Updated: Jun 15
I really should post more often but we get busy with so many things that it falls by the wayside. It’s a grey, rainy day so here I am to give an update (or two) on our projects. I’ll start with our rabbits!
Both of our does kindled 7 kits each and proved to be good mamas. They both built wonderful nests and we didn’t lose a single baby, despite some very low night time temperatures. As expected, Sylvanus had all-black kits, four does and three bucks. Unexpectedly, however, Marello had a little bit of a rainbow of kit colors, with two reds and a single red-eyed white mixed in with her four blacks. She had a grand total of five does to her two bucks.
The grow outs have just reached 8 weeks, and we sold six of them over the weekend. Two of Sylvanus’s mixed-breed bucks went to a pet home and four of Marello’s purebred does went to different homes as breeding stock to others who are just getting started on their own meat rabbit projects. I feel very fortunate that the sale of the five kits has covered feed costs for the last handful of months, making our little operation that much more sustainable.
In addition to any more that we sell we are also holding back the REW for our breeding program. Kallo was very keen on keeping it so it was fortuitous that it was a doe and it happens to be the second largest of the litter. Our almost 6-year-old has named her Larda.
Since it was getting time to give our breeders a break from the grow outs, I constructed temporary grow out pens with Dumor brand cages and T-posts. Their current roofs are just draped tarps but something more permanent will be constructed once this dreary weather has passed us by.
Although the grow-out pens will do us well, for the time being, I’m not thrilled with the Dumor cages. I purchased two 30x30x18 cages from Tractor Supply, hoping it would be a simple set up (especially considering the box claimed it could be set up in seconds). The directions were predictably terrible but even once Kallo and I deciphered them it took fifteen minutes to try to manipulate and bend the attached tabs into place. The tabs that are attached to the cages are flimsy and there is no way I would trust them to hold up to a handful of grow outs bouncing around, much less possible predators. There was also no such advertised speed.
I was forced to dig out my j-clips and pliers to reinforce the badly designed cage before getting out cage number two and skipping the included connectors in favor of the more trustworthy j-clips we used on our breeder’s cages. The thick gauge of wire on the Dumor cages was the only thing that stopped me from returning them to the store since getting wire that size would require an online order and who knows how long a wait for shipping since everything is backed up due to COVID-19.
The installation of the T-posts went much more according to plan and it only took a few minutes of tinkering to remember how to use the tool for the t-post clips. They went in without much trouble and both cages took less than 10 minutes to secure the four posts. I loaded them up with hay, dandelions, pellets, and water before moving onto the next task of moving kits out of their mama’s cages.
I removed the girls from Marello and put them into one cage, which sounds more straight forward than it was. Checking squirming, sharp-clawed rabbits, even if very young, requires more than a few scratches and some frustration for both human and rabbit. My consolation was that almost 8-week old rabbits are much easier to determine sex on than 4- or 5-week old kits. I left the white doe in with her two brothers so that Marello wasn’t left with a sudden dearth of nursing kits and therefore decreasing the chances of her suffering from mastitis.
Sylvanus’s buck kits were removed next and put in the second pen, where all three of them sulked in a back corner for quite a few days, ignoring even my most generous offers of fresh greens from the yard. Her doe kits remain with her for now for the same reason as above.
I‘ll be moving out the rest of the kits in a day or two (once all this rain has passed), and see if the ladies are receptive to breeding while it’s still relatively cool out.
That’s our rabbitry update so far! Updates on the rest of our homestead activities are in the works, as well.