Rabbits For Your Table – Getting Started

Many breeds of rabbits are produced commercially in this country. Some of the most popular breeds are:

Breeds Size Use Mature Weight (lbs)
Angora medium wool; meat 9-12
Californian medium meat 8-11
Champagne d’Argent medium meat 9-12
English Spot medium meat 9-13
Flemish Giants large meat 13+
New Zealand medium meat 9-12

Rabbits are classified according to their weight or hair. The weight categories are small (3 to 4 pounds), medium (9 to 12 pounds), and large (14 to 16 pounds). For meat production, medium-weight New Zealand Whites are considered to be the best, followed by Californians.

The market for Angora wool is small, and the wool is usually sold directly to individuals or organizations buying for mills.</p

Housing

The rabbitry should be an enclosed building that has proper ventilation, lighting, heating, and cooling systems. Heating cooling and ventilation are crucial because rabbits do not tolerate temperature extremes very well. You should maintain the herd on a year round schedule of 12 hours each of light and darkness to keep the rabbits breeding throughout the year.

Many different types of hutches can be used. However, all metal cages help prevent unsanitary conditions that can lead to health problems. Mature bucks and does should have individual cages that are at least 30 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and 18 inches high. Each cage should have a feed hopper and a watering system attached to the outside of the cage.

Nest Box

A nest box should be placed in the hutch prior to kindling (birth) to provide seclusion for the doe and protection for the litter. Nest boxes should provide enough room for each doe and her litter but should be small enough to keep the litter close together. During cold weather, bedding such as straw or wood shavings is also recommended.

Maintaining a sanitary operation will help you prevent disease. Earth and concrete floors are acceptable but require frequent cleaning. You should have concrete walkways between the cages and should remove accumulated manure at least four times a year.

Cages and nest boxes should be cleaned and sanitized after each use, and the hair should be burned off the cages.

Raising worms under rabbit hutches can be successfully combined in indoor operations or outdoor operations if the climate is moderate.
Worms will consume the manure and any spilled feed, which will eliminate some of the odor, waste, and labor associated with manure management while providing an additional source of income.
Composted rabbit manure may also represent an income opportunity for sale to homeowners.

Breeding

Medium-weight breeds (9 to 12 pounds) are able to start breeding at 6 to 7 months of age, with males maturing one month later than females.
Because outward signs of heat are not always evident in mature does, you should follow a strict breeding schedule. One buck can service about 10 does but no more than two to three times a week.
Place the female in the buck’s cage for breeding. Never bring the buck to the doe’s cage because she will fight to protect her territory. Mating should occur immediately, and the doe should then be returned to her cage.

The average gestation period lasts 31 to 32 days. Twenty-eight(28) days after breeding, place the nest box in the doe’s hutch.
The average commercial litter consists of 8 to 10 kits. Forty eight hours after birth, you should observe and count the kits, removing any dead animals. Remove the nest box 10 to 20 days after birth. The young are weaned in about 30 days, so you can expect an average of five litters annually per doe.
Under proper management, a good doe will continue to produce maximum sized litters for 2 to 3 years.

Nutrition

Two types of nutrition programs are used for raising rabbits, hay and grain diets or commercial pre balanced pellet rations. Pellets meet all of a rabbit’s nutritional requirements and are more convenient than formulating a hay and grain ration.
Pregnant does and those with litters should receive all the feed they can eat in a day. Bucks and does without litters need 6 to 8 ounces of pellets a day.

Rabbits require fresh, clean water all day, everyday. Automatic watering systems offer a continuous water supply while reducing waste and contamination.
A doe and her litter need 1 gallon of water a day in warm weather. Rabbits also enjoy receiving small amounts of greens as a treat.

DIY – Rabbit Hutch – Building Your First Rabbit Hutch – Easy To Build Plans
DIY – Build A Rabbit Hutch – Raising Rabbits For Table Meat
Rabbit Hutches and Rabbit Cages
Rabbit Hutch and Little Known Rabbit Facts
Rabbits for Fun, Profit and Food – Hutch or Cage – Whats My Best Choice?
Hutches and Housing your New Rabbit
Raising Rabbits In The Cold Weather Of Winter
Rabbits – Record Keeping – Equipment And Supplies

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Happy Fall gardening

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