Wednesday, August 21, 2013


This past Monday we celebrated Ruphenfeffer's "Adoptaversary!" One year ago, I took a one hour car ride in the hot car (thankfully with air conditioning) to pick up precious little Ruphenfeffer who was only 15 weeks old.
Ruphenfeffer Day 1: Car Ride with Air Conditioning
Ruphenfeffer Day 1: New home   

 Within this first year, I have sheared Ruphenfeffer 3 times (and he is about ready to shear again).

Ruphenfeffer's First "Hare" Cut
I constructed 3 rabbit hutches in addition to the one that Ruphenfeffer lived in.

I bought roughly eight 50lbs bags of rabbit food. This was enough for Ruphenfeffer and  Agnes as well as one batch of baby bunnies.
Rabbit Food in a five gallon bucket with a gamma lid
Watched seven beautiful bunnies grow up and go to new homes.
Baby bunnies snuggling together.
Took Ruphenfeffer to his first show where he won best of breed and got his first tatoo.
 Celebrated Agnes' and Ruphenfeffer's Birthdays.
Today, Ruphenfeffer is a hoppy-go-lucky rabbit who appreciates long runs in the yard, carrots, and all the attention he can get.

This year I have found that English angoras are a lot of work, but the investment is well worth it.
Ruphenfeffer Day 365: Romping in the yard
Ruphenfeffer Day 365: Smiling for the camera

Monday, August 12, 2013

Grooming Holds

One of the trickiest things about grooming or shearing your angora rabbit is find a way to hold them so that they are comfortable and you can do what you need to do.

A while back I had someone ask how to get to the rabbits belly and how to transfer them to the pose. It is somewhat difficult to describe in words, so this will be a picture tutorial.

In addition to having access to the rabbits belly, this hold is also useful for grooming the legs, chest, neck, trimming toenails (particularly the ones in front), and checking the genitals. You will need to be sitting for this pose.
The First Step is to hold the rabbit close to your chest with two hands, the head pointing up.

Then lean forward until the rabbit's upper back is on your lap. Once you have done that, spread your knees slightly and place the rabbit's shoulders between them. Then gently, bring your knees closer together again so that the rabbit feels supported.
Slip your hands out from underneath the rabbit and sit up slowly.

After you are sitting upright, slowly and gently pull the rabbits back legs out to remove the tension so that it cannot thump/kick you while you work.

 When these steps are complete you should have both hands free to work. If you are trying to access the rabbits upper chest and neck, I would suggest bringing the rabbits front paws down toward its belly (instead of up or to the sides) to reduce resistance.

Often times during a grooming session or a full coat shearing a rabbit may become restless. Changing holds can reduce irritability and jitters.

This next hold also grants you access to the belly of the rabbit as well as the back legs and genitals. It can be done while standing, however it is much more comfortable for both rabbit (it doesn't hurt at all, it is somewhat frightening to be some distance from the ground if unaccustomed to it) and handler to preform while sitting.
You will need to start by holding the rabbit with both hands off your lap. One hand will hold the front two paws and the other will hold the back two paws (indicated by the green arrow). While holding the rabbit close to your body, you will need to bring the hand holding the front paws back toward the your elbow of the arm holding the back legs as indicated by the blue arrows. During this motion your other hand (holding the back legs) around the bum and under the lower back of the rabbit.
Once you have done that and the rabbit is somewhat relaxed in that position you should be able to remove the hand that initially held the front paws by supporting the rabbit with the length and palm of your other hand.
Before going to work, I like to stretch the back legs gently to release the tension as in the previous hold to prevent kicking.

To prevent the rabbit from trying to sit up or from panicking at the sight of shiny grooming equipment approaching, tuck the rabbit's head in between your elbow and body. You will not need to apply much pressure.

You now have one hand free to brush and trim nails... Possibly two if you rest the rabbit's bum on your lap.
 In both of these previous holds, your rabbit should become very relaxed. Below is a picture of Ruphenfeffer lifted up after being in these holds. If your rabbit is not totally relaxed, it might help to:
  1. Lower the rabbit's head so that it is below its bum.
  2. Stroke the rabbit's ears back so that they lay against the body.
The last hold I have to show makes it easy to reach the hindquarters.
This one is much simpler than any of the previous. It will need to be done sitting down either at a table or without. I have also done this with the rabbit on top of a hutch and myself standing next to the hutch.
Basically, you will pull the rabbit close to you and then tuck its head between your elbow and body. This will leave both of your hands free to work on the rabbit's hindquarters as long as you keep your elbow in place.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anges' Mourning

Please note if you are looking for warm fuzzy cute rabbit story and want to keep believing that farm life is just fun and hard work this is probably not the post for you . This post describes parts of farm/rabbitry life that some people do not want to know about.
Agnes lining the nest box with fur.
Agnes with a mouth full of hair she pulled.

Ruphenfefer: Expectant Papa Bunny
This morning I woke up to find that Agnes was pulling fur for her nest. Today was the 28th day of her pregnancy, however we didn't want to get our hopes up since last time she was only going through a false pregnancy (which included nest building and labor). Anyway, I went out to get some photos of her with a mouth full of fur and discovered what appeared to be blood in her urine. Shortly after coming inside we saw (on the "BunnyCam") that she had hopped into the nest box and was having contractions. We continued to watch her on the "BunnyCam" for about half an hour since we didn't want to interrupt. However as soon as she popped her head up we scurried outside, camera in hand. When we got there Agnes was still sitting alertly in the nest box with afterbirth hanging from here chin. Moments later she exited the nest box to reveal several underdeveloped, dead kits. Agnes' chest and bum were covered in blood, so I decided to get her cleaned up and then worried about sanitizing the cage and nest box. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I realize a) I should have cleaned the cage first, or b) set her on a table with a towel on top. Instead I elected to lay Agnes on her back in my lap. This resulted in a mess when her stomach contracted again and she gave birth to another dead kit (making a total of six). After I finished cleaning her and cutting away her soiled fur, I transported Agnes to one of my portable cages. Once she was relatively comfortable, I proceeded to remove everything her cage, throwing out what could not be sanitized including hay, food, salt licks, etc., and steam cleaning what was left (cage, nest box, hay rack, tray, etc.... hand washed the food bowl with dish soap though). Now Agnes  has settled back into her cage and seems to be "normal" other than a little more afterbirth and a small amount of blood. Somehow this didn't seem to shock me as bad as I thought it would (other than the kit that was born while Agnes was on my lap) since I knew that a litter of dead kits wasn't unheard of, even if the breeder did everything right. In any case I think it might be some time before we attempt breeding again.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Agnes' Maternity Shoot?

Agnes, may...or may not be expecting. We thought she was in June...but were fooled. She is acting like she is again...we'll know in a little over a week.

Since Ruphenfeffer gets most of the photos, we thought Agnes needed a Maternity (maybe) Shoot. She wasn't too eager to have her tummy photographed, but we did get a few cute photos of her sweet face.