Tuesday, February 5, 2013

In the Rabbitry

 I don’t often post about the rabbits because things have been really quiet in the rabbitry for well over a year. However, they are an important aspect of the Ranch! Here is a brief back story:

Rabbits have been the mainstay of our homestead. Seven years ago we began with a trio of the Satin breed rabbits (the chocolate and broken chocolate color varieties) in our suburban backyard. Being that space was so limited our rabbit herd didn’t grow very numerous. We enjoyed showing, breeding, and eating rabbit. We became interested in heritage breed conservation, so a few months later we acquired a trio of the rare American breed (white, and blue at times). It is these two breeds that we still raise. Although we haven’t exhibited in a few years, we’d like to start again at shows this fall.

Their current housing is temporary- a tarp carport, with the all-wire hanging units set on wood sawhorses. It is working very well though offering plenty of ventilation yet protection from cold drafts. But we have wonderful plans for the new expansive rabbitry. All in good time!   ;)

In preparation for moving to the ranch, two years ago we pared down our rabbit herd. So, last September we acquired three new Satin rabbits to expand the genetics. One is a white buck named Snowflake; a solid chocolate doe named Cocoa Puff; and a broken chocolate buck that unfortunately died one week later. He had some sort of gut issue which resulted in a grossly enlarged stomach and completely blocked intestinal tract… like nothing we’ve ever seen. Anyway, what’s really neat is that Snowflake and Cocoa Puff have in their pedigrees a couple of rabbits we bred and sold, so we get new blood without it being a major outcross.

To say that in 2012 the does were uncooperative to breed in their new home is a huge understatement. Finally, finally one month ago the Satin does had a change of heart! Cocoa Puff missed (a rare yet disappointing occurrence in our rabbitry), but Chocolate Kiss kindled on January 12th- ten kits, blacks and chocolates! Being that we were in a cold spell (a 1 degree morning) we lost three to cold exposure.  

The Snowflake x Chocolate Kiss litter has given us new colors- black with the possibility of otter markings (which is a light colored underside). Although the gorgeous deep chocolate is our favorite color variety, blue is next; I personally hope to have blues someday. Black is beautiful, too. An assortment is such fun! Oh, rabbits are addicting!!!

Rabbit babies have been too scarce around here to risk losing the entire litter. So we’re keeping the nestbox inside with us. And the 3 dogs, 1 cat. What a menagerie! Being that rabbits only nurse their young once or twice a day (yet double their weight in the first week!) we take them out to mommy in the morning and then bring them back in. I can tell you she has not been happy with me! Now that the cold snap is over and the kits are fully furred and able to regulate their body temperature, we can safely leave them with her. It won’t be long until they’re jumping out of the nestbox to romp and explore. In the meantime, the scratching in the hay and cute little noises they make gave our pup Fahey something to puzzle over, and me babies to play with! From 2-4 weeks of age is my absolute favorite.   J

Alas, the American doe Selah wasn’t interested in the boys. In February a young American doe named Coquille, will be ready to begin breeding. At that time we’ll try Selah again and also re-breed the Satins. Our foundation CanAM buck, Klinaklini, had to be put down last week. We knew he wouldn’t make it through winter, but it was sad to see the old boy go. He was a sweetheart of a buck and threw some gorgeous rabbits, lots of type and fur, his offspring and grand-offspring going on to be show winners. This year we plan to revitalize our American line also with a couple new rabbits, as well as possibly get back into producing the blue color variety.

We’re hoping for lots of baby rabbits to kick off spring!

Visit Two Hunnyz Rabbitry to read all about our rabbitry.

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