24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Posts Tagged ‘baby rabbits’

So much to do! So little time!

To say that I haven’t posted much lately would be a bit of an understatement.  Yes, I could have, but once you get behind, it’s hard to play catch-up.  Do you really get behind on a blog, or can you just jump back in?

Anyway, much of my time lately has been taken up by bunnies and gardening.

Squeak’s most recent litter, now 4 weeks old, was not getting enough milk — Squeak was not producing enough.  So we took up baby bunny feeding.

Fluffy’s most recent litter, now 10 days old, doesn’t like staying in the nest box.  Therefore, they keep going missing, and we keep finding them huddled on the walkway, waiting to be either stepped on (we haven’t done that yet, thank goodness) or picked up, or worse.  So we’ve been spending some time looking for baby bunnies.  Bunny-Wan Kenobi found one of the poor things outside the rabbitry.  It was less than a week old, and died of exposure.  One has never been found, and is probably under the rabbitry frame.  They’re not big enough yet to be too big to fit through the cage wire.  I’ll be installing babysaver wire soon.  I hadn’t needed it before!

The garden has been putting out cucumbers and tomatoes like nobody’s business (thank goodness I planted only one cucumber plant!).  This has caused me to venture into canning, something I was planning to do.  Yesterday and today, I finally canned my first vegetable victims ever!

So far:

8 pints of bread & butter pickles

10 pints of dill spears

A bunch of tomato sauce that I’ve been using so fast, I haven’t had a chance to can it.  But, not to worry — there are probably two more buckets’ worth of tomatoes out there ready to pick now!

I have also been waging war against bugs trying to demolish my garden.  First cutworms, then squash vine borers, then armyworms, and, finally, flea beetles.  It’s difficult to find something that will kill flea beetles without killing bees.  I like bees.  I NEED bees.  And I haven’t seen a lot of bees, so I certainly don’t want to kill the ones that do make it around here!

We also planted a bunch of dwarf fruit trees in containers.  My beloved Shay built a composter that I have already filled up.  My uncle and I went to war against a bunch of invasive vines that he has been battling for decades (maybe we can finally, FINALLY kill them!).  They’ve been growing all over the ligustrum hedge along the back fence for all this time, and sometimes putting runners out into the yard.  With my grandmother’s stroke and illness over the last couple of years of her life, and then with our moving in, the vines have put out many, many runners.  So we’re spraying them with some Roundup product (poison ivy plus tough brush, or something like that) in order to get control.  It seems to be working on the vines on the ligustrums.  Let’s hope it works on the poison ivy, too.

I have so much more to do!

A trip to the feed store, canning tomatoes,  filing an amended return for my mom, spraying more vines, planting new squash plants, finding a dehydrator, treating fur mites on Fluffy’s babies (all those trips outside they’ve been taking), a lot of kitchen cleanup…

I miss Mammaw.  She was my great-grandmother.  She could cook, sew (an amazing seamstress, she was!), crochet, knit, embroider, and can.  I can cook.  I need to learn how to sew and can.  I’m sure I would learn faster (and do it faster!) if someone who knew how to do it was with me.  This is my mom’s first time canning, too.  No, I don’t miss Mammaw just for all the useful info she could give me, I miss her for herself, too.  :)

10-Week Meat Rabbit Weights

Well, the two litters from Squeak and Pearl are ten weeks old today!  Or, maybe, yesterday, by the time I actually hit “Publish”.  Since meat rabbit fryers are generally processed between the ages of ten and twelve weeks, I wanted to get a good idea of how they were doing weight-wise.  With your actual meat rabbit breeds producing ideally 5-pound fryers at that age, I was naturally hoping that we might be close to that weight.  In reality, though, these are not actual meat rabbit breeds; they are the offspring of, initially, a minilop (hey, he was a rescue, you have to start somewhere!) and a Flemish giant cross that topped out a little over 6 pounds.  Am I going to get 5-pound rabbits at 10-12 weeks from this line?  Uh…. no.  :D

So anyway, we weighed every bunny in both litters today, and this is what we have so far:

Pearl’s litter weighs 3 lb 1 oz, 3 lb 4 oz, 3 lb 5 oz, 3 lb 8 oz, 3 lb 9 oz, and 3 lb 4 oz.  Their average weight is 3 pounds, 5 ounces.

Squeak’s litter has been at the feed trough a little more.  They weigh 3 lb 7 oz, 3 lb 8 oz, 3 lb 9 oz, 3 lb 4 oz, 4 lb 3 oz (!), and 3 lb 15 oz.  Their average weight is 3 pounds, 10 ounces.  The little porker at 4 lb, 3 oz is the last bunny pictured in the post, “The two litters at 6 weeks!”.  Fittingly, it is pigging out on food in the picture.

One interesting thing about this is actually the fact that Squeak’s litter is heavier than Pearl’s.  Squeak and Pinto both have Thumper, the minilop, as their father.  Squeak is smaller than Pearl.  I would expect Pearl’s litter to be heavier, since only the father, Pinto, is a minilop cross.  With Squeak’s litter, both mother and father are minilop crosses.  I suppose I will never understand rabbit genetics!

The average for both litters is 3 pounds, 8 ounces.  Not bad, considering these are just mutts with no meat rabbit background.  :)  Guess we’ll weigh again at 12 weeks and hope they’re close enough at that point.  I really don’t want to butcher rabbits again that are old enough to have the skin thoroughly stuck to the meat!  That was difficult!

The two litters at 6 weeks!

Well, I took these pictures two weeks ago, but better late than never, right?  Baby pictures are cute anytime anyway.  Here they are, Pearl’s litter first:

The whole gang. As you can see, two white, two red (one broken), and two broken chestnut agouti.

The one red, with swirls of lighter red, and white on the belly and feet.

The broken red.

One of the whites. As you can see, there's a little grey on the nose.

The other white. Okay, I confess. I have no idea if this is the other one or not. I can't tell the difference, and they were moving around too much!

One of the broken agoutis. They look just like Pinto, their father!

The other broken agouti. I couldn't get him to budge out of the corner. He was too busy washing his face.

Now for Squeak’s litter:

These guys are even more active than Pearl's! There's a chinchilla, a broken chinchilla, a half chinchilla/half light chestnut agouti, a broken red, and two bunnies I don't know the colors of.

I really have no idea what this color is called, but it looks like cinnamon. It's like a red, but it's a bit darker, and looks like it could be agouti. I haven't blown into the fur to see.

The broken chinchilla. Just really pretty.

The half chinchilla/half light chestnut agouti. Very interesting combination. His fur is mussed because he just got stepped all over by several of his siblings. I guess they all wanted his spot.

In the group shot, this is the bunny on the right with its back to you. There, it looks brown. Here, you can see it has a little bit of a reddish tint. Its sides are a difficult color to figure, too. Light brown/grey sort-of. Pretty little bun! Unfortunately, it is blind in one eye, because I didn't notice that its eye hadn't opened yet until too late.

The chinchilla, a smaller version of her mother.

A broken red, whose red fur has lighter and darker areas. Wish I could have gotten a better picture, but the little thing just wouldn't cooperate!

They’re all mutts, but they’re pretty mutts!  Mercifully, they lose the killer-cute looks right about the time they’re old enough to hit the freezer, as they start getting a more adult look to them.

UPDATE:  As requested in the comments, here is a picture of the little broken chinchilla’s face:

Broken chinchilla's face. There's a good body shot with airplane ears above.

Popples!!!

Finally, for the first time since mid-February, we have popples!  For those of you who might not be familiar with the RabbitTalk forum at http://rabbittalk.com, a popple is a babby bunny.  Someone on another forum observed that baby rabbits “pop” (make little jumps) like popcorn, and the nickname “popples” was born.  It stuck at RabbitTalk, and we routinely refer to baby rabbits as popples, even though the proper name for them is kits.

Anyway, here we are, trying to raise meat rabbits and be self-sufficient and all, and we haven’t had a litter of rabbits since February?  What’s up with that?

Well…

Right when the litter Pearl had in February was 10 weeks old, we moved.  Then my husband Shay started looking for a job, and we started building a rabbitry.  We completed the rabbitry and moved the bunnies in.  Shay continued looking for a job, and we didn’t get around to butchering our first batch of rabbits until they were 24 weeks old.

We mated Pearl to Thumper again, but it had been so long that she was unwilling, and she didn’t have any babies.  We tried again, and Pearl was a little more cooperative, but it had been so hot that Thumper went heat sterile.  So this is why we had all this delay.

But finally, FINALLY, we have baby bunnies again!

Rabbit does aren’t always good mothers the first time around, but Pearl had been perfect.  So I was hoping that Squeak, who by this time had reached maturity, would be a good mother right from the start as well.  I have not been disappointed!  She had 6, all alive, active, and healthy, and just as squeaky as Squeak had been as a popple, which is where she got her name.  She had them in the nestbox, in a nice nest of hay and lots of fur that she had pulled.

Squeak's litter of 6 kits.

Pearl’s first litter (of which Squeak was one) was 8, so I was crossing my fingers for 8 again.  She had six.  But that’s okay.  We have 12 baby bunnies!  Pearl again made a marvelous nest with an explosion of white fur in it.  Her babies are so spoiled with that thick fluff she gave them!  :)  They need it, too… it went to freezing last night, and should get close again tonight.

Pearl's litter of 6.

It’s good to be back on track again.

I can’t take the suspense!!!!!

Thirty days ago, we bred our two does, Squeak and Pearl.  We finally realized that Thumper, while a perfectly capable buck, was a little too much of a gentleman to get his job done.  His son Pinto, however, was perfectly capable and also very assertive.

So Pearl and Squeak were both bred to Pinto.  Rabbits have a gestation period of about 30 days.  I believe Pearl delivered her previous litter at 31 days (nearly a year ago).

I checked the nest boxes this morning, and there were no baby bunnies out there yet.  However, when Pearl flopped down to rest, I noticed that her belly seemed to be bulging quite a bit.  Also, Squeak, who normally has this slender, jackrabbit-like figure, wasn’t looking so slender.

I think!  I hope!!!!!

So it looks like — just maybe — the heat sterility is over, and we should have baby bunnies in another day or two!  It’s kinda hard to have rabbit meat when you aren’t getting any rabbits.