In summer heat, rabbits are in danger!! 

Please understand how vulnerable rabbits are to Alabama summers.  Temperatures over about 90 can be life-threatening, and rabbits should never be kept in direct sunlight.  Imagine you were walking around in a fur coat.  That's how a rabbit feels!  If you keep them outside it should be in the shade and watch for signs of distress.  These include panting and putting their head back.  Fans, a frozen water bottle, or lightly spraying with water can help cool them off.  If you're planning on breeding your rabbits, you should know males become sterile (temporarily) over 85 degrees.  Babies often die due to extreme heat in the nest box.

4H and FFA projects

Rabbits are a great way for kids to learn about raising animals without the expense, space requirements, and difficulties of handling larger animals.  The rabbits can also be shown across the state to win prizes, money, and most importantly, experience.  Youth also have opportunities at many shows to participate in showmanship contests, which tests their rabbit knowledge.

Pet Rabbits

Did you know rabbits can be trained to use a litter box?  They naturally tend to potty in the same place every time, so you can take advantage of this behavior.  Here's an article on how.

Home Meat Raising

Rabbits are probably the easiest animal to butcher at home and are delicious!  Although not widely eaten (yet), they are gaining popularity in the US.  Usually, they are considered a delicacy and I recently saw rabbit at the store for $6 a pound!  If you want to start butchering your own cheap, healthy, and clean meat, here's a video to get you started. 

 

Once you have butchered your rabbit, what about the pelt?  We've recently started tanning our rabbit hides so as not to waste any part.  Here's a simple how-to.


Here's some recipes to try.

Breeding Rabbits

Here's our tried and true method step by step to breeding rabbits.  All breeds are the same.  It takes a little more human help than other animals, but it's really not that complicated.

Day 1. Pick out a healthy male and female that are old enough to breed. (duh.)  Take the female to the male's cage.  When he falls over on his side a mating has occurred.  Getting on her back is not enough.  Try to let them breed twice.  It might also increase litter size to breed them again in 6-8 hours.  If she won't let him mate try again tomorrow.  Write "install nestbox" on your calendar 28 days from now.  You might think you'll remember.  You won't, so write it down.

Day 11. Start palpating.  Hold your doe by the scruff with one hand and use the other hand to pinch her belly between your thumb and other  fingers to find the grape-sized babies.  Learn to do this and if you don't feel anything keep trying.  They'll get bigger.  If you're sure she's not bred you can rebreed her at this time.

Day 18. Throw a handful of hay into her cage.  If she starts building a nest with it she is NOT pregnant.  This is a false pregnancy.  Basically, her body told her she was pregnant and she isn't.  This is not common, but it happens.  If it does, wait a few days for the hormones to level out and breed again.

Day 28. Watch your doe's belly when she's lying down.  You should be able to see little kicks from the babies (this is different than her intestines slowly rolling.)  This will be harder to see on black rabbits.  If you don't see anything feel her belly.  It should feel bigger and tighter than it did a few weeks ago.  Hold your hand still and see if you can feel kicks from the babies.  If you feel/see none of this, she's probably not pregnant, but who knows, maybe there's only one or two in there, so you give her a nest box anyway.  The nest box should have shavings in the bottom and a big handful of hay in it.  It should also not easily tip over.

Day 31. Hopefully you've seen your does pulling some fur out or carrying hay in her mouth.  If she does this, she's definitely going to give birth.  Sometimes they don't until right before they deliver.  Watch her closely but unobtrusively until the litter is born.  She probably won't need your intervention, but in case she accidentally delivers them on the cage floor you want to put them into the nest ASAP. 

Good luck, and if you have any other breeding question feel free to contact me.

Useful Links

Don't live in Athens?  Try searching for a breeder near you at http://www.rabbitbreeders.us

 

Our favorite resource for cages and equipment.  Bass Equipment  Klubertanz Equipment Co.