatever dish you are making. Start by turning the rabbit over and slicing right along the line where the loin starts, then running the knife along that edge to the ribs. When you get to the ribcage, you fillet the meat off the ribs, as far as you can go, which is usually where the front leg used to be. Finish by trimming sinew, fat and silveskin off next, the hind legs they can be a full 40% of a gutted carcass’ weight. Start on the underside and slice gently along the pelvis bones until you get to the ball-and-socket joint. When you do, grasp either end firmly and bend it back to pop the joint. Then slice around the back leg with your knife to free it from the carcass. Once you’ve done both legs, you are left with the loin You’re now ready to portion the loin. Start by removing the pelvis, which is really good in the stockpot. I do this by taking my cleaver severing the spine by banging the cleaver down with my palm. I then bend the whole thing backwards and finish the cut with the boning knife. Now you grab your kitchen shears and snip off the ribs, right at the line where the meat of the loin starts. The ribs go into the stockpot too. Your last step is to chop the loin into serving pieces. I do this by using my boning knife to slice a guide line through to the spine. Then I give the spine a whack with the cleaver by laying the cleaver blade on the spine and whacking it with my palm. Now that your rabbit is cut up try some of my recipes in the DOMESTIC RABBIT RECIPES section!
10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EAT RABBIT MEAT!
Back in the 1940s and 1950s rabbit meat was as common for dinner as chicken is today. It is the meat they got many people and their children through the lean times of the Depression. They lost their popularity after Big AGRA, who wanted to get maximum profits with the cheapest bottom line using the government endorse chemicals and handouts. Because of this rabbits didn’t make sense. So why even eat rabbit meat now? Below you will find a few reasons why you should consider adding rabbit meat to your diet. Raise some rabbits in your lots, yards, or pastures. Become closer to your food supply know what you eat!
1. It is one of the best white meats available on the market today.
2. The meat has a high percentage of easily digestible protein.
3. It contains the least amount of fat among all the other available meets.
4. Rabbit meat contains less calorie value than other meats.
5. Rabbit meat is almost cholesterol free and therefore heart patient friendly.
6. The sodium content of rabbit meat is comparatively less than other meats.
7. The calcium and phosphorus contents of this meat or more than any other meats.
8. The ratio of me to bone is high meaning there is more edible meat on the carcass than even a chicken.
9. Rabbit meat with the many health benefits does not have a strong flavor and is comparable to chicken but not identical.
10. Rabbits are one of the most productive domestic livestock animal there is. Rabbits can produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water as the cow will produce 1 pound of meat on the same feed and water.
So as you can see there are many health benefits to eating rabbit meat. It is healthy for you and cheap to produce. Why not try to incorporate some rabbit meat into your diet today! Try it you’ll like it! Use rabbit as a replacment for chicken in any chicken recipe. Check out our tested recipes on our Rabbit Recipe Page we add new ones all the time! Know what you eat screw the big AGRA and GROW YOUR OWN!
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!
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
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!
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.
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!
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.