Saturday, April 11, 2015

RABBIT KINDLING. BEFORE...AFTER...NOW WHAT?

Animal Husbandry.

Just the idea gives me butterflies in my growing baby bump. And no its not my second baby girl doing somersaults! 

The words take me to a nostalgic time of old fashioned men and women heading out to the barn in hope of what treasures they may find. The gift of new life and the promise of food to come for their families table. Oh the excitement of attempting to catch these mamas to be as they welcome their young into the world. I imagine old flannel blankets wrapped around an orphaned lamb, a proud first time cow cleaning her stumbling calve, or a farmer peaking into the nest in search of fresh hatch lings. The practice of breeding ones farm animals for production is an old and true trade.

As I stepped into my muck boots, tucking my sweat pants in oh so fashionably, I was overcome with excitement! Get me outside ASAP! I quickly tucked my messy bun into Carhartt hood as I strode outside. No matter what I'd find, I was looking good..... 

Okay, back to the task at hand...

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!!!
after months of anticipation...........
...................................................................................................................................................................

CHESTER IS FERTILE AFTER ALL!!! Now a daddy of seven New Zealand kits.


WOO HOO! I knew ya had it in ya buddy!

As many of our readers already know, on Tuesday we welcomed a bundle of new babies onto the homestead! They weren't as cute as some we've seen but they've certainly been anxiously and at times impatiently awaited. If you need a little background on my rabbit breeding mishaps check out this post! Quincy the rabbit pimp, the struggle is real.... trust me. Rabbits bredding like, well rabbits, was not as easily achieved as I anticipated. So, as you can guess I was more than insanely excited when my friend Lexi noticed our rabbit Belle had pulled a substantial amount of fur Monday afternoon..... You can also guess why the blog has been neglected this week....

DUDE!..... that's A LOT of fur......

Yessssssss!............ victory dance commencing.....



By the crack of dawn Tuesday morning we had 7 healthy kits. Squirmin' and a squeakin'! Since this is my first kindling experience I spent a matter of a few hours on Monday and Tuesday reading up on kindling and kit care. For those of you who don't know, to kindle is the act of the doe giving birth to kits, or baby rabbits. Just as cows calve, horses foal, sheep lamb, and rabbits kindle. So... I have all these kits... Now what?

Belle is a great mama, I was told this by her previous owner, and am happy to now be experiencing her calm and cool technique. She had no problem with me reaching right into the nest box to check her babies out. It is important to check for any cold or even dead kits, to either make an attempt at saving or be remove from the nest, if you don't the mama could eat them. It is imperative that the kits stay close together and properly insulated with enough of mamas fur and whatever bedding material you chose. We have been giving her fresh hay daily to maintain the nest and for intermittent munching. Bottomless food and fresh water are paramount for a nursing mama and provided daily, in addition to rations of alfalfa which we incorporated after the hair pulling was noticed.

This may seem crazy but does only nurse their young once or twice every 24 hours. The proteins in their milk increase with the age of the kits, giving them enough for energy and growth. Other than the daily checks I've been performing, and since Belle is an attentive mother, no interventions or special treatment of the kits is needed until weaning. In just 5 days of life, I have been amazed at how exponentially they grew from just one feeding a day. Born pink and virtually hairless, they are now getting whiter and accumulate more fur everyday. And boy are they ever getting cuter! For now I will just be doing my routine daily checks and let mama do her thing.




The babies eyes will open in a week or so (about 12 days old) and in just a few short weeks they will be jumping in and out of the nest box independently. At that time they will begin wandering out to eat some pellets and whatever leafy greens (fodder or weeds) I've given them. At 6 to 8  weeks the kits will be weaned and moved into their nursery where they will plumpen up for an additional 4 to 6 more weeks until proper butcher age. Their nursery will hopefully consist of whatever pastured pen we've thrown together to allow grazing on the tons of grass sprouting all over the property. Hopefully it will be devised to be moved to a new location daily. As you can see I've put great thought into it...... More on that later.






I'll post about here on the blog about all my haps and mishaps, let me be your trial run! It's always nice to watch someone else screw up so ya know what do avoid right?

And please by all means, feedback is warmly welcomed. Leave a comment or email me with your trial and error stories.

Fryer rabbit recipes???

Q