Monday, December 31, 2012

One Week Old Kits

The bunny babies are 1 week old! We took them out for photos and cute-fest. Can't believe how fast they're growing!

It was a bit hard to get clear pictures since they're moving so much. Here are a few of our favorites.
Still a bit small for the cup. Little dude left some bunny tea behind too :)

Pig pile in the nest box.

The lone white baby.

They are practicing their hop/walk now. The first we saw seemed almost like one leg wasn't working as they went around in circles, but then we realized it was a coordination issue. When we finally got the video camera out we were late in the line up and that bunny was getting pretty proficient in his new skill. It is still so cute...we wanted to share.
Growth chart of babies first week.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why Raise Rabbits?

The following is a paper that MJ wrote for her college English class, although there are many more reasons to raise rabbits over other animals MJ was asked to only make three points to support her thesis statement.


     Many people enjoy the benefits of animals as pets. Most of them have not experienced the rewards that come from raising livestock. In todays economic down turn many families are striving to become more self-sufficient. Most such families are doing so by growing some of their own food. Although this is a great start to self-reliance, most people do not realize how practical raising rabbits can be. Raising rabbits is a great way to become self-sufficient because they can aid in the production of fruits and vegetables, meat, and clothing.

     Since rabbits can aid in the production of fruits and vegetables raising bunnies is practical.  Rabbits’ output of manure is highly suitable for any vegetable garden. Additionally, it is also organic and keeps fruits and veggies healthy for human consumption. The manure that rabbits produce also contains high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These elements are essential to a healthy garden as they allow plants to reach full growth potential, transform energy, withstand stress, and fight diseases. Amazingly, a female rabbit, or doe, and her offspring can produce over a ton of fertilizer in a single year. With this rate of fertilizer production it would only take five does and their offspring from one year, to properly prepare soil for enough fruits and vegetables for the average family. If the number of does was increased slightly, rabbits could not only provide enough fertilizer for the average family, but also all the rabbits being raised. Rabbit manure is of the easiest to apply to a garden because of its choppy form. Because of this form, rabbit droppings dry very quickly and are practically odorless. “Bunny berries” do not require composting before they are added to the soil as many other forms of fertilizers do. This makes rabbit manure one of the simplest of all fertilizers to apply to any type of crop.

     Not only can rabbits put fruits and vegetables on the table but they can also be bred to produce meat. People have raised rabbits for meat at least since 1500 BC. A female rabbit that weighs around 10 pounds can produce 320 pounds of meat in a year. This is more meat than would come from a whole cow that would take several years to raise. This doe, a male called a “buck,” and their 320 pounds of offspring from each year could easily be raised in just 12 square feet of space since each full grown rabbit only requires 4 square feet of space and cages can be stackable. A cow would require at least two acres (87,120 square feet) of quality grazing land. Meat from rabbits is significantly lower in cholesterol than chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, and beef. The percentage of fat in rabbit meat is also notably less than other forms of meat, and it has the highest percentage of protein.

     Additionally, raising rabbits is a great way to become self-sufficient because they can aid in the production of clothing. Certain breeds of rabbits produce usable wool. Some of these breeds would be the English, French, German, satin, or giant angora and the Jersey wooly. Rabbits as a source of wool are the most space efficient source of spin-able fiber. Angoras can produce anywhere from half a pound to two pounds of fiber each year. This depends on the breed of angora and gender. The wool from angora rabbits is seven times as warm as sheep’s wool. The wool from angora rabbits is extremely soft and luxurious, and can be spun into yarn on a spinning wheel. Later these handspun fibers can be knit or crocheted into comfortable clothing. Additionally, the hides of rabbit which are not angora can be used to produce different types of garments.

     Raising rabbits is an excellent way to become self-sufficient because it provides for all the basic needs of a family which are the production of fruits and vegetables, meat, and clothing. They can be especially useful to modern homesteaders. Raising animals like rabbits can help reduce some expenses in the present economy. Rabbits can be more than just a pet; they can, and may someday be, our means of survival.

Helping the Food Along

A couple of the bunnies are on the smaller side. We've taken Agnes out and let the runts nurse on her a bit, hoping to make sure they get enough milk. Here is a video of dinner time in process. If you have sound on, you should be able to hear the cute smacking sounds. When the momma feeds the babies, she stretches over the top of them, so this is kind of topsy turvy, to the normal way of doing things.

Momma Bunny Nursing Baby

Merry Ruphenfeffer

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Babies! (First Time Parents)

We had grandiose plans to have the blog all updated before we got to this post, but will have to step out of order to share the big news! Agnes delivered her babies on Christmas Eve. Ruphenfeffer is the left out daddy...but he's adjusting :) This is our first experience with bunnies and babies, and YouTube just didn't prepare us for how it went. But all is well so far!

At about 6:15pm, Sunday night, MJ was out in the "Bunny Barn" with Agnes, letting her have her play time. Agnes sat down, pumped her tail and out popped a baby. MJ scooped up the baby and Agnes and put them in the nesting box. She came and told the rest of the family and then sat down to wait for the rest of the litter. We waited....and waited...and waited. Nothing. There had to be more! Meanwhile, number 1 was getting chilled with no other baby bunny bodies to snuggle up with. We brought it in and took some measures to warm him up, and put him in a shoe box with fur and hay in it.
Angora Kit (Number 1)
We waited longer. We had a security camera set up in front of the cage, attached to the tv and VCR and were recording. Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting...someone's eye was always watching. We brought Agnes in and put Number 1 on her tummy to see if she could nurse him a bit. Seemed to satisfy him a little. While we had her out, we could feel more babies kicking. There were more!

At about 1am, most of the family went to bed. We decided to take shifts waiting and watching. MJ was on the first shift and I relieved her at 3. Agnes was especially agitated. She started pulling hair like crazy!

Agnes Pulling Fur

At about 4:15am, ten hours after baby number 1, Agnes did a tail pump and soon I saw a wiggly little baby. She delivered him on the wire. I rushed out to put him in the nest box, then called MJ to wake her up.

Agnes Delivering Second Baby

Soon after Agnes joined the baby in the nest box. Then her back started rippling and she whimpered a bit...all the books and videos talked about the bunny laying on her side...that never happened. We hadn't seen the back rippling thing before either. It was heart wrenching to watch. We went inside to watch on the camera and Google it. We were concerned for the baby, too. Not sure if she was squishing him or what was going on for sure.

  Agnes' Contractions (watch her back!)

After about 45 minutes the rippling stopped. MJ went out to check on the baby and Agnes willing left the nest box. She revealed a total of 6 more babies...including the baby born 10 hours earlier it's a litter of 7. So far everyone is doing well!

MJ Discovering the Litter

The Babies! 6 Dark and 1 White

Monday, December 17, 2012

First "Hare" Cut

Ruphenfeffer came to live with us in the heat of summer. His "birth mom" graciously waited to shear him so MJ could have that pleasure without waiting for three months. The first weekend after bringing Ruphenfeffer home, MJ set out to give him his first sheering.
Final combing before sheering.
Blow drying to get the dander and minor snarls out.
Claiming the clippers.

She started with pet trimmers
Using pet trimmers.
 and quickly switched to scissors, since his fur was getting caught in the blades.
Switching to scissors.

Half done.
Mostly done.
I think we need to look into some better clippers. With both of us working on him, it “only” took a few hours. His favorite part of the process was the blow dryer (without heat!)
Basking in the breeze.

After seeing him with all that hair, it’s kind of shocking to see how small he really is. (It really is just fluff.) It was hard not to laugh at first as we got used to his new look. He definitely had more energy and seemed perkier too, now that he was lighter.
Hay...a reward!
After...What a cutie!