How To Begin Rabbit Keeping

Pet rabbits do not require complex hutches, and many youngster has made a suitable home from a dry-goods box. However, one critical element must be kept in mind.

The hutch must be maintained dry and tidy at all times. Otherwise, it is impossible to succeed in keeping the animals healthy.

Another thing to avoid is overfeeding. Children like seeing their rabbits eat and are tempted to feed them more than they should.

This is especially true for young rabbits, which quickly grow pot-bellied if overfed, and especially if given green food.

Other problems are sure to arise, and the rabbit-keeping endeavour will be a failure.

It is common for youngsters to be thrilled when they first begin raising rabbits, but after a few weeks, the effort of feeding, watering, and generally caring for them becomes monotonous.

Wise parents will not allow their children to own an animal for longer than they are prepared to devote to it.

Probably it goes without saying that the only suitable method to start rabbit keeping is tiny. Starting with a big number of animals before learning how to properly care for them is a recipe for catastrophe.

There is nothing hard about rabbit keeping, but what there is to learn should be carefully learned before getting too far into the business. It is also critical that the novice research the various breeds before beginning.

Otherwise, he may discover later that he prefers a different breed than the one he has picked. Then you’ll have to start all over again.

When making a decision, consider the market to be served or the purpose for which the animals will be raised.

It is important to distinguish between rabbits for pets, rabbits for meat, rabbits for fur, and rabbits for display. Something else is affected by where one lives in the nation.

Instead of the Giants, perhaps the ordinary beginner might start with one of the medium-sized breeds, such as the Belgian hare or the New Zealand Red.

These are good utilitarian rabbits, but show stock can be easily built up if well-bred animals are used as a foundation.

The Belgian hare is more likely to be picked in the east, whereas New Zealand Reds are preferred near the Pacific coast.

It is preferable to get experience with these rabbits for a year or two before moving on to strictly show breeds. No one should begin rabbit keeping by purchasing either English or French lop-ears.

The quantity of bunnies to begin with will be determined by the size of one’s pocketbook and the amount of space available.

The most basic strategy is to begin with a doe who has been bred to a young buck. Purchase a young animal, even if it will cost you a bit more.

It is not essential to retain a buck at all times because you can always have your does breed to a nice buck owned by a larger breeder for a modest cost.

In the long term, it is far preferable to follow this technique, if you can get the services of a high-quality buck, than to utilize a bad buck in your hutches.

It’s not worth it to buy an expensive buck just for breeding reasons if you just have a couple of them.

When your herd has grown to six or eight breeding does, you will be justified in purchasing the greatest buck you can afford.

Of course, this is simply a broad statement. You may be in such a position that having a buck from the start is vital, while acquiring a bred doe is typically not difficult.

The amount to pay is something that cannot be easily determined for you. The prices mentioned in the circular of one of the largest and most well-known breeders in the eastern states are as follows:

Belgian Hares, young stock, eight to sixteen weeks old, bred from prize-winning bucks and excellent does; prices range between $40 and $80.

Heavyweight Belgians with good color and size, young stock, eight to fourteen weeks old, pricing ranges from $100.00 to $300.00.

White Flemish Giants, nice size and authentic Flemish type; price ranges between $100 and $200.

Black Giants are eight to sixteen weeks old and cost between $60 to $250.

Light Gray Flemish, first-class young, eight to sixteen weeks old, $50-$100.

New Zealand Reds, young stock, eight to sixteen weeks old; price ranges between $50 and $80.

Blue Imperials with outstanding color and pelts. The pricing for young stock, eight to sixteen weeks old, suitable for any showroom, is between $30 and $60.

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Himalayans, young, bred from winners; price ranges between $40 and $90.

Good English, bred from winners; price ranges between $50 and $100.

Young angoras in black, white, orange, blue, and broken colors range in price from $60.00 to $120.

It would be a huge benefit if you can inspect your goods before purchasing it. However, it’s possible that you’re not knowledgeable enough with the breeds to tell a good one from a terrible one.

In that case, getting an experienced rabbit breeder to accompany you would undoubtedly pay off, even if you have to repay him for his time.

In any case, buy from a breeder who is a member of the National Breeders’ and Fanciers’ Association, since you will have a better chance of getting your money back if the stock is misrepresented.

If you believe you have been wronged, there is a representative of this organisation in every region of the nation to whom you can appeal.

There are several reputable, dependable merchants from whom you may buy with confidence. Many of them have registered their best stock. When acquiring high-priced specimens, purchase registered stock.

One critical aspect is to be certain about the sex. Perhaps no more hardship has been encountered in the purchase of rabbits than having the animal purchased for a buck turn out to be a doe or vice versa.

After a few weeks, determining the sex of an animal is a straightforward task. Turn the rabbit over on its back and gently push the pieces with your thumb and forefinger.

After one or two tries, you should be able to tell the difference between a doe and a buck at a look. When rabbits are grown, skilled breeders can frequently tell them apart by their overall look, but the novice will struggle, and even experienced breeders must resort to a physical examination to determine the sex of young animals.

When buying stock, prospective rabbit keepers will be able to at least make an informed decision based on this basic explanation.

Rabbit Housing

When the Belgian hare boom was at its height, several of the leading breeders built houses with yards attached, quite similar to poultry houses. Generally, rabbit caretakers confine their animals to hutches.

Making a hutch from a dry-goods box or a succession of hutches from second-hand timber or grocery store boxes is straightforward.

The hutches may be cheap but absolutely enough. Expensive houses may be seen in England, where many affluent men and women keep rabbits.

Some homes have mahogany doors, with decorative latches, or door fasteners. To be sure, the animals in these ostentatious rabbitries are rarely superior to those housed in far more basic quarters by breeders with more talent than money.

The most crucial aspect of any hutch or home is that it be completely dry and draft-free. Rabbits suffer if confined to small spaces. Of course, breed matters.

The Himalayan and Polish rabbits do not require as large hutches as Belgian hares and New Zealand Reds, but Flemish Giants do.

When raising tiny rabbits for exhibition, some fanciers believe that small hutches are advantageous since the bunnies will not get huge because they have so little area to walk about in.

However, exercise is also important since without it, animals are more prone to become obese and logy instead of their actual kind.

Hutches are typically built excessively low, especially when breeding fancy rabbits. Outside animal hutches should have sloped roofs and overhanging eaves to protect against rain.

The screened door should have a wood sliding cover or detachable fabric cover. Top-of-hutch ventilation will be provided via small holes.

Movable hutches provide benefits. They may be transported outside in good weather and brought in at night or during storms. Long, thin cleats extending from both ends of the hutch are all that’s needed to make it moveable. 

A wire screen allows rabbits to consume grass or other herbage that pokes through the netting.”

When rabbits are kept in limited spaces, the hutches are usually stacked three high. This method reduces labor and space but has drawbacks.

When rabbit hutches are stacked, it is more difficult to provide total sanitation than when each hutch stands alone.

Some successful breeders design each hutch with a sloping roof, with a block put to raise the flooring of the top hutches to the correct height.

The liquids drain out instead of seeping into the hutches underneath. Each hutch’s roof should be covered with thick roofing paper or tin.

So-called self-cleaning Hutches are commonly suggested and widely utilized, especially on the Pacific coast and in warm climates with extensive outdoor rabbitries.

These hutches feature flooring composed of tightly woven wire netting or durable ward cloth. Heavy cloth is required and must be firmly supported so that it does not droop. Laid on top of a few loose planks.

The droppings fall through the hutch and are collected from the ground or a box beneath. In some sophisticated hutches, drawers are placed under the wire floor to collect droppings.

Of course, this strategy makes cleaning quite easy. Even with such a setup, a scraper and a brush for corners are recommended.

The ordinary rabbit keeper is happy with a tight floor coated with sawdust or some other absorbent. The floor should be built of matching planks with as few cracks as possible.

The rabbits will quickly identify a box approximately 18 inches square and three inches high filled with sawdust and put in the hutch’s corner.

Because most droppings are in one box, cleaning is much easier. Some rabbit keepers just smear a corner of the hutch with a little excrement, with the same result as using a box.

A nest box must be included with the hutch’s other fittings, unless the apartment is only for the use of the bucks or young animals.

The nest box is designed within the hutch.  Often, it’s only a tiny box in a hutch corner, t This box should be 18 inches square and a foot tall.

Of course, the size will vary depending on the rabbit breed. The box should be inverted on the hutch floor, with no top.

An opening wide enough to allow the doe should be created at one end, away from bright light.

When the temperature is hot, a few holes towards the top of the box are often bored.

This type of nest box is cheap and easy to clean. Others like to have a permanent nest box in one corner with a secondary entrance in the hutch’s outer wall to inspect the nest from outside.

The job may be done without the doe’s awareness if the time is picked when she is eating outside the nest box.

Three inches above the floor is ideal for preventing young bunnies from rolling out. If she can’t get away from her calves, she’ll leap on the An improvised hutch may be cleaned in many ways.

Plan A: double-wired doors Another, less costly approach uses a wire-covered frame with a tiny door.

The front of the hutch may be removed for cleaning. Another option is to lay a six-inch-high board across the front of the hutch and secure it with a button or a hook at either end.

The remaining area may be wired. This board may be removed and a scraper used to remove litter. Waste and offal can be removed by a wheelbarrow, wagon, or even a letter carrier on a track.

In order to keep his rabbits outside all year, a rabbit raiser will require a roof or shelter that extends a foot or more over the front of the hutch or stack of hutches to keep rain and direct sunlight out.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and most rabbits enjoy it. At the same time, it is quite harmful in the summer heat. Many breeds, such as the Himalayans, Imperials, and Tans, suffer from fading due to prolonged sun exposure.

Many breeders say that sunshine damages Belgian hare coats, however this assertion is typically exaggerated.

Overexposure to direct sunlight degrades the coat’s brilliance and may make it seem rusty. Not unless the rabbits are kept in direct sunlight for long periods of time.

Some breeders have been instructed to raise Belgian hares in semi-darkness. Even if their coats benefit marginally from this therapy, which is dubious, their health will suffer far more than the benefit obtained.

Many amateur growers can offer them more area than a commercial grower.

An outside run with a hutch is a great idea. This can be built of wire netting set on legs or laid flat. Even then, it should have a board or wire floor.

Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the need for a very sturdy run or outside hutch. Otherwise, dogs will destroy the rabbit keeper’s supply.

When dogs see a rabbit, even in a pen, they can jump through a normal wire front. Even if a dog cannot reach the hutch’s occupants, fear can cause serious injury.

A doe with offspring in the nest may yank them out and kill them. Or a bred doe may give birth prematurely. Dogs are a major threat to rabbit keepers and must be considered when planning a rabbitry.

Cover hutches with wire of a tight enough mesh to keep rats and mice out.

Rabbit Feeding

Dry bread and milk, cornbread, boiling potatoes, raw onions, pea pods, green maize, and fresh-cut clover for dessert are among the delights.

Only poison ivy and wild parsnip are unknown to man. With a little supply discretion, the variety will be quite satisfactory.

In the summer, huge quantities of green food may be provided; our dogs like the fresh, cool, succulent plants, and the grain bill reduces as a result.

Making the switch from dry grains to greens takes time. Freshly collected young juicy stuff tends to scour grain-fed animals, but if they become used to it, they may be given abundantly. Green food should be given with caution to children.

Remember, the fresher the better. Wet stuff left in a heap steams and sweats until unfit for use, therefore avoid wet green food if fresh and dry food is available.

Remember that a pile of green things in the hutch to be trampled on and coated in dirt is an unpardonable situation and often the cause of major trouble. Give cold fresh water twice a day, keeping it continually before them.

It pleases me to know that I am not alone in advocating for rabbits to drink water. After watching my cats drink their pee, i figured they were thirsty and wanted a sip of water.

How many rabbits struggle during the scorching summer months and the feverish hours of giving birth to their young, denied of the costless yet necessary need of “a glass of water?

Especially when kept in captivity and denied their natural juicy diet, I believe rabbits need water. No sick rabbits in my rabbitry after using the water plan.

Mating

Mating is critical in animal raising. Unwise crossings are commonly used, with little advantage.

The Lop, Flemish, and Patagonian crosses are the most frequent. It has a rough coat and ears that are slung nearly any way from the normal position, whereas the Lop has soft, pendulous ears and the Flemish has a big dewlap.

These crosses all produce excessive weight and are used in market breeding. Whatever we do in mating, we must remember that we are not creating a new variety, but rather trying to improve an existing one.

Utilizing the finest of each litter, we may progressively build up a strain that can compete in any organization.

We can rapidly secure an ideal for the market or show if we have a kind in mind. Many fans put all their faith in the buck.

He who demands a good doe with a decent buck wins. When just one buck is available, opt for a nice doe and don’t breed her to death or underfeed her when she has a litter. The most challenging part is choosing colors.

Other characteristics being equal in male and female, you must strike a balance. Don’t mate two of the same color unless they have a special ability. In other words, try to balance the deficit by mating one deficient with one well grown in that deficiency.

Breeding

Of course, the season must be considered. It is ideal to breed in the spring since it is the most natural period.

Moreover, as the weather warms up, it is much easier to care for the kids. When rabbits are born in cold weather, the hutches must be kept warm and dry. Artificial heat, even for lop-eared rabbits, is not desired.

As a result, many breeders allow their animals to rest until February. It is advantageous to breed early in the year since the young are well-grown before the hot season.

Rabbits born before May tend to be more energetic than those born later in the season. This is crucial for utility breeders.

Breeding stock has a long shelf life. Breeding stock is regarded optimum between the ages of 8 and 15 months.

When meat is wanted, it is preferable to dispose of them sooner, before the meat becomes too tough. Rabbits have been observed to reproduce for up to 10 years.

Breeding is not impacted until late winter. When rabbits are molting, breeding is not recommended for high-quality animals.

For example, meat may be forced. Old-time breeders claim that feeding soaked peas for a week in addition to other feed helps to stimulate breeding.

Some do will breed if fed entire maize and apple-tree bark. Also suggested, although their usefulness is debatable.

When breeding a doe, transport her to the buck’s hutch. Experienced breeders appear to agree on this today. If the buck is put in the doe’s hutch, she is likely to fight back.

Breeders learn to handle a doe when she grows restless and stamps around her hutch, especially in the spring. Beginners, however, must try her.

Lift her carefully into the buck’s hutch. Breeders may leave the animals together for many hours or overnight.

If the doe clutches the floor or rushes madly around the pen, she should be removed immediately and attempted again the next day.

The doe is ready for the buck every five days in the spring. When the moment is perfect, she will yield. Beginners should be aware that inducing a virgin doe to breed can be difficult and may require several attempts.

When a beginner handles a doe, she is typically removed before she has bred. Then at the end of the month, the buck is deemed worthless.

When the buck goes over on his side or backward, the owner will know the job is done. In a few seconds, the animals should be separated. A buck should not be used more than twice a week.

The doe should be kept as quiet as possible until her kids arrive. Sometimes they’re delayed by a day.

Nesting box must-have: either built-in or smaller box with an aperture slightly larger than the doe cut into one side.

This opening should be dark. Bore a couple holes in the box’s sidewalls for increased ventilation. Soft hay is the ideal nesting material, so provide plenty.

A doe may overfill her nesting box with hay. The doe rips fur from her body to line the nest. This is done a few days before the babies are due.

Occasionally, nest building begins within a few days of service. This indicates that the doe was not successfully bred. Reintroduce the buck immediately to prevent a three-week hiatus.

The doe becomes quite thirsty throughout the birthing process, therefore freshwater should be maintained in her hutch.

Oats should also be available several days before the event. Occasionally, a doe may eat her own young. This may be avoided by hanging a slice of salt pork in the hutch where the doe can easily get it.

After the doe emerges from the nest box, the deceased rabbits should be removed from the nest. A litter might have 10 to fifteen or sixteen newborns.

A rabbit now has just eight teats, while the Belgian hare has only six. If there are any surplus young, the poorest appearing ones should be killed.

It is much preferable to have a doe rear six or seven strong, healthy calves than ten or twelve poor, malnourished calves.

A foster mother is occasionally utilized for fine stock litters. Dutch doe foster moms are highly regarded. Quite often, rabbit breeders are instructed to have many does have litters at the same time.

This is a lot more difficult task than it appears, and only works well on farms with a big number of rabbits.

The newborn bunnies are defenceless since they are blind and naked. In less than three weeks, they may be seen pushing their heads through the nest hole.

Then they make hurried retreats into the light, tripping over themselves in a frenzied attempt to escape. In four weeks or so, they forget their timidity and begin to frolic around the hutch.

When a doe is scared, she will drag her young into the open hutch, while they cling to her teats. She is unlikely to bring them back alive.

Most breeders have found dead rabbits spread around the hutch at some point. It’s often simpler to check the nest if you distract the doe with green food.

Rabbit Diseases

When you notice your rabbit moping in a corner, ignoring his food, etc., you can be sure he is not well, and you should try to determine the cause and administer the treatment.

In all situations, “Prevention is Better Than Cure,” and if rabbits are kept in good condition in well-ventilated hutches, dry and warm, and fed properly, they frequently enjoy healthy lives.

We hope that this text will help the fancier comprehend the various diseases and apply appropriate treatments.

Appetite Loss

Due to a simple cold or its digestive organs may be disrupted.

Treatment tempt the rabbit with some delicacy such as a piece of carrot, bread and milk, steam corn with a few tea leaves mixed in; if in the summer give a little dandelion everyday.

Young Blindness

When the hutches are neglected, the dirt creates poisonous fumes that tend to inflame their eyes, frequently causing total blindness; they seem enlarged and often red pimples are observed around the lids.

Treatment sequester the rabbit and bathe the eyes with a lotion made of 14 oz. of sulphate of zinc to a pint of water, two or three times a day.

Canker

A thick yellow discharge from the inside of the ears and sometimes from the eyes is a very rare and difficult to cure illness.

Treatment once a day, rinse out the ear with a little soft sponge connected to a stick in warm water, rubbed dry carefully, and wash out with zinc lotion.

Colic

Is the animal restless and the tummy appears to be more or less bloated with wind?

Treatment dissolve a Beecham’s tablet in water, say two teaspoonfuls, and give half a dosage once a day till the bowels move freely.

Constipation

Is not typically difficult to treat; it is caused by an overabundance of food. The rabbit is observed moping in the corner of the hutch and refusing to eat, despite the fact that he is frequently thirsty.

Treatment give the pill solution till the bowels flow freely, feed bread and milk or green food, being cautious not to trigger the opposite extreme.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the passing of loose watery feces more often than is usual. It can be caused by chill, extreme heat, fear, or an overabundance of green food.

Treatment if you have a favourite “cholera treatment,” combine one teaspoonful with twelve or fifteen teaspoonfuls water, and feed it to the sick animal every three hours until an improvement is noticed. Allow a little milk or water, but no green food until recovery is established.

Food excess to young developing animals is typically the culprit.

Dropsy

The belly swells and hardens for a while, but eventually they lose their appetite and if not eased would slowly fade away and die.

Treatment feed them dry bread, oats, cracked peas, hay (not clover), water once a day, and occasionally a carrot or turnip, strictly omitting green food until healing is returned.

Ear Gum

When the ears are dirty and waxy, they recoil from being handled since it is unpleasant to them.

Treatment avoid handling heavy specimens by the ears at all times, since heavier specimens are sometimes badly damaged, creating significant inflammatory conditions that are difficult to eliminate.

Fits Or Convulsions

Fits are most prevalent in young cattle and are usually caused by dyspepsia or overfeeding.

Treatment keep the rabbit warm and dry, and administer one pill of sulphate of iron and gentian extract. One twice daily. Give proper nutrition and exercise.

Shock

Filthy hutches, moisture, sticks or slivers in their litter, poor feeding, and wet dirt are common causes.

The afflicted areas should be washed with warm water and dried completely before using carbolized vaseline. In an exacerbated case, use a bandage and stitch it on, leaving no ends for the animal to chew on. Good food and water or bread and milk

Neglect is usually to blame.

Treatment is just cleaning. Blackened whitewash is best.

Mange

Caused by a parasite burrowing in the skin, similar to the itch in humans. Sulphur is a specific in humans, therefore it must be in rabbits.

Isolate the rabbit and apply the following ointment: 1 oz. 4 ounces lard mix I’ve used carbolized vaseline to cure mange in dogs, cats, and rabbits.

It is also much easier to apply than the sulphur combination. In all cases, thoroughly clean the afflicted animal’s hutch.

Paralysis

Disease of the hindquarters, rendering them worthless. Uncleanliness and wet flooring are common causes.

Treatment take a tablet twice a day consisting of 20 grains of iron tartrate, 10 grains of quinine, and 20 grains gentian extract, mixed together and made into 10 pills.

Redwater Or Crimson urine

Redwater Is a kidney ailment that has no typical symptoms except as mentioned, and if left untreated, will result in death.

Treatment Warmth and uniform temperature in the meal. 10 drops in water twice a day:

1-1/2 oz. Sulphuric Ethyl Ether, 12 oz. Gentian Extract, 12 oz.

Snuffles Or Influenza

Snuffles are nearly always present in English breeder’s hutches and are usually fatal if left untreated; the illness affects American breeders, although it is rarely as severe as it is in England. When a person has a cold, he is likely to ignore the bunnies.

A rabbit with a cold should be treated immediately. Sneezing, wet nose, rejection of food, and a rough and disorganized coat are all indications of snuffles.

Use carbolic soap to wash the nose and mouth twice or thrice a day, clean the forelegs and feet and maintain the hutch in a cool, airy area. Feed stimulating meals.

However, if this course does not influence a cure, the following favourite English prescription is recommended: Boil two-thirds of the water and add 1 / 2 oz. 1 teaspoon eucalyptus oil, 10 drops camphor oil, 1 teaspoon soluble sanitary oil Cover the rabbit with old bags to prevent steam escape.

Using the spout of the vaporizer, enable steam to enter the hutch.

The medicinal vapour is inhaled to reach the damaged membranes. After treatment, let the rabbit in the hutch for a half-hour, then remove as originally suggested.

A cure is reported to take three surgeries. To treat severe instances, mix equal amounts of eucalyptus and glycerine in a tablespoon of milk for a few days.

Hepatitis

Caused by incorrect pairing in does. If caught early and treated slowly, it can be cured in a few days.

Treatment Isolate the rabbit and put carbolized vaseline into the afflicted areas twice a day. A brood buck can spread the disease indefinitely.

Finally, as previously said, we have reason to be glad that so few of these diseases are prevalent in this nation.

But immunity is not guaranteed. In order to keep our dogs healthy throughout the hot summer months, we must be cautious while feeding, ensure no draughts, and maintain strict hygiene.

Allow your does to rest in the summer to strengthen them. You will have the same number of bunnies next January, but there will be less dead and stronger ones.