Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance, Livestock, Rabbits

Rabbits, Rabbits, Everywhere!

The rabbit population has exploded here!  In the last three weeks, we have had 14 kits out of three different does.  While these are by no means huge litters, it definitely makes for a quick population growth.  Honey was the first to have hers.  She had five fat babies.  She had the first one on the wire and it fell through a gap in the cage floor.  Luckily we found it in time, warmed it up, and fixed the cage.  It was joined by it’s four siblings in the nestbox.  Later, we lost two of that litter, one got chilled on the wire and the other just didn’t seem to be strong enough to compete for milk.  The chilled one was one of the largest and I’m assuming it didn’t let go when Mama decided it was done nursing and was pulled from the nestbox.  I now pop out once in the middle of the night to make sure everyone is where they need to be until they have enough hair to stay warm.  The three remaining kits are now 3 weeks old and, frankly, adorable.

Skittles also had five fat babies.  She is a calm and excellent mother.  All her little ones were born right in the nestbox so there are no harrowing stories.  I check them everyday to make sure everything is well and to get the kits used to handling.  While these rabbits are here primarily for meat, I want them to be gentle and accepting of people.  Some will be sold as either breeding stock or pets and I will keep breeding stock as well.  Since I don’t know which ones I will keep, they all need to be treated as if they are going to be around for a long time.

Sour Patch had four kits.  She also had the first one on the wire.  It was promptly rescued and warmed up.  She is an aggressive doe to begin with and is a very nervous and protective Mama.  While I appreciate her instincts, I do not appreciate the growling and snapping when I feed her.  I have the cages set up so the nestbox can be closed off without my having to reach into the cage so I can check and handle her babies.   I will give her a chance to have one more litter, but unless the kits are exceptional and she takes amazing care of them, she will not remain among our breeding stock.  There’s no sense in keeping a mean rabbit when there are so many nice ones.

Rabbits are such a great addition to a homestead.  They offer a great way to provide meat for the family without having to have a lot of storage, they are quiet, a great source of compost droppings, and can be fed from weed patches and hedgerows if you have the time and inclination.  they also provide very quick results.  Not quite instant gratification, but as close as Mother Nature offers.

Besides, there’s nothing quite like a baby bunny asleep in your arms.

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