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Raising Rabbits

 
Dave Bennett
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I am a proponent of saving heritage breeds and was directed to this information from my subscription to a Meat Rabbit Newsletter. Personally I raise Giant Chinchilla Rabbits. I originally chose the breed because of size consideration. I never have to feed the litters. When I see them eating the forage for the Doe it is time for them to go to the freezer. They average 6.5 lbs. at weaning so they are big enough to harvest.
http://www.rabbitgeek.com/rarelist.html
 
Saybian Morgan
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Yay Heritage Breeds, I'm also with Dave on the Giant Chinchilla scene thanks to dave.

Dave one side note I finally did get my rabbits to breed and they turned out to be great moms with no help from me. But my bunnies are only 3 at most 4 weeks old, and they've been chomping into hay for over a week and I caught a guy a the pellet tray two days ago. I don't think these guys are going to drink milk for 3 months, do you have any pictures of what size they appear to be when you harvest? I herd there digestion wont go for fresh forage even if though it can handle hay so Im keeping it to my homemade pellets n hay for the moment. Is fresh forage what you meant by when to harvest?

It appears giant chin's are the 7th most rare breed, at one point does one try to shift to spreading the breed via pet sales rather than rearing the breed for destructive purposes. I can say I raise giant chin's but i can go from having 20 rabbits back down to 3 parents in 1 processing day. Where if I was able to sell rabbits at 50 dollars a bunny i could theoretically get more for the rabbit and not have to eat it. I didn't know rabbit lovers where specific about the rabbits they keep so I figured nobody would care that G. Chin's are rare when theres so many rescued rabbits out there that need homes.
 
Jami McBride
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Thanks for the link. It lists breeds I can google. I really like the Palomino's color.

How is the temperament of these Giant Chins?
I've raised NZ's and they are sweeties.
 
Chad Ellis
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Saybian Morgan wrote:Yay Heritage Breeds, I'm also with Dave on the Giant Chinchilla scene thanks to dave.

Dave one side note I finally did get my rabbits to breed and they turned out to be great moms with no help from me. But my bunnies are only 3 at most 4 weeks old, and they've been chomping into hay for over a week and I caught a guy a the pellet tray two days ago. I don't think these guys are going to drink milk for 3 months, do you have any pictures of what size they appear to be when you harvest? I herd there digestion wont go for fresh forage even if though it can handle hay so Im keeping it to my homemade pellets n hay for the moment. Is fresh forage what you meant by when to harvest?

It appears giant chin's are the 7th most rare breed, at one point does one try to shift to spreading the breed via pet sales rather than rearing the breed for destructive purposes. I can say I raise giant chin's but i can go from having 20 rabbits back down to 3 parents in 1 processing day. Where if I was able to sell rabbits at 50 dollars a bunny i could theoretically get more for the rabbit and not have to eat it. I didn't know rabbit lovers where specific about the rabbits they keep so I figured nobody would care that G. Chin's are rare when theres so many rescued rabbits out there that need homes.


Can you tell us more about your homemade pellets?
 
Saybian Morgan
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unfortunately there is no diy trick to it, I mulled and mulled and bit the bullet and bought a small scale hammer and pellet mill. The recipes and the artistry of pellet making is something else all together.

I'm only soso self sustaining animal feed from last season but that has more to do with my failings than what can be produced in the space.
What I found about drying forage, milling it down and packaging it into food units was the astonishing amount of forage I could include. So many things that the ducks don't have the bill for, or the rabbit's can't get there nibblers through.
The first shocker was the ducks can eat the entire Jerusalem artichoke plant and the rabbit's will eat the entire blackberry plant. Now normally each would only take the leaf but the stem would be ignored, due to thorns or shape unless it was really green and soft.
After that everything else I could find in the yard fell in line, all of the nasturtium plant, pea vines, radish stems, squash vine, sweet potato vine, mustard plant, lemon balm plant, all mint family vines, bindweed, weeds, dandelion, plantain, buttercups, maple leaves. On and on the only real ingredient that shades the mix towards rabbits is the amount of alfalfa and mint, they really go for it, the ducks aren't mammals so buttercups don't poison there mouth.

All I can get my hands on is mixed with what I can't at the moment, wheat, barley, oats, corn, pea seeds, black sunflower, flax, canola meal. After that it's just rock dust, copper sulfate, flowers of sulfur, powdered eggshell, kelp powder, apple cider vinegar, molasses, non chlorinated water and whey to wet down the dried greens to the right moisture content. As the season's gone on the recipe's change based on what I have available or at this time of year have to buy in, so I don't make the best pellets yet and i've learned my lesson about seal containers vs paper bags. If it's too most the pellet can start to bokashi because of the yeasts and lacto b. It still can be fed out as more of a silage but it becomes that layer mash stuff for the ducks, and the rabbit's revolt and shake it all out of there trays.

In the summer they get what they get fresh when we can give it, but I don't trust us when it comes to being habitual with attention. One clutch of egg's get's hacked and we fuss and toss green's twice a day by the 3rd clutch where too busy digging a swale or something. I don't think it's ethical to keep animals and not provide them the highest degree of optimal conditions one has within their capability. If i had known more when i first started they would be able to freerange 90% of their diet. Maybe this year but I don't know, so for me I chose pellets as my best way to serve them, hopefully they will use them less and less over time but at 28% protein for sunchoke stems vs buying corn, i'm giving my ducklings the best start by giving them pellets and bugs.

This season i'll do allot better in production and therefor in self reliance of feed. The hardest part so far was building a rocket stove dehydrating room on the front of the house, without drying there would be no storage, and the time it takes to dry vs how long the feed last says i'm going to have to build a hayloft of sort's to store bagged greens over the entire season. I feed around 18 ducks for about 6 weeks with 1 day of pellet making but it takes 3-4 days to gather and process the goods. So I've got to process more so i'm at around 5 days work to 8 weeks of duck and rabbit food. Hopefully my bunnies will be an edible weight before they really start chomping into the adult food.



 
Dave Bennett
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Saybian Morgan wrote:Yay Heritage Breeds, I'm also with Dave on the Giant Chinchilla scene thanks to dave.

Dave one side note I finally did get my rabbits to breed and they turned out to be great moms with no help from me. But my bunnies are only 3 at most 4 weeks old, and they've been chomping into hay for over a week and I caught a guy a the pellet tray two days ago. I don't think these guys are going to drink milk for 3 months, do you have any pictures of what size they appear to be when you harvest? I herd there digestion wont go for fresh forage even if though it can handle hay so Im keeping it to my homemade pellets n hay for the moment. Is fresh forage what you meant by when to harvest?

It appears giant chin's are the 7th most rare breed, at one point does one try to shift to spreading the breed via pet sales rather than rearing the breed for destructive purposes. I can say I raise giant chin's but i can go from having 20 rabbits back down to 3 parents in 1 processing day. Where if I was able to sell rabbits at 50 dollars a bunny i could theoretically get more for the rabbit and not have to eat it. I didn't know rabbit lovers where specific about the rabbits they keep so I figured nobody would care that G. Chin's are rare when theres so many rescued rabbits out there that need homes.


Two months not three. They should be weaned around 8 weeks. That is not set in stone. I have been averaging 50 days before they start eating the forage I put in the cage for the Doe. I don't feed pellets and I forage for their food. They are also between 6 & 7 lbs. That is freezer size to me. They dress out between 3.5 and 4.5 lbs. I have sold a few of them alive as pets but not too many. I never considered marketing them live as pets mostly because I was looking for an easily managed protein source to feed myself. I need to find a place where I can have chickens and goats to keep my rabbit company. I also don't have two Does nursing young at the same time. I only breed one at a time but then I only have me to feed. A 3.5lb. dressed rabbit gets me 4 dozen eggs from a friend with chickens. My friend with goats and cows doesn't like rabbit meat so I have to pay for my dairy products. It is very hard work collecting all of the food for my rabbits but I am determined to not buy anything for them except for mineral supplements. If I have to buy pellets to feed them it is not worth it for me. I was looking into getting some Angora rabbits in the future to collect fiber for spinning wool but decided against it. They are very labor intensive rabbits. The differences between your rabbits and mine more than likely has to do with genetics.
 
Chad Ellis
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Saybian Morgan wrote:unfortunately there is no diy trick to it, I mulled and mulled and bit the bullet and bought a small scale hammer and pellet mill. The recipes and the artistry of pellet making is something else all together.

I'm only soso self sustaining animal feed from last season but that has more to do with my failings than what can be produced in the space.
What I found about drying forage, milling it down and packaging it into food units was the astonishing amount of forage I could include. So many things that the ducks don't have the bill for, or the rabbit's can't get there nibblers through.
The first shocker was the ducks can eat the entire Jerusalem artichoke plant and the rabbit's will eat the entire blackberry plant. Now normally each would only take the leaf but the stem would be ignored, due to thorns or shape unless it was really green and soft.
After that everything else I could find in the yard fell in line, all of the nasturtium plant, pea vines, radish stems, squash vine, sweet potato vine, mustard plant, lemon balm plant, all mint family vines, bindweed, weeds, dandelion, plantain, buttercups, maple leaves. On and on the only real ingredient that shades the mix towards rabbits is the amount of alfalfa and mint, they really go for it, the ducks aren't mammals so buttercups don't poison there mouth.

All I can get my hands on is mixed with what I can't at the moment, wheat, barley, oats, corn, pea seeds, black sunflower, flax, canola meal. After that it's just rock dust, copper sulfate, flowers of sulfur, powdered eggshell, kelp powder, apple cider vinegar, molasses, non chlorinated water and whey to wet down the dried greens to the right moisture content. As the season's gone on the recipe's change based on what I have available or at this time of year have to buy in, so I don't make the best pellets yet and i've learned my lesson about seal containers vs paper bags. If it's too most the pellet can start to bokashi because of the yeasts and lacto b. It still can be fed out as more of a silage but it becomes that layer mash stuff for the ducks, and the rabbit's revolt and shake it all out of there trays.

In the summer they get what they get fresh when we can give it, but I don't trust us when it comes to being habitual with attention. One clutch of egg's get's hacked and we fuss and toss green's twice a day by the 3rd clutch where too busy digging a swale or something. I don't think it's ethical to keep animals and not provide them the highest degree of optimal conditions one has within their capability. If i had known more when i first started they would be able to freerange 90% of their diet. Maybe this year but I don't know, so for me I chose pellets as my best way to serve them, hopefully they will use them less and less over time but at 28% protein for sunchoke stems vs buying corn, i'm giving my ducklings the best start by giving them pellets and bugs.

This season i'll do allot better in production and therefor in self reliance of feed. The hardest part so far was building a rocket stove dehydrating room on the front of the house, without drying there would be no storage, and the time it takes to dry vs how long the feed last says i'm going to have to build a hayloft of sort's to store bagged greens over the entire season. I feed around 18 ducks for about 6 weeks with 1 day of pellet making but it takes 3-4 days to gather and process the goods. So I've got to process more so i'm at around 5 days work to 8 weeks of duck and rabbit food. Hopefully my bunnies will be an edible weight before they really start chomping into the adult food.





Thanks!
 
Saybian Morgan
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Dave Bennett wrote:

Two months not three. They should be weaned around 8 weeks. That is not set in stone. I have been averaging 50 days before they start eating the forage I put in the cage for the Doe. I don't feed pellets and I forage for their food. They are also between 6 & 7 lbs. That is freezer size to me. They dress out between 3.5 and 4.5 lbs.


Dave just a follow up, Yes I'm on my first litters and no I don't seem to have the excellent genetics of your rabbits. How in the flapjacks are you getting 6-7 pounds live weight at 8 weeks? and how are you keeping them on milk for that long? I havn't seen any of my rabbits nursing in forever and a day and they started eating food at around 3 weeks of age. I've looked at as many fryer rabbit listings as I could and the dress out weight maxes out at 3.5 pounds or extra large. I weighed my largest rabbit's yesterday and there only 4.5 pounds live and there already at 10 weeks. I've been reading allot of conflicting dress out percentages Joel salatin talks about harvesting at 4-5 pounds/12 weeks and getting a 3-3.5 pound rabbit. That's like 75% while other sites talk about 50% that's why i figured i needed to get them to 6 pounds at least before I could harvest which seems like a long ways away. I'm starting to think the quality of my hay wasn't good enough during the first months in the deep winter, i've switched a few times as well as made up different pellet recipes based on what was available organically. I know your in the subtropics so you get way more fresh forage days than I do but what sort of awesome forage are you up to? I should be planting whatever your planting so at least my summer litter's might stand a chance of being on par with yours if I'm really lucky and it's not just mutant genetics you've got there.

Also is there periods of booming growth vs slow growth? Since this is my first go i'm not afraid to end up with a smaller rabbit in the freezer if things are going to slow down after 10-12 weeks. I'm trying to get a pattern established, weither i did good or bad is no big deal i just don't want to keep trying to grow the rabbit's till i hit some magical 6-7 pound number and end up with leather meat because their 16 weeks old. I made that mistake with my ducks and let the drakes hang on till almost 6 months just because I was justifying quality of life by animal size, but the truth was I had 2 drakes that were giant's at 4 months and 6 drakes that were just dwarf's the whole time. I think that's my fault more than genetics.

I don't want to be a cold heart commercial capitalist but neither do I want to be some idiot breeding tough meat way to slow to ever compete in a real world. Too many people I've met already want to buy meat from me but I've said no because I don't think i'm good enough at it to say what I'm doing is worth your money.
 
Abe Connally
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Saybian, do you have a brand or type of mill and grinder for your setup? Some links for for photos, maybe? I think this information could be very useful to a lot of people raising animals.

I usually butcher mine at about 4.5 lbs live weight (10-12 weeks). That yields about a 2.5 lbs carcass. I wean at 6 weeks. I almost never see them nurse, as they only nurse one or 2 times a day, and it is usually at night. I am using medium-sized mutts, some new zealands, some californians, and tons of other stuff (I like multi-colored pelts).

They can go through waves of production, mostly related to temperature. If it gets too hot, they won't breed. We make sure all of our rabbits have access to underground burrows for temperature control.
 
Saybian Morgan
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It's a pellet pros hammer and pellet mill set. I really should make a video but I feel i suck at pellet making. I've talked to the experts and they all agree that the amount of ingredient's in my pellets is way above and beyond anything made commercially so i'm doing pretty good for no artificial binding agents and no mono ingredients. I don't really think everyone should run out and do what i'm doing, i don't have a turn key setup so I think it's labour intensive, but the main labour is i'm working in a very cramped space and i have to carry the feed up allot of stairs. But I will make a video because I wish I had one to look at when I was making the decision. But I'm more prepping to go pro at permaculture designing and farming, so allot of what I do is invest in equipment and work out the kinks on the small scale so I dont fail when its do or die time.
 
Abe Connally
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What size is your hammer and mill set? Does it run on electricity? Do you think it might work with wet ingredients, like meat scraps? The reason I ask is that I also make food for pigs, fish, ducks and dogs, and those pellets would have meat and offal in them.

We currently harvest lots of hay and greens during the rain season, and it would be nice to take advantage of more of the available food stuff for the rabbits. I understand it is more labor intensive, but I don't mind it. I currently buy pellets to give them a basic foundation, but I could definitely make my own if I had the equipment.

I have read about people doing blocks of feed, instead of pellets. Supposedly, there is less waste and easier to make. Just grind everything up and put in a form. Very easy.

I guess Molasses could be a binder, if you really needed it, but I think I could just add certain types of plants, like duckweed, prickly pear, etc. for binders.
 
Saybian Morgan
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Thats what I first tried doing, making those fuel pucks with an hydrolic press. They hated it and they went funky because if I kept it dry they would just expand over time and if I made them wet like your suppose to make the pucks you had to dry it out again faster than normal drying time so it didn't rot.
I tried a garburator hanging over a bucket for shredding, i tried putting a lawnmower blade on one of those string trimmers turn leaf shredders. I tried every way to subvert the system but i couldn't harmonize the wet dry issues, or control the particle size sufficiently to get anywhere reasonable in a days work. Plus ducks don't eat pucks! I dry everything I can from the yard during the summer and fall to add to their food, the binding agent issue is tough I use molasses but how to spread it onto every surface is tough when controlling moisture content is critical but also varies depending on the material being pelleted. It's an art-form indeed I really like doing it, i'm just basically doing it in a hallway which is what exhaust me outside of my kitchen so I can plug into the dryer outlet. What I do love is I can hammermill everything down to size, and so many inedible things become edible, blackberry canes are dried green with leaves on and turned into 1/4 inch bits that have great nutrition that even the ducks can eat. So the labor goes up in comparison to buying a bag of feed n hoping for the best, but the value in the plants on the land just trippled so I don't really see a downside. Plus I can get allot more medicine into the animals daily diet and be certain every critter got cared for. This year I really want to get into drying root crops and milling them down.

I like what I'm learning because it will translate to all the animals I eventualy hope to manage, pigs, goats and cows are all that's left and they can eat even more than the ducks and the rabbits. I'd give an arm and a leg to get my hands on kudzu.
 
Abe Connally
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how much did your pellet setup cost?

Yeah, I could see how ducks would have an issue with pucks, but I'd assumed that rabbits might like gnawing on them.
 
Saybian Morgan
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They didn't you end up ruining the long fibers that makes hay good for them by having to dice it up to make a compact puck, when I tried long hay i had to wet it so much I couldn't dry it before it would go manky. Or id put it in the oven in a panic to dehydrate it and the rabbit's hated it, tossed it around for a bit then pissed on it. The hammer + pellet mill ran me about 5000 bux but it cost me almost 1000 in shipping and canadian taxes. http://www.pelletpros.com/
 
Saybian Morgan
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Try the rabbit's on those expensive alfalfa cubes for horse and you'll see what I mean, you just can't put enough through the press in a day to make it worth your while for feed or fuel. The only way that process goes fast is with quick pouring off a slurry into the mold and it's even faster with a compound lever than with the hydrolic press when making fuel pellets. It just doesnt stay glued together as it dries the dam things just expand on you and you wonder why you didn't just throw the hay in the pen. But I'm moving as far away from alfalfa as I can for protein as they loved the sunchoke stalks which have way more protein same thing with peas and beans.
 
Boyd Craven
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Abe Connally wrote:how much did your pellet setup cost?

Yeah, I could see how ducks would have an issue with pucks, but I'd assumed that rabbits might like gnawing on them.


So, I'm looking at a 3hp, single phase 220v mill to make feed pellets for my rabbit herd. I like what I read above, about making everything on the property more valuable as feed! That's my inexperienced opinion as well. We are building a closed circle, self contained micro-farm in Michigan from scratch. I look at the mill as a tool to help make that possible. My rabbits will not touch the alfalfa cubes for horses from TSC. Won't even look at them sideways! They do, however like their pellets!

We cleared 2 acres last fall for pasture. We just planted 100 pounds of Amish field rye on it 5 days ago, and it's sprouting well. I'm thinking of putting alfalfa with it on the downhill acre and putting crown vetch with it on the uphill acre. Thoughts?

Abe and I had a conversation one day a long time ago about using dried, ground up worms as a protein additive in feed stocks for several types of pellets. Thoughts?

http://makepellets.com/catalog/i1.html
 
Saybian Morgan
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I'd call that pellet maker a few times and ask allot of questions except for color and configuration of the shoot I don't know why it weight's 65 pounds more than my 3hp 220v mill. Just really put them through the tough customer mill and make sure they actually make pellet's not just order in the green mill from india or china. The price does beat pellet pros but their site isn't as thorough and I really liked that about pellet pros and I talked to them allot, they sent me the manual and everything prior to me purchasing so I could see how to take the whole thing apart when you encounter problems. I also got 300 bux in accessories for free so i could make fish pellets and multiple hammer mill screens. There are problems with the smaller mills they don't get very hot and you might have to run the pellet's through 2-4 times which really can put a cramp on the man hours put into it, but then again I don't have even remotely close to a conventional mono ingredient mix so all that wood lignin literature goes out the window. I'm really big on medicinal components over protein protein protein, I went from an invasive mint, dandelion and bindweed problem to a complete shortage to where i' scavenging for roots to replant in better soil. I dug up 200 dandelion roots and put them in a raised bed along with tisol, put blackberry in drums and started moving as much thimble berry out of the forest and into the yard as I could stand. thimble is the thornless of the salmon berry black berry triune of invasives.

Your pasture plans are they for rabbit's only? If you can find a 50 pound bag of uncracked pea's I'd double your pleasure having that rope up your alfalfa. They eat the the whole plant like candy. I buy those packet's of sprouting radishe's because it's way cheaper than buying seed and there fantastic winter greens. I leave the root's in the soil and can take 2-3 cuts a year off the tops, while my soil get's chiseled I just don't know when there going to rot because last year's kept growing through the winter. Nasturtium's give a fantastic yield and it's very good for them and the ducks and the dogs and the bees and for us, but we've been saving seed cuzz there not cheap. Rabbit's love lemon balm and it's another multiple cut per season plant and it helps me sneak the evening primrose past their taste buds. Pumpkin and squash are another mean producer and you can save seed as you eat em all winter long, they ate all the sweet potato leaves as did we so I never got a tuber yield I've lost interest in taking allot of root crops because their green output is far greater when I leave them in place. I could go on an on with what's green and goes into the pellet's during the summer, this winter I bought ingredients as I didn't really know how long what I had harvested would last. Even that basic recipe pushed my pellet making learning curve through the roof. Alfalfa, barley, oats, sunflower, peas, flax, kelp, corn, canola <- off the list "too oily", + molasses, whey, rock dust, powdered eggshell, dolomite, flowers of sulfur and copper sulfate. It use to be impossible to get the ducks to eat their de-worming mix they always knew there food was F'ded up and complained, but now it's in a much smaller dose all the time mixed in with the pellets, and a little bentonite really gives their poop a nice shape rather than the usual splat.

What are you going to do for particle size for the pellet mill without a hammermill? do you already have one? I tried working with the wood chipper but it would always jam on me and I'd have to take it apart every 5 minutes plus it threw my good feed everywhere. The only major different between the rabbit and the duck food is the ratios of alfalfa to starches, the rabbit's need way less carbs than the ducks and same goes for oil content. But I was so pleased to see the ducks could eat the blackberry canes and all when it's hammered down, but they really got a hate on for alfalfa. The rabbit's get allot of apple cider vinegar so they don't seem to get any of the problems i feared too much calcium in their diet might give them.

Allot of these ingredients just happen to be what I had growing in october when the mill arrived just keep trialing what you've got, I have a 70 foot giant maple that makes enough leaves to keep them for life but I can't reach a single branch till they fall and are no use to me, you could have the complete opposite and be off to the races. Just keep giving them samples of what you got and keep a close eye on their poo and behavior, then up the quantity and see how much they can stand without hurting anyone and you start to see where your ratio's will be in the pellet mix. Today I discovered the rabbit's will eat cooked chick peas, mung beans and lentils but the ducks absolutly refuse to touch it, sprouted or cooked. So now i'm sprouting them till the greens stages and will just plant it in their pen, they tend to prefer to eat anything i try planting but if it's in the dish it's broken somehow. You will make mistakes so just don't go all in with a pellet recipe before you trial it out, i made a small batch on saturday that had too much black oil sunflower seeds and the 8 week old bunnies got diareah for a day, i had another batch of pellet's from saturday with half the amount of sunflowers and everyones been fine since.

I don't know where your located but I just remembered cottonwood saplings, we have them coming up everywhere and they cut and regrow so all those little whip like tree's go in as well.

Worms, i don't like killing worms there more important than my bees. I know rabbit's can eat meat but I can't do that to the worms, they have a hard enough life with me digging all the time and the ducks riding my shovel to get at them. I've dried heart meat and powdered it for anemic ducks but that's if someones having trouble I like heart to much to be giving it away. This year i'm going to try and breed slugs, i tried collecting them fresh last spring and freezing them for later in the year when the ducks don't have any but it defrost's really weird and the ducks don't like them. If you really thought the meat protein in small amounts might do something for the rabbit's i'd try and go the maggot or the pill bug route but I've never found a way to concentrate enough of them to be worth my while, but I've got a few old slug traps i'm trying fermented citrus in to see who comes calling.



 
Boyd Craven
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Location: Linden, Michigan
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We are in the lower part of Michigan. I bought us an overgrown alfalfa pasture (20+ yrs) that is just covered up with all that you are talking about! You can see it at https://www.facebook.com/therabbittrail if you care to. The property is 165x1320ft, slightly over 5 acres. The house (my son lives in) is on the front 1/2 acre, then there is a perfect pond site on the next 1/2 acre. We cleared a 100x800ft opening for pasture behind the pondsite last fall, leaving 30ft of low growth poplar and tag-alder tangled up with wild grape and wild raspberry patches. The property runs east to west, so we keep our rabbit hutches on the shaded south side and plan to grow seasonal veggies on the north side, using saplings for climbing stuff as support, then pasture in the middle. The "pasture" is clean right down to the dirt (which is awesome black soil) I planted Amish field rye (100lbs) so far and am letting it start. Then I have 2lbs of crown vetch seed waiting. Besides the field peas you mentioned, if you were choosing, what else would you plant with rabbit and possibly chicken pellets in mind?

I don't know as much about chickens, but I have this notion that since they eat basically everything that doesn't eat them that maybe I can grind, dehydrate, and add rabbit offal to the chicken pellet recipe. We also use red worms for vermicomposting rabbit poop, and there seems to be no limit to how many red worms we can produce, thus the question about using worms.

Have I lost my mind and left the planet, or does all this sound at least somewhat reasonable to anyone else?

p.s., I'll look more into the Pellet Pro mills since you recommend them so highly. What model do you have?
 
Saybian Morgan
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I have the smallest model the 3hp 220v from pellet pros is weighs 185, same with the hammer mill. even if I had the money where I'm at i couldn't lift anymore up the stairs. It's been 2 days of prepping materials for making pellets again every time i think im about to start i loose 3 hours taking apart a wood chipper to slash down alfalfa, or heading back out to buy more barrels. I have to say im getting tired of mixing materials, if it's not wasp trying to get the mollases on my hands it's dust in my eyes I'm just severly cramped for space. I'm sure you wont have these problems at your place, I have zero flat ground except for stairs that lead to a 4x12 space where it all happens. Maybe 120 gallons of feed is to much for one man to do at once but I gotta up my output per attempt but i checked the weather and i only have 1 day of sun left before another week of rain so i stopped to give the bees their spring visit and tidy up.

Your plans sound fine you've got no lack of space and it seems you've got the equipment to make things happen on a broader scale, what other animals do you have other than the rabbits? Dog's give top paws for rabbit offal and they don't ask for it dehydrated, i don't see why the chickens couldn't have it but its a bit of work to dry it even if you just throw everything through the meat grinder. I did that with a few cow hearts for the ducks and I just couldn't dry enough fast enough to make it last, 10 pounds of meat turned to 2 pounds of dust. If you don't have any carnivore you might consider trading it to someone who does for something else you want, I've fed the ducks raw beef cubed up and in the winter they loved it but in the summer they just let it turn to poison. It all depends what offal means to you, the dog's can eat the whole deal but I don't think poultry really want to eat the green's in another's gut when they have their own green innards.
I just think you might want to explore people who have dog's before going to the trouble, rabbit's 40 bux for 3 1/2 in the few shops that sell them and there from the other side of the country. Those same folks are pretty savy and would value it for their dogs since rabbit offal is allot cleaner than lets say a duck.

What do you plan on mixing your material with, i got a drum cement mixer and a vertical paddle cement mixer. I found the vertical paddle throws all the alfalfa out the sides, but the drum seems to always send the fines to the back and the alfalfa to the front. I'm not happy with either, i know the paddle mixer would do wonders for my soil mixing, it never works in the drum everything just sticks to the walls. I'm going to end up with a mice problem in my exhaust i've spilled allot of grain everywhere, i thought about getting on top of the barrel with an auger but in the past when i tried mixing soil that way it typical spun the barrel instead and tried to rip my arms off.

I checked out your facebook page it looks great, why don't they give us land to homestead when where young and could really go at it, I live this terrible dance of full scale homesteading on a rental which doesn't really work since everything I put in I set up to pull out. I hate pvc garden steaks.

Do you know if rabbit's eat fava beans? the next batch of pellets is going to be 10% cracked beans and i didn't check anywhere to see if it has been done before.
 
Michael Radelut
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Have you ever tried making silage for your animals ?
 
Saybian Morgan
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I've tried making silage pellets, but I made a few mistakes in how i stored it and it heated up and sweated in the container back onto the pellets and they expanded back to powder.
I do allot of lacto fermented pickling so i practically eat silage everyday, the only problem i have with silage is its random shapes in regards to feeding animals with such small or oddly shaped mouths. Ducks don't really chew and rabbits nibble, it's allot easier with goats, pigs and cows. For pellet making the moisture content has to be 20% for silage 50-60%, i made pellets at 35% but I couldn't keep the air out so they started to white mold. I might try it the other way around and see if it's possible to get silage fermented at 20% then once it's smells pickled make pellets.
 
Michael Radelut
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The art seems to be in balancing a moisture content that's not too low and a tight enough structure.
Still, for breeding rabbits in a temperate climate to be able to simply throw green material into a chipper,
pack it tightly into a plastic drum and store it somewhere shady sounds like a very efficient way to have access to quality feed all year round.
 
Saybian Morgan
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I can't find any small scale silage choppers, anything that chips like a wood chipper just clogs it's why im forced to dry everything before chopping it up which is a step i'd really like to skip. The smallest tractor is one of those bcs 2 wheel tractors with a pto shaft but they make no such attachment. All the silage choppers I can find online are for big tractors and there mostly the mowing kind. If I could find a chopper i could feed I could double the quality of my composting on top of being able to barrel store silage in drums. I'm pretty good at fermenting but fermenting pellets kind of breaks the rules. Id would be nice to have my pellet process be only for appropriate materials I don't even mind drying silage for the ducks as in the shredded state they would dry allot faster than processing it hole. It all revolves around changing the size of material while wet rather than while dry.
 
Boyd Craven
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Michael Radelut wrote:Have you ever tried making silage for your animals ?


I have not fed beans to rabbits myself. I know that you must be careful with "bloatish" anything with rabbits as they can't burp or throw-up. Probably a bad idea is my guess, but if I'm unsure, I usually run a test.
 
Boyd Craven
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Saybian Morgan wrote:I can't find any small scale silage choppers, anything that chips like a wood chipper just clogs it's why im forced to dry everything before chopping it up which is a step i'd really like to skip. The smallest tractor is one of those bcs 2 wheel tractors with a pto shaft but they make no such attachment.


I have an 8hp BCS with the tiller and chipper/shredder. I know a couple of places that make custom attachments for them. I've been trying to get one of them to adapt a pellet mill to it. The thing is a monster when it comes to power. I'll see what they say about a silage chopper! I never thought of that! I wonder if the Bio-1000 shredder could be modified as a chopper? When the fly-wheel in that thing gets wound up, it has crazy grinding abilities. If the flails were replaced with blades it should do the trick.
 
Saybian Morgan
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that would be awesome, I've wondered about turning the flails on the chipper into blades. I've seen the bio 100 in use on corn stalks but it failed with constant jamming I think it was one of the earthtools videos on youtube. I have to give it respect for having that ejection lever but he was doing two stalks at a time and still had to eject every 4 stalks, in the case of corn as mulch it was easier to attack it with the flail mower. Oh bio 100 why don't you come with blades. I want to revolve all my farm work around you bcs the ultimate in small scale large difference permaculture implement. They have pellet mills that run off pto shaft's but there beasts looking for 25 horsepower, I've seen plenty of mills that come with no engine for really cheap but the pto part of the equation is up to the user and most likely to lead to flying shrapnel.
 
Saybian Morgan
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Whoa I almost went to bed without asking you as you'd know what I'm thinking off.
I keep looking at the dozer blade for the bcs, but I've never seen a bcs in person, they only order them in canada nobody keeps one I can try out.
How much push do you think the bcs could put behind a blade do you think it's enough for small swales? I wonder what implement could be used as a ripper to loosen the ground, I tried contacting the yeoman plow people to see if they would sell a single shank system but nobody responded. I really hope when I can afford one it's the last engine i'll have to maintain for a long time I'm sick of my mountain of 2 strokes and 3hp 220v that are piling up when they all do the same job. I've only seen the dozer push snow but I don't know if it could actualy bite into the earth as I've seen that they once had tracks for it available. I might be dreaming here I know I probably am.

I found a few links in regards to blades for forage chopper they look like flails to me maybe I need a set for my hammer mill.
 
Michael Radelut
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Boyd Craven wrote:I'll see what they say about a silage chopper!


Please do so !
One workaround which might work would be to leave the wettest/softest ingredients as they are, chop up the harder ones, and then put a lot of effort into the compression part. If you have a good quality storage barrel you could even put in some sort of vacuum valve.
 
Boyd Craven
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Saybian Morgan wrote:I wonder what implement could be used as a ripper to loosen the ground

It seems to me that my BCS has more pulling power than pushing power. We hired a man with a big hydraulic brush hog powered by a 45hp diesel tractor to come in and obliterate everything less than 3" in diameter into large chips and shreds. He had a bucket on the front, and I had him drag the bigger stuff to the north side of the clearing into berms, which we cover with soil, compost and rabbit poop to create Hugelkultur beds. At $75/hr USD it made more sense to hire the one-time work done than to purchase equipment to do it. For about $1,000 USD he did 2 acres (100x800ft) of the thickest stuff that you could hardly walk through. You can see pictures of the process at my Facebook page The Rabbit Trail.

Now, back to the question:
After the ground is cleared, there is LOTS of organic debris left, and many small roots from the saplings that had been there. We let it rot over the winter, THEN before things start budding in the spring, you can attach the rear-mounted tiller on the BCS AND the single blade Hiller/Furrower attachment connects to the rear of the tiller. The tiller will chew through amazing amounts of stuff, then the single blade will catch on and tear in half any roots it encounters (within reason). Rocks are not a problem. It kicks them right out of the way and even breaks softer stuff into pieces! (I'm not exaggerating) The next pass will further chew up broken roots. I'm not trying to remove them for grass-based pasture purposes, just kill them and let them rot in place. I don't think the front blade would be of much use in this process. It's more for snow or sand in my opinion.

I bought my BCS on craigslist.com for $800 USD for the tractor, tiller and bio-1000 chipper/shredder. It starts almost always on the first pull, and that's a good thing, because it's a pretty stout pull!
 
Saybian Morgan
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Oh man that sounds like mean machine tilleration, I always wanted the rotary plow because it seemed like the fastest way to raise a bed, but a youtube video the size of my palm is all I have to go off of. I havn't seen much videos of the hiller in action I had no idea it also cut things. I wish snowblowers could throw soil I would attack compost heaps with them.
A word of advice on trying to pelletize beans with wheat, barley and oats, don't bother unless you want layer mash. I got them to turn into pellets but it took allot of weird shenanigans so I aborted and I'm trying to make lacto fermented grain silage. I'll find out in a few days if I've made 200 pounds of anaerobic belch or highly digestible grains, it's always an adventure when your bucking the system.

I've got to find a universal binding agent that doesn't make the animals sick in disproportionate amounts, I just won't get on the soy and I thought the answer was pea's but I just can't get my hands on them consistently. I've never made the same pellet recipe twice so I never know what to expect. Man all this bcs talk is burning me up inside there's been one on Craigslist forever but i just dont have the 2 grand right now. I've never tilled before but I can imagine in the establishment of systems it could be really valuable depending on the conditions. I've done my quarter acre by the shovel, and it's all on slope and full of tree roots and solid wet mud. I don't know if I could till after all the times i've been a half inch from splitting a salamander in half, but I sure would like the ease of establishment. The ground is just way to compacted and waterlogged to scrape back the creeping buttercup and moss and think I could get grain.

It's midnight and everyone asleep, it's time to type bcs into youtube again and dream....



 
                        
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Boyd Craven wrote:
Michael Radelut wrote:Have you ever tried making silage for your animals ?


I have not fed beans to rabbits myself. I know that you must be careful with "bloatish" anything with rabbits as they can't burp or throw-up. Probably a bad idea is my guess, but if I'm unsure, I usually run a test.


Both green beans and bean vines are high protein but should only be fed in moderation along with a mixture of other greens. They contain a low level toxin that rabbits digestive system can handle if they don't get too much at one time. Pea vines contain very little toxin and field peas (cow peas) can be fed in quite large quantities. Dried legume seeds should never be fed. Rabbits can't digest them.
It isn't the gas that's harmful but the toxins. I break my rabbits into the cole family leaves a bit at a time. After a couple of weeks they can eat quite a large quantity without getting gas. It's just a matter of lettting the intestinal bacteria multiply
BTW I practice natural feeding as much as possible. My rabbits get large quantities of mixed greens and some grain but no pellets. The growth rate is a bit slower without the pellets but the rabbits taste better and you can't beat free food.
 
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