Our rabbitry update

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Olbunny

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Hello all. Been a while. We have been getting ready for winter around here. We are on our last batch of friers with those kits a few weeks old.
Our does, 3 black New Zealand does. My beautiful wife didn't want red eyed rabbits. But wanted New Zealand does. And a Californian buck. Lays around n looks cool waiting for the ladies to visit.
We have harvested 75 friers averaging 2-1/2 pounds. I need to start butchering the 20 that are now 12 weeks old starting today. And we have approximately 30 more kits that are just starting to feed themselves. So we should meet our goal of 125 friers harvested. So over 300 pounds of meat.
When processing our rabbits. I trim the belly flap meat and collect the heart, liver n kidneys. This will all be combined after all friers are processed and then ground. Portioned into 1# vacuum sealed.
Been a lot of work starting from scratch again but we did ok.
Our cost per frier will be under $3. And I should be able to amoratize the initial investment when I get time to make some more pens from leftover stock.
Next year will be easier ! I'm set up. Still have 1 more grow out pen to build next year. 30" wide 8' long 16" tall.
We have a dozen bales of hay now in our greenhouse and 10 bags of pellets to make it through the winter. I've been trying to gather as many leaves as I can find n bag en up for fodder over the winter. Along with willow n such. Sunflower seeds for the fat.
Along the way, a little doe rabbit shows up one day last spring. A bit after Easter. I figured a drop off. It's a beautiful bunny with 2 colors of hair. Inner coat of amber rust out dark silver hairs. Now mature about 7 pounds. I write now mature because our daughter caught it. And now it has a new home. She says so. And she gave us a few kits to cover her costs. Now dad n her and my grandson gets to build a new rabbit pen.
It's been a lot of work n lot of output , but the value is good.
We also barter our rabbits. For halibut salmon caribou n such. We have moose. So nice to get other hormone n steroid free meat for the freezer.
Now to figure out what to do with the manure. My plan is to let it freeze dry over the winter. Then run it through our mulcher n try to market it. Or barter for plants we need. As a dried mulched ready to use product. And dried mulched poo looks better ground up..
I'm glad I remembered this forum. Great information from a broad base. And folks who want to help others enjoy rabbits.
And for our family, animal husbandry is also very important. My beautiful wife n me were having coffee thinking about all the work that getting ready for rabbits again was. Kinda thinking like is this worth the effort. They our 5 year old grandson who lives with us comes over to us in his undies n rubber boots n says that he needs to go check on the baby rabbits n make sure they are OK. That ended the discussion instantly ! We will homeschool him like his mama. And animal husbandry is an important part of life. And knowing how to raise your own food seems to be becoming more important in life. Food security. All the way on how to prepare meals after you learned how to preserve your food.
We also gro big gardens
Hey hope this helps some folks out. I've learned a lot from others n don't mind giving back.
Picture of legs n saddle vacuum sealed for the freezer. Our set up. For our breeders.
. Moose. We are dealing 20210831_105420.jpg 20210608_092050.jpg 20210609_082920.jpg 20210609_082940.jpg 20210323_081953.jpg
 
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KelleyBee

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Can you tell us your plans for the ground organ meat? Thank you. I’m a first timer with rabbits and animal husbandry in general. We have outperformed first 2 litters right now. haven’t processed any yet. They just a week old.

Moose? Where are you located? Will your rabbits be sheltered under the pop up all winter? Do you add burrow boxes or anything else aside from what the second photo shows?
 

Zee-Man

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Moose! I am suitably impressed. I like your rabbitry, too. A harvest of 75 is very nice. I am also curious as to your environment. Our temps don't go very low very often. Winter will tend to be 30 to 40 F with a few dips below 30 in February. Other than a hide in the hutch I don't do anything special. I've thought about putting some plastic up for a wind break, but the rabbits seem fine without it.
 

Olbunny

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Hey thanks for the atta boys. I'm in Alaska. We will make sausage out of the ground meat. I like stuffed sausages but my beautiful wife wants bulk. Probably use a sweet Italian seasoning mix. The taste n texture of the belly flap meat isn't prime and we don't want to waste the organ meat but don't care for them on their own, so grind it. Add seasoning.
Yes the rabbits will live in the shelter. I reinforced it. Last winter they were in the greenhouse. I built my pens to fit it.
This winter the hay will be in the greenhouse so we can use it next spring for a greenhouse. And keep the moose away from the hay. I will also put ply around the outside of the greenhouse so they don't break in.
We will have moose in our yard until next spring.
I will fully enclose the current structure as soon as I get a chance. I like them out of the wind. I like being warmer. I can get by but nicer warmer. And I feel that when our animals are comfortable as possible n happy they perform better. Not having snow all over helps too. But comfort matters. Mostly make things so they work better for me. More efficient.
I use a nesting box for a hutch. 12x12x16" kinda my design. One side is hinged. I can open it in the summer n hook the lid up. Makes a bigger resting spot for the doe to get away from the kits to rest. Close it for the winter. Nice now as it's freezing out 20-30 I can open n check on kits.
I train our rabbits by letting them in their pens without a box for a couple weeks. They learn to poo in their particular corner. Then I can put box in and they don't poo in it. I stays in all year long. I clean it between kits.
Gets cold. Minus 40 is not uncommon for weeks. Our rabbits will gain weight and recuperate through the winter. I will take the last batch of kits off the does when they are 5-6 weeks or so. 8-10 kits chasing her around constantly wears her out. They are eating on their own. Always have water so heated bowls and hay. Cup of pellets daily with a handful of sunflower seeds daily for protein n fats to keep them warm.
We had some hiccups n caring for animals every day is a chore. And takes time n commitment. It had us wondering.
Besides the value of animal husbandry that our grandkids will learn. A life skill. We will end up processing 125 friersand will have over 300 pounds of processed meat. And will have met our goal. And it should only get easier from here as we continue to refine n become more efficient.
20210608_093212.jpg
1 of our grow out pens 30"x8'x 16
 

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KelleyBee

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Thank you for more info. I’m in Pennsylvania and this will be our first winter. I’m worried that I am taking proper care. Here’s our set-up. The burrow boxes I’ve not yet put in. I was going to wait until temps drop into the teens. Is that ok, or should I just give them the boxes regardless of the weather and temps?20211010_074451.jpg

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rabbitry when closed

20211104_172803.jpg burrow boxes

20211104_172509.jpg inside the rabbitry when closed.
 

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Olbunny

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Wow KB. That looks great! You're rabbits will be happy n healthy.
If I may suggest. You're going to be dealing with a lot of manure. You're drop pan set up is good but that little bucket won't work. It would collect the urine. A large rubber water bowl such as used for watering horses worked well for me. Approx 24" across n 12" deep. Get a good window wiper for snow on windshields to sweep the poo.
In the winter the urine will freeze s stick the poo down. You will have to bang on the trays. So make sure they are beefy while they are clean.
I would put the nesting box in now. I use hay instead of straw. If you're rabbits have been in their pen for a few weeks they have probably already established where they poo. And not soil the box. Ours haven't anyhows.
The area to the right would make a good place for a compost pile.
You're doing a great job. Are you foraging those tree limbs for your rabbits. Good vitamins in birch trees n such. Keeps teeth down n reduces stress.
 

KelleyBee

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Please note: KellyBee would like to inform readers that she no longer advocates this system. Please see her update for more information. Catching Rabbit Poop
~ MaggieJ


Thank you for the encouragement. yes, the bucket is for urine collection. I emp it daily. Question: I worry about attr predators, so I walk some distance away from the rabbitry to dump the urine although I would love to dump the urine (nitrogen) on the pile of dried vegetation (carbons) to the right of the rabbitry. Am I worried needlessly regarding attracting predators with their urine? The poo lands on a metal gutter leaf scree….see attached additional photos…. I forage daily and have a garden just for the rabbit…it’s under plastic#on-hoops now to extend the season. I’m trying to grow forage for them inside under grow lights, too. I give apple tree branches for chewing boredom.4F6AEB25-1103-4028-8F51-0B19DA17A25D.jpeg 5AB70253-4264-4E00-B6F0-081883074EE7.jpeg
 
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Thank you for more info. I’m in Pennsylvania and this will be our first winter. I’m worried that I am taking proper care. Here’s our set-up. The burrow boxes I’ve not yet put in. I was going to wait until temps drop into the teens. Is that ok, or should I just give them the boxes regardless of the weather and temps?View attachment 28134

View attachment 28129
rabbitry when closed

View attachment 28133 burrow boxes

View attachment 28131 inside the rabbitry when closed.
I have a similar setup, Saratoga area of NY. Instead of tarp, I have the clear heavy-duty vinyl shower liners all around for letting light in. It also traps IR. I have to shovel out to my pens in the winter. 20211104_144020.jpg
 
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Here's a view from our kitchen window. The yellow cord powers the 7 low amp heated water bottles and 2 wyze cams so I can remote monitor.
 

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KelleyBee

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I have a similar setup, Saratoga area of NY. Instead of tarp, I have the clear heavy-duty vinyl shower liners all around for letting light in. It also traps IR. I have to shovel out to my pens in the winter.
What is IR? I’d like to do the cams, but haven’t yet convinced hubby to install. I actually have a wyze cam that would be perfect. So, your rabbits are just on wire like mine. Aside from the plastic, you don’t add any for winter?
 
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What is IR? I’d like to do the cams, but haven’t yet convinced hubby to install. I actually have a wyze cam that would be perfect. So, your rabbits are just on wire like mine. Aside from the plastic, you don’t add any for winter?
No, they're very hearty to cold. IR is infrared, sorry for confusing with the initials.
 
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