Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rabbits: Good protein In a Limited Space Notes

Reader's Digest - Back To Basics - How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills

The Readers Digest Association, Inc.

Pleasantville, New York / Montreal

 

I decided I wanted to learn more about my rabbits but wanted to see what this book said.  My Grandpa gave the book to me.  It has some pretty good info in it…I like the hutch that they illustrate…I think I will try to build one…It looks like it would be much easier than what we are currently using.

 

Rabbits: Good Protein In a Limited Space

Excellent to raise for meat

  • Delicious
  • Prolific
  • Hardy
  • Inexpensive to feed
  • Yield more high-protein meat per dollar of feed than any other animal

 

Food

  • Specially prepared pellets provide the best diet.
    • Supplement with:
      • Tender hay
      • Fresh grass clippings
      • Vegetable tops
        • Greens should be fed sparingly to rabbits less than 6mo old
      • Root vegetables
      • Apples
      • Pears
      • Fruit tree leaves
      • Water
        • Change at least once/day
      • Salt lick (optional)

 

Shelter:

  • A Basic Wire-Mesh Hutch
    • Cold is no real problem for rabbits.
    • Hutches should provide protection from:
      • Drafts
      • Rain
      • Intense heat
      • Each rabbit should have their own cage
        • Individual cages can be hung in a garage or shed (empty)
        • Or you can build an outdoor hutch of lumber and 1" wire mesh or hardware cloth. Plus 1/2" mesh for the floor.
          • Each rabbit should have a 3ft wide x 3ft deep x 2ft high space.
          • The sides and floor should be wire mesh.
          • The cages should be at a convenient eight for you to feed and clean them.
          • Give it a double roof if not placing it in the shade.
          • Trays beneath make cleaning easier
            • Clean trays regularly
            • Scrub and disinfect the cages between litters.

 

Mating:

  • Medium breeds (New Zealand) can breed at 6mo old.
    • The females will be:
      • Restless
      • Attempt to join other rabbits
      • Rub it's head against the cage.
    • Once she is fertile she only experiences a couple of days here and there of infertility.
      • Place her in the male's cage.
        • If you try to take him to her she may attack him thinking he is an intruder.
  • How to tell if she is pregnant:
    • Wait 10 days after breeding.
      • Feel just above the pelvis
        • Embryos should feel like small marbles.
          • If nothing check again 1 wk. later.
          • Rebreed if necessary.
  • Birth:
    • 31 days after conception
      • I mark this on my phone's calendar with a reminder so I don't forget the due date.
      • The nesting box should be placed 5 days prior to due date.
        • Make sure there is plenty of straw in the bottom of it.
  • After Birth Care
    • Wait about 2 days before attempting to check the status of the new babies.
      • It is recommended that you distract the mama with some food while attempting this.
      • Make sure there are no dead or deformed babies that need removed.
    • Immediately start Mamma on a high protein nursing diet.
    • Make sure the family is not disturbed.
    • Babies will suckle for about 8 weeks.

 

  • Butcher Weight for a fryer is about 4 live lbs. (will end up being about 2) and they usually reach this by 8-12 wks..

 

  • This book also has butchering instructions but I will not go into them yet…not ready for that yet!