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So I am hitting the 2 year mark on my rabbit project. I have not posted in a long time so thought i would update my
bunny blog. So when I began this I started with a couple of NZ meat mutts. good breeders but they did not get as big as the breed should. In other words they never did reach senior weight. I waited to breed until they were over eight months old and they only got to about 7 pounds. The breed should reach 9-12 pounds. OK so then I got interested in American blues wonderful breed. Great meat rabbits. but the lines I had gotten had no rear end and that is where the meat is at. So since I really have limited space i decided to chage breeds because i did not have the room to develop a rare breed properly.
So now I am breeding Satins and Silver Martens. With the Satins I get a nice meat rabbit and pretty colored and very soft pelt. They are a 8 1/2 to 11 pound rabbit. The martens are a smaller rabbit (kinda of like florida whites)
they range for 6-9 1/2 pounds with ideal weight for a buck being 7 1/2 pnd and a doe being 9 1/2 pounds also very pretty and very sweet disposition. I would really recommend this breed where kids are involved. Easy to handle.
The grow out weights are a bit slower than NZ but they reach fryer weight within 10 to 12 weeks so I am satisfied. I am not a commercial rabbitry so 5 pounds at eight weeks is not necessary for me. Nice when it happens though.
This has been a huge learning curve. The breeding is fun. The cleaning is tedious, The butchering well never the easiest but I usually butcher with friends and that makes it easier. Really the hardest part of butchering is the taking of life. the rest is just more cleaning.
So what I have I learned
1) Rabbits are really an easy form of animal husbandry. Yes, you can have problems. I have had plenty including a new buck that was saved from freezer camp when one of the 6 breedings finally took. Now he's a Pro. There will be weirdness and occasionally you loose babies.
2) POO happens and Urine stinks especially in a bunny barn cleanliness is healthiness.
3)Does can be really cranky starting at about 6-8 months depending on the breed however ususally become sweet again once bred. Those that don't enjoy a trip to the artic cold. No room in the barn for does that bite me (or any other rabbit for that matter)
4) As sweet as a rabbit can be they can also rip your arm up with claws that are incredilby sharp. Keep nails trimmed and wear long sleeves or purchase knitted kevlar arm protection (this was my choice works wonders)
5) Showing your rabbits can be fun but there are politics in every animal involved hobby.
6) Rabbits make good eating. If you haven't tried it you really should. no plucking involved.
7) Its hard to get away for a vacation .
8) it is not cost effective but I raised it and know how it was raised. Good healthy meat is not cheap.
9) Don't cheap out on feed If you don't want to feed pellets make sure you are feeding quality alfalfa and grain mix
The guide to raising rabbits is helpful.
10) I know that this is so much more to learn. If you want to learn about raising rabbits find some one who has done it for a while look at how they do it. Mentors are great. Anyone can read a book and teach a class but experience counts. If they can't mentor you through the problems they are not a good teacher.
11) Experience is the only good teacher..
12) This is not hard to do. But they can be delicate in many ways. Always be kind you and your rabbits will prosper.
13) and lastly for now. Watching rabbits breed is hilarious. Especially the fainting squeeky ones.