raising rabbits timeline

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by chris 77, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. chris 77

    chris 77 Member

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    could someone please give me a timeline for raising rabbits from birth to reproduce.things like vacinations, weaning, feed, and such thanks. also what is a good butcher time/weight.
     
  2. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    Could you tell us what breed you are interested in raising? Not all
    breeds are created equal! :)
     

  3. jessandcody

    jessandcody Well-Known Member

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    I'd sure like to know for New Zealand/Californian cross. Mine are 4 months old now.
     
  4. Denise K.

    Denise K. Well-Known Member

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    I expect my does to be ready to breed at 5-6 months. I want those does to be big and well filled out. Depending on the time of the year and showing I'll breed them between 5 and 8 months. (I show and produce meat) The bucks I have used as young as 5 1/2 months with out any problems. I expect tthem to raise a nice litter of 8 kits and have them ready to market at 10 weeks old and weighing 5 pounds. (other people push for 5 pounds and 8 weeks old). I do sacrifice some weight gain for my show animals, but they still better have good size fryers for me. Many people have two seperate lines for their commercial stock and show stock, but I expect mine do both! :haha: There are no vaccinations needed for rabbits.
    Denise
     
  5. Robin Pundzak

    Robin Pundzak Active Member

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    I raise New Zealand Whites and Californians for commercial meat purposes only and this is my timeline (which still has LOTS of room for improvement):

    1.From birth to reproduction for my does is 4 months, bucks 5 months. Not all does will be ready then, however. Some are small yet, and others won't breed at that time, i.e. vulvas pink, not red or purplish. I continue trying until 5 months and if I still can't get the does bred, I cull them.

    2. No vaccinations, I do treat the herd with 3-4 drops of ivermectin (for ear mites) to the back of the neck when the weather warms up. I'm on a 39 day breed back, so I don't wean the fryers. They are sold about a week before the doe is due to kindle her next litter. Fryers that don't make weight are kept in grow-out cages (old spares) until next sale day, or we get hungry.

    3. Feed is 18% Pen Pals made by Consolidated Feed. This spring I'm planning to switch to 16%, since I can supplement with ear corn and alfalfa that we grow on our farm. Feed costs are rising to the point that I feel supplementing is a viable alternative providing that the meat quality and growout time aren't significantly affected. I'll find out soon enough!

    4. Good butchering time for fryers is 4-5 pounds, usually 8 to 12 week old.

    I hope this helps. This is what is currently working for me, but you will find that there are as many ways to raise rabbits, as there are people raising them!
    Robin
     
  6. jessandcody

    jessandcody Well-Known Member

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    Robin - We've only had these rabbits for 3 days and this is my first experience. (I'll have to wait for Cody to interperet your post :haha: )

    I heard that commercial timelines tend to be "sped" up. Anyway, if these are more for our own personal meat supply, is it better to wait to breed the does until they are a little older? The gal we bought these from said she doesn't breed them until they are 7 months old. Is this just a preference? Or is waiting to breed them healthier in the long run? Or does she wait because she uses her breeders longer?

    And since my husband and I have never raised these breeds, can you tell us what size cage do you keep your adults in? We were told this will get 3x bigger than they are now. We are trying to plan ahead and sorry for all the questions. I just don't want to have bunnies living in poor quality.

    Thanks for any help.

    - Jess
     
  7. Robin Pundzak

    Robin Pundzak Active Member

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    Jess,
    Don't be sorry for the questions, that's how we all learn. I start breeding does at 4 months because many does mess up their first litters- they kindle on the wire, don't make good nests, don't pull enough (or any) fur and the kits freeze, they get frightened or confused and eat the kits-either partially or entirely, smash or smother the kits, and any number of other things. If this happens, I can rebreed them immediately and get a second, usually successful, litter by the time the doe is 6 months old. If the doe delivers successfully on her first litter, so much the better. The does should be 7-8 pounds when bred for the first time, Californians at the lower end. Waiting until they are 5 months old would be fine, but I don't think waiting to breed them is healthier in the long run. Junior does can easily become too fat, and that will hinder mating, conception and kindling (delivery). 7 months would be much too long for me. How long your breeders last does not depend on when you begin breeding, but how fast your breedback schedule is. Does on a 14-day breedback (mating 14 days after the doe delivers her litter) will not last as long as does on a 42-day breedback schedule (mating 42 days after she delivers her litter). Whatever schedule you decide on, stick to it. Does on a regular schedule produce better. If you wait too long between litters, it's often hard and sometimes impossible to get them back into production. If you are raising for you own personal meat supply, then you won't need to be on an intensive breeding schedule and the does should produce for a long time.

    My does are in 36x30 hanging wire cages which will comfortably house the doe and 8-9 fryers (hopefully) until the fryers are sold.

    To help interpret until Cody gets home, I'll try to clarify what might sound confusing in my previous post:
    others won't breed at that time, i.e. vulvas pink, not red or purplish
    does that will be receptive to the buck at mating will have vulvas that are red to purple in color. If it is whitish to pink, she will probably refuse to mate. Just put her back in her cage, and try again in a week.
    I do treat the herd with 3-4 drops of ivermectin (for ear mites) to the back of the neck when the weather warms up
    I buy pour on ivermectin for cattle at my local feed store. It's a cattle dewormer, but it works great for fur/ear mites on rabbits that they tend to get during the summer. You only need a tiny bit, 3 or 4 drops for a full grown rabbit. You put it on the back of the neck, because the rabbit can't get to it back there and lick it. It gets into the bloodstream and kills the mites when they suck the rabbit's blood.
    Feed is 18% Pen Pals
    My feed is called "Pen Pals" and contains 18% protein. That's a high protein feed because the does are in constant production and need more protein. However, my breedback schedule is not intensive, they get a rest between litters, so I think I can move them to a lower protein (much cheaper) feed without them losing weight and having problems. If I supplement with alfalfa, which is high in protein for the does, as well as corn which is good for weight gain for the fryers, I should be able to save money on feed, and not have a drop in production.

    Keep the questions coming, it benefits everyone!
    Robin
     
  8. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Robin:

    Would you share any statistics with us on "how long" does last on
    an intensive rebreed versus a 39 or 42 day rebreed?

    Thanks!
     
  9. Robin Pundzak

    Robin Pundzak Active Member

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  10. Robin Pundzak

    Robin Pundzak Active Member

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    LOL, Somehow that posted before I even got started!
    No, I don't have statistics on the intensive vs. 42 day rebreed. I know that I've read about it many times, but don't know if it was in Dean's newsletter/website, PRMA chat logs, Rabbit Production or on this site. My memory is quite sad, really! My own does would lose condition faster when I was on a 14 day breedback, but some does can handle it better than others, so it could have just been the line. What has your experience been? Have you changed breedback schedules?

    There is something that I've been meaning to ask you. Now that you have added Californians to your herd, do you find that the Cals have better feet/ less incidence of sore hocks than the NZW? I have a lot more problems with sore hocks in my NZW than my Cals, and I wondered if it's a genetic deficiency in my line of NZWs that I have to work on culling out, or if it's a breed weakness.

    Thanks for your input.
    Robin
     
  11. jessandcody

    jessandcody Well-Known Member

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    Robin, thanks for your wealth of information. You have cleared up many of our questions.

    Do you breed in the winter as well? The breeder we got ours from doesn't, but they also don't heat their barn. (It's gets moderately cold here)

    If you do breed in the wintertime, do you change their diet - as in upping the alfalfa content or giving other supplement? And do you use a heat source for your bunnies? We have been afraid of roasting our rabbits since it's only been down to 30 degrees lately. We have a well insulated building and we just keep a 60 watt bulb on. We can't see our breath in the building at the coldest times and it feels fairly warm inside. I've heard rabbits can go sterile from overheating, but I was under the impression that was only over 85 degrees when you have to start worrying. But we don't know how they hold up to cold or cooler weather.

    Thanks again
    - cody and Jess
     
  12. jessandcody

    jessandcody Well-Known Member

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    Darn it - we thought of one more question about feed amount. We are concerned about just trusting our local source. They said to feed each rabbit one tuna can (approx) of feed a day. Is this the right amount? We always raise our other animals with free choice and never had problems, but I guess rabbits don't do well with this method. What do you suggest for amounts?
     
  13. Denise K.

    Denise K. Well-Known Member

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    I would increase that feed amount. My cali's are generally eating 8 ounces a day if they are not doing anything. But as I tend to keep the does pregnant or nursing I usually allow free feed. But again the lesson is watch your animals. Run your hands over them make sure they are not to thin or too fat. Some does will get fat on the same amount that others lose weight on. Robin, I rarely ever have sore hocks in my Cali's. When I have had that problem its generally because the whole animal was run down. But I also cull heavily for animals that do develope sore hocks. If the animal isn't comfortable they won't eat well, also I don't like to have an open area to introduce infection as that opens another whole can of worms!
    Jess, I breed all year round, sometimes a bit harder to get does conciving in winter but I find its easier to keep them breed then get them back into production after time off. We do not heat our barn. Had several litters born during snow storms this winter. Keep asking questions because we all can share!! Who knows we may even be able to have you avoid the same mistakes I have made!
    :rolleyes:
    Denise
     
  14. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    I'm just curious about the *last as long*part. For the most part, it seems
    that the producers using a 42 day rebreed don't get any more litters than
    those of us using an intensive rebreed. If the doe is in the herd for
    twice as long and yet still has the same number of litters, what is the
    difference in terms of production? She may *last longer* but has she
    produced more than a doe on a more intensive rebreed? THAT is my
    question when I hear "last as long".

    Mark also says that he only replaces 50% of his does per year with
    a 42 day rebreed. I believe Dean doesn't keep does past 18 months
    of age. Lots of differences!

    Mark and Dean are certainly agreed that the 42 day rebreed is more
    profitable for them. I'm doing a bit of testing in that area but it is
    much to soon to see if there is a difference in the *profit* area. :no:
    With the difference I pay between the 18% and the 16% feed, I'm not
    as sure I will see an increase in profits. At 5 weeks, I wean and place
    the fryers on a less expensive feed which does an excellent job of
    getting the fryers to 5 pounds plus at 8 weeks.

    Hocks----actually, I'm having more problems with sore hocks in the CALS
    than in my NZ. I'm starting back with CALS and it's difficult to get
    everything going the right direction.
     
  15. Robin Pundzak

    Robin Pundzak Active Member

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    Linda, I understand your point. If you devour a 2 pound box of candy over the weekend, or if you eat a piece a day for 2 months, you've still only had a 2 pound box of candy! By saying "last as long" I meant chronologically. Jess had stated that they were raising for personal meat supply. She also mentioned that the lady she purchased the stock from started breeding later (7 months) and wondered if that was because she used her breeders longer. On an intensive breedback schedule, Jess would probably have to replace her does sooner, and since it is for family consumption where high production numbers are not as necessary, I feel time in production would be more important. I wasn't comparing litter numbers between the different schedules, or the profit considerations. I agree with your opinions in both of those areas.

    I did come across an article of Mark's in the PRMA May/June 2001 newsletter regarding breedback schedules:

    A 39-day breed back was chosen for the following reasons:
    1) Does last longer on the 39-day cycle. Only half as many replacements were required for the 39-day (50% replacement rate) system compared to the 11-day (100% replacement rate). When the cost of raising replacements was compared to the cost of feeding a producing doe on the 39-day breed back, there is a cost savings in keeping does producing rather than relying heavily on replacements.
     
  16. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    I've asked Mark previously about the "last longer" statement as it has
    always interested me. Sort of like eating that box of chocolates!
    In discussions with breeders on the delayed breedback, I don't think the does (on average) have any more litters during their productive lifetime than mine do.

    It would be interesting to have someone provide stats about their
    production data and number of kindlings on a 42 (39) day rebreed vs. someone on a 14 day rebreed. BUT I am neither. I breed by the condition of
    the doe plus a couple of other criteria. I would guess the average
    breedback time here is 21 days.

    This has been a very interesting discussion! :)
     
  17. Robin Pundzak

    Robin Pundzak Active Member

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    Jess,
    Yes, I do breed year-round, at least I try to! The only heat source I use is a heatlamp over the nestbox when the does are due to kindle. This spring/summer we plan to build a new rabbit barn that will be much more efficient than my current set-up. You are correct that rabbits do much better in the cold than the heat. Bucks can become sterile if exposed to high temperatures for extended periods of time.Your insulated building with the 60-watt bulb is probably all they need. If you can't see your breath and the water doesn't freeze, you're doing great. A heatlamp over the hutch when the doe is due to kindle may be helpful, too, if it's really cold. Just make sure the temperature inside the box doesn't get too hot. 50 degrees is plenty warm enough.

    I don't change the rabbits diet in the winter. They do eat more, though, to keep their body temperature up when it's really cold. When I have a heated rabbit barn, I will save a lot on feed! I always give them free-choice hay, alfalfa this winter for the extra protein, but there are differing opinions on that.

    I agree with Denise about the feed, about an ounce of feed per pound of body weight, or a cup, is what I do for junior does and bucks. Underfeeding is better than overfeeding. Junior does can get fat pretty quickly. Once a doe kindles, I free feed until I wean or sell the litter.