Saturday, November 30, 2013
Well, we were going to wait until spring for the a new addition to the homestead, but as luck would have it, I ran across a guy who was selling a bunch of his rabbits and hutches in a feeble attempt to reduce his daily chores. He had quite an operation going there.
I didn't need the cages, as I had already been planning this project for a while. They have been set up in the garage for a little while now, just waiting for some inhabitants.
Why eat rabbits?
1) Their meat is extremely lean. (wild being even more lean than domestic).
2) They are simple to raise and easy to process.
3) They breed like bunnies.........
A trio of rabbits can produce enough offspring to provide about 180 pounds of meat in a single year. Granted, this is achieved by immediately breeding the rabbits as soon as the mother gives birth, but this causes considerable stress to the momma, and will shorten her life tremendously.
If you have followed our little homestead for any length of time, you would know that we would NEVER do this. We plan on waiting until the young are weened before we will consider breeding her again. That will be about approximately 6 weeks.
Also, we are starting with only a pair, rather than a trio. We are hoping to get between 4 and 5 litters per year, which should yield about 60 pounds of meat. This first year will be a trial year to determine if we need to get another doe, or begin a massive rabbit breeding operation (just kidding cris).
Anyway, let's meet the new additions.
This is the buck (male). He is a Californian. Californians are the second most popular meat breed of rabbit. He is about 5 months old, which makes him "almost" ready to breed. He weighs in at about 4 1/2 to 5 pounds. This is actually the size of which rabbits are slaughtered. As long as he does his business with the lady friend, he will not have to worry about that any time soon.
This all white fluffy ball of joy is the doe (female). She is a New Zealand. New Zealands are the most popular breed of meat rabbit, as they have large litters, and are pretty hefty little buggars. They are by far not the largest breed, but due to the feed to meat ratio, they remain seated high above the rest on the list.
This girl here was born in early spring of this year, making here about 9 months old. She is able to breed right now, but I am waiting a little bit longer before I introduce her to the buck.
When I am ready to breed them, I will move the doe into the bucks cage. If I moved the buck instead, he would be less interested in the female and begin to spray her cage with urine to "mark his territory". The deed would just take longer thats all! By moving the doe, a five minute timer, and a little Barry Manilo should do the trick.
Unlike most animals, rabbits do not "come into heat". They are ALWAYS in heat, which means that as soon as they breed, she should have conceived. Once they breed, I'll mark the calendar, and hopefully in 28-30 days, there will be a nice little litter of babies.
We SHALL SEE!!!!!!!