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Rabbits For Show, Food, Breeding – How Do We Know?

January 20, 2012

As many of our regular readers are aware, among our projects is rabbits. We have several breeds at present, so how do we keep track? A rabbit is a rabbit right? In short, no!

All of our rabbits are individuals! They get essentially the same feed – right now that’s a 16% protein pellet. They get hay as well and we’re working into constantly upgrading. We look at each doe, evaluate her pedigree, decide what our goal is in breeding her, choose the right buck to go with her, and hope that it works out. We’ll keep the best bucks and does, or sometimes sell to others.

This is a group of October bunnies – the orange tag was assigned to them at weaning. These are daughters of Mark X Holly (the sons received a separate tag and are in another cage!). Each of these young ladies will receive an individual tattoo, one that is unique to her from all of our other rabbits.

We’re working on using cage tags to make it easier. Even larger rabbits are too small to tag like cattle or sheep, so the tattoo is their identification. To make it easier we assign cage tags, as well as recording the information in a notebook inside with our regular records. This identifies the doe, CB2; the buck she’s bred to (Half Time) and the date she was bred. We then note when she needs a nest box, to insure we move her with plenty of time to settle in.

Completing the circle, these little ones are Connor’s first litter of Champagne D’Argents. They are born all black and will get lighter colored, like their mom, as they get older. Very soon they will get an orange tag put on the cage, and when they’re weaned that tag goes with them. As they’re tattooed and separated each will get their own tag.

We’re also working on a second number tag system so each cage has a number. This is a second line of information so rather than just “the chinchilla doe by the water” we can say “cage #42” and there’s no mistake which one needs attention.

We evaluate each baby starting the size of Connor’s little ones. We look for correct teeth, naturally straight legs, fast growing and blocky bodies. Those that have dental issues (not normally a problem here but it can happen) will go into the meat bunny pen. The second and third string bucks also go there. Then we sort the best bucks, and as we’re building the herd have kept most does. These will get individual tattoo numbers. Some may be offered for sale, some we’ll keep to show. This insures the best quality traits are passed along to breed, and provides those wanting rabbit meat nice, healthy animals with a function.

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