24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Archive for January, 2011

Winterizing the Rabbitry

Okay, so I’m a bit late posting this.  We prepared the rabbitry for winter quite a while back.  Rabbits aren’t particularly sensitive to cold, and tend to prefer it to heat, but we do have to protect them from winter winds.

We took some visqueen (heavy clear plastic sheeting) and wrapped the screen with it.  Shay rolled it at the top and bottom to have enough to tack on.  Then we took some leftover lattice and pulled it apart, stabbing our hands with staples several times, until we had a bunch of strips of wood.  These Shay tacked on over the plastic to hold it to the rabbitry.  The last thing to do was to cut the door back out so we could get in.  :)

Here’s the rabbitry before:

The rabbitry during the spring, summer, and most of the fall. It is built of old window screens.

And here it is after, just when it started earnestly getting cool:

Only the screen is covered. The space below it, for a few inches to the ground, as well as above it, to the roof, is still open for ventilation. The rabbits get no direct wind at all.

It works really well.  Shay just added a spring to the door so it doesn’t blow open when we are out there tending to the rabbits!

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.

New Bunnies!!! :)

With two does, a buck, and a retired buck (too much of a gentleman with the ladies), as well as two growout cages (each containing a six-week-old meat rabbit litter),  our rabbitry is bustling with activity.  But there was one more empy cage — a third large brood doe cage.  We were going to start shopping for a third brood doe soon, and we were going through the usual back-and-forth about what kind we would get.  Do you get a good standard meat doe, bred for nice-sized litters that grow quickly on a reasonable amount of food, or do you go for a doe that can still be used as a meat doe, but is a little more colorful… sacrificing some of the efficiency?

We talked of Creme d’Argents, Rex, and such… I looked at Thriantas and Palominos and so many more.  But my uncle really wanted a New Zealand or a Californian.  He has really gotten into this meat rabbit idea enthusiastically, and likes rabbit very much.  He wants efficiency!  :D

About this time, Shay had met a lady through work who had a couple of pet rabbits.  When she learned that we had rabbits, they got to talking.  If I understand correctly, they had a number of other pets as well, and the rabbits were just a bit too much.  So she offered the rabbits to Shay, understanding that they would join our meat rabbit herd, and that they would be loved as pets and live nice, long, comfortable lives producing fryers and roasters for us.

Okay — back up a second — actually, at first, we only knew about one rabbit.  Then, just a few days ago, somehow an “s” got tacked on to the end of “rabbit”.  :lol:

All this time, we never said anything to the kids, since you never know when unexpected circumstances are going to come up.  We figured we’d just let it be a surprise.

Then yesterday, the lady brought her rabbits.  There were two of them, one large and one small.  They had been housed together, and were already accustomed to being outdoors.  Unfortunately, because of an appointment, I, my mom, and the kids missed meeting her, but we were on our way to Shay’s office as quickly as possible.  He called me to let me know the rabbits had arrived.

“One of them is white and has pink eyes.  She’s HUGE!”  No way… a New Zealand?!?  Could this be any more perfect?

“The other one is black, and a dwarf.”  Oh, goodness… cute overload!

“The white one’s name is Fluffy, and the black one is Nibbles.”

Nibbles?  A tiny black doe named Nibbles?  I mean, can you get anything cuter than that?  Okay, so she won’t be a meat brood doe, for sure, but the kids are probably going to cart her around like a little doll once she gets used to them.  Nibbles will play cards, and watch them do schoolwork, and goodness knows what.

So we arrived at the office, and Shay came walking over with an animal carrier I had prepared for him.  The kids ran over and hugged him, and then realized what was in the carrier — BUNNIES!!!  They were so excited, and the bunnies rode home between them.

Fluffy is a sweet and curious doe who loves hay.

As far as I can tell, she's a New Zealand White... perfect meat brood doe!

Fluffy's been checking out her new surroundings.

Nibbles is black with some silver tips on her guard hairs.

She doesn't have the rounded-off nose that many dwarf rabbits have; I don't know exactly what she is, but it doesn't matter... she's adorable!

They share a good-size cage and appear to be getting along quite well. Shay said that Fluffy will corner Nibbles sometimes, but I haven't seen any of that so far. If this is a larger cage than they had before, I might not see it at all, but I will keep my eyes open. I plan to put a little house in there so Nibbles can get away from Fluffy if she wants to. :)

Nose rub? Pleeeeeeease?

We made a stop at Wal-Mart on the way home to get some rabbit food, since they’d been eating vegetables and Wal-Mart food in a green bag.  So I bought some carrots and romaine lettuce, and went to check out the pet department.

To my dismay, they no longer had Wal-Mart brand rabbit food in our store.  Well, maybe she just meant a brand at Wal-Mart that is in a green bag.  Okay… uh-oh… all of these rabbit foods are in green bags!  What do I do now?

I bought one, but quickly posted to RabbitTalk when we got home to find out what I should do.  Meanwhile, we took the does out of the carrier, looked them over, and weighed them.  And made sure they were does.  Many a doe has turned out to be a buck later on!

Fluffy weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces, at 8 months of age.  Nibbles is 6 months old, and 3 pounds, 3 ounces.  It’s pretty comical seeing the two of them together.  Nibbles makes Fluffy look positively gigantic!  They are both very sweet, though they’re a little stand-offish right now.  Before ILoveBunnies lifted Fluffy from the carrier, she was letting us scratch her head, rub her cheeks, and even rub her back.  They should warm up pretty quickly.  All of our bunnies get plenty of attention, so they should be part of the family before long!

And by the time I am ready to breed Fluffy, she’ll be about 9.5 months old, a good age to start.

Rather than feeding the food I got at Wal-Mart, which could just as easily be the wrong one as the right one, on the advice of my RabbitTalk friends, I am feeding them rolled oats mixed with a little bit of my pellets, along with carrots, romaine, and lots of hay.  I’ll slowly increase the pellets so I don’t cause tummy troubles.  Fluffy is very anxious to get more pellets.

Right now, they have a foot guard thing so they can rest their feet and a chewing block.  I’ll be getting some toys in there.  I also need to get them a water bottle, instead of the dish they have right now.  The dish sloshes every time they hop around, since our cages are suspended by chains.

Just in case the family who gave us these two marvelous rabbits sees this, thank y’all so much for the bunnies!