I raise my rabbits on wire in wire cages. The floor wire is 1″ x 1/2″ and sides are 1″x 2″. I have always had happy, healthy rabbits. I was ready to write up a post on raising rabbits on wire floors, but Shiny Satins Rabbitry has a few great posts on this subject and I could not agree more with what they have written. So go and check it out!
I know this is controversial subject and some rabbit raisers will disagree with wire floors. I do feel that some breeds of rabbits would do better on slatted floors such as Rexes as they are known to have less fur on their hocks and more prone to sore hocks.
These links were shared with the permission of Shiny Satin Rabbitry
I will be constantly adding to this list if you see something I missed please Email me email@example.com and I will add it in.
Abscess- collection of pus caused by infection
Agouti- A color pattern where each individual hair alternates dark and light bands.
Albino- a white haired rabbit with pink eyes.
Belled ears- Ears that lop over or droop, this is sometimes caused in growing rabbits in hot weather.
BEW- blue eyed white rabbit.
Birthing- see kindling
Breed- Group of rabbits that share the same characteristic’s such as color, size, and fur type
Breeding- When you mate rabbits.
Buck- A male rabbit.
Coccidiosis- Coccidiosis is considered to be the most common disease in rabbits and is very hard to cure. Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoan. There are nine species of this protozoa that can affect rabbits, only one affects the liver, while the other 8 affect the intestines. It seems that younger rabbits have a higher risk for this disease. The disease is spread as the eggs from the protozoa are shed in the rabbit feces, which is then transmitted to other rabbits.
Condition- the general health and appearance of a rabbit.
Colony raising- This system of management is the raising of multiple rabbits together in one area inside or outside.
Crossbreed- breeding rabbits of different breeds.
Culling- Culling is not just the killing of rabbits, but with that being said you do not want to breed or sell to potential breeders, bad rabbits these are to sold as pets only. Save The Best Eat The Rest!
Dam-The mother of a particular rabbit.
Dewlap- Fold of loose skin under the chin of female rabbits.
Doe- A female rabbit.
Dressed- Skinned and prepared for cooking.
Ear canker- Scabby conditions in rabbits ears caused by ear mite.
Enteritis- Is a Intestinal disturbance in domestic rabbits this is caused by stress and or other underlying diseases.
Foster- Fostering rabbit kits is the act of placing newborn baby rabbits with a different mother doe.
Gestation period- The period of time between breeding and kindling. Usually 28 to 31 days.
Heat stroke- Illness caused by exposer to high temperatures
Hock-First joint of the hind leg of the rabbit.
Hutch- Rabbit housing
Hutch card- Information card on cage that identifies the rabbit and contains breeding information
Jacket off – this means the rabbit will be skinned
Kits- A bunch of bunnies.
Kindling- when the doe is giving birth to young.
Lagomorph- There are about eighty species of lagomorph which include thirty species of pika, twenty species of rabbits and cottontails, and thirty species of hares.
Litter- group of baby rabbits born in one birth
Line breeding- this breeding system is usually the most satisfactory. Line breeding itself is a form of inbreeding, but is less intense. In line breeding, rabbits are mated together which are both descendants from a particular rabbit, but which are as distantly related as possible.
Malocclusion- The misalignment of teeth, this is genetic and rabbits that have this should not be bred.
Molt- Shedding fur
Mucoid enteritis- Disease that usually affect’s young rabbits, symptom’s are loss of appetite, increased thirst, and jelly like diarrhea.
Nest box- A box to provided for the doe so that she can make a nest and have kits in.
Nesting- when the doe starts to put nesting material in her box.
Outcrossing- is the breeding of two rabbits from unrelated lines.
Palpate- Feeling for the developing embryos within the abdominal cavity of the pregnant doe. This is said to be the most reliable way to determine pregnancy in the domestic rabbits.
Pedigree- Written record of an animals ancestors, going back at least three generations.
Pelt- skin and fur of a rabbit to be tanned.
Purebred- parents are of the same breed
Rabbitry- placed were rabbits are kept
REW- Red or ruby eyed white
Saddle- the meaty hind body and legs
Sire- The father of a particular rabbit.
Sore hock- a ulcerated condition of the undersurface of the hind feet of a domestic rabbit. Cause by sparse hair on the hocks, this could be genetics or some breeds like rexes have this naturally. Dirty wet conditions.
Tattoo- permanent mark in ear to identify rabbits.
Test breeding- At about two weeks following breeding, the doe is returned to the buck’s cage. If she is bred, she will whine, growl, and flatten herself against the cage floor. She will not be happy to the buck’s advances. This is often the case, but there are does who will breed if pregnant and those who will refuse the buck when they are not.
Trio- 2 does and 1 buck. They are usually matched for breeding to begin or expand a rabbitry.
Type- General physical make up of a rabbit.
Warren- Warrens are a large fenced enclosed area were rabbits can burrow and live as naturally as possible. This is equal to free ranging chickens.
Weaning- When you take young rabbits away from the mother and their transition to solid food.
Wool block- blockage in the digestive tract cause by fur
There are many preparations and skills needed for running a successful homestead in good times or bad. Now is the time to learn these skills weather you live in a urban, suburban, or rural setting, you can start by growing some food to feed your family and rabbits.
Start today by building your knowledge, library, and skills to handle all the chores needed to run a homestead. Start a garden, plant some vegetables, fruit,berry and nut trees, and of course start raising rabbits! This way you will to have the skills needed when the bad times may come.
As you learn these skills you eat healthy food, you save money, as less grocery’s are needed and no taxes are paid for growing your own (yet). Seeds cost little money and can be free if you learn to save your own.
It is because today we are so far removed from our food sources, that we must relearn these skills that our grandparents knew. This is also why some of our forefathers often screwed up and starved to death because of lack off knowledge and skills.
Let me start with saying when I first started gardening and raising rabbits that I have killed plants, lost rabbits, and had some failures and setbacks as I first started, but do not give up the results you get in the future are worth it. The time to make mistakes is now while you can still purchase food to replace your mistakes without starving to death.
Lack of experience is a big problem in the amount and consistency of your harvest. Even experienced gardeners have bad years. Nature can work against you bugs, drought, flooding and other weather related issues can cause a lack of production, as you gain experience you will learn how to overcome these issues.
Working a garden now also lets you learn what to grow and what you like the taste of. Also by using heirloom plants so you can save seeds and even develop a strain of plant that will grow better in your area. This is also true with rabbits and other livestock as generations of that animal grow they grow accustomed to that climate and produce offspring that will grow and produce better. By saving and breeding the best you will have the best. My favorite saying is “Save The Best, Eat The Rest”
Every year I try to grow something new in the garden and learn a few more skills. This year I am growing Black Oil Sunflower Seeds to make my own oil and feeding the rabbits and chickens the byproducts. I am working on making a small scale oil press in the workshop for the sunflower experiment. This year I am also trying to grow Yacon as feed for the family, rabbits, and chickens. This is not usually grown in my climate but it has been done.
You will need to learn when do you start seeds where you live and what planting zone your state is?
What is the date of first and last frost?
What grows well in your area or in your soil?
Will you and your faimly eat them?
What plants to grow for your rabbits?
Do you really want to wait to find out after the Shit hits the fan?
Do you have your hutches built for your rabbits? What about the materials and tools to build them with, wire, wood, sheet metal?
Do you have everything you will need for any emergencies for your family and your livestock. These are just a few of the things you should learn now.
You need to plan now for what animals you want to raise, You need to know which wild plants will kill you and your rabbits and what wild plants weed will feed you and your protien source. You will need to know about rabbits. What is the gestation A rabbit?, How to feed a rabbit without pellets?, When to breed your rabbits? All this information and more can be found on this website, our Facebook page, all the guest podcasts and blogs we have done, We are now launching our new RABBIT REVOLUTION RADIO SHOW and the new YOU TUBE stuff for July. I will be constantly updating this post as time goes on. Thanks for reading my stuff. Join The Rabbit Revolution by liking us on Facebook and listening to the radio show. Raising Meat Rabbits To Save The World!
When you start with rabbits you should worry more about learning all you can about raising rabbits and not how many a year you can get, you will learn with your rabbits as they grow and go through their life cycles. Your rabbits will teach you lots more than I ever could!
Learn how to butcher, cut up a whole rabbit and the MANY rabbit recipes, find your favorite recipes and grow some of the herbs and other ingredients in them. Learn how to freeze, smoke, and even pressure can your rabbit meat. When you have all this information and experience under your belt, then you can worry about high production!
If you have a crazy work schedule (like me) there are ways to help with this so your does will kindle on certain days of the week.
If you breed your does on the weekend (do not forget to mark that day on your calendar) 28 days later put in the nest boxes. The 28th day should fall on the weekend again, this works out well if the weekend is when you do your weekly rabbit chores (cleaning cages, emptying drop pans, bleaching crocks and bottles etc.) and since you are working in the rabbitry is also a good day to put in the nest boxes. The doe should have her litter during the week on day 30 or day 31 after breeding (remember you marked the breeding date on the calendar!). This should be on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Rabbits will usually kindle at night so if you work days you should be home in time to check on the new litter. If doe doesn’t kindle by day 35 you should breed her again. This again should fall on a Saturday or a Sunday.
I breed my does on a Wednesday. This is because I work during the week and never know what time I will get home. This way the does will kindle on the weekend when I am home working on the homestead.
When I first started with rabbits feed was cheap and everyone was using pellets. I could breed some of my high production New Zealand’s to get 8 big litters a year. Now I am looking to be more self sufficient with my life and my rabbits. With this new change I raise less rabbits (easier to grow and harvest food for 10 rabbits than 50) and a more natural feeding program I am happy with 5 to 6 litters a year. The litters may be a little smaller but the cost and sustainability is priceless!
How many litters a year can I get from my rabbits? This question I get asked all the time. There are many factors including types of feed and hereditary factors. Here is a breeding schedule for the amount of litters a year you want. Remember raising rabbits is not perfect you many get a doe that misses, or loses a litter.
LITTERS A YEAR-
4 Kindle litter- Rebreed 60 days after kindling- Wean kits at 60 days- Kindle next litter 91 days
5 Kindle litter- Rebreed 42 days after kindling- Wean kits at 56 days- Kindle next litter 73 days
6 Kindle litter- Rebreed 28 days after kindling- Wean kits at 42 days- Kindle next litter 59 days
7 Kindle litter- Rebreed 21 days after kindling- Wean kits at 35 days- Kindle next litter 52 days
8 Kindle litter- Rebreed 14 days after kindling- Wean kits at 28 days- Kindle next litter 45 days
4 to 6 litters a year are more likely with a natural feeding program, 6 to 8 litters a year will require more management and the need for a high protein production pellet.
You should have a calendar in your rabbitry or a calendar in the house just for your rabbits, I have a large calendar hanging in my rabbitry so I can see when to put in a nest box, I put the cage numbers on the date when the nest box should go in and when they are due. Here is a gestation chart that I use all the time.
31 Day Gestation Chart
5 5 8 8 9 9 10 10 10 11 11 12 12
6 6 9 9 10 10 11 11 11 12 12 13 13
7 7 10 10 11 11 12 12 12 13 13 14 14
8 8 11 11 12 12 13 13 13 14 14 15 15
9 9 12 12 13 13 14 14 14 15 15 16 16
10 10 13 13 14 14 15 15 15 16 16 17 17
11 11 14 14 15 15 16 16 16 17 17 18 18
12 12 15 15 16 16 17 17 17 18 18 19 19
13 13 16 16 17 17 18 18 18 19 19 20 20
14 14 17 17 18 18 19 19 19 20 20 21 21
15 15 18 18 19 19 20 20 20 21 21 22 22
16 16 19 19 20 20 21 21 21 22 22 23 23
17 17 20 20 21 21 22 22 22 23 23 24 24
18 18 21 21 22 22 23 23 23 24 24 25 25
19 19 22 22 23 23 24 24 24 25 25 26 26
20 20 23 23 24 24 25 25 25 26 26 27 27
21 21 24 24 25 25 26 26 26 27 27 28 28
22 22 25 25 26 26 27 27 27 28 28 29 29
23 23 26 26 27 27 28 28 28 29 29 30 30
24 24 27 27 28 28 29 29 29 30 30 31 31
25 25 28 28 29 29 30 30 30 31 1 1
26 26 29 29 30 30 31 31 1 1 2 2
27 27 30 30 31 1 1 1 2 2 3 3
28 28 31 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4
29 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5
30 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 6 6
31 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 7 7
To use this chart, find the month and day that the breeding occurred and then straight across to the next column on the right to determine the due date, this is based on a 31 day gestation. Remember that 31 days is the normal gestation time for most rabbits, but it’s not uncommon for does to kindle their litters from day 28 to day 32. I always put my nest boxes in at day 27 or 28.
JOIN THE RABBIT REVOLUTION! Start raising rabbits today! LIKE US ON FACEBOOK and get daily information on rabbits and homesteading. I am looking for more ideas for posts please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you want to read about. Working on RABBIT REVOLUTION RADIO a weekly online radio show about rabbits and more! Thanks for reading! May your litters be large and grow fast!
I have noticed over the last few years that more and more people are eating rabbit. It is not hard for me to see why, Rabbit is a incredibly tender and delicate white meat that weighs in with less fat, cholesterol, and calories per ounce, but has more calcium and protein than chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb and even certain fish. Chefs and hobby cooks are using the culinary appeal of rabbit to reintroduce the rabbit to the American palate. Domestic rabbit has long been held in high regard for its nutritional value, today’s domesticated rabbit is considered far superior to any wild rabbit (they’re milder and plumper than their wild counterparts). Now its fine-grained, tender white meat is highly favored for its versatility, feed efficiency, sustainability and productivity.
I like young rabbit best when it is cooked slowly over the barbecue, while basted with a spicy marinade or blackberry jam or even pineapple juice there is so much more you can do! On the grill rabbit is best to slow cooking,(LOW and SLOW) anything in between can leave it tasting tough. Treat rabbit as you would when grilling a whole chicken of the same weight. It’s very lean and dries out easily so watch it carefully as it cooks. I like marinating it for at least three hours (preferably overnight in a marinade or even a brine) prior to setting it on the grill and then basting it occasionally during cooking. I have slow roasted on the grill covered in a thin layer of pancetta or bacon or you even truss a big piece of pork fat over it and the results have always been delicious. The extra fat surely contributed to the success of that dish. At the very least, consider wrapping the loin/middle cavity with bacon.
Since rabbit is lean and can dry out, brining would definitely make the rabbit more resistant to overcooking. Since rabbit has very little fat in the meat, it should be cooked over low heat or it will be tough. Many recipes call for boiling the meat prior to placing them on the grill. Brush with the marinade or chosen sauce and grill for 20 – 35 minutes, less if boiled prior, turning frequently until golden brown and tender or until the juices of the meat run clear when skewered. Pound for Pound rabbit is not only the best tasting meat around it is also the healthiest! Rabbit meat is lower in fat than even boneless and skinless chicken breast! You can use rabbit meat in any recipe that calls for chicken or any other meat recipe for a low fat alternative
Brines are salty solutions that help lean meats(like rabbit) hold their moisture so they stay juicy and tender during grilling. Sugar, spices, and herbs are sometimes added to the liquid as well. Soak rabbit in a container large enough to submerge the meat completely without allowing it to float in the solution. Store in the refrigerator. Before grilling, rinse brined meat to remove excess salt and dry it with paper towels. Brine works like a marinade, but seems to penetrate deeper into the meat. By preparing the brine the night before, the flavours of the spices have all night to stick to the salt, and the salt will carry these flavours deep into the meat
Rise And Shine Rabbitry’s Spicy Brine- The name says it all!
This is enough for a small to large fryer. I like to make the brine up a day or two before to let the brine mixture sit to get all the taste in the brine and then soak the rabbit for a day or overnight to infuse the taste in to the rabbit
4 cups hot water
1/2 cup sea salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tablespoon black peppercorn crushed
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ginger, ground
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 Teaspoons cloves
2 bay leaves dried
4 cups ice cold water
In a stainless steel saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to the boil, add the Sea salt and stir until dissolved, add all the ingredients other than the ice-cold water, Put the lid on the pan, and let cool down slowly, preferably overnight, so as to allow the flavour of the spices to fully penetrate the brine (watch the colour of the brine changing from light tan to dark brown), After cooled down completely, pour the brine into a large non-reactive pan or bowl, and add 4 cups of (ice)cold water; This spicy brine is now ready for use!
Blacked Beer-Brined Grilled Rabbit- This is awsome! even better with a good beer or my favorite glass of hard cider!
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cut up fryer rabbit
2 12-ounce bottles dark or amber beer
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Combine the cider, sugar, salt, cinnamon, bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir just until sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and let to cool to room temperature.
Lay the rabbit pieces, in a shallow glass or ceramic (not metal) baking dish. Stir the beer into the cider mixture, then pour over the rabbit. Cover and refrigerate the rabbit for 4 to 8 hours or even overnight. When ready to grill, heat a gas or charcoal grill to to high heat (about 450-degrees). Meanwhile, transfer the rabbit from the brine to a clean plate and let it rest, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes to take the chill off. Melt butter and stir in chili powder and cayenne. Brush half the chili butter over each of rabbit piece and lay on the grill. Cover and let cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. Flip the pirces, and brush with the remaining chili butter(you may have to make more to baste).
Cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Check the rabbit doneness, and if necessary, continue cooking in 5 minute increments until it has finished cooking. The rabbit is done when the interior reaches 165°F, its juices run clear.
Remember any poultry brine can be used with great success on rabbit! Experiment make up your own let me know how it was put it on the comment section!
Dry Rub for rabbit
A dry rub not only adds great flavor, but the dry rub also creates the perfect coating. it’s also important to know how to apply the dry rub Sprinkle dry rub on the meat. Apply an even coating; use a shaker to coat the rabbit without getting too much dry rub in one spot. Make sure to apply a coating of dry rub over the entire piece of meat. Press the dry rub into the meat. Pressing the dry rub onto the meat ensures that most of the dry rub clings to the meat. Some pit masters even massage the dry rub into the meat so that it further penetrates the meat as it cooks. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap. The plastic wrap serves two purposes. First, the plastic wrap ensures that the dry rub doesn’t fall off during the marinating process. Second, the plastic wrap helps keep your refrigerator sanitary. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter top and place the meat in the center. Bring the two longest sides of the plastic wrap together and roll tightly. Carefully roll the ends of the plastic wrap so that the meat is tightly wrapped. Allow to marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Dry rubs work quicker than a wet marinade. In only an hour or so, your meat will be ready to hit the grill or smoker.
RISE AND SHINE’S RABBIT RUB-
1/2 cup paprika
3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
6 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
In a medium bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, oregano, and thyme. Mix well, and store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
BBQ Rub For Rabbit
1/4 C. paprika
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Instructions: Combine in a bowl or shake together in a jar. Apply liberally to rabbit pieces or whole rabbit
A marinade makes meat better by adding moisture, increasing tenderness and adding flavor. Have a problem with rabbit drying out on the grill? Try a good poultry marinade to not only help prevent meats from drying out, but to also protect the more delicate rabbit while also adding flavor. When marinating poultry makes sure to separate pieces to allow the marinade to reach as much of the meat as possible. marinate for at least 3 hours or better overnight
GRILLED BASIL MARINATED RABBIT
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 rabbit cut into pieces (about 2+ pounds)
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, basil, onion, salt, peppercorns, and garlic in a bowl. Transfer the marinade to a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag with the rabbit and shake to combine. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
When ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or preheat gas grill.
Remove rabbit from the marinade. Grill the rabbit, turning once, until browned and cooked through
Honey Lime Grilled Rabbit Marinade
1 rabbit cut into pieces
1/2 cup lime juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
Combine lime juice, oil, honey, thyme, rosemary, garlic and pepper. Pour it over rabbit pieces in a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours up to overnight. Grill until done and juices run clear.
1 cup crushed pineapple
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
Mix all ingredients together and use immediately or store in airtight container for up to 7 days.
So grill a rabbit for Independence this holiday. Start raising your own food and medicine in a garden, Raise a sustainable meat supply like rabbits, get some of your own independence!
You may ask why meat rabbits? I will go over the basics for why I believe everyone should be raising meat rabbits on the homestead. I could go on forever about the benefits of raising rabbits for meat, but for quick easy convenience I will only list ten reasons why everyone should be raising rabbits. Then I will cover basics of housing, feeding, and breeding information. I will eventually get into writing more about each of these subjects in more detail, and will be writing a part 2 to this series answering any question you have on part 1 and processing your rabbits, tanning pelts, and using the best fertilizer know to man, rabbit manure! Will be posting updates on the goings on at the rabbitry! Show you our hillbilly solar powered rabbitry setup for the off grid rabbit production and more. Join The Rabbit Revolution! LIKE US ON FACEBOOK for daily updates and rabbit information.
1. Rabbit meat is very high in protein and very low in fat and cholesterol
2. You know were your meat comes from and the type of life the rabbit had, no medications or hormones just good tasting healthy meat
3. Rabbit are easy to raise! even working a full time job 2 does and 1 buck will only take a few minutes in the morning and evening and time on weekends to clean cages,even the youngsters can do the chores
4. Rabbits can be raised in country and suburban areas(could even be raised inside).They are quiet and clean no one will know you have your own meat supply
5. Rabbits have a high reproduction rate each doe should raise at LEAST 36 fryers a year(average 6 litters,6 fryers in each litter)and could produce even more by raising more breeding stock out of the best of your litters
6. Rabbits can be raised many different ways-colony raising,natural feeding,pasture raising ect. the rabbits will adapt and flourish with good management
7. Rabbit are easy to process takes only 15 minutes a rabbit from cage to freezer (or grill)Rabbit can be cooked many ways, any chicken recipe can be changed to use rabbit in place of chicken
8. Rabbits are very efficient-they will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water that a cow will produce 1 pound of meat.Your rabbits will be ready to butcher in 8 to 12 weeks with a 50%up to 65% dress out from live weight
9. Rabbits will grow well on food items that do not compete with food items grown for human food.Rabbits are a inexpensive way to supply good healthy meat for your family
10. Rabbits have other by-products good for the homestead.The best manure know to mankind,awesome pelts for blankets,hats, gloves and other crafts,ok that was 10 and i could list 50 more ,I could also write pages on just the added benefits of rabbits other than meat!
Housing For Rabbits-
There are many different types and styles of hutches or cages. The housing needed will depend on the climate, location and the amount of money you have available. It is not necessary to go to a big expense to build hutches. I have seen some of the best rabbits raised in hutches made from second hand lumber and some old wooden boxes. Hutches can be built to be used outdoors or put in any shed or outbuilding in your backyard as long as they are in a dry draft free environment. You should construct hutches that will allow for easy feeding, watering, and cleaning. Clean cages mean clean rabbits! Most rabbit cages are made of wire, this provides easy cleaning and they last longer than cages made of other materials. The floor wire is usually 1/2″ x 1″ and sides and tops are 1″x2″ wire. This is what they use in most commercial rabbitries.
The most common outdoor hutches are usually made of wood and wire, some with just a wooden frame with a wire cage hung inside. It is important to have protection from all predators even dogs and cats. Proper ventilation is a must when they are raised inside or out, but make sure the rabbits are not exposed to wet winds or drafts. Rabbits can withstand cold weather better than hot weather. Once your rabbits start to grow they will need to be separated make sure you have extra space available. Cage size for medium sized meat breeds are 24″W x 36″L x 18″H or 30″W x 36″L x 18″H for breeding cages, cages for bucks or young replacement breeding stock can be housed in a 24″W x 24″L x 18″H or a 24″W x 30″L x 18″H. Rabbits can be housed and raised many different ways as in a colony setting were multiple rabbits are bred and raised in pens or on pasture in rabbit tractors. It is up to you to decide how you want to raise your rabbits check out other breeders and how they raise their rabbits.
Feeding rabbits is probably the most important part of raising rabbits, also the most argued. It is what controls the health and condition of the rabbit (even good genetics in rabbits cannot override a poor feeding program). Most people who begin with rabbits overfeed their herd. Feeding once a day is enough only pregnant does and growing kits need extra feed. Always feed on a regular schedule a rabbit becomes accustom to a set feeding schedule and will become agitated and restless when the schedule is not kept. A constant supply of water is a must and should be changed daily. In the winter try to change frozen crocks as much as possible, at least two times a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. When you get your rabbits be sure to ask what feed they are using try to get some of the same brand from a feed store or buy some from the breeder. If you plan to change brands make sure to mix some of the new feed with the old brand for a couple weeks before switching over to the new feed completely. Any change of diet to rabbits should be done slowly! Rabbit pellets are usually dark green in color and has the nutritional requirements to produce a healthy rabbit and excellent growth in young. Check the labels and feed as manufacturer recommends. Pellets are easy to feed and requires less labor than natural feeding or pasture management. Pellets have changed a lot in my time raising rabbits and not for the better. More corn and soy and less alfalfa based feeds are sold, most all products are waste products from mills, most are GMO grown and round up sprayed, so read your feed labels and choose your feed for your rabbits informed. There are still some good rabbit food companies out there!
Grass hay is one of the most important item in the rabbit diet, it should be fed in unlimited quantities. A rabbit fed only commercial rabbit pellets dose not get enough long fibers to keep the intestines in good working order, the long fibers of hay push things thru the gut at the right speed. Hay is also good for preventing intestinal impaction caused by ingested hair. Alfalfa or clover hays should be fed restricted as they are to rich in protein and calcium to be free fed. Fresh vegetables help keep the intestinal contents hydrated, which make them easier for the rabbit to pass. Rabbits love fresh, fragrant herbs right from the garden. If your rabbit shows any signs of stomach problems, such as runny stool take away the pellets and veggies and feed only grass hay or even straw until stools harden up.
Green feeds are the natural food of rabbits. These are rich in protein minerals and vitamins, being soft and tender they are easily digested. They should be included in your feeding program. Rabbits can be fed lots of types of greens, including lawn clippings, cabbage, kale, safe weeds (do your homework lots of good weeds for rabbits out there), waste from your vegetables from the garden, prunings from fruit trees, sweet potato vines and lots more. Any green feed not eaten should be removed from the hutch daily. Roots may be grown and used fresh or saved for feeding in the winter months such as carrots, sweet potatoes, mangles, rutabagas, turnips and beets. This is just the basics of feeding rabbits, I will do a lot more on this subject in my future posts!
Rabbits of medium size (most meat breeds)are ready to breed when they reach the age of 5 to 8 months of age-some breeders go by weight not by the age of the rabbit. Many young bucks will attempt to breed as early as 3 months it is best to separate them at this age, you do not want does that young to get pregnant the young will be small and there will be few kits in the litter, it also stunts the growth rate of the doe itself. Just as important do not wait to long to breed your does or the first time they will be hard to breed. While doing your chores in the rabbitry if you notice a doe trying to nose and scratch her way into other cages or rubbing her chin on things like feeders, and crocks she’s ready to breed.
When looking at the does sexual organ if her vulva is moist and bright pink to a reddish color all the way to the tip, she is ready to breed. As the cycle is waning the vaginal opening becomes a bright purple. Rabbits are induced ovulators, meaning ovulation does not occur until the actual mating by the buck. Always take the doe to the bucks cage. Does are very territorial about their cages and will attack the visiting buck and can cause serious harm to the buck. A ratio of one buck for every 10 does is necessary, the buck may be bred up to 7 times as week effectively. The doe usually accepts(lifts her tail and raises her back end)the buck will mount her vibrate and then he will fall over to the side or even backwards, some bucks are very dramatic! Within a minute he will be right back up to repeat the mating. I usually return the doe to the bucks cage for a re breeding 6 to 12 hours after the first mating. This improves conception rate and increases the number of kits in a litter. Keep accurate records of the day you bred the doe! The does gestation time is 29 to 32 days, usally right on day 31.
You should test her for pregnancy between the 10th and 14th day after breeding. The best way is to palpate by checking the lower abdomen of the doe with your thumb and forefinger checking for nodules about the size of a marble. The other way is to take her back to the bucks cage and if she runs around growling and trying to avoid the buck she is most likely pregnant. This method is inaccurate as some does will breed again and will already be pregnant or refuse to and will not be pregnant.
The gestation period is the time from mating to kindling and is 31 to 32. The nest box should be put in the does cage on day 27 from when the doe was bred (remember those accurate records a good litter of kits on the wire and you will not be happy). Fill the nest box 1/2 to 3/4 full with nesting material such as straw (my favorite), hay, shavings, dry leaves ect. I also put some nesting material in the cage so the doe can pick up some to add to her nest box. The doe will make her nest and by the time she kindles will be pulling fur. Watch expectant does often especially if they are first time mothers, If she has her kits on the wire you can put them in the nest box as long as they have not been chilled, if they have been chilled they should be warmed immediately and put back into the box and covered with fur. If the doe has more than 8 kits you should foster them to a doe with a smaller litter, unless you know the doe to be a good producer of milk.(A doe only has 8 teats so only so many kits can eat at once).
After the doe has kindled and seems to be mellowed out it is time to check the nest box, give the doe a treat (I usually give a small piece of apple or banana) and while she is enjoying her well deserved treat check the litter, remove any dead or stunted young and put the nest box back in the cage. 8 good healthy kits have a better chance and will grow faster than a litter of 12 to 14 weak kits. It is best to check the nest boxes every day the first week and every other day after that. By checking on the kits you will see if they are eating buy their plumpness and full tummies. A doe only nurses her young one or twice a day for only 2-5 minutes. If the doe is not feeding them, place the doe in the nest box and hold her until the kits start to nurse.
The kits are born naked and blind they will grow very fast, in about 2 weeks their eyes will open and in 3 weeks will start to leave the nest box. You can wean the kits from 4 weeks at the earliest and at the latest 8 weeks depending or your breeding cycle. It is important to keep the doe and kits on full feed and plenty of fresh water to keep them all healthy. The young rabbits should weigh 4+ pounds at 8 weeks of age now it is time to slaughter and select the fastest growers for your replacement breeding stock, or to move them to grow out cages.
This has only been a basic of raising rabbits. I plan on doing a few more of this series the next will be on slaughtering – selling- and using everything from your rabbits! Also answering any questions anyone has. Thanks for reading! Rise And Shine Rabbitry, Raising Meat Rabbits To Save The World! Join The Rabbit Revolution! Like Us On Facebook and subscribe to our blog page to get the newest post as they are posted!
Rabbit is higher in protein than other meats, lower in fat, and has less calories. It is one of the best white meats available on the market today! The meat has a high percentage of easily digestible protein. Protein is needed in the diet for healthy cellular processes and functions. The body needs protein for tissue development, repair and maintenance. For overall health and proper functioning, the human body must have protein.
Rabbit meat is almost cholesterol free and low in sodium and there fore very heart patient friendly. The calcium and phosphorus contents of this meat are more than any other meat. Phosphorus helps in bone health along with calcium, and also helps to regulate fluids. Potassium also helps with fluid regulation and helps remove salts from the body Other vitamins and minerals, which are needed by the body in small amounts, are also present in rabbit meat. These include copper, zinc and iron. Copper is necessary for cellular growth and development and is taken in through diet since the body cannot produce this mineral. Zinc is important to boost the immune system and calcium absorption while iron is important in the production of red blood cells and the distribution and absorption of oxygen throughout the body.
Rabbit contains selenium that works as an antioxidant to remove free radicals before they can do damage to your body. Some types of cancer, as well as the ravages of aging, can be battled with selenium. Selenium is also very important in maintaining good thyroid functioning and supporting a healthy immune system.
Rabbit meat also contains Potassium that helps with fluid regulation and helps remove salts from the body
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is another nutrient found in rabbit meat which is important to keep the digestive track healthy. It is also important in breaking down protein and fats. Another nutrient, Vitamin B12 is necessary in the proper function of the nervous system. It is needed in the production of protein and red blood cells.
Rabbit meat, which is a high-protein low fat diet, is not just perfect for weight loss. It also contains anti-oxidant and anti-aging components namely selenium and glutathione. Glutathione is a protein like antioxidant molecule. It must be constantly renewed. The riboflavin in rabbit meat supports this process
Rabbit meat has been recommended for special diets such as for heart disease patients, diets for the elderly- whose metabolism has slowed and digestion is compromised, due to illness or life stage. Low sodium diets, and weight reduction diets, because it is easily digested, it has been recommended by doctors for patients who have trouble eating other meats. Not to mention that it is awesome tasting and can be cooked many ways. I Will be posting recipes constantly in the DOMESTIC RABBIT RECIPES page that i have cooked myself or find quit intriguing keep checking in! RAISING MEAT RABBITS TO SAVE THE WORLD!