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I have fifteen kits down in the rabbitry and I'm not going to get a taste of rabbit out of any of them. Six were sold at $10 each and one other bartered before they were born and today someone we know slightly stopped and asked if we had any for sale. I told him mid-October and he ordered half a dozen. I want to save the two best females for breeding... so there goes those two litters! Still... $120 isn't to be sneezed at. Time to expand!

I was thinking about breeding back the does at six weeks if they are in condition. We got such a late start this year and I do want some for the freezer this fall. Opinions?
 

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Maggie,

I am certainly no expert, I have only been breeding rabbits since February- but I have been breeding my does back at 5 weeks, at least up until recently. I slacked off with the hot weather, but I am going to try to breed straight through the summer- my rabbits are in a wooded area, in the shade, and they all seem to tolerate the heat pretty well. I have had many healthy litters, with 8-10 kindled per doe.
 

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Since you are doing the natural feed thing, you won't know till the kits are 6 weeks old. Just depends on the condition the does are in by then.
Do you have fryer pens for the kits so the does can have some time alone?
I plan on breeding at 6 weeks, then won't breed again till early in the spring.
 

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Lost in the Wiregrass
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are you suplementing any rolled oats or anything for your does?

if they are in condition i would breed back sooner than 6 weeks to get some in the freezer, but it all depends on how well your does do and how they handle a sooner breed back,
 

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Thanks for the input, everyone. Yes, I guess I will just have to wait and see how they are. After nearly getting mugged the day after kindling because I didn't get the greens into the cages fast enough, I realized that they were not getting enough to eat now that they are lactating. Mind you, they still had pellets available... but seem to have lost their taste for them. So I gave them some rolled oats from the kitchen and a pinch of pickling salt and their were suddenly little grunting sounds of contentment. Yesterday I started mixing in some whole oats as well and they seem to be eating most of them.

The kits are doing fairly well. Tuppence kindled 9 but one died. Patches has 7, which is her usual number. Oddly, there are two runts in Tuppence's litter and one in Patches'. But the others look great and there are three in Patches litter that may be like the two Angora kits she produced last summer. Two are dark but one is white broken like Patches. Is it possible to have a white broken Angora-type?

I'm definitely convinced now that domestic rabbits that are breeding need grains in their diet as well as hay and greens. I would prefer just feeding whole grains, but if the rabbits won't take them readily, I guess I'll be buying a sack of feed-grade rolled oats. I'm wondering if they would find sprouted grain more nourishing and palatable. Are there any concerns about that, apart from the danger of mould?
 

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I am feeding rolled oats and whole rye berries, and every one eats those no problem.
I don't think rabbits are near as picky as every one thinks.
So far I haven't found an thing they won't eat.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
No doubt my rabbits are spoiled. I have a bad habit of spoiling anyone or anything that comes within my range. :rolleyes:
 

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Lost in the Wiregrass
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sounds like your rabbits have it made, how old are the kits now? and do the does look like they are holding up well?

you only have the two does right? sounds like you need to keep a few more back for new additions to the herd.
 

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KSALguy said:
sounds like your rabbits have it made, how old are the kits now? and do the does look like they are holding up well?

you only have the two does right? sounds like you need to keep a few more back for new additions to the herd.
Yes, the buns have it made... but they deserve it... They work hard for us.
The kits are a week old - plus a day for the first litter. There are some real big ones in there, but also a couple of runts. So far they are holding their own.

The does look just fine. They've stopped trying to mug me since I've been giving them the oatmeal/whole oats mix laced with a touch of pickling salt. They are not plump, but then I don't want them to be. They look good - bright eyed and fluffy tailed and active. Their coats are a bit ragged, but they were pulling a lot of fur and they like to hang their dewlaps in the water dish but they seem to be doing well. They are a lot happier since I started feeding the oatmeal though.

I plan to save the best two doelings for future breeders. I culled back hard last fall, intending to save a couple of the last litter... then I had the opportunity to sell them to someone who was increasing her herd... and succumbed to temptation to take the $60 while it was available.
 

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Lost in the Wiregrass
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i would take the money too lol,

when do you plan to breed back? if they are in good condition i would prolly breed back at 4 weeks or so, give or take, that is if you want to increase sooner,
 

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I guess I'll just wait and see how they are at around five or six weeks. I know many people breed back sooner, but as long as I get second litters before the summer rabbitry gets too cold for kits, that'll be fine.

What signs does one look for to tell if a doe is "nursed down" and needs extra care and time?
 

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Enjoying Polish Rabbits
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Hey MaggieJ

If your does were in good shape when you started (and I'm sure they were), you should be easily able to breed for another litter when the kits are 6 weeks - but personally I'd be looking at sooner.

The timetable that I work from suggests breed back dates of: the day of kindling (I never do this - but when my brother had rabbits it was the rule!) 9-11 days after kindling (which would be about now for you), 25 days after kindling, and 45 days after kindling.

If I were you, and seriously looking for meat for the freezer this fall, I'd breed back NOW - the 9-11 days after kindling, at least one of the does - and use the other as comparison. It's after this second litter that I find some of my does start to look tired, and that's when I give them time off to kick back and recharge. My cousin who has 70 does in her rabbitry breeds back on day 10. Always. The does that can't keep up are culled and replaced. Myself, with about 10 brood does, I give my girls a lot of time off - mostly because I've gotten greedy, don't want to part with any of my does, and I keep saving more young does, and I'm using up all my fryer cages!! Also, there could be a difference between feeding rabbits commercial rabbit pellets, and your natural feeding method - but you're looking at that factor with these two does are you not? Again, that's why I would breed one doe right away to compare with the other that you don't breed.

Another factor to consider is that we're coming in to cooler weather, and that should make the entire process easier on them as well.

However, only you know the condition of your rabbits, and how much they'll handle.
 

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Thanks, Bernadette. That's lots of good information you've given me and I appreciate it. I don't think I'm comfortable with breeding them back quite so soon, but perhaps I'll try Day 25. I'll think it over a bit before deciding anything. Any idea why those specific dates were chosen and not somewhere in between? Is it to do with how many litters per year that the breeder is aiming for? The gap between 25 days and 45 seems a very big one.

The thing about the rabbits that is different this year is the natural feeding. They were a bit chubby coming out of winter but have trimmed down nicely. Until they kindled, they ate enthusiatically when I brought them greens, but never seemed ravenous. Once they started nursing, I began to have trouble keeping them full. They even eat pellets sometimes. They seemed more satisfied once I started feeding oatmeal mixed with whole oats. The buck, not having these demands on him, is quite happy with the greens and hay and just a little oatmeal.

I need to rethink the grains issue and work out something that works for them. Once the youngsters are weaned, they are going to need grain in some form as well. I'm thinking about buying a sack of rolled oats from the feed store. Any thoughts?
 

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Lost in the Wiregrass
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i would use rolled oats and sunflower seed, and maybe something else you can get cheep weather its wheat corn or something like that, but i would use oats as your base, with just enough sunflower to up the protien and give them a nice glossy shine to their coats, as well as help fill them out for production
 

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Enjoying Polish Rabbits
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Maggie, this is my third try at sending this email. Between power outages and sheer exhaustion after a marathon weekend of getting daughter married off - this email is now going to be a slap happy mixture of links and comments!!!

I found this first one accidentally while trying to remember where I found the Cost of Production worksheet. It looks promising - I haven't looked closely at it yet.
http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309026075

Hmm - went and looked - it's actually a book. It's probably worth getting through inter-library loan to have a closer look.
And it's here
http://www.ocrga.ca/ where I found the Cost of Production Worksheet. http://www.ocrga.ca/cost_of_production.shtml

This is where I found the most common breed-back choices.

Breed-back systems:
11 days post-kindling (wean at 5 weeks) (6 week cycle)
25 days post-kindling (wean at 7 weeks) (8 week cycle)
42 days post-kindling (market from doe cage at 10 weeks) (11 week cycle)

From other reading, these are also times when the doe is most receptive to the buck. Although she can technically be bred any time, if she won't have anything to do with the buck there's not too much you can do about it.

Now I'm sending this thing before my computer flips off on me yet again and I have to re-write this yet again!!

Hope this helps.
B.
 

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It seems there are almost as many re-breed schedules as there are rabbit growers. The trick is to pick one that best meets your needs. We like the 42 day system, but have modified it to fit our needs. We breed at 39 days post kindle and wean at 8 - 9 weeks. By breeding our does on Mondays and Tuesdays they will usually kindle on Thursdays and Fridays. This timing allows us to slaughter over the weekend and garbage pick-up is Monday morning. Our kits/fryers grow fast on the combination of mothers milk and pellets and we do not need so many grow out cages as many are ready for slaughter right after weaning.

MaggieJ, your not feeding only commercial pellets right? I think you will find that most people using quicker re-breed programs are feeding straight commercial pellets. With the quicker re-breeding you will not only need more grow out cages, but might also find your does are not regaining their condition fast enough. Of course you could prove me wrong with the right recipe. Oats are a good start, but rabbits on intensive re-breed schedules need the very best in nutrition.

What ever you decide, the best of luck to you.

MikeL
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Mike, thanks for the input. My rabbits still have access to pellets, but only as a back-up while I fine-tune the natural diet. The greens and hay kept them happy while they were dry, but now the does have huge appetites and it is difficult to satisfy them. The oats are helping considerably.

The does are looking really good, trim but not skinny and their eyes are bright and energy level seems fine. They are shedding a bit, but I wouldn't say a full moult, or not yet. I'm thinking perhaps sunflower seeds might be useful in small quantities. They are rich and satisfying and their current diet is perhaps a little low in fats.
 
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