Posts Tagged ‘Rabbits’

Our Furry Friends Are Hopping Into Spring

Although early spring sometimes brings cold snowy weather, here in South Dakota, it usually doesn’t last long this time of year.  After a day or two, the snow melts in late March and early April.  Sometimes this type of weather creates chaos on the farm in early spring.  You just never know a month or more in advance what the weather will be when the barnyard animals give birth, and a sudden cold snap can cause problems for newborn animals.  Several years ago we had a doe kid (first born of twins born to our alpine doe, Claire) who was delivered during a freakishly cold weekend in March and ended up with a frostbitten back leg.

On the other-hand, livestock having babies and increasing their family-size is the backbone of 4-H livestock projects.  To enable our 4-H’ers to grow their rabbit herds, we recently purchased 2 nest-box heaters for keeping litters warm until the babies grow fur (like rodents, baby rabbits are born bald.)  The mothers do pull fur to line their nests from their belly and sides, but if it is chilly and/or windy, this is often not enough and early litters are easily lost to exposure.

This year, we started off our 4-H projects by breeding Henry’s doe, Lady to his new blue Mini Rex buck, Slurpie, and Charles’ new doe, an albino New Zealand named Crystal, to his red buck, Lakota, in late Feb.  Lady delivered a nice all blue litter of 5 kits on March 26th.  Crystal kindled the day after, but had her 8 babies on the cage floor and lost them all to the cold.  Pa made a mistake in leaving her dead litter for me to see.  A rodent of some sort (out in the barn) ate the dead kits, then managed to get into Lady’s hutch and got her babies too.

The weekend after, we bred Lady’s daughter, Beauty, Henry’s castor-colored doe, Anna-Beth and Charles’ red doe and rebred Crystal. Two weeks prior to that, we had bred Charlotte to Slurpie and Blur to Lakota.  Both Charlotte and Blur are due to kindle next Saturday.

If all goes well, it will really get hopping around here.  As a side benefit, we should have a fabulous increase in rabbit manure to fertilize our garden  in the coming months of spring and summer.

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From Hare to Maternity

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Good evening all!  It may just be the 6th official day of spring, but we are certainly off to a hopping good start.

A package arrived in the mail Wednesday! It was sort of like Christmas in March when we opened the box and it turned out to be most of the 4-H materials we’d purchased. (The Gardening curriculum was back-ordered.)

In other news, we mated Daphne to Fluffy twice last Wednesday (before school and after school).  We are quite excited about the prospect of baby bunnies to be born in not quite a month (rabbits have a 30 day gestation period.)  This is our first litter of rabbits and is a totally new experience for most of us, as Pioneer Pa is the only one of us who has raised rabbits before… way back in the days before home computers.

I spent a good deal of the last week looking up more information about rabbit color genetics on the internet.  My research revealed that a mating between a Castor colored rabbit (Fluffy) and a Blue Broken colored rabbit (Daphne) should produce 50% Solid Opal (Castor dilutes) and 50% Broken Opal (spotted like mom with the diluted coat color of dad) babies.  So we are impatiently waiting on the resulting kits.

Daphne should be finishing up conception of her litter right about now!  “To maternity and beyond!” (A tweak on old Buzz Lightyear from one of the kids favorite films, Pixar’s Toy Story.)

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