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I've been adopted by two rabbits... now what?

 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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So over the past couple of months I've been watching two rabbits steadily moving in to my gardens. Now the thing is that these are (were) domesticated rabbits. One appears to be a Californian and the other is large black and brown. This week they moved their home from the field across the street to the space beneath my porch. This is by all means ok by me... but that space is already the home territory of a silver laced polish rooster and in the winter there will be a lot of hens too sheltering from the cold winds.
I would like to capture the rabbits and cage them so that I can make some use of them. After all, they did eat my entire carrot patch and most of my fall beets.

Anyone have a good way of capturing them alive? I'd like to start raising rabbits for meat and this seems like an opportunity waiting to happen.



 
kadence blevins
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Location: SE Ohio
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live traps are always good. put some grains or tasty greens in it to try and entice em inside.

you can try and put some grains/feed in bowls where they are hiding out now, then set up the live trap near there with the bowl of grains/feed in it and open (not set) so they get used to it, then after a while of them being used to it and they will go in it on their own you set it and hopefully catch em.
mind you it always sounds good in theory and doesn't always go as planned


you will need something to keep them in and carefully work up to being able to touch them and all and see what gender they are.
but if you keep em don't get any more rabbits (a doe or buck dependin on those ones gender) until those ones settle in and you can make sure they aren't sick.
 
Joe Braxton
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Rabbit box trap.

Just one example of many on the net.

http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=456439
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I spent the better part of the morning today capturing the two of them. They were easy enough to catch once I figured out how much they love tomato. I was able to grab them both by hand. They have temp housing for now and this week I'll be getting legit cages. SO far so good. Also One is male and the other female. If all the plumbing still works then I guess I just started raising rabbits with low upfront cost.

Nice
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Update:

I built a nice hutch with two hanging cages each 30x36. The rabbits settled in just fine though the buck is a bit timid. That doesn't really matter because I know that he's mated the doe. As a matter of fact that occurred sometime before I captured them. Late on the 25th the doe started to make her nest in the box I provided her. By that evening she had her kits. I checked on them yesterday and this morning to see how they were doing. There are six of them. 3 white, 3 black and they all look to be doing just fine. Last night the temps got down to about freezing but the bunnies seem to have been just fine. So now I'm up and running in the rabbit business. That was easy.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I just wanted to keep this going with a few notes:

Of the six kits we had, five went to the refrigerator at about eight weeks old. They went in two batches about a week apart. Each was roughly 5.5 lbs live weight. I didn't weigh them after slaughtering but there was enough meat on one rabbit to make a hearty meal for 2 adults and two kids. I was very impressed with how much meat is on a critter that size. And it was far better than the chickens we've been raising. Easier too deal with too. But rabbits don't lay eggs so...

I kept the best looking doe to expand the herd. Her name is Maddie. She'll be ready to breed in about 3 more months. I'll be building a much larger barn for this venture in the spring.

I re-bred the original pair a month or so ago and the mother just gave birth to 11 more kits on the 15th. Sadly one was born outside of the nest box and froze before the sun came up. The other ten are doing well despite the snowstorm and below freezing nights.

Since october they've eaten roughly 150 lbs of food pellets and some hay. I actually had to slim the original pair down as they were super fat from eating my fall garden veggies.
With 10 kits to nurse, the mother is going to need all the feed she can eat.

I've had a couple of wheel barrow loads of manure pellets as well. I mix them up with some wood shavings and shovel them out with a snow shovel. Right onto the front garden beds, where grapes, raspberries and tons of other stuff will grow this spring.

So yeah... its going well.

 
Bev Huth
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Location: AR, USA
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You may want to look around for some more low cost or free rabbits to broaden the bloodline. Linebreeding is fine but it will bring out the best and worst both in your herd.

Put the word out that you will take a few unwanted rabbits (Easter pets kids get bored with and such are often free.) Were you near me, I'd trade rabbits with you, get fresh blood for both of us, someone near you may do the same, ask around.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Bev Huth wrote:You may want to look around for some more low cost or free rabbits to broaden the bloodline. Linebreeding is fine but it will bring out the best and worst both in your herd.

Put the word out that you will take a few unwanted rabbits (Easter pets kids get bored with and such are often free.) Were you near me, I'd trade rabbits with you, get fresh blood for both of us, someone near you may do the same, ask around.


Thanks for your response.
From time to time I see ads for free rabbits. Often times they are not the breed I'm interested in. I'd like to get a Satin buck (any color but black) to replace my Californian. The Californian buck I've got is in really good shape and does his job well, but he's timid and his red eyes creep out my wife. Ideally I'd like the physical robustness of the Californian to stay in the herd, but get rid of the white fur and red eyes. By introducing a buck with a color other than the female I have (black) I can explore the variance and more easily track certain animals. Plus variety is fun.

Most of the rabbits I see from ads seem that they are old or in poor condition. This is also the case with a lot of the free chickens I've seen too.
Being that I'm just getting going, I'm in no rush to start adding other variables quite yet.

If by chance I come across the right animal, I'm willing to pay for it. I'm also willing to trade from what I have but being that mine are all cross breeds, they have very little worth other than pets. They are cute as hell though.
 
Bev Huth
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Location: AR, USA
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Too bad you aren't closer to me, I'd trade you for some of the upcoming litters I have on the way. 2 litters of velveteen, 1 of Californian, 1 Californian/NZ cross and, 2 of NZ rabbits.

All non pedigreed "inferior" stock but perfectly good rabbits for meat, fertilizer and, fur production.

I'm add Flemish giants to my herd soon (waiting for litter to be weaned so I can bring them home.) Those will be crossed with NZ and bred true as well. The only ones I don't cross are the velveteens because that would ruin the pelts for that breed, and they are smaller so, not as much meat value to them.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Bev Huth wrote:Too bad you aren't closer to me, I'd trade you for some of the upcoming litters I have on the way. 2 litters of velveteen, 1 of Californian, 1 Californian/NZ cross and, 2 of NZ rabbits.

All non pedigreed "inferior" stock but perfectly good rabbits for meat, fertilizer and, fur production.

I'm add Flemish giants to my herd soon (waiting for litter to be weaned so I can bring them home.) Those will be crossed with NZ and bred true as well. The only ones I don't cross are the velveteens because that would ruin the pelts for that breed, and they are smaller so, not as much meat value to them.



Could you tell me how you have your rabbitry set up? I'm going to be building mine up over the next year to accommodate a couple of bucks and five or six does. Not sure yet. Still playing with the numbers. Anyway... I don't suppose you have photos of how you have yours set up?
 
Niele da Kine
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The white fur and red eyes requires a double recessive gene. The white bred to a colored bun, half the litter should be colored. If you can get a doe that doesn't have the recessive for albino (white fur and red eyes) then you'd get 100% colored kits. Although, because an albino was one of the parents, all the offspring will carry the albino recessive.

There is a Blue Eyed White, but that takes an entirely different sort of gene. If you have any buns who show up with a white snip on their nose or a white foot, breed them to the albino and see if you get any Blue Eyed Whites. To get BEW, you need what's called the Vienna Gene. Which is a recessive.
 
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