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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Benefits Of Rabbits
Raising rabbits are much cheaper, more efficient, and more productive than raising chickens.
1) A doe can produce up to 1000% her body weight in food per year.
2) Rabbits can be raised in confinement, whereas chickens need much more space.
3) Chicken reproduction is "light sensitive", whereas rabbit reproduction is opportunity sensitive.
4) It is much easier to raise food for rabbits than it is food for chickens.
5) Since rabbits are raised in confinement, it drastically reduces the threat to your herd from predators.
6) You can skin and butcher 5 rabbits to every chicken given the same amount of time.
7) Rabbit fur can be a separate barter item.
Rabbit meat tastes good too, some people say that it taste much like poultry. Rabbit meat is mild and savory, never gamy. It is extremely lean, making it perfect for cholesterol-reducing diets. Cooking with liquids keeps rabbit dishes moist and tender. If you're not minding your fat intake, you may want to choose recipes that use oil to maintain juiciness. You can look for rabbit recipes in wild game cookbooks, but most of these just rehash the familiar methods of stewing, frying and baking.
Besides providing you with meat, rabbits produce dung, which makes a good fertilizer. Rabbit skins and fur have many uses. A rabbit can be a source of instant cash in an emergency.
Healthy and productive rabbits need clean, dry homes. You can keep them in cages raised above the ground on posts or on a fence. The bottom of the cage should be three to four feet above the ground--a convenient height for you to work with your rabbits. Some people save space by building shelves on a wall for the cages.
Keep each adult rabbit in its own cage. Each cage should be three feet square, and about two feet high, large enough for a rabbit and its young to move around a little bit. Put the cage in a place that is protected from rain, wind, and hot sun.
Keep the cages clean. Dirt, droppings, and urine from rabbits can contain germs that will make them sick... and a dirty cage will attract flies. You will find it easier to keep a rabbit cage clean if the floor of the cage has holes just large enough for dirt, droppings, and urine to fall through. If the spaces are too large, it is uncomfortable for the rabbit's feet, and baby rabbits' feet may be injured by slipping through the holes.
You can make the floor from wire mesh. Thick wire, with holes that are a 1/2 in. square, is best. Do not use old, rusty, or broken wire mesh. And do not use chicken mesh, because it is too thin and will hurt the rabbit's feet.
The walls should let in plenty of fresh air to keep the rabbits from getting too hot. The walls can have larger spaces in them than the floor.
The door on your cage should be big enough so that you can reach in easily to feed the rabbits and clean every part of the cage. You might want to build a cage with a roof that comes off instead of a regular door.
Note: Never stack cages above one another. I wouldn't want droppings on my head, would you?
A rabbit's main diet consists of the store bought rabbit food and Timothy Hay. The rabbit pellets come in large bags and look like brown pellets. This is the main source of nutrition for your rabbits. This food has all of the vitamins and minerals that will keep your rabbits healthy. The Timothy Hay will come in a bag that is compressed into a bail. The hay is good for the rabbit's digestive system and will keep them healthy. Another store bought food, alfalfa hay, can be purchased in blocks or as hay. This is good to give to your rabbit as a treat, but not as the main food supply. I prefer to give my rabbits the alfalfa in a block, so as to help wear down their teeth.
Rabbits also eat a number of other foods. My rabbits eats lettuce, carrots, apples and bananas. They also like pears, strawberries, sunflower seeds and a number of other vegetarian food. Fruits and vegetables should be given to yours once a day. Try to vary what you give your rabbits and remember to only let the rabbits eat as much as they want and then take the food out of the cage. If left in the cage it can spoil and the rabbits may get sick. When you give your rabbit forage, like hay, keep the forage off the cage floor by tying it together in a bunch and hanging it from the ceiling or wall of the cage. Just be sure not to put your rabbit feed directly on the floor of the cage where it will be dirtied by urine and droppings. Dirty food can make a rabbit sick. Try to limit the number of fruits your rabbit eats, these are high in calories and make your bunny chubby. Vegetables are better for your rabbit because they do not have as many calories and are a good source of roughage for your rabbit.
Try to keep your rabbit's forage dry, especially in hot weather. If your rabbit eats wet forage it may get sick with diarrhea and even die. If forage is wet when you cut it, let it dry for a few hours before you give it to your rabbit.
Your rabbit needs clean water at least twice a day. You should also clean your rabbit's water container or bowl often.
Note: Rabbits are subject to dehydration, so make sure they always have plenty of water.
You can feed your rabbit forage and scraps from a garden. Then you can use the rabbit droppings you clean out of the cage for fertilizer.
When it is time to breed the female rabbit, put her into the cage with the male in the early morning or evening. After they have mated, put her back in her own cage. Her litter will be born about a month later.
About a week before your rabbit's babies are born, give her a nest box where she can give birth. The nest is also a warm, dry place for the young rabbits.
There are 6 to 10 babies in a litter. Their eyes will not open until about two weeks after they are born. Do not touch any of the baby rabbits until they are 7 days old. If you do, you will change the way they smell, and the mother will not feed them. If you need to check the baby rabbits, rub your hands over the mother first. Then the babies will smell like their mother instead of smelling like your hands.
When they are two months old, baby rabbits should be weaned from their mothers. You can breed the female again once her litter has been weaned. Feed them for another two months. Then, when they weigh about 4.5 lbs, they are big enough to eat or sell.
Rabbits can give you and your family meat and earn you extra income. And since they are small and easy to feed, they adapt well to city conditions.
Rabbits Are Territorial
Rabbits are extremely territorial. In the wild, rabbits' territorial behavior includes depositing marking pellets at the boundaries of their territory, chinning, urinating, and aggressive behavior such as digging, circling, and fighting. Wild males tend to defend larger territories while females concentrate on their nests. Thus, when introducing new rabbits, territory must be considered. What you are trying to do is eliminate the possibility for there to develop any territorial behavior in the rabbits. Use a water bottle (with the nozzle set on "stream") to break up any fights if they occur. It's best to spray the instigator before a fight actually occurs (watch for aggressive body language) rather than work on breaking up an existing fight.
Interpreting Body Language And Behavior
Rabbits have a language all their own. here are some tips on interpreting your bunnies hops, kicks and grunts.
|Sniffing: May be annoyed or just talking to you.Grunts: Usually angry, watch out or you could get bit!|
Shrill Scream: Hurt or dying
Circling Your Feet: Usually indicates sexual behavior.
Spraying: Males that are not neutered will mark female rabbits in this manner as well as their territory. Females will also spray.
Chinning: Their chin contains scent glands, so they rub their chin on items to indicate that they belong to them. Same as a cat rubbing it's forehead on people and objects.
False Pregnancy: Usually unspayed females may build a nest and pull hair from their chest and stomach to line the nest. They may even stop eating as rabbits do the day before they give birth.
Bunny Hop Dance: A sign of happiness.
Begging: Rabbits are worse than dogs about begging, especially for sweets. Beware of giving the rabbits treats. Overweight rabbits are not as healthy as trim rabbits.
Territory Droppings: Droppings that are not in a pile, but are scattered, are signs that this territory belongs to the rabbit. This will often occur upon entering a new environment. If another rabbit lives in the same house this may always be a nuisance.
Playing: Rabbits like to push or toss objects around.
Don't Rearrange The Cage: Rabbits are creatures of habit and when they get things just right, they like them to remain that way. Rabbits often are displeased when you rearrange their cage as you clean.
Stomping: He's frightened, mad or trying to tell you that there's danger (in his opinion).
Teeth Grinding: Indicates contentment, like a cats purr. Loud grinding can indicate pain.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
About rabbit mating no buck needs lessons! And most of the year, the doe needs no coaxing either. Here's how to mate the buck and the doe together:
- Take the doe to the male rabbit’s (buck’s) cage, always.
Rabbits are territorial, and if you take your buck to a doe, the fur will fly, literally. But take the doe to the buck, and she remains on good behavior.
- The buck will breed with the doe, usually immediately. (Blink, and you’ll miss it!) The buck will quickly circle around to the hind end of the doe, mount the doe, accomplish the rabbit mating, and then fall off the doe with a grunt.Good signs of success: the grunt and fall, and then, the buck gets all macho, and starts thumping the cage floor, announcing his successful conquest to all in the neighborhood.
Occasionally, a buck will fire and yet miss. It might look every bit like a breeding, however he will not have hit the mark. So, when you remove the doe from the buck, you might want to check her genitalia for the presence of sperm, seen as glossy moisture around her vent.
- A second rabbit mating before removing the doe seems to increase the success rate and litter size. Just leave the doe in the cage. The buck will catch his breath, lose interest in thumping the floor, and regain interest in the doe. He’ll remount her, she’ll lift her hind end, and a second mating will occur.
Notice how the doe's back is flat and long? She has stretched herself out instead of hunkering down. She lifted her hiney, the buck mated with her, and then keeled over sideways with a grunt. This is quite typical of the end of a rabbit mating.
- It is important that the doe not urinate for a good half-hour after the mating, to avoid washing the sperm away. Doesn't happen often, but I have once seen a doe urinate after the breeding, and the gelatinous mass of ejaculate fall to the floor.
For this reason, I usually check the clock when the breeding occurs, and then wait a half-hour before removing the doe. The chances are very good that the doe will not void while in the buck’s cage. But if she does, she’s in the right place for a re-breeding. Depending on the animal, it is good to keep a close eye on both rabbits, to ensure that the doe remains on good behavior. Be ready to remove her immediately if she starts growling or even attacking the buck.
Some breeders like to see a third breeding. And frequently a third breeding might take place during the half-hour we leave the buck and doe together. But we are usually satisfied with two matings.
- Remove the doe to her cage. I like to toss hay into her cage, and a little bit of calf manna or whole oats into the feeder as a reward. There’s another reason too: to keep her mind off the condition of her bladder. She’ll go straight to the feeder or to the hay, instead of heading to the back of her cage and voiding. It's just one more trick to give the doe the best chance at a big litter.
- Within 6-8 hours of rabbit mating, the doe ovulates - releases eggs for fertilization. The sperm are already present and the doe should become pregnant.
- If this is your pet rabbit, the doe may become very cranky over the next few days. This is okay! But do give her space. Leave her in her cage. Leave her alone, if this is what she wants.
What do you do when the doe doesn't want to cooperate with the buck?
Here are a few tricks that might help convince the doe:
- Retry the rabbit mating in a day or two. The doe may be ready then.
- Check the weather forecast. If an attempt at rabbit mating was spurned, you could plan to re-try the breeding when the barometer is rising or the temperature is warming. This works some of the time.
- You could try swapping cages. Put the buck in the doe's cage, and the doe in the buck's cage for an overnight stay. In the morning, or when you return to the animals, put the doe back into her own cage where the buck is waiting. She may be willing this time, since she is now familiar with the buck's scent.
- One good sign to watch for - the twitching of the doe's tail... If it twitches, you can be sure she's 'in the mood,' even if she circles the buck's cage at first.
Friday, June 3, 2011
The Dwarf Hotot's original home is Germany. It was developed independently in both East and West Germany in the late seventies and later crossed. The breeders in these two parts of Germany took different approaches in their development of the Dwarf Hotot rabbit. The West German breeders tried to develop a Hotot marked Netherland Dwarf by crossing a REW and Black Netherland Dwarf. One of these crossing produced a Dutch marked rabbit that when bred back to the black Netherland Dwarf produced Dwarf Hotots with black ears and spots on the back. Further breeding among the offspring of this mating resulted in a true Dwarf Hotot of very small size.
About the same time an East German breeder crossed a REW Netherland Dwarf doe with a Blanc de Hotot buck and produced a Hotot marked baby, two Dutch and three REW's in the first mating. The Hotot marked rabbit was a buck of 1.6 kg. (3.55pounds) weight and ears of 7 cm. (2 3/4 inches) at five months.
The breeder continued with this buck and the original doe and introduced other dwarfs and eventually developed a vigorous, prolific Dwarf Hotot of larger size than the West German one. Soon the two approaches merged as breeders exchanged stock across the border, giving better size and more vigor to both. Their first showing was at the ARBA Convention in Syracuse, New York in 1981. The Standards Committee accepted this as their "first showing" in the process of becoming a new standard breed. The second showing at the Seattle Convention in 1982 and the third in Colorado Springs in 1983 were also accepted and by 1984 the "Eyes of the Fancy" became an accepted breed in the ARBA Book of Standards.
Major problems that all breeders experience are with color and composition of the eye, including blue spots in the colored portion and black spots on the body. Breeders both in Germany, as well as the United States, are still working with this problem and are also working to improve the size and length of ear and overall body type.
Whatever the problems, the beauty and uniqueness of this little rabbit is reward enough. Any effort breeders make in the future of our "Eye of the Fancy" will help insure its continuous development and improvement.
The Dwarf Hotot Type
As the name implies, the Dwarf Hotot should be small and compact, a stocky, docile little rabbit much like the Netherland Dwarf. The head itself is round, with a broad skull. There should be no visible neck. Eyes are round, bold and bright. Ears should be short, well furred, and of good substance. Ears should balance with the head and body. The body should be uniformly wide from shoulders to hips, with well rounded hindquarters. The topline should have very slight gradual curve from the ear base to the highest point over the hips, and fall in a smooth curve to the base of the tail. Maximum weight for the Dwarf Hotot is 3 lbs., ideal weight 2 1/2. Their fur should be soft, dense, fine with good luster. Fur is to roll back gently back into position when stroked. Color is to be uniform and of pure white over the entire body, except for eye bands. Eyes to be dark brown. Eyebands are to be narrow, well defined bands of black colored fur forming a complete outline of the eye. Color to be as intense and dark as possible. Ideal eyeband width is to be equal to the thickness of two pennies.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
General InformationRabbits are growing in popularity as pets, and for hobby breeding. They are clean, relatively easy to handle, can be litter box trained and can grow to enjoy the attention given them as pets. They seldom bite but can inflect deep scratches, if not held properly.
The average live span of a domestic rabbit is 5-10 years. Males (bucks) can be sexually active as early as 6 months of age and females (does) can become pregnant as early as 5 months of age. Litters average 4-6 bunnies and can be weaned at between 6-8 weeks of age. Mothers usually only feed the bunnies once daily so can sometimes be seen as neglecting the young when they are really taking good care of the babies.
Milk recipe to feed orphan bunnies: 1 part Esbilac, 3 parts water and 1 part whipping cream. Nurse once daily
DietsFeeding pet rabbits is made easy due to the fact that good commercial diets are available along with good timothy and alfalfa hay. The pellets and hay should be available at all times unless the rabbit is becoming overweight. Clean, fresh water should be provided at all times.
The pellets and hay should be a fresh as possible when purchased and in small quantities that will not spoil over time. Pellets can be kept in the refrigerator to help preserve freshness. Rabbits can develop eating disorders if rancid food is offered.
Fresh water should be offered in a ceramic dish or drip-style bottles. You must make sure the rabbit knows how to use a drip bottle if you are just introducing it as a way to deliver water. The container , regardless of type should be cleaned daily.
Other food items (lettuce, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, carrots and carrot tops can be offered two to three times weekly. Some rabbits will overeat the fresh food and not get complete nutrition that is offered by the pellets and hay.
Vitamin-mineral supplementation is not necessary if a pet rabbit is fed properly. Some nutritionist recommend pineapple or pina colada yogurt daily to help with digestion and to help break down hair that may be ingested.
Rabbits pass two type of stools and both are normal. The night feces are soft and moist and can be covered in mucus. It is eaten by the rabbit to provide normal bacteria and added nutrition from the protein and fiber in the fecal pellets. The day feces are dry and more firm.
Rabbit urine can be much thicker that urine from cats or dogs, and sometimes has mucus. The color can range from a normal yellow to a bright orange and still be completely normal. Many people mistake the orange color for blood in the urine and it may need to be analyzed by a lab to determine if blood is present.
HandlingRabbits should be handled gently but firmly. They are prone to kick their back legs and can cause deep scratches. Never pick a rabbit up by the ears ! A rabbit can be picked up by sliding one hand under its breastbone and grasping both front legs between the fingers of the hand. The other hand is then gently worked under the rear quarters to fully support them as the rabbit is lifted. To carry a rabbit, it should be placed on the forearm with its head concealed in the bend of the elbow.
Rabbits feel insecure and will slip and slide on slick surfaces. Placing a towel under a rabbit will keep it calm. The back is very easily injured, if it struggles violently.
HousingRabbits can be housed indoors or outdoors. Indoor rabbits should be confined to a suitable enclosure when their activity cannot be supervised. A roomy wire cage with at least one-half of the floor space covered with plexiglas or towels helps to prevent hutch sores to the feet.
Rabbits should not be allowed to roam freely in the house because they love to chew and can cause considerable damage to furniture and especially to electrical cords. They can be injured because of this chewing and can ingest dangerous material.
Like cats, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box in the home. If the rabbit has already found a preferred area a litter box should be placed in this location. It can help to put some fecal pellets in the litter box to help train the rabbit to use the box.
Rabbits housed outdoors should be confined to a roomy wire cage with the floor partially covered. The wire mesh should be just large enough to allow fecal pellets to drop through. Rabbits can be very nervous and need protection from predators and a place to hide to help with anxiety.
Shade is absolutely needed to protect a rabbit from the hot Arizona sun. Rabbits are very sensitive to overheating and can handle cold better that excessive heat.
BreedingPet rabbits can be neutered , spayed or castrated, at about 5 months or age or older. Does commonly develop uterine cancer or infections that can be prevented by spaying. Bucks can become very aggressive if not neutered. Unwanted litters can be easily prevented. Rabbits have a sensitivity to anesthesia so a veterinarian that has experience with rabbits is preferable for the surgery.
DiseasesPASTEURELLA: The most common disease in pet rabbits is an upper respiratory infection caused by a bacteria called Pasteurella multocida. It is easily transmitted from one rabbit to another by sneezing and coughing, but can also cause abscesses to develop in the skin and especially in the face area. This disease very often becomes chronic and is very difficult to cure even with aggressive antibiotic therapy. Most rabbits are exposed to the bacteria in crowded areas with inadequate ventilation, or when very stressed.
EAR MITES: Infestations of ear mites can cause severe damage to the ear canals of rabbits if left untreated. The tissues can become very raw and irritated with large amounts of accumulated wax in canals. The mites can spread to the skin on the head causing severe itching and skin damage.
HAIRBALLS: Like cats, rabbits, especially Angora rabbits frequently develop hairballs in their stomachs. But unlike cats, rabbits cannot vomit and, as a result, the hair that is swallowed remains there. Over time the hair develops into a solid mass that can cause irritation to the lining of the stomach as well as take up space to prevent food from being digested normally. The most common symptom of a hairball is lack of stools of any kind, as well as lack of appetite and listlessness. Daily grooming can help prevent hairballs and adding pineapple or papaya to the diet can help with digestion. If a hairball causes discomfort, the rabbit may need to be treated with lubricants or in the worst case may require surgery.
HUTCH SORES OR SORE HOCKS: If the floor of the cage is rough or causes irritation to the feet of a rabbit, it may develop sores on the feet. They may also be caused by the rabbit being overweight or lack of adequate exercise and time out of the cage.
OVERGROWN INCISORS: The teeth of rabbits grow throughout life and are prevented from overgrowing by constant rubbing of the upper and lower teeth on each other. If a rabbit’s teeth do not meet properly the teeth can over grow and cause severe discomfort and sometimes the inability to close the mouth and eat. Teeth should be checked regularly to see if they are getting too long.
HEAT STRESS: Rabbits are especially susceptible to over heating, particularly those that are overweight or have long , thick coats. Temperatures above 85 degrees, high humidity, lack of shade and ventilation and overcrowding can cause a heat induced collapse. Rabbits in Arizona are at risk especially in the summer from the heat and need to be watched very carefully.
SPINAL TRAUMA: The bones in a rabbit’s body are very delicate, especially the spine. If a rabbit is held wrong or squirms when held, damage is possible. Be very careful with a panicked and struggling rabbit.
Rabbits are very different from cats and dogs in may respects. Rabbits are very dependent on good bacteria to keep the intestinal tract normal and can be seriously upset by many types of antibiotics.
Having a rabbit for a pet can be a very rewarding experience but they need very special care to have a long and happy life.