AGRIMONY - Conjunctivitis
AGRIMONY - Conjunctivitis
Believe it or not but rabbits are very adaptable to cold temperatures. They are more tolerate over the cooler temps then the hotter temps. Cold weather invigorates your rabbits and you will find they are a bit more playful in the winter months. Below freezing temps for extended periods of time can however be a problem for newborn or young rabbits.
You want to make sure that the location of your cages are in a sheltered area. You want to have a roof of some kind and depending on the type of shelter you will also need protections on the sides from the elements.
Rabbits can withstand very low temps as long as they can remain dry and find insulation from the cold to conserve body heat (using a nest-box full of straw or putting large amounts of bedding in their cages). Most meat breeds of rabbits have a thick coat which is a exceptional insulator against the weather, but if water reaches their skin they will be unable to stay warm. The key to winter housing for rabbits is to avoid the drafts and swirls of winter air which can stress your rabbits and reduce their natural immune system. Your rabbits MUST stay dry. Staying dry is a huge factor to rabbits survival during the cold months.
Most other rabbit breeders tell me that litters can’t be born during winter months. At Catalaya's Rabbitry we breed our rabbits year around and have had no problems in doing so. We do use milk jugs to keep litters in and bring into the house until they have enough fur on them to stay outside with the doe.
As long as plenty of nesting material is provided and the mother covers her babies with fur, the bunnies won’t freeze. The nesting material I’ve found most suitable for winter use is wood shavings and straw, which mix well with the fur and can be burrowed into for warmth. One reason I don’t have problems with does losing litters to cold weather is that I cull any female that doesn’t pull out enough hair to make a good nest. By observing your rabbits and culling you can make your bloodline do what you want.
If you have problems breeding your rabbits in the winter try running lights to extend the light period for 14 to 16 hours a day (you could rig up some of the solar path lights). Breeding through the winter can present problems, kits are born without fur the doe compensates for this by pulling lots of fur and covering the kits.
WATER- Is the main concern in the winter because of frozen water crocks. I use water bottles all the time except in the winter I switch over to metal crocks (metal does not crack due to the expanding ice). Some breeders still use bottles and have spares to swap out the frozen bottles. I Have found that the metal tubes freeze to quickly and the water in the bottles will still not be frozen but the water is not available to the rabbits because of the frozen tube. The metal crocks are easier to thaw out than plastic or glass, it takes a 5 gallon bucket of hot water to thaw all of my crocks. I drop a few crocks in the hot water and the ice pops out, I put the ice in a separate bucket to make the hot water last longer. Some people use hammers to smash out the ice or just have spare crocks. Your diligence in making sure they have fresh water greatly increases their comfort level and chances of survival. Rabbits will not eat if there is no water available they need the food calories to keep warm. You should make sure to provide fresh ice free water at least 2 times a day once in the morning and again in the evening ,preferably more often if you can.
FEED- It takes more energy for a rabbit to keep warm they are burning more calories during frigid temperatures trying to generate more body heat. Hay and feed should be slightly increased as they will need the extra calories in the winter to maintain their body weight. Rabbits that gain weight in the winter will not breed and if you do not breed in the winter they will have problems breeding in the following spring. Feeding BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds) during the winter months help keep rabbits warm. The added protein will help but be careful not to over feed or you will end up with fat hard to breed rabbits.
If you take care to feed and water your rabbits no matter how bad the weather is your rabbits will handle the winter weather fine.
Cold weather can be deadly for any animal, but with a few precautions and your rabbit’s naturally well-insulated body, the animal can live warm and comfortable in even the coldest climates. Rabbits survive in the wild further north than most other animals, but your rabbits rely on you to give it what it needs.
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 4-5
One 2 1/4 lb rabbit, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 Tbsp dried)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chopped mushrooms
3 cups of chopped, very ripe tomatoes (or canned plum tomatoes)
2 red bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 bay leaf
16 salt-cured olives, black or green, pitted
Sprinkle the rabbit pieces generously with salt and pepper. Rub half of the thyme leaves into the pieces, then sprinkle with flour to lightly coat. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high. Place the rabbit pieces in the pan in a single layer. Do not stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side until lightly browned, then turn the pieces and brown on the other side for a minute or two more. Remove the rabbit pieces to a dish to set aside.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to the pan, cook for 1 minute. Then add garlic, bell pepper,
and mushrooms, cook for a couple minutes more. Add the rosemary and the remaining thyme. Add the rabbit back into the pan. Cover with chopped tomatoes and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium low; cover the pan and cook for 35 minutes.
Uncover the pan, add the olives. Increase heat to high and cook for several minutes to boil off excess moisture and reduce the sauce. When the liquid is reduced by half, check the seasoning, add salt or pepper to taste, remove from heat and serve.
Serve with rice, pasta, or potatoes.
Growing fodder is so simple that our 5 year old can and does do it! You will find that feeding fodder can cut your feed costs dramatically even if you feed 1/2 fodder and 1/2 pellets.
Fodder can be grown from many things oats, BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds), wheat, barley, etc. Some will take longer to grow than others and some will be more expesive than others. Barley you will find is the more common among rabbit breeders. It isn't the fastest nor the slowest it also isn't the most expensive nor the cheapest. It is however a good one to start your rabbits out on as I have never seen one turn it's nose up at Barley.
To grow fodder you will need a 2 inch deep pan or larger of some kind I've seen many things used muffin cups, totes, cake pans you name it. We purchased some cheap plastic bins from the dollar store. Next you will need the seed to start the fodder with check with the local feed store to get prices. The last thing you will need is water. Drill some drainage holes in your bins remember if you don't have proper drainage you will have mold and you can't feed that to the buns!
Soak your seeds in water for 12-24 hours. Make sure the water is at least 2 inches above the seeds they will soak up alot. After they have been soaked drain the water and rinse really good and place a layer 1/2" to 3/4" thick remember again if you get it too thick it will retain water and mold will grow. You will want them moist but no free standing water. Place in a warm area greenhouse is great or someplace with plastic to cover them but isn't necessary. Continue watering daily 3 times is perfect as long as they have good drainage. You will have fodder in 7-9 days depending on the type of seed you used.
Wire Cages vs. Wooden Hutches
There is a lot of debate about using wire cages or wooden hutches. At Catalaya’s Rabbitry we choose to use wire cages but that is what works best for
us and may not be for everyone. A lot of people want to know what is best for he rabbit and rightly so.
Wooden hutches with a run would seem like the best option for the rabbit however for us this is not true. In our opinion rabbits sitting in their feces is not good for them and the urine soaking into the wood is impossible to clean out. The rabbits love to chew wood so you would probably find yourself fixing
and repairing hutches a lot. Allowing the rabbits to be on the ground will increase their exposure to contagious pathogens. Cleaning wooden hutches is a lot harder then power washing a wire cage.
The number of rabbits you are or want to raise will be a huge determining factor. If you have a rabbit or two as pets then the hutch would be feasible
however if raising 5 or more rabbits then that’s a lot of hutches. Cages are easier to fit into a shed or barn and can be stacked unlike hutches.
Some worry about the wire making the rabbits delicate feet sore. For a few dollars you can purchase resting pads to prevent this from happening. All of our cages have them and they are easy to insert. In the summer it is nice to have
tiles for resting pads they will also help keep the rabbits cool. Throw em in the freezer during the evening and in the morning or afternoon place them over the resting pads (if you don’t remove them). Our rabbits love these and get excited when they see us coming with them. If all else falls wood boards will
work but again remember the rabbits WILL chew them.
Some also worry about rabbits being able to roam or getting exercise. A cheap run can be made for this but remember rabbits dig so wire will be needed or they will dig a hole and escape. Also keep in mind rabbits spend the majority of their time in a hiding in a hole while in the wild. It is their natural instinct to be lazy they don’t have to go far for food or water.
Wire cages must be able to be covered or put inside to keep your rabbits out of the elements. This is where hutches prevail they can be put outside as the
rabbit can go in and out as it pleases.
At Catalaya's Rabbitry our chosen method of tanning our rabbit pelts is with a Salt/Acid pickling solution. It is very easy.
Tanning Rabbit Pelts
1. After dressing the rabbit, toss the raw hide (split down the belly or cased doesn't matter) into a Ziploc bag and put it into the freezer. Do not salt or dry out,
you don’t even have to flesh them either. When you have enough to tan get them out, we usually wait until we have at least 6.
2. Thaw out the frozen hides and run under warm water in order to remove any ice.
3. Rinse well and squeeze out excess water DO NOT WRING THEM!!! SQUEEZE ONLY!!
4. You will need:
1 Plastic 5 Gallon Bucket
2 pounds or rock salt or pickling salt
8 ounces of Battery Acid which can be
found at an Automotive Parts store fairly cheap
Wooden Stick or Spoon
5. Run 1 gallon of HOT water into the bucket, add salt and stir to dissolve. Add 1 gallon of cool water. Water temp. should be about 70 degrees.
6. Slowly add acid. Be careful not to splash liquid and stir carefully with wooden stick or spoon. You may want to wear rubber gloves for this. ALWAYS WEAR EYEPROTECTION! Do not add the water to the acid make sure to add the acid to the water otherwise you wont like the results.
7. Lower the completely thawed hides one at a time into the bucket. Submerge in liquid with the stick and place rock on top of hides to hold them in the slotion. At this stage the acid is not strong enough to do any real damage to your skin but you don not want to splash it into your eyes!
8. Put a piece of plywood on top of the bucket and stash away where no one will disturb it or get into it. Make sure that wherever you put it, it will stay at approx. 70 degrees. Too hot and the hides will be
damaged, too cold and the tanning process will be delayed.
9. Leave the bucket alone for 1 week. Put your rubber gloves on then gently remove hides from the acid solution with the stick. Allow them to drip over the bucket then SQUEEZE to remove any excess liquid. Run under cool water and add dish detergent to remove the remaining acid mixture. Rinse and SQUEEZE out.
10. At this point the flesh on the underside of the hide should be thickened and somewhat separated from the hide. Grasp a piece on the edge and you should be able to simply peel the flesh off, often all in one piece. Be very careful with junior hides, as they tend to be very thin and easy to tear. If the flesh
is very tight on the hide, it isn’t ready yet and should be returned to the acid solution for a few more days.
11. After fleshing, return the hides to the acid solution and leave for at least another week (can be safely left for up to a year).
12. When you pull out the hides swish them around in soapy water. Squeeze as much water out as possible. Now lay pelts over the porch railing, back step, or make a drying rack to allow the pelts to drip dry. We find the clothes rack works nice. At the first sign of drying (white patches on the flesh side), work the hides gently over the back of a chair, 2X4, fence post, rough rope ect. pulling the pelt back and forth and then pull gently till the flesh side turns white all over. Pelts can be thrown in a very cool clothes dryer and tumbled for a while to help the drying/softening process.
13. If you have allowed the pelts to dry stiff without working them, toss them in a pan of water to soften and then start over with the drying/working process. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes each to work the hides to a nice suede like softness. Rub the fur side over the back of a chair also to make the fur soft and natural looking. After you are done with the
tanning solution, add a couple cups of baking soda to neutralize the acid. This makes it completely safe to dispose of.
There are many clubs available to join. Probably the most obvious for youth would be 4H. You can contact your local extension office to see what clubs are available in your area.
Probably the most popular organization/club is the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association). This also happens to be the largest club in the United States. Through this organization you are able to register your pure bred rabbits an show them at many sanctioned shows. Fees are a little more expensive compaired to other clubs. More information can be found on their website at www.arba.net
There are numerous specialty clubs availabe nation and state wide to join. These clubs will focus on a certain breed of rabbit such as the californians. The fees are substaintially less then the ARBA and the members are raising the same breed as you therefore it is easier to find more accurate help if you are a new breeder. Below is a list of Californian Specialty Clubss and local Michigan Clubs.
CRSC (Californian Rabbit Specialty Club) www.californianrabbitspecialtyclub.com
MSRBA (Michigan State Rabbit Breeders Association) www.msrba.net
Rabbit manure is gold to us at Catalaya's Rabbitry. We can never have enough for our garden. Rabbit manure is considered to be one of the top manures and a cold manure which means you can put it directly on your plants without worrying about burning them up.
Rabbit manure is high in nitrogen an phosphorus. The chart below shows a comparison in manures from various animals.
Worms are a great resource to have in any rabbitry. At Catalaya's Rabbitry worms are grown in the manure and the manure is then turned into black soil. The soil is applied to the garden and/or used in flower pots or seed starting trays. We very rarely sell any extra as it literally is like gold to us. If we get a build up of manure come spring we do sell that and we either sell the extra worms or use them for bait or food for our chickens. It will take 3-6 months for the worms to do their think and when they have completed their job we usually have doubled the amount of worms in our bins. Raising worms does add more work to Catalaya's Rabbitry but to us it is worth it an may not be worth it to others.
The number of litters a rabbit can have will vary from 1-8 litters. The breeder will determine what is best for the doe and the rabbitry.
When a Doe is in good condition or a little on the overweight side she can have as many as 8 litters per year. You will want to make sure that you are feeding an 18% protein feed when breeding this aggressively.
For new breeders Catalaya's Rabbitry recommends starting out with 4-5 litters per year until you gain the experience needed to start breeding more aggresively. Also if your Doe is starting to lack in condition you may want to slow her breeding schedule down a bit.
The pdf file below has a chart showing when to breed and wean when breeding from 4-8 litters per year. This is printable so you can put it in the rabbitry :-)