Diary of a New Rabbit Breeder
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.
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
Read more of Lynn's diary.