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Diary of a New Rabbit Breeder

 

ynn Wheat and Spunky Bunnies are located in East Texas, where it's hot and beautiful. Lynn's children, Haley and David, got the family started with rabbits as 4-H projects, and now they both want to breed rabbits.


4/1/01      Raising Babies

Breeding and kindling are a fond memory; now we are raising babies. The only rabbits we had before were eight weeks or older when we got them. Starting from scratch, so to speak, is a whole different experience.

We gave our does a tablespoon of calf manna every day to make sure their milk was producing strong. (I learned this on the Rabbit Web Discussion Board!) But calf manna is very high in protein, much too high for a baby's tender tummy, so we had to make sure the babies didn't get it. Haley accidentally dropped some once, and we assume babies got it because a couple of them developed diarrhea. Loading the babies up on hay and oats proved essential to getting them past that incident. It did, however, give us a chance to make the moms feel special when we fed them calf manna from our hands. Chelsie loved that, and it helped calm Sparkle down a little bit. Luckily for us, both does are not prone to biting. (In that case, we would have just put the calf manna in a special dish for them.)

It was really fun watching the babies learn from Mom how to find the food and water dishes and then explore how to use them. Because Chelsie had seven babies to feed, we had to provide them with more than one feeder. Even with two feeders, a baby was usually sitting on Mom's head trying to get his share of feed. I think they all found plenty to eat because now the babies are fat and sassy! It was also fun watching Mom clean the babies' faces after they ate.

Now they that are eight weeks old, they have been away from Mom for two weeks. They are ready to go to new homes. Haley and David have both decided to keep one rabbit each. They want to keep more, of course, but I told them if they wanted to breed their rabbits again, they could just choose one baby to keep from each breeding.

Because the babies were ready to leave home, I had to tattoo them. It really made me nervous to think about that. I purchased a clamp tattoo from Bass Equipment and practiced using it on a piece of paper to make sure I had the letters in the right place. Then I practiced on a piece of fabric to determine the right amount of pressure for a baby's ear.

I wrapped the baby in a pillow case, much like you would "swaddle" a human baby, making sure I had the legs wrapped securely and only the face was visible. I put ink on the tattoo pins and ink on the ear, and then I clamped very quickly and with a good amount of pressure. This was not something I wanted to do halfway and discover I needed to do it harder later. I wanted to do it right the first time. Rochelle Cooley has a very good description of what to do in her Rabbit Web article on tattooing. Rochelle also has a lot of articles on rabbit care on Cooley's Critters, which is her Web site.

So the babies are weaned, the tattoos are finished, and the babies are going to new homes. I'm ready to do this all over again&babies are fun!

Read more of Lynn's diary.


 
 

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