Basic  Rabbit Information

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Rabbit Health

Normal Body Stats

Normal Temperature:
What age to breed: anytime after 4 months of age.
Days of Gestation: Aproximately 30 days
How many Babies in Litter: Average is 8, but can often birth up to 15 at a time
Life Span:

Bunnie milk for Orphaned kits

Of course, rich goat milk does work, but this recipe is from our local rabbit club
First week:
To 1 pint whole milk (preferably goat)
1/2 tsp. bone meal
2 TBS corn syrup
Second week: 
1 cup goat milk
1 Tbs. corn syrup
1/4 cup rolled oats ground to a fine powder
Third week:Continue the above & make alfalfa hay (very leafy), fresh dandelion and blackberry leaves available. You can also have calf manna available free  choice. By the 4th week they should be eating on their own.

By the way, all my sources on fostering say feed only 2-3x a day and emphasize being sure that the kits are defecating and urinating normally. "3 does and 1 buck can produce more meat in one year than a cow." Dr. Peter Cheeke, Oregon State University

General Raising of Rabbits

There are a lot of books on the market about breeding rabbits, they all make it sound very complicated. It's not. Rabbits breed any time of the year to anyone:) They are fertile from about 4 months old (depends on the breed) and will have litters up to 15 babies approximately one month later. We average 8 live babies per litter. They instinctively know what to do, and if you provide a nest box about 3 days before the babies are due, with hay in it, they will fill it full of their own fur, and you will find the babies all nestled up together covered with a soft blanket of Mom's fur. They grow very fast and are ready for eating at 8 weeks old. This sounds problem-free, of course there are a few problems. Litters born in barns this time of year often freeze to death (they don't have any fur for a few days) and the usual problems associated with livestock can and do occur, e.g. rejection, no milk, disease, stillbirths etc, but on the whole if they are cared for properly, you get few problems. It is important for the cages to be "baby-safe" that is for the wire mesh on the bottom and about 3" up the sides to be small enough that babies can't fall through. You often get one or two who forget to unlatch from Mom when she hops out of the nestbox after nursing. The buck needs to be removed from the cage when the nestbox goes in or he uses it as a bathroom, and you don't want him in there when the babies arrive. Rabbits need good food, plenty of fresh water, and sticks to chew on. You have to clip their nails when they get long. On warm days they can go out on the grass in a run.

Breeding Suggestions

Just a suggestion if you go ahead with breeding rabbits -  NEVER put the buck in with the doe.  The doe is very territorial of her space and there will likely be a fight.  Always put the doe in with the buck.

Also, does ovulation is stimulated by intercourse.  You can breed them immediately after they have kits, but you will wear them out.  Large scale commercial breeders do this, but it's not gentle to the animal.  I generally agree with the breeder's practice mentioned above: I would wait at least until you wean the kits, then give her a week or two of rest, then rebreed.

We bring our babies inside, just as a manner of practice, then we take them back out morning and evening for their mother to nurse.  I have a closet set up with shelves that I can put nest boxes in during extremely cold/wet weather  (or whenever I am worried about a specific litter of bunnies.)  We then cover the boxes with a heavy towel and run them out 2 times a day to mom to feed.  She will normally hop right in the box and nurse them and then hop back out.  We cover them back up and take them back inside after each feeding.  Since mother rabbits only feed their young 2 times a day (normally) and she doesn't stay on the nest with them (like a cat or dog) this works well for us when we are concerned about leaving a litter with their mother outside.  Each day we leave them out a little longer with their mother...normally while we are outside choring.  At about the time their eyes open we will leave them with her full time.  We also will put a heat bulb over the top of the cage for extra warmth when necessary.  Problems happen when the babies get pulled out of the box when mom hops out after feeding.  We don't have drop nest boxes (YET!) and so the babies can't get back in the box if their eyes aren't open.  We make sure that everybody is in the box and then take the box away from mom.  If the box is left with her she will sometimes hop in and out of the box (because it is warmer) and carry the babies out with her.  (and since the strongest babies can hang on the longest...these are the ones you'll lose.)  With no way to put them back in where the warmth is...they turn into bunnie-cicles.  We also like to have at least 3 bunnies in a litter...they can generate more warmth for themselves that way.  If we have a doe that has 6 and a doe that has 2...we'll foster some to the doe with 2...providing she is big enough to handle the extra load.  (Normally depends on breed and/or size.)  We have had French Angora raise Jersey Wooly babies, but not vice versa.  But we regularly foster back and forth between the French Angora and the Silver Fox...and between does of the same breed.  (Where the Silver Fox are all black...we will mark with pink nail polish the ears of the fostered babies so we know which bunnies actually belongs to which doe.)  We very rarely ever have problems with a doe accepting bunnies from another litter...another benefit of moving them inside is that by the time they go out for the next feeding they all smell alike.  If we need them to move NOW...a little Vicks above the does nose works well.  (If you put it on her nose or under it...they just rub it off... above it-it takes a little while for them to figure out where its  at... and by that time the babies smell alike.)

Herbal Fur Tonic

Here is a great essential oil recipe you can make, to use when you rub down your rabbits to get the loose fur off. It's a fragrant astringent that doubles as a skin & coat tonic, it's an apple cider vinegar (unpaserturized)tincture with the following herbs & flowers such as:"rosemary leaves,calendula blossoms,rose petals,lavender,lemon peel,sage,comfrey(chop fresh leaves & let them wilt to reduce their water content),plantain, and/or chamomile. In a glass jar arrange plant materials loosely(fill jar only 1/3 full if using dried herbs)and cover with apple cider vinegar;leave jar in a warm place, in or out of the sun for 2 weeks or longer;gently shake the jar from time to time. Strain liquid through cheesecloth into a large measuring cup adding several drops of essential oil such as rosemary or lavender to enhance the scent;transfer to storage bottles & store in cool dark place.
To use as an insect repellent,pour  a small amount onto a damp washcloth & wipe your pet's coat. To treat any itch,rash or irritated skin condition apply it directly. Use this infused vinegar to disinfect cuts,abrasions & other wounds. Dilute it with an equal quantity of water for use as
a final rinse after bathing your pet & let it air dry." From The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care by C.J. Puotinen Donated by Patty S.



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