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fattening rabbits

 
Kath Percival
Posts: 10
Location: Adelaide, Australia
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I'm starting a backyard meat rabbit enterprise, I've had my buck, a NZ White, for 2 weeks now. He had some trouble adjusting to being in a new place and being alone (I haven't managed to find a doe yet), but seems to have settled in now. His appetite is not as ravenous as I would have hoped, and is losing condition fast. I've got him on grass (couch that I recently laid for this purpose - long story, but it was my only option), ad lib meadow hay, 2-4 cups of greens a day (his favourite is lettuce and parsley, nothing else really appeals), and a small amount of grain and pellets because I was so worried he wasn't really eating anything else. He hasn't really touched anything except the lettuce and parsley, sometime grass, and I can't tell if he's eating any of the grain/pellets because he likes to pick up the container and throw them around - he also does this with his water bowl. Angry little man. From my research I've offered him everything a rabbit should like, does anyone have any suggestions as to anything else I should give, or any other ideas in general to stimulate his appetite? I've got a source of free wheat berries, so I'll be growing some wheatgrass to supplement their diet, I'm hoping that'll be popular. I really want to get this sorted before I buy a doe and mate them, I don't want her starving while she's 'with child'. I'd appreciate people's thoughts, thanks!
 
Bill Ramsey
Posts: 86
Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
7
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I guess I'd have to look at other things like how hot is it there, does he have shade and a breeze, any barking dogs. Does he have enough water? They can take a little time to get used to new food. The feeders that clip to the side of the hutch can work better for the ones that like to toss things everywhere. The same with water bottles. They can have a sweet-tooth and eat grass like crazy but ignore pellets (and it's protein) so I like to give mine the pellets first and then go cut the grass for them. Young ones might also get a little bored and do a little better with something to entertain them.. like other rabbits or something besides food / water bowls to toss around. I only have a few rabbits so I'm no expert but that's my 2¢ worth of blatting.
 
Abbey Myrick
Posts: 14
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I'm new here, but I have been raising angora rabbits for a few years now. When they need added condition or are raising kits I suppliment them with Mana Pro. You can find it at the feed store, its for giving to various species of animal to give them a boost of protein and vitamins. People in the rabbit world tend to give two things for condition: Black sunflower seeds and Mana Pro. I add a tablespoon of black sunflower seeds to my rabbits food every night. Its got good oils/fat/protein and they love them.

Angoras may have a slightly higher protein need than other rabbits due to their wool production but I have heard others say that is not true. Regardless, if a rabbit is losing condition I would give it some Black SS and mana pro. If he is a new addition he might be grumpy for awhile. I have had rabbits take up to a month before they adjusted completely. Also, what was he getting fed before by the breeder? Rabbits digestive systems are easily disrupted and usually (at least in the angora rabbit world) breeders will supply you with a small bag of the pellets the rabbit is used to so you can switch them over to your feed slowly. Perhaps his stomach got upset by a sudden change in diet?

Hope this helps. Good luck with your guy. I find the bucks can be a little moody when they are young, hopefully he will come around!
 
Vanessa Green
Posts: 6
Location: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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Hi Kath,

I hope your rabbit is coping with this heat we are having this week.

Last year we got two 8 week old rabbits (doe and buck) with the intention of breeding them for meat, they were getting very close to being of breeding age and we had the heat wave just before Christmas, and sadly we lost them both on one of the days which was about 44 degrees (C).

We want to try again, but are planning on waiting until summer is over and investigating cooling systems inf we do have heat waves again (things like misters) before we get more rabbits.

We were feeding ours the Jack rabbit pellets (I think from Lauke) which they loved, as well as oaten hay, and I would pick various weeds for them, and throw it in their cage...they love thistles if you have those. I had read that too much lettuce is not good for them, and can cause diarrhea.

Where are you in Adelaide? I am in the very north of Adelaide, out Gawler way.

Vanessa
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
Posts: 1251
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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An easy way to cool rabbits is by placing a bottle of frozen water in their hutch. They can get up close to it and cool down. They can also lick the condensation off of the bottle which is likely more refreshing than water that's out in the heat.
 
Vanessa Green
Posts: 6
Location: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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Sadly Craig we did this, along with a hessian bag on the side of their cage, wet down to create a bit of evaporative cooling, made sure they had afternoon shade.
But when you are looking at temperatures multiple days of around 45C (113F) which came on suddenly (only weeks before this we were in ugg boots and track pants) and you have to leave them during the day to go to work its just got a bit too much for them, hence why we are going to wait until summer is over to try again.
 
Bill Ramsey
Posts: 86
Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
7
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Looking at the weather channel tells me 109°F on Friday so, yeah... mine practically quit eating when it gets like that here (south western Georgia). They just get so lethargic. The black oil sunflower seeds are like candy but I try to not over-do it. I always hear too much gives them the squirts but a few helps with lots of issues like litter size. Just off hand, I don't remember it ever being too rich for them.
 
Abbey Myrick
Posts: 14
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Bill Ramsey wrote:Looking at the weather channel tells me 109°F on Friday so, yeah... mine practically quit eating when it gets like that here (south western Georgia). They just get so lethargic. The black oil sunflower seeds are like candy but I try to not over-do it. I always hear too much gives them the squirts but a few helps with lots of issues like litter size. Just off hand, I don't remember it ever being too rich for them.


Yes, temps like that would literally kill my angoras. They certainly wouldn't be eating either. I am in new york so its fairly cold right now, 109 degree weather didn't even cross my mind! Ouch. Hang in there rabbits!
 
Kath Percival
Posts: 10
Location: Adelaide, Australia
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Thanks everyone for your responses. He's starting to settle down a bit more now, he actually started eating pellets and grains for the first time in the morning of our hottest day for a while - not really sure why that gave him the kick he needed, but it did. He's also learnt to properly drink (not sure why I had to teach a 9 month old rabbit how to drink, but it's been 3 weeks of frustration) and rather than me having to drop drips of water down his nose into his mouth, he's now learnt to use the drinker. All around things are happier here, and he's eating a lot more grass too. I don't think it'll be long before he starts putting on some weight.
Vanessa, I did think I might lose him a couple of times over the last week! I've got a white cloth draped over a half of the hutch and every few hours I would go out and hose it down, and hose him down too if he was looking particularly droopy. He absolutely hated it, but I do think that it kept him alive. I tried the ice block thing, but he really took offense to it and kept attacking it and pushing it away from him. I am lucky enough (!!??) to be unemployed at the moment so I was able to go out every few hours and check on him. If I wasn't able to, then yeah, I think misters or a small sprinkler on the hutch all day would do the trick. Maybe something like those small sprinklers you have on an irrigation system. Not too much water would be wasted then. I have heard that too much lettuce can give them the runs, I've been keeping an eye on it, but I've had no problems with that so far. My biggest concern is that he was filling up on lettuce which is basically crunchy water, and not getting any nutrients or energy. I've dropped the lettuce ration down now, and added more herbs, not that he does more than taste them, which I think encourages him to eat more grass the the pellets. I'm at Semaphore, so we get some light sea breezes to cool things down.
 
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