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We just got us a Flemish Giant Doe

 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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So my much better half and I got what I consider to be one of the permiest pets we could get in an urban environment: a Flemish Giant.
Her name is Mizzou, and she's 8 months old and 13 lbs. We were told she's likely to grow at least another 7 lbs.

I would love any advice experienced urban Flemish Giant owners might have, or any experience growing food and forage for rabbits, especially considering space constraints for growing.

-CK
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Getting settled
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Starting to relax
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Chilling
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What toy carrot?
 
pollinator
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I used to raise meat rabbits in an apartment in Oregon. On walks I would cut blackberry leaves for my bunnies (they mostly handle the thorns just fine, but I often just cut leaves and didn't put the thorny brambles in). In urban environments you can often get ahold of rose leaves as well. I went to the park to collect maple leaves, which my rabbits loved. If you grow trees in containers the prunings from some (like apples) can be good for them, but I've read that stonefruit is poisonous for rabbits. Because of heavy applications of chemicals to certain plants, I would avoid picking grass and was generally pretty careful about where I got food for them. Also, grocery stores can be good. Oftentimes they discard their carrot greens, which I fed to my rabbits so long as they were unwilted and in good condition. Good luck and let me know how it goes
 
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Location: Callisburg Texas
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I raise rabbits also for meat. I am looking into a fodder growing system. You should look into it for just a few rabbits you're system could be very small!!!
 
Chris Kott
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So for now, I am going to concentrate on early field greens and baby brassicas that will come up first, and dandelions. I am going to use clover as a cover crop, and as I will be harvesting the tops as soon as they get to be too much for their companions, they will do good things for my heavy feeders, along with all that rabbit litter. My beets will be giant and happy, and the tops will feed the wabbit.

We have many, many mature mulberry trees in our neighbourhood, so I will have no problem finding some fresh trimmings for her.

So I have as yet to look into it, but the undyed, unbleached, recycled paper litter that we got her appears to contain a proprietary scent control product. I am doing a test in a compost pile that is somewhat dormant at present, to see if it has any negative effects on soil biology. My initial thought was that worms love paper, and that it would be beneficial to use unbleached, undyed, recycled paper waste in the garden for the worms.

Should I need to find another product, are there any good alternatives that will be better for my soil and good for my wabbit?

-CK
 
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That rabbit is adorable. She's gonna be big when she's full grown!
 
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We buy  hay for our rabbits bedding. Pretty much any kind but alfalfa. Alfalfa is said to be  great for meat rabbits, bad for rabbits you want to keep for a long time.
Apple and pear branches are well loved by my rabbits, but my favorite thing to feed is sunchoke stalks.
They love them, and my yard is full of them.
Chicory, the same way.
I often dumpster dive Aldis for lettuce and peppers,and share the haul with the rabbits.
The actual litter box, where they pee, is a 8" x 3' x 2' wooden box on casters, filled with what started as sterile potting soil.
They love to dig in it,if I had my way it would have garden soil,complete with rocks,gravel,and sand to help wear down their claws.
The rabbits are not mine,per say,but they love me best, because I bring them treats, and pet them,but never pick them up. Even if I want them on my lap,I get someone else  to transport them to me.
Bunnies tend to hate being picked up.
 
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Flemish are not as well known as a meat breed. High bone mass to meat ratio.

But please maintain and breed them. They are a critical base breed for many derivative breeds that we now have. Losing that genetic base would be a disaster.

As to feeding, right now lamb quarters are popping up. I use a ditch blade on a scythe with a cloth fruit picker like affair clipped to the back.
 
Chris Kott
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She's a pet, so she's going to be spayed. We are in a third floor apartment in downtown Toronto without adequate room, and what's more, I am not a breeder.

I would love to, at some point, but if that happens, I want to be ready with way too much space and resources. She's going to be a great companion and produce refiner, and my soil will kick ass.

-CK
 
john mcginnis
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Chris Kott wrote:
So I have as yet to look into it, but the undyed, unbleached, recycled paper litter that we got her appears to contain a proprietary scent control product. I am doing a test in a compost pile that is somewhat dormant at present, to see if it has any negative effects on soil biology. My initial thought was that worms love paper, and that it would be beneficial to use unbleached, undyed, recycled paper waste in the garden for the worms.

-CK



If you have access try cut grass. Dry it a day or so in the sun. Later it can go directly into your compost pile. Downside is you need a ready supply for it to be effective. And of course little is available in the winter.
 
William Bronson
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Shop around to get the spaying done, it ain't cheap.
Evidently they need to be sedated,lest they due from pain induced shock.
We found a vet outside the city for a lot cheaper, but it still cost many times what spaying a cat or dog would have.
I wanted to just fix the male of our pair, but my wife said does and bucks both live longer if they are fixed.

 
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I raise colony meat rabbits, part Flemish, on open ground.  They live on pure forage as possible, and grass/alfalfa hay and oats/barley/sorghum/peas supplement when no forage is available.

I learned a couple things in the last several years

Switching a pellet raised rabbit to forage can kill it.  I think their stomachs develope a micro ecosystem of bacteria’s and enzymes that help digest forage and roughage.  Pellets are cooked, formulated, factory foodstuffs with nothing organic and live left in them.  I would switch slowly if she was raised on dry pellets.

My rabbits share a diet almost identical to my goats.  They take leaves and bark and branches over grass.  Fall and spring pruning is bunny feast time!  I always try to offer rough woody stuff, they chow it to nothing.

Good fodder crops include yellow dock, sunflowers, sunchokes, radishes and turnips (fast and easy to grow), and mustard.  They,l eat just about every inch of every plant, including rootstock.  dock root has been a bunny delicacy here, and it’s packed with minerals and nutrition!  It can be dried and saved as well.  The dock is chronically prolific and rabbits do good justice to thinning its ranks.

Spring seed pods on trees and fall leaf drop provide abundance.

Having a clean dry place to poop allows rabbits to do what their wild counterparts do; chew their pellets.  They will eat s portion of their own poop for extra nutrition.  Usually during the new moon phase.  They store more pellets in a full moon when it’s bright and safe enough to forage at night.  New moon is time to stay by the burrow and lay low in the poor visibility.
 
Jen Rose
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Also, rabbits are induced ovulaters.  They don’t have heat cycles.  No point in spaying unless you want a buck around.  Just my opinion there!  Sorry for any weird typos.  Auto correct...
 
Jen Rose
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Gonna add more.  I would say diversity is key.  Don’t pick one crop or just a few plants.  I used to take the scythe (a sharp machete works too) to the river or a canal bank and cut bundles of mixed fodder.  There are few toxic plants out there, but being aware of which may be in your area would be good before doing this.  Don’t wanna go chopping poison hemlock in the mix  or something :s.  No grasses will hurt your rabbit though.  Taking snipping from brambles and trees can be fun.  Much of this can be dried and stored for winter too!  Especially leaves!

One mammoth sunflower would provide huge amounts of food for her.  My rabbits eat the starchy stalk down to naught.  Roots, seed head, leaves, stalk, all of it!  Any greens, grasses, and veg can be dried and put up as well.  I think sustaining a single rabbit, albeit huge, on as much forage as possible would be entirely feasible and also great fun!
 
john mcginnis
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Jen Rose wrote:

Good fodder crops include yellow dock, sunflowers, sunchokes, radishes and turnips (fast and easy to grow), and mustard.  They,l eat just about every inch of every plant, including rootstock.  dock root has been a bunny delicacy here, and it’s packed with minerals and nutrition!  It can be dried and saved as well.  The dock is chronically prolific and rabbits do good justice to thinning its ranks.

Spring seed pods on trees and fall leaf drop provide abundance.

Having a clean dry place to poop allows rabbits to do what their wild counterparts do; chew their pellets.  They will eat s portion of their own poop for extra nutrition.  Usually during the new moon phase.  They store more pellets in a full moon when it’s bright and safe enough to forage at night.  New moon is time to stay by the burrow and lay low in the poor visibility.



What is the trick? My rabbits won't touch sunchokes at all.
 
pollinator
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john mcginnis wrote:

Jen Rose wrote:

Good fodder crops include yellow dock, sunflowers, sunchokes, radishes and turnips (fast and easy to grow), and mustard.  They,l eat just about every inch of every plant, including rootstock.  dock root has been a bunny delicacy here, and it’s packed with minerals and nutrition!  It can be dried and saved as well.  The dock is chronically prolific and rabbits do good justice to thinning its ranks.

Spring seed pods on trees and fall leaf drop provide abundance.

Having a clean dry place to poop allows rabbits to do what their wild counterparts do; chew their pellets.  They will eat s portion of their own poop for extra nutrition.  Usually during the new moon phase.  They store more pellets in a full moon when it’s bright and safe enough to forage at night.  New moon is time to stay by the burrow and lay low in the poor visibility.



What is the trick? My rabbits won't touch sunchokes at all.



That's very... odd!  The flower, the stalk, the root, the whole thing?  Maybe you need less picky rabbits  I honestly don't know what to tell ya!
 
Chris Kott
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Thanks for the great suggestions.

As to spaying, it's necessary for indoor free-range litter training. If we had an area separate from our living space, I wouldn't have bothered, and I would probably look after reproductive health issues by breeding her, but only as often as necessary to stave off reproductive cancers.

She is in for her spay this morning. Here's hoping there are no complications.

As to feeding her, she's mostly on Timothy hay, with about 4 cups of greens daily. We haven't yet found a pellet she likes, but we regularly give her apples and sweet potatoes.

So if I were to grow leafy green crops, I am thinking cabbage, chicories, and lettuce, excluding iceberg. Does that sound right? I also love the Russian mammoth sunflower idea, as I have had great ease and success growing them here, and my much better half would probably decorate with the drying heads and stalks.

Also, when I give her cut grasses, I suppose that replaces hay in her diet, right? We free-feed her hay anyway.

I will post more bunny pics shortly. Thanks again for the interest and advice. Permies are the best people.

-CK
 
Chris Kott
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Here she is, post spay. No more territorial pooping and peeing, and no more hopping around me in circles pooping. Everything goes in the litter box.

-CK
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