Saturday, February 7, 2015

RABBIT GESTATION: TRIALS. ERRORS.

Disclaimer: This post contains photos of rabbit genitals, read on if you dare!!!

Any day now we will see if in fact ole Chester rabbit got our first doe pregnant. If she did conceive that means she's on day 28 of her cycle and those kits could be here any day!

So I thought I would spend a little time talking about a rabbits gestation cycle and give you some insider tips from our rabbit experiment!  

Firstly, when I began this rabbit endeavor just a few months ago I didn't have a clue..... Literally, I had no idea about rabbits other than that they do the horizontal mambo aaalot! And I can cheaply raise their offspring as a sustainable meat source?!? Fuh get about it! I was hooked to say the least. It was all Spencer could do to hold me back from going out any buying them the instant I knew possible. I prevailed.... For a little bit before eventually buying our rabbits. But I digress, I have learned so much in these last few months that I feel it won't be long before we're in a consistent pattern with the rabbits.

Lets talk testicles... Rabbits testicles that is.... I am such a newb that these necessary entities never once crossed my mind until handling Chester at home for the first time. It was at that moment when I turned him over and was horrified at what I saw...

Initially I was filled with confusion as to the looks of those.... things, was this normal? Does he have an infection?!? Wow those are really red.... Is he even a male, or are these huge rabbit labias.... sorry too much info.... Anyhow, after my initial awe had passed my friend Sheree suggested we use that all too powerful tool, the internet. Needless to say I learned a great deal that day, yes this was normal, no there's no infection, redness is normal, and no Quincy rabbits do not have labias....


Well there you go!


Rabbits, like most mammals carry their testicles on the outside of their bodies, unless they are under certain stressors. Their fight or flight mechanism always leans towards flight as speed is their only mode of escape, in these times flee rabbits can pull or tuck their testicles up inside their bodies to protect them.... weird huh?

Well you learn something you everyday!!!

As I mentioned before, my rabbit, Snow, is in her 28th day of a 31-day gestation cycle and I just saw evidence of either hair pulling or shedding in her and Belle's pen this morning. So tomorrow I will pull Belle out into a clean separate enclosure and put a best box in with Snow. I'll fill the next box with hay, she will will add to it by pulling her hair to make a nest in prep for her kits. 

Update:
Unfortunately, Snow did not kit this past weekend....

So as was planned we have bred Chester to our second doe, Belle. She will be due to kit anywhere in the first week of March, since she is a larger rabbit breed their gestation can last anywhere from 31-35 days, where as smaller breeds kit between 28-33 days, every woman is different!

Since I was flabbergasted at having no kits on the homestead this month I decided to do another experiment to ensure our does get bred. As I have stated before, I'm basically a novice at these obsessions I blabber on about, and being such a newb when I bred Chester and Snow I did as I have seen many of my fellow homesteaders do on YouTube and other blogs. And that is let the buck cover the doe a few times, maybe 3-5 times, then remove the doe once again (Did I mention it is always smart to breed them inside the bucks pen? Does can become very territorial of their home and may become to stressed refuse to mate, so always take the doe to the buck..). Well for whatever reason they did not conceive and this mama is baby bunny-less (sigh)

Back to the experiment...

Since it was time to breed Belle I decided to monitor their breeding session closer. It occured to me at about the time he was mounting her the first time that this is only the second breed he has ever performed.... Chester was only 6 months old when I brought him home, old enough to breed but did he even know what he was doing??? I quickly realized that no he did not.... Rabbits don't have the most romantic mating ritual to begin with but poor Chester didn't have a clue....

He was mounting her face, her side, and the correct way.... But was anything happening!!? I finally got the rabbits to turn around so I could assess the situation and it looked as though Chester meant well and was very excited but was just not properly engaging the doe...

So I figured, heck! Lets let em shack up for the night and Belle can show Chester how its done! Hes just a young buck and I think he may have just needed some time for romance and practice. We are now anxiously awaiting some early spring kits and making all the proper preparations. A word from the not so wise, when breeding your rabbits keep a close eye on their water. Pregnant and nursing does need roughly twice as much water as their counterparts. Make sure you're checking often. Keep their water bottles full and make lots of bedding available to them, especially the closer they get to kitting time. I myself am out to the barn checking on animals all through out the day in order to ensure their proper care, usually once in the morning like 6 or 7, once around noon, and at least once more before dinner, and maybe once again before bed. After all that is why I dropped hours at work, to give in full time to my homesteadin' country gal routine.

I can't wait to get this rabbit journey underway and really begin maintaining a sustainable meat source.

Dreaming of Rabbit stew..
Quincy