The Rabbitry Center – Helpful Tips
Please understand that these tips are only helpful suggestions. These are things that I’ve tried and have worked for me. I’m not a veterinarian. In no way are these tips intended as a substitute for the medical advice of veterinarians. You should regularly consult a veterinarian in matters relating to your rabbits and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.
–We Feed each rabbit a 1/3 cup of pellets at dusk with a fresh bowl of water along with a handful of hay and repeat at dawn(Rabbits are most active at Dusk and Dawn). In the winter time we up that to 1/4 cup twice a day. We use 16% Protein pellet purchased from our local feed store in 50 lb. bags. We supplement our feed costs by selling a few rabbits a month. Click hear to watch a video where we discuss more.
Cages-You can purchase cages from Tractor Supply. TSC cages are great for a quick start. These cages will last 3-5 years and by then you’ll need to either replace or build your cages. If you build your cages using galvanized wire they’ll last much longer then store bought cages.
-If your kids are going to hold the rabbits be sure to clip your rabbits nails so they can handle them without injury –I use mechanic gloves and wear long sleeve’s when handling rabbits with long nails.
-Rabbits don’t like to be picked up so you’ll need to train them to trust you and to understand that being picked up is a good thing and means being loved and pet. When carrying your rabbit cover the rabbits eyes. This relaxes them.
–Rabbits may bite after mating or Mom’s around newborn litters. If your rabbit bites for whatever reason try not to react with shock. Never correct your bunny with a swat of the hand. You don’t want any negative associations with your hands only love and care.
-Rabbits love vegetables but try not to feed them more than a quarter cup a day. Large portions can negatively effect your rabbits digestion.
–Kits(baby bunnies)have sensitive digestive systems. Only feed your kits pellets until they reach 12 weeks old. Everything they need is in the pellet and they could suffer from diarrhea or become dangerously dehydrated if they don’t stick to a strict diet. Their mom’s milk and the pellet diet will build a healthy immune system.
-Rabbits are prone to heat stroke. They need full time shade and fresh bowls of cold water every 12 hours-On those hot days drop a few ice cubes in their bowls to keep the water cool
-Purchase a 12″ marble tile($3.00)this acts as a cooling rock-rabbits love to lay over them
-Place frozen bottles in the cage for your rabbit to lean up against
Keep multiple frozen bottles so you can swap them out through out the day
-Use a small fan to circulate air (computer fan w/ a solar panel works great)
-Drape a damp towel over part of the cage so the fan will blow through the
towel and create cooler air(Redneck Air Conditioning)
-Bottles with nipples get frozen and stop working in low temperatures. Be sure to switch to bowls in the winter and swap out the water/ice with fresh water at least every 12 hours.
-Keep Hay available and feed a little bit more pellets in the bitter cold because your rabbit will need to burn a few more calories to stay warm in arctic temperatures.
-Wrap plastic around the hutch to create wind block on the prevailing wind side
-Rabbits are comfortable in temps down to -10 degrees but they need straw.
Place some straw(Not Hay) on the cage floor for some insulated bedding
-Replace your marble tiles with small pieces of 1/2″ plywood cut to 10″x 10″
-Bucks are ready around 5 months before the doe’s. Wait until 6 months and start looking at the doe’s vent regularly during a routine inspection. When the color is a swollen red she’s ready to breed. The color will change from pale pink to red then Purple. This means the egg cycle is ending. Pale vent means not ready to breed or eggs are regenerating and will mature in a few days. Only 4 days a month will a rabbit doe not conceive so chances are good your rabbit will produce when bred. Rabbits are induced ovulators so the act of breeding is what makes the eggs drop and this is why you can see false litters when your doe is near a buck. Even petting a doe can cause a rabbit to ovulate spontaneously.
-If Your Doe Isn’t Cooperating try giving the rabbit’s 12 to 14 hours of light. A clamp lamp outside the cage with a LED works great.
This will trigger the pineal gland and may cause the rabbit to think its spring and its time to breed.
-If you’d like to breed according to moon phases stubborn doe’s are more likely to breed just before and during the full moon.
Cage Swap- After a failed attempt leave the doe in the bucks cage overnight. In the morning try again bringing the doe back to her original cage where the Buck is waiting. Now she is comfortable with his scent a may lift for him.
-Change of scenery. Put the rabbit in a dog pen or chicken coop or on the grass containing the rabbit and remember to keep it covered from aerial predators.
-He’s so Rough!- When breeding your buck may pull out hair or nudge the doe in the ribs even some nipping and biting is to be expected. This is to encourage lifting and cooperation. Try throwing in a piece of banana or apple to distract them. She may lift and he may stop the excessive chomping. If you still can’t get her to lift try Table Breeding. Here’s a video
BUILDING THE NESTING BOX-click to watch video
Building The Box using a 1 x 10
Bottom Cut-16 1/2″ Back Cut -9 1/4″ Front Cut-6″ Top Cut-5″(Top is small so Mom can access) Side Cuts-17 1/4″
Side Pieces-Measure 6″ up the front and 8″ forward from the back and draw a line connecting the two points to
get your angle. Nail together using 1 1/2″ nails.
Building The Nest-In most cases the mama rabbit will take care of this. Just add an inch of shavings and fill it with straw and mama will take care of the rest. If you use our kindling totes you’ll need to make your own nest on day 14 when transferring the kits. For more info on that watch our YouTube video called “Stop Using Nesting Boxes.” Use a piece of newspaper for a liner. Add approximately one inch of wood shavings. Fill the box with straw pushing the straw to the back of the box forming a hill slanting down the nesting box to the front.
-Create a cavity in the very back on top of the hill. Should be a softball size hole.
-Moving down to the middle of the box the hay on the sides shouldn’t get any higher than 2″ from the top so kits can’t hop out. The hay in the very front shouldn’t get higher than 2″-3″ from the top so kits cant roll out.
-After you make the nest Momma rabbit will make the nest all over again just the way she wants it.
-After the birth the kits will huddle up forming a cluster which will move around the box wiggling and from time to time splitting into two clusters making multiple cavities. Keep them together because they need each other’s 110 degree body heat to survive.
–Kits will accidentally hang on too tight to moms teat getting pulled away from the litter or worse out of the nest. In the winter be sure to surround the cage with some straw to add extra insulation.
-Every water change make sure the litter is secure in the back of the nest box if not re-adjust the nest. You can give momma a snack to take her mind off her kits while you rebuild a cavity in the back. Don’t be worried your bothering the newborns or Momma will refuse her kits after you touch them. She’s conditioned to your scent and this is a matter of life or death.
-The first week of securing the litter is crucial. After two weeks you can breathe easy knowing the hard parts over/Now time to turn the box on its side. This pushes the kits out of the nest to stretch their legs.
-If your having high losses with kits or would like to find a way to stop those kits from freezing on the wire check out some of our YouTube videos. We cover in detail how we’ve created a kindling tote system that increased our rabbit yield and finally lowering our losses by 75%. The video is called “Stop Using nesting boxes” We also have a Part 2. Thanks for watching and Good Luck!
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