Pet Rabbit Care

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Pet Rabbit Care 101: Housing, Feeding, and Breeding

To the beginner who purchases rabbits who has not been supplied with information on housing, breeding, feeding, etc., the following brief summary of these important factors will prove to be of value.

HOUSING – We are believers in starting in a small way and expand as we go along gaining valuable experience through actual care and management of the rabbitry. The housing to begin with need not be expensive. The material needed is lumber and wire. There are on the market wire pens suitable to put in any building or shed, enough to house the original breeding stock at first, then gradually add on additional units as required. This proves to be very practical, and is a good idea to follow. The size should not be less than 36 inches wide and 30 inches deep for the medium size breeds, maturing to from 8 to 12 pounds. The giant breeds should have a hutch of at least 48 inches wide and 30 to 36 inches deep. The smaller breeds do not need as much room. Where there is no building (or shed) in which hutches can be built, then hutches can be constructed outdoors. There are hutch plans available and offered for sale. Such plans have many good ideas and are easy to follow on hutch construction.

BREEDING – The proper age for breeding in most breeds is 8 months. In this modern age of rabbit production, emphasis is placed on fast early growth. Many of the breeds, especially in commercial fryer production, are fully developed at 6 months. On the other hand, a doe that does not attain its standard weight when 10 to 11 months old, would be undesirable as a breeder. Of course, judgment should be used in this matter which will come by experience. As a guide to the question of weights, as already mentioned the maximum weights at maturity mentioned elsewhere where the description of the breeds appear in this book.

When breeding a doe, always take her to the buck’s hutch. If she is willing she will accept service at one. She is then placed back in her own coop. In 4 to 5 days again place the doe with the buck. This is known as “test breeding.” Should the doe refuse service at any time, try again the next day and so on until she does. Keep a record of the date does are bred. You can then expect the young in 30 days, or, on rare occasions, 32 days.

WEANING – There is no set time when the young should be weaned – this varies from 6 to 8 weeks old – 6 weeks is more or less, the established rule. In some of the larger breeds, or if more weight is required at maturity, it might be well to let the young remain with the mother until 8 weeks old. There are many advantages in leaving the young with the mother a little longer than the generally accepted 6 weeks.

After the young are weaned and the doe is in good shape, she can be bred again in a week or so. Do not wait too long from the time the young are weaned until the doe is bred again. She may put on extra weight and not breed readily or conceive as before. However, with a little patience in trying her again with the buck, conception is likely to take place. There are always exceptions in breeding after weaning procedures. Does bred for strictly commercial production are generally bred when the young are 5 weeks old, the young remaining with the doe until weaned, presumably at 6 to 7 weeks of age.

FEEDING – The feeding of rabbits has been made very simple. Most of the larger feed concerns make pellets especially for rabbits, and are easily available at feed stores, the smaller store or the larger store. Most of these manufactured pellets for rabbits are a complete diet, and no hay is required, although some breeders do feed some hay in addition to the pellets to give roughage. There may still be some all grain pellets on the market, but most breeders feed pellets only which is a time saving element. If hay is fed in addition to the pellets, feed Alfalfa, Clover, or Timothy, though feed it sparingly.

by Edward Stahl
From Rabbits For Profit and Pleasure

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