Big Decisions for the Rabbitry

I feel as if there are a hundred decisions to make for the Rabbitry lately. In just one moment of thought I feel as if I’m drowning, blessed, excited, and anxious. Although I am not sure exactly who is staying and who is going… or where, I do know that a final decision needs to be reached in three weeks. It’s good to give yourself a deadline I think. Otherwise I would keep everyone all the time and I would eventually live in the overrun rabbit version of China. No one wants that.

First off, I have to think about how much room I have verses how many rabbits I have. Right now I have 12 rabbits and 5 cages. That’s not good math. I would like to keep just 5 rabbits through winter and into my spring breeding season. Not counting the 2 rabbits that are sold and waiting to be picked up, I need to find a place for 5 rabbits.

One option is to sell them. I think I may have sold all the rabbits I can for this year. The second and more likely option is that I will have to butcher the unsold 5 for family consumption. Before I get too much slack for even suggesting that a few rabbits may end up in the freezer, let me just say this: Would you rather eat mystery meat that was raised in an inhumane manner and had never seen the light of day during their life? Or would you rather eat meat that was raised in a happy, clean environment, surrounded by love until the moment they are sent to the freezer?

I know my answer. Our family chooses locally raised grass-fed beef over mysteriously raised “store” or fast-food beef whenever possible. I realize that most people don’t raise their own meat or even eat meat. We do have that opportunity though and if we are going to be meat-eaters, we need to be more responsible meat-eaters. Sorry if you don’t agree, but I will always respect your decision so please respect ours.

Another decision on the table is who to keep. Thistle and Clementine are givens just because they have the furthest distance of relation between the two of them. Blackberry is a keeper for her beautiful color wool. The rabbits in question are Dandelion and “7 of 9”.

Dandelion has caused me some trouble this year and I am really hoping it’s just because this was her first litter. It took her three tries to have a litter and then the litter had some unhealthy kits. If you remember, Dandelion’s 4-week old blue tortoiseshell kit died of digestion problems and then on Friday her cream fawn kit died of heat stroke quite horribly at 5-weeks old. Dandelion will get one more chance for a healthier litter come spring. Hopefully I can replace Dandelion next summer with a beautiful fawn buck.

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We named one of the chocolate tortoiseshell bucks from Clementine’s litter “7 of 9”. He is the seventh of nine kits in the litter and was jokingly named after the Star Trek character. I would like to keep him only through the spring breedings to increase my chances of colored kits in Dandelion and Blackberry’s litters and then sell him.

I also have the matter of how often to breed. I am pretty sure breeding once a year in the spring is going to be my best option. Breeding once a year is the minimum to keep my breeding does healthy without being overrun by baby rabbits. And with Blackberry as a third doe in the breeding program, three litters should be more than enough to foster back and forth in case a doe cannot feed her kits for whatever reason. The health of my rabbits is always my top priority.

So anyhow… this gives you a little idea of what has been on my mind lately. A little long winded, I know, but I have a few crucial decisions to make in the next few weeks. I’m giving my extra 5 rabbits until two-weeks after the county fair to be sold and then they will have to make the trip to the freezer. It is not a decision I take lightly, but it must be done. And that’s why we are here. To learn to be more self-sufficient. It’s a journey.

9 thoughts on “Big Decisions for the Rabbitry

  1. I was planning on using extras for meat as well, but it never happened. I managed to sell all but two of my 15 babies. I agree completely with you on the principle of raising your own meat. I had even enlisted a local silver fox breeder to help me with the processing, but, it isn’t going to happen.

    Something that happened for me was that a doe is staying with her mother permanently. They seem pretty happy in the cage together. The baby is about ten weeks old? My daughter became attached to the baby, and it isn’t even an angora.

    I don’t know if I would associate heat stroke with the mother. That might just be a coincidence. Also, you said she is more closely related to the buck, so maybe it is inbreeding depression. I read that German babies have a high death rate, but my litter of French German crosses all lived–perhaps hybrid vigor?

    Anyway, I’m just talking, don’t mind it too much.

    • I actually really appreciate input from others, so thank you! I know raising rabbits for meat can be a sensitive subject, but I think if you’re going to eat meat you should at least know where it’s from. Then again… rabbits are cute. I think that’s where America as a country runs into trouble. Rabbit isn’t a common meat. Oh well. I would love to have someone experience help me with my first butchering so that I know I have the process down, but I don’t know of anyone. Maybe I’ll find someone to help me at the fair in a few weeks.

      I know the heat stroke may not have been genetic, but I do think the kit was weak to begin with. It wasn’t even the hottest day and everyone else got through fine.

      I had no idea that German angoras had a high death rate! Wonder why. Maybe because they are such a large breed?

      No worries on talking too much… You’re in good company here! I had to start this blog because Trevor was tired of me talking bees/rabbits/chickens/gardening/**insert project here**.

  2. I know I will have the same things on my mind next year! However since I only have the one pair, I’ll only have the one litter to sell. We’ll see how that goes! But I am already looking for someone to teach me the butchering process, for any unsold rabbits. I am with you, it’s better to know where your food comes from. I think it might be hard at first, since the rabbits will be living in the house with us. But I guess we’ll get used to it!

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