So, we did a thing.
We (hubby) built cages and we got rabbits. Meat rabbits. Yes, I know that the idea of eating bunnies puts off a lot of people but after lots of research we learned that they are one of the easier, quieter, and quickest producing meat livestock to raise. And they can survive our winters, which is a big plus, considering how long our winters can be.
We thought we would ease into the rabbit thing slowly, with a breeding trio. Ha! Yea right!
It started off innocently enough. We went to pick out 3 rabbits from a guy nearby who raises them. And he even offered us a 4th rabbit at no extra cost..he just wanted to decrease his herd numbers a bit. Bonus! We started off with 4 rabbits. We got them the 15th of July, I believe.
The first couple of nights were fine. Then we realized that one of the does was actually a buck (the little grey one.) The guy we got them from was nice enough to let us exchange one, so we got a small black doe in his place.
Then on the 18th, I found a nest of 5 kits. Turns out one of the does was bred and we didn’t know it! I had had some suspicions and we were going to build some nest boxes that day, but it turns out we were a day too late. Even though she is (as far as we know) a first time mom, Maggie is doing great and has kept all of her kits alive so far. So we were up to 9 rabbits.
Then we had a predator attack. I went out to the rabbit tractors one morning and discovered some trenched dug under. In the first tractor, the littlest doe was missing, and I figured she had just managed to burrow out and squeeze through the wire bottom of the tractor, which we used large opening wire for to allow lots of grass to come up. Down to 8 rabbits. Annoying, but OK.
Then I checked the other tractor, which had our buck in it. More trenches around the edges dug up. Blood. And a 3-armed rabbit. Dang. We’re guessing a raccoon first went after the does but couldn’t get after them. However, the little doe was able to escape through the hole the coon dug up. Then the coon went after the buck in another tractor and snagged his arm and ripped it off at the shoulder. At first I didn’t know how bad it was and I tried to just clean him up but it was too severe of an injury and we decided it was best to cull him. Thankfully, the mama doe and her kits were left alone and were fine.
So, we had our first dispatch (hubby’s job) and butcher (my job) of a rabbit. Down to 7 rabbits. And now, no buck. Which makes it hard to breed rabbits.
Then at supper time, I spotted the little black doe in the yard! After almost 2 hours of trying to tempt her with treats and scare her out from under the porch, we were back up to 8 rabbits.
And we had stew the next day.
We found another lady nearby who had rabbits for sale and got another buck and made a new friend who has been really patient with our many questions, and even gave us a bit of a tour of her farm. So, we’re back up to 9 rabbits.
Hubby built raised cages for them instead of their tractors, and moved them into a garage-in-a-box. He will put cage floor wire on the bottom of the tractors and put them up on cinder blocks for grow-outs so that they can still be used.
The baby kits are doing great and getting big. The kids have helped name some of the breeders so we have Maggie (the doe with kits, the grey one in the top picture of this post), Snowflake (the one beside Maggie), Benjamin Bunny, and Dippy, the little black doe that you can just barely see in the end cage in the photo below.
So we have had rabbits for a week now. And hopefully now everything will go a little bit more smoothly…for at least a little while.