Greenhorn rabbit problems?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Beorning1973, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. Beorning1973

    Beorning1973 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Hello, everyone.

    I bought a trio of Florida Whites a year ago. Long story short... My buck is mean as a snake, one of my does has never bred, she's sweet with me, but hates the buck and attacks him whenever he is close. The other doe is very nervous. She's had three litters. The first she tromped half the kits to death. The other four turned out just fine. She cannibalized the other two litters. This last one, I managed to get to before she killed all of them and saved two kits. I tried supervised nursing and not leaving them in with her, but they died a few days later.

    The rabbits are in a room in my basement. It's dry, well ventilated, and quiet. It's pretty rare that anyone but me goes down there. They are in wire floored cages. I bought them from a breeder that was reccomended by the regional breed club president.

    I've pretty much decided to cull them all and start over. I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong. I'd hate to have the same problems with new stock. I'm also debating wether it's wise to return to the same breeder I bought these from. They were all juniors, and never bred before I bought them, but I can't shake the sneaking suspicion that I was shafted.

    I'd appreciate any advice that anyone has.

    Thanks,

    Drew
     
  2. Honorine

    Honorine Carpe Vinum Supporter

    Messages:
    1,735
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    Location:
    PA
    I can only tell you what I would do-replace the mean buck, temperament is very important even in food animals, you have to be able to handle them safely. I would also replace the doe who ate two litters, and keep the third doe and try to breed her again. Try to get an older proven buck and a proven doe, evaluate their temperaments carefully before buying. Consider going to another breeder, if you return to the same breeder see if you can get some more info about the breed and their rabbits, and see more of their rabbits before buying. Are they a show breeder? Not that I'm knocking show breeders, I show, but rabbits bred for production might be better for your purposes.

    Are your rabbits getting any real daylight? How many hours of light a day? Sounds silly but its important. Do you have partitions between your cages so that the does don't get agitated or sprayed by the buck?

    Florida Whites, now I don't know much about, but a friend of mine just had one, she was a lousy mother, although had 10 kits, they had to be fostered on another doe. If your just breeding for meat you can crossbreed with another breed, if you come to the conclusion that you don't want to go with a Florida White buck.

    I don't mean this as an insult, but check to make sure that your friendly doe is a doe not a buck. Its happened, just a suggestion, before the testicles descend the genitalia can look similiar to someone unaccustomed to sexing rabbits.
     

  3. ihedrick

    ihedrick Can't stop thinkin'

    Messages:
    1,267
    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Location:
    Virginia
    I second the sex check. Once I bought a buck, and it turned out he was a she...
     
  4. Beorning1973

    Beorning1973 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Thanks for responding so quickly.

    The breeder I purchased from raises for show and meat. I'm pretty sure he mentioned something about lab stock as well. He had somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 holes, and mostly was raising Florida's and Nz's, with a few fancies thrown in. I did quite a bit of research before I bought the trio, though I found little regarding breed temperament and maternal instinct. I dont think I'll return to the same breeder.

    There is a small south facing window in the room the rabbits are in. It lets in a little natural light. I've also got full spectrum lighting set up for them, to supplement.

    I've got four stacked holes -two seperate stacks. The does are in the top two cages. Their cages are seperated by about three feet. They aren't where they can see the buck, or be sprayed.

    No offense taken r.e.- the doe vs. buck issue. She's definitely a doe. She's a year and a half old now, and her critical parts are identical to the other does, vs. the buck's. I had the same though myself after the first failed breeding attempt.The thing is, the buck isn't rough with the does at all, just with people. The doe who has bred is excessively nervous... very jumpy. But she and the buck get along very well. The buck hasn't been aggressive with the non-breeding doe. She actually charges him when I place her in his cage. I tried switching their cages for a night, didn't work. I tried breeding them on the grooming table, She charged again. The Buck wanted none of it and promptly jumped off of the table. I'm guessing she'll have the same issues with a new buck, as well. I've actually found a good pet home for her. She's so sweet with people, I'd hate to eat her.

    I'm thinking about switching to Dutch, or Havanas for my replacements, but I've got a lot of research to do and shows to attend before I decide. I like the smaller breeds. My holes are big enough for Nz's or Californians, though, so if I find some good stock that's a bit bigger, I'll likely go that route. It took me six months to track down the Florida's. And I'll definitely be paying more attention to temperament this time around.

    Thanks again.

    Drew
     
  5. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,908
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    New York bordering Ontario
    Any chance of mice in the room? That might spook the nervous one with a litter. Also, it might be too quiet for them and every sound they hear might be bothering them. Have you thought of running a radio? I guess I'm mainly thinking of the nervous doe with these ideas.

    I agree the agressive buck is not something you need. A friend of mine is lining up a Flemish Giant doe for me. She found two that the does are so aggressive they attack people. Can you imagine an 18 pound rabbit going for you? I wouldn't even want that smaller Florida buck doing it!

    Good luck with them.

    Jennifer
     
  6. Beorning1973

    Beorning1973 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    There haven't been any mice in the rabbitry since a month or so before I brought the rabbits home. I trapped about ten in the basement previously, and there have been no signs of activity (droppings, mice in traps) since.I still bait the traps every month or so with fresh peanut butter, and move them around each time.There are two room sized air filters running 24/7 in the room. They produce a lot of white noise. I'm planning on gutting the room before I buy new stock and insulating the ceiling to minimize noise from the house from coming down. I also want to hang all the cages in a single row and figure out a better way of dealing with droppings than the pans I currently have. I'm thinking of putting a sloped pieces of plywood backed dairy panel under the cages with some sort of trough attached to the front to catch everything. Cage cleaning with my current set up is a chore, and I can't get the pans washed in the winter easily.

    Does anyone know of any breeders in the southern Wisconsin area ( NE Iowa, N Illinois and SW Minnesota would be OK too) that they feel comfortable recomending? I'd prefer smaller breeds that are suitable for meat, but would consider medium breeds if they were available from a reputable breeder. I'm leaning heavily towards Dutch after doing a bit of research, but I researched the daylights out of the Floridas and, well... I'm trying to remain unattached to a specific breed, as long as what I end up with is suitable for home meat production, and of good quality.
     
  7. Ann Mary

    Ann Mary Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,309
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Location:
    Idaho
    I've had to do this in the past with some aggressive does: put on a good pair of gloves and long sleeves and take her to the bucks cage-never take the buck to the does- and then get a good grip on her where she cant bite you either, put her into the cage backend first, and hold on to her, don't let her turn around and attack him. Hopefully he isn't so gun-shy that he is afraid to "do his job" but if he is, just be patient and maybe try it again later on after he sees that he isn't going to be attacked. Fl. Whites are excellent meat rabbits and I really hope the two can "work it out" for your sake.
     
  8. Beorning1973

    Beorning1973 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Yep, allready tried forced breeding, multiple times. The doe has never attempted to bite or scratch me, evem while doing this, but will not sit still for the buck. I've even tried using two people to help things along. The buck will mount her, but she wiggles around enough that he can't get anything accomplished. I think I've tried this around nine or ten times, with no success.

    I agree that Floridas are excellent meat rabbits. I just think I ended up with rather poor stock. I certainly don't expect things to go off without a hitch all of the time, but I'm not up for breeding being a tiresome and often fruitless chore all of the time. I would continue with Floridas if I could find some that fit my needs better than my current stock.