Proper weight gain on litter??

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Milk n' Honey, Jun 12, 2006.

  1. Milk n' Honey

    Milk n' Honey Well-Known Member

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    I have my first litter reaching butcher age but I think they are under weight for their age. I weighed them from around 2.2 - 2.6 lbs and they will be 9 wks old this Friday. They are getting pellets and hay. I try to keep feed to them constantly. Shouldn't they be bigger by now?
     
  2. sdrew

    sdrew Well-Known Member

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    What breed of rabbits are you dealing with? That must be answered first! I have a Californian buck and 2 New Zealand does, and at 10 weeks of age the fryers weigh out at approx 5 lbs +-. Also, I wouldn't give them ANY hay,... pellets only. Hay just fills them up and doesn't promote growth as quickly as strictly pellets. And, yes,... always have food in front of them lil pigs ! You can almost see them growing before your eyes.

    Steve in Maine
     

  3. Milk n' Honey

    Milk n' Honey Well-Known Member

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    Oh, duh. They are Californians. However, I have a suspicion that the buck is not fullblooded. He looks it but I have had a few gray babies show up. Well, they are getting alot of hay so maybe that is the problem. I figured that it would help them grow. Not true?
     
  4. Tucker

    Tucker Well-Known Member

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    Hi Honey ,, The grey babies don't mean the buck is not full blooded ,, that just means the babies got chilled when they were tiny (1st week) ,, and even in the summer (hot weather) babies can get chilled ,,

    I have to respectfully dissagree with Steve ,, I always keep hay in my cages 24/7 and don't think it made / makes a difference in weight gain ,, I have access to alfalfa hay and will keep free feed alfalfa hay in the does w litters and the fryer growout cages ,, maybe this helps with weight gain too for me :rolleyes:

    (bucks and does without litters get fescue hay)

    I too try to keep the feeders full for the fryers till butchering time ,, only thing is ,, if you keep the fryers with moma till butchering 'she' will be a pig with the feed ,, I started weaning away from mom into growout cages around week 6 because it 'seemed' to me that the moms were getting fat with the free feed but the fryers were not gaining weight like I thought they should since mom was eating so much :shrug: ,,,

    ,, I have read that pure Californians take a 'little' longer to make weight than NZ's or NZ / Cal crosses ,, my fryers 'useually' made 4 1/2 to 5 pounds by week 10 - 11 ,, I raised mostly Cal/NZ crosses some pure NZ's ...

    when I was selling to the processor I normally called them week 10 to be sure I could take the next week and if I had say 50 fryers ,, most would 'make weight' (4 1/2 to 5 1/2 pd) ,, I would be taking all the correct weight and would have 1 - 2 over the 5 1/2 pound limit and would have 2 - 3 under weight ( I would have hub butcher the ones I didn't take that weekend) ,,

    from your weights it does seem that they are 'lightweight' for their age but I have read that fryers don't gain well when its really hot and it sure has been hot here in NC ,, has it been extremely hot where you live ??

    if you are leaving the fryers with mom ,, maybe next breedings ,, start weighing the litters early ,, and leave 1 - 2 litters of the babies with moma and other litters wean into growout cages around 5 weeks ,, weigh and see which ones gain better .. the ones left with mom (whos 'supposedly' still letting them have milk) or the ones weaned early into growout cages with no competition from mom for the feed ,,

    might be interesting to see the difference in weight gains ..

    Good Luck
     
  5. Michael Leferink

    Michael Leferink Well-Known Member

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    You will find that folks have varied opinions on feeding and weaning. We all experiment to find out what works best for our climate, blood lines, quality of feed, etc. In our rabbitry we feed only pellets. Other than hay in the nest baskets, they get none. Unless we see digestive problems, which has been rare. We wean at 8 wks., allowing the kits to get as much milk as possible. We have pure Californians and crosses with Champagne and Silver Fox. The pure Californians do grow slower. All the fryers grow much slower during periods of high heat. Also, the first litter or two from a new doe will grow slower. Just as with any mammal, the females will increase their lactation with each birthing until they reach their peak. By the fourth litter you should be seeing a does peak lactation. It looks like your fryers are about 1.5 lbs. under weight. Your feeding hay, it's summer and it's a first litter, so this is not unusual. I'm assuming you know to always keep fresh water in front of them. I'll bet you see better growth in the future. If not, you may want to try changing either the buck our doe, genitics plays a big part. You may want to try a different feed. You should be able to get 4 lb. - 5 lb. fryers by 9 wks., with pure Californians.

    As Tammy pointed out, Californian kits can turn gray if they get chilled. As they grow, the gray should slowly turn to white. If they remain colored then your buck is crossed with something. If he's crossed with another meat breed, it shouldn't hurt anything and may even improve the growth rate. If he's crossed with a smaller breed, the growth rate will never be what it should.

    Good luck,

    MikeL
     
  6. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    Hi, I'd have to agree with Michael L. In order to be economical, Californian fryers should weigh 4-5 lb. by nine weeks. What's the nutritional content of your feed? For growing fryers, you should be using a 16% - 18% protein feed. Hay is fine...people disagree with whether it's worth the extra time and cleaning chores to feed it, but the fiber does seem to be beneficial...I don't feed hay on a regular basis, but if I notice mild diarrhea, I'll give hay and oats to help with that.

    Make sure they get plenty of feed and water...lack of water will really cut down on the feed intake...that aside, you may just have a slower-growing bloodline.