Thursday, June 13, 2013

Multiplying Like Rabbits

Our rabbit venture has been an ongoing puzzle to find something that works. Try this, do that, don't even think about doing the other.... Haha, our brains have been on a merry-go-round. Every time we thought we had it figured out- up popped another obstacle.

 The first hurdle was deciding if we even wanted to raise rabbits. Seriously, even though we told ourselves (with every livestock start-up) that we didn't have to stick with it if it wasn't "our thing," once the money is invested...the trap is set. With rabbits came the purchase of cages, water bottles, and feeders, not to mention the feed and actual stock. But the only way to know for sure, is to jump in and try it. Turns out, we loved it! They are easy to process, not too expensive to feed, take care of their own young, make wonderful fertilizer  and are oh. so. tasty.

 Once we decided to keep raising rabbits, the second hurdle promptly popped up- predators. It's hard to say what got our rabbits the first, second, or third time. Once there was an odd smell, once there were large canine tracks, twice the wire cages were completely shredded...probably multiple species were coming to the rabbit buffet at our place. It was so discouraging to lose our healthy, well fed, rabbits. And don't think we didn't try to protect them. We did! When they knocked our cages down, we chained them together so it wouldn't happen again. When they knocked out the feeders to chase the rabbits through the feeder holes, we  started feeding inside the cages. We even tried placing them in a predator proof dog pen. Unfortunately that setup was extremely hard to keep sanitary with more than a couple rabbits-not an option.

After the last rabbit was killed, we had pretty much given up on our desire to raise them anymore. It's so disheartening to go through that. But at the auction last week, my DH surprised me and bid on a large, multi-cage hutch that would fit inside our new chicken enclosure- and won! So we are trying this one more time! We also purchased some rabbits. We got a Dutch doe and buck. Or so we thought (they were sold as a pair, we didn't check their sex at the auction.) And since we didn't know their ages or history, we also got 6 NZ bunnies to grow out and process if the pair don't successfully breed right away.

We were pleasantly surprised on the first day to find one of the pair pulling hair. We immediately gave her a nesting box and had babies the second day! We were back in the rabbit growing business!

But imagine my surprise when I went out to feed this morning to find babies in the cage with the "buck!" We had just assumed that being sold as a buck and a doe the one that didn't have babies would be the buck. Oops. No bucks in this pair. Hopefully one of the NZ bunnies is a buck so we can continue our rabbit raising. But for now, I have rabbits galore!


  1. What a great score on the hutch, not to mention the fact that a buck & a doe turned out to be two does and a "Free" batch of babies!

    We've been going back & forth on if we want to raise rabbits. I like the meat, and after having dressed wild rabbits, in like two freaking seconds!!, I'm thinking we'll try it one day. Two things holding us back though is the summer heat here is hothotHOT and I know rabbits need to be kept cooled down and one guy that my husband knows at work says the rabbits cost too much in feed to justify the meat. Not sure if he feeds straight pelleted feed or what.

    What do you feed your rabbits & do you have any idea how much feed it takes to raise a rabbit to butchering age?

  2. That's funny because our suppose to be doe ended up being a buck... I guess when they are that little its hard to tell.

  3. Carolyn- I wonder about the heat in your area. Our rabbits seem to do fine in it but I think you're a lot warmer. On the really hot days I give them frozen water bottles to lay against.
    As far as feed goes, we use pellets, the wasted goat hay that hasn't been dirtied, and the kitchen produce scraps. I couldn't say how much we spent with any accuracy. If any of these babies make it to weaning age, I'll try to be better at record keeping! :)

    Yart- Don't ya just love surprises?!?


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