Big Smiles everyone. This is my last post in this long running 6 part series on raising rabbits.
Whether you use your Big Chief note pad and a purple crayola, a spread sheet or database, good accurate record keeping is a ‘Must Do’ task.
As a minimum you need to annotate in your records the rabbits:
Date of birth (DOB) to determine when they are of breeding age.
Breed and sex of your rabbit. Dutch, New Zealand etc.
Date doe was breed, which buck was used in breeding. Non-productive bucks and doe’s should be butchered.
Doe’s due date, so you know when to put her nest box in her cage.
Number of kits in her litter as well as number of kits raised to weaning age.
Date you plan to re-breed your doe.
Date and type of any medications you have used to treat your rabbit.
* If you have more than one doe. Mark each cage with an identifying name, better yet an identifying number.
From My What It’s Worth Department
Cages and Hutches
In my humble opinion, a welded wire steel cage is by far your best choice.
A properly designed and constructed hutch will allow you to slide your rabbit cage in and out of the hutch. This makes for an easy task of cleaning and sanitizing your cages from time to time as needed.
No matter what breed rabbit you are raising I think a cage 24 inches (2 feet) deep by 36 inches (3 feet) wide and 18 inches tall is the minimum cage size. Giant breeds need much larger cages. Bass rabbit cages are a good choice. I don’t think you can buy all the materials needed to build a cage as cheap as you can buy a welded wire cage kit for.
Hint Never buy your rabbits, cages, feed, feeders or water bottles from a Pet Store. You can buy these items from your local farm/feed store or on-line store for 1/2 or less price than what the same items will cost at a Pet Store.
Buy rabbit feed in 50 pound sacks. Store your feed in plastic or steel containers with tight fitting lids that are insect, mouse and rat proof.
Feeders and water bottles should be designed to attach to the outside of your cage(s). I strongly recommend that self cleaning style feeders like the Bass Fine-X or Fine-X II. Be sure that you get lids for your feeders to keep insects, mice and rats out of your feeders.
Feeders need not be larger than one day’s supply of feed. A small 3 or 4 inch wide feeder is large enough for most rabbits.
Kit creep feeders are useful but not a requirement. The same thing can be said for hay feeders.
Water bottles can be purchased Bass water bottles or you can buy just the lid and water tube and use soda bottles. Hint> Soda bottles are free and when dirty or contaminated can be pitched in the garbage and replaced with another free soda bottle.
Disclaimer I am in no way associated with nor am I promoting the Bass Equipment Company. I use their products because I have found the company responsive to my questions and all products I have purchased from them to be well made and durable. Note If you purchase cages from Bass, be sure to purchase extra J-clips and a pair of J-clip installation pliers. These pliers Do Not come with the cage kits.
OK all together, Big Smiles of relief.
No more Rabbits, after this posting, well a least for a long while.
USDA (United States Department of Agricultural) said
Rabbit Products Are Commonly Labeled?
Fryer or young rabbit—the terms “fryer” or “young rabbit” refer to a rabbit weighing not less than 1 ½ pounds and rarely more than 3 ½ pounds, and less than 12 weeks of age. The flesh is tender, fine grained, and a bright pearly pink color. Fryer rabbits may be cooked in much the same way as young poultry.
Safe Storage Take rabbit home immediately from the grocer and refrigerate at 40 °F or below. Use it within 2 days or freeze at 0 °F. If kept frozen continuously, it will be safe indefinitely; however, quality will diminish over time. It is safe to freeze rabbit in its original packaging. For prolonged storage, over wrap as you would any food for long-term storage. For best quality, use frozen whole rabbit within a year, rabbit pieces within 9 months.
It’s best to plan for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Bone in parts or whole rabbits may take a day or longer to thaw. Once thawed, rabbit may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days before cooking. During this time, if you decide not to use the rabbit, you can safely refreeze it without cooking it.
Using Cold Water defrost rabbit in cold water, do not remove the packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leak proof bag. Submerge the rabbit in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so that it continues to thaw. Small packages may defrost in an hour or less, larger packages may take 2 to 3 hours. Plan to cook the rabbit immediately after thawing by the cold water method.
Microwave oven. When defrosting rabbit in the microwave oven, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some of the areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook.
Cooking Rabbit When roasting rabbit parts, set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F. A 2-pound, cut up rabbit should take approximately 1 hour to cook.
A whole, 2 to 2 1/2-pound rabbit should take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to roast. Stuffing it will add approximately 1/2 hour to the cooking time.
Braising rabbit (cooking it in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan on the range or in the oven) also takes about 1 hour. Rabbit can be broiled about 15 minutes on each side.
For safety, USDA recommends cooking rabbit to an internal temperature of at least 160 °F. The use of a food thermometer is recommended to make sure that your rabbit is safe to eat. If you don’t have a food thermometer, get one!
It is safe to cook frozen rabbit in the oven or on the range or grill without defrosting it first, although the cooking time may be about 50% longer.
Do not cook frozen rabbit in a slow cooker thaw first. Cut whole rabbits into smaller pieces so heat can penetrate the meat more quickly.
Summer Heat and Rabbit Production USDA said
Rabbits do not cope well in temperatures above 90 degrees F and in high humidity. Their fur coat does not easily allow them to radiate body heat. Ideal temperatures for rabbits range from 50 to 60 degrees F. When breeding rabbits during the summer months, it is best to implement a cooling system that will allow your herd to successfully increase.
Heat stress can cause sterility among bucks. As a result of heat, does may not reproduce. They could miscarry, abort their young, ignore the newborn, or deliver outside the nest box on the wire floor rather than in the next box. Rabbits and kits can die from heat stress that can result in high mortality rates.
Solutions Fans are one option for keeping rabbits comfortable during the summer heat. To avoid stressing the rabbits, do not allow the fans to blow directly on them. Instead, hang the fans above the rabbit cages and direct them to keep air moving above the cages, this not only will help the rabbits cool off, but also it will repel diseased flies. Farmers prefer box fans over heavy duty, industrial fans since only a slight movement of air is necessary. Ceiling fans are also a good option.
Soft drink bottles filled with frozen water can provide a primitive air conditioner for your rabbits. Be sure to remove the paper off the bottle before putting it in with your rabbits. Once your rabbits become familiar with their individual bottles, they will lean against them for relief. This is an efficient, affordable method and will increase the rabbits’ survival rate. Replace ice bottles as needed, refreeze used bottles.
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