24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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The first cycle is in full swing!

So, Pearl’s most recent litter is now just over two weeks old, and they’ve just opened their eyes (okay, yeah, I should have taken another picture, now that they’re all furred out).  Squeak will get a nest box next week, and, when Pearl’s are about 3 weeks old, she should have her litter.

Wednesday, we bred Fluffy for the first time!  I was a bit concerned, because she (as a New Zealand) is significantly larger than Pearl and Squeak, and therefore more powerful and capable of inflicting a world of hurt on the poor human she gets upset with.  And she did get a little spooked and managed to scratch my mom through four light layers of clothing!  (Like most rabbits, she doesn’t particularly like being held.)  But, on the whole, she was much less combative than Pearl and Squeak.

She was quite receptive to breeding, though.  Since she’s 9 1/2 months old now, I was concerned she may be a little past her prime first breeding age.  Some breeders find that after 8 – 9 months of age, does can be less receptive to a first breeding than they would have been around that age.  She had also put on a little weight.  I hadn’t had an issue with any of the rabbits we have had.  They all seemed to self-regulate, pretty much.  They ate what they needed, and no more.  But a few weeks ago I realized I could barely feel her spine at all, and that is how you gauge a rabbit’s weight.

Basically, if you run your hand down the rabbit’s back from head to tail, if the rabbit’s spine feels spiky, like you are petting a small, furry stegosaurus, then your rabbit is too thin.  If the spine feels like a series of gentle, rolling bumps, the rabbit is the right weight.  If you can’t feel the rabbit’s spine, then it is overweight.

It can be impossible to breed a fat rabbit.  If the rabbit does mate, then there is a greater chance that the mating will not produce a litter.  This is true of does and bucks… a fat buck may not be able to father a litter, and a fat doe may not be able to conceive or carry one.  So it is in the best interests of a breeder to maintain good weight and overall health of his or her rabbits.

So at this point I realized that Fluffy does not regulate her eating on her own, so I’m going to have to do it for her.  Unfortunately, Nibbles is along for the ride at this point, whether she regulates her eating or not.  I have no plans to breed Nibbles, since I breed meat rabbits, and Nibbles is a dwarf.  I’d have to be pretty desperate in order to look at her as breeding stock!  So I may not be as concerned with Nibbles’ weight, but she and Fluffy share food, so…

So I cut down on their food, and, over the next few weeks, I slowly began to feel Fluffy’s spine again.  It wasn’t quite to the rolling bumps stage when I bred her, but close enough.  Now that she’s bred, she gets all the food she wants, haha!  Nibbles must be happy about that, and I know Fluffy is.

So anyway, I bred Squeak three weeks after Pearl, and Fluffy three weeks after Squeak.  Three weeks from now, I will breed Pearl again, when her babies are five weeks old.



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