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mrscllc

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Hi everyone! I am still in the planning stages of adding some meat rabbits to our place in S. Mississippi.

My dad ran a successful small scale meat/commercial rabbitry when I was very young. So far he's been a great source of information. This site is amazing and I am grateful for all the shared info as well as the photos of your setups and rabbits.

The plan right now is just to have sustainable, continual meat for our family of 7. To start, I'm getting a trio from a breeding friend of NZ and Californian. I'm looking into sourcing a different buck from somewhere else to be sure I don't have lineage issues since I don't know the breeding records. Eventually I'd love to switch to pedigreed stock just to be able to have that for my own kids 4H or other 4H-ers we know locally.

I am planning a 5 hole hanging cage for breeding stock and a 2 compartment removable divider hutch for the growouts between weaning and harvest.

Anyone have an opinion on whether I should keep my does in the hutch and spread the grow outs between the hanging cages instead? My supposed plan is wean at 4 weeks, harvest at 8-10 weeks.
 

Mini Lop Mama

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I think that would be fine- just keep in mind that weaning kits that early can be bad for their health at times. You will just have to see how quickly they mature.
 

Big Mac

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Welcome, I think there should be no hurry to ween the kits. We leave them with the mama for eight weeks , then sex and separate. For some kits the separation is very traumatic and they can’t take it. Rotation of the buck will be easy I think depends on how much effort you want to put in it. Remember diversity has two factors so you could rotate the doe’s.
you are early in the process, so expect to modify your plans as you experience the wonderful world of rabbits.
 

KelleyBee

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Hi everyone! I am still in the planning stages of adding some meat rabbits to our place in S. Mississippi.

My dad ran a successful small scale meat/commercial rabbitry when I was very young. So far he's been a great source of information. This site is amazing and I am grateful for all the shared info as well as the photos of your setups and rabbits.

The plan right now is just to have sustainable, continual meat for our family of 7. To start, I'm getting a trio from a breeding friend of NZ and Californian. I'm looking into sourcing a different buck from somewhere else to be sure I don't have lineage issues since I don't know the breeding records. Eventually I'd love to switch to pedigreed stock just to be able to have that for my own kids 4H or other 4H-ers we know locally.

I am planning a 5 hole hanging cage for breeding stock and a 2 compartment removable divider hutch for the growouts between weaning and harvest.

Anyone have an opinion on whether I should keep my does in the hutch and spread the grow outs between the hanging cages instead? My supposed plan is wean at 4 weeks, harvest at 8-10 weeks.
Here is how I have been doing this and it has worked very well: in nature, rabbits wean at 4 weeks. I always prefer to mimic nature as much as possible. However, to pull 4 week babies from mom's enclosure to a growout enclosure can shock some kits and then the risk of death can occur. To avoid this, I pull both mom and kits from mom's enclosure at 4 weeks and put them all into the growout cage. I leave mom there with them for 24 to 48 hours, no more. In doing so, the cage becomes sanctioned by mom within the minds of the kits. Then, after the allotted time has passed, I pull mom from the growout enclosure and put her back into her enclosure, which is now all clean and refreshed because having her and all babies out for a day or two gives me a chance to clean things up. Weaning kits this way works very well, and mom gets her needed rest. If you closely observe mom's and kits as do I, moms are exhausted and frustrated with being enclosed with kits by 4 weeks. The kits use every opportunity to nurse off mom and she is constantly having to move and rebuff them. That's got to be incredibly exhausting. I would not ever recommend keeping kits with mom beyond the 4 weeks she would freely choose for herself if she were in the wild. That's my opinion and the advice is given based upon 100% success (no lost kits due to weaning at 4 weeks) employing the technique as I have described. Lastly, kits begin eating solid foods at 2 weeks. By 4 weeks, they are eating lots of solid foods, enough to completely sustain themselves. Weaning at 4 weeks does not result in weaker, smaller kits. Keeping them with mom beyond 4 weeks does result in an unnecessarily exhausted mom.
 

mrscllc

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Thank you, everyone for the advice. I know all rabbitry experiences/philosophies are different and tailored to each rabbitry and breed. My 4 week wean is based mostly on the experience of the breeder I'll be getting them from and how long before the kits have been self switching to solid food in his set up.

The idea of moving mom to the grow out pen for a day or two transition is a great one, thanks for that! I was considering adding a closeable nesting box on the grow out pens and having mom moved there a few days before delivery then moving her out at 4 weeks.

I did learn more about the specific stock. They are actually Silver Fox and Californian. The buck and one of the does will be crosses and I believe the other doe will be a proven pure of one of the breeds (not related to the buck) I'll be looking for a second pure of the same breed soon-ish, depending on how the 2nd generation crosses growout for us.

At first the goal is freezer meat for the family, but I imagine it won't be long before I want to keep breeding stock for larger/faster growing traits.
 

rockyhillrabbits

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Welcome to the forum! I also separate mom from kits at 4 weeks, maybe 5 weeks. I have never had any issues and I don't see any reason to keep babies with mom past 5 weeks since they are no longer nursing anyway.
You will quickly find what works for you. Raising rabbits can be done a hundred different ways, I always tell people how we do things might not work for them.
 

Therese

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American Chinchillas are what we have and they might wean differently. When we took the kits away at 5 weeks, they sometimes did well, but sometimes didn't (got digestive problems). We found that the local pet store requires kits to be 8 weeks old before they will purchase them as pets, and that MA requires kits to be 8 weeks old before selling. Then we heard a successful breeder explain that 8 weeks is a safe age to remove them from their dam because their digestive systems are fully developed. I haven't been able to look that one up, but so far we have had very healthy and large kits with happy/relaxed dams since we have been leaving the kits to 8 weeks. We have noticed that the kits will continue to nurse on occasion even into 7 weeks (Mom has to stand up pretty tall!), and that the dams seem happy to oblige. American Chinchillas might be different--they are known to be super good mothers!
 

Big Mac

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Here is how I have been doing this and it has worked very well: in nature, rabbits wean at 4 weeks. I always prefer to mimic nature as much as possible. However, to pull 4 week babies from mom's enclosure to a growout enclosure can shock some kits and then the risk of death can occur. To avoid this, I pull both mom and kits from mom's enclosure at 4 weeks and put them all into the growout cage. I leave mom there with them for 24 to 48 hours, no more. In doing so, the cage becomes sanctioned by mom within the minds of the kits. Then, after the allotted time has passed, I pull mom from the growout enclosure and put her back into her enclosure, which is now all clean and refreshed because having her and all babies out for a day or two gives me a chance to clean things up. Weaning kits this way works very well, and mom gets her needed rest. If you closely observe mom's and kits as do I, moms are exhausted and frustrated with being enclosed with kits by 4 weeks. The kits use every opportunity to nurse off mom and she is constantly having to move and rebuff them. That's got to be incredibly exhausting. I would not ever recommend keeping kits with mom beyond the 4 weeks she would freely choose for herself if she were in the wild. That's my opinion and the advice is given based upon 100% success (no lost kits due to weaning at 4 weeks) employing the technique as I have described. Lastly, kits begin eating solid foods at 2 weeks. By 4 weeks, they are eating lots of solid foods, enough to completely sustain themselves. Weaning at 4 weeks does not result in weaker, smaller kits. Keeping them with mom beyond 4 weeks does result in an unnecessarily exhausted mom.
Well done a wonderful plan and very logical.
 

Big Mac

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Here is how I have been doing this and it has worked very well: in nature, rabbits wean at 4 weeks. I always prefer to mimic nature as much as possible. However, to pull 4 week babies from mom's enclosure to a growout enclosure can shock some kits and then the risk of death can occur. To avoid this, I pull both mom and kits from mom's enclosure at 4 weeks and put them all into the growout cage. I leave mom there with them for 24 to 48 hours, no more. In doing so, the cage becomes sanctioned by mom within the minds of the kits. Then, after the allotted time has passed, I pull mom from the growout enclosure and put her back into her enclosure, which is now all clean and refreshed because having her and all babies out for a day or two gives me a chance to clean things up. Weaning kits this way works very well, and mom gets her needed rest. If you closely observe mom's and kits as do I, moms are exhausted and frustrated with being enclosed with kits by 4 weeks. The kits use every opportunity to nurse off mom and she is constantly having to move and rebuff them. That's got to be incredibly exhausting. I would not ever recommend keeping kits with mom beyond the 4 weeks she would freely choose for herself if she were in the wild. That's my opinion and the advice is given based upon 100% success (no lost kits due to weaning at 4 weeks) employing the technique as I have described. Lastly, kits begin eating solid foods at 2 weeks. By 4 weeks, they are eating lots of solid foods, enough to completely sustain themselves. Weaning at 4 weeks does not result in weaker, smaller kits. Keeping them with mom beyond 4 weeks does result in an unnecessarily exhausted mom.
Yes I agree about the mom being exhausted, so we hold off another month before considering to breed.
 

Therese

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Here is how I have been doing this and it has worked very well: in nature, rabbits wean at 4 weeks. I always prefer to mimic nature as much as possible. However, to pull 4 week babies from mom's enclosure to a growout enclosure can shock some kits and then the risk of death can occur. To avoid this, I pull both mom and kits from mom's enclosure at 4 weeks and put them all into the growout cage. I leave mom there with them for 24 to 48 hours, no more. In doing so, the cage becomes sanctioned by mom within the minds of the kits. Then, after the allotted time has passed, I pull mom from the growout enclosure and put her back into her enclosure, which is now all clean and refreshed because having her and all babies out for a day or two gives me a chance to clean things up. Weaning kits this way works very well, and mom gets her needed rest. If you closely observe mom's and kits as do I, moms are exhausted and frustrated with being enclosed with kits by 4 weeks. The kits use every opportunity to nurse off mom and she is constantly having to move and rebuff them. That's got to be incredibly exhausting. I would not ever recommend keeping kits with mom beyond the 4 weeks she would freely choose for herself if she were in the wild. That's my opinion and the advice is given based upon 100% success (no lost kits due to weaning at 4 weeks) employing the technique as I have described. Lastly, kits begin eating solid foods at 2 weeks. By 4 weeks, they are eating lots of solid foods, enough to completely sustain themselves. Weaning at 4 weeks does not result in weaker, smaller kits. Keeping them with mom beyond 4 weeks does result in an unnecessarily exhausted mom.
That is great! Well thought out and worth trying! God bless you!
 

HTAcres

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You will quickly see what works best for you. My Tamuk are ready to wean at 4 weeks but I can hold off if I have a reason to do so. Does can vary individually and even from litter to litter. I like to see the kits eating and drinking well. I wean into 2 cages separated by sex (it took me a while to get good at sexing them at 4 weeks). Sometimes I will remove the boys first and then the girls. How quickly I rebreed depends on the condition of the mom, the time of year and how my cage space is looking. Always remember the critical piece of rabbit math - it takes 3 times as long to grow them out as it does to make them!!! LOL
 
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