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Disappointing Losses & Reality Checks

May 10, 2012

No matter if we do all the right things sometimes plans don’t go right. First time mamas can be clumsy and hormonal, and in the case of two of our first timers it’s been with extreme results.

Twisty destroyed her litter of 13, while Mistletoe didn’t take the maternal test at all. Two of her babies have been fostered to other does, while the rest of her litter was lost as well. So often I hear people say “how did pigs/animals survive without farmers?” and in many cases they didn’t! The mortality rate in the wild is high and risk is unforgiving.

People see a $150 rabbit or $6,000 cow or other show animal and don’t see the lost animals, or the $20 rabbits that were dinner. With rabbits especially it’s easy to say $80 for a rabbit – wow…and they have 8-10 babies every other month so that’s 48 babies a year, roughly, times $80 is $3840 – and you have 40 rabbits?! Wow…no wonder folks think show people are rich!

Unfortunately in any livestock, that’s not reality. As my friend Ray noted in finding the remains of a lamb that coyotes killed, there’s a side the public doesn’t see. And maybe that’s our fault. Maybe we should tell the good, the bad and the really unpleasant but the truth is I don’t think everyone really wants to know. And until you’ve raised a pair of good animals, looked at the 13 live, active offspring then come out to find a head in the nest box – and the rest gone there is nothing that approaches that. Does the doe care? No. She’s in the front of the pen looking for breakfast! Mistletoe abandoned her babies – equally unconcerned about their welfare. The only reason she has 2 surviving is one was given to Callie and one was still alive, but chilled, and taken away to try to foster to her sister.

These are the low times. It’s temporarily forgotten when relishing that win or national placing – but nature has a way of getting even and although we may domesticate animals we cannot rule nature.

We can put animals in an area to protect them from predators, keep them out of the heat, cold, wet and other weather challenges. We give them good nutrition, daily care and – yes – benefit from them. But we cannot 100% tame the hormones, the instincts and the unknown that makes animals tick.

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