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Category Archives: HOPpenings
Visit sHARE crHOPPING for Local Farm’s first rabbit raising venture background info. Here is a newborn kit born on May 18, 2013. She is one of a kindle of 10, however only eight were alive when we found them.
By 9 days, the bunnies have become very active, writhing and thrashing like a ball of red wriggler worms. Margaret and I have converted an old chicken tractor to a large rabbit pen by stretching hardware cloth across the mid-supports to create a floor half way up from the ground. This way the rabbits droppings will fall through the wire mesh and be easy to reach from the hinged doors on top. We used old snow fence laths to cover the edges of wire.
On Thursday, Francisco brought a pregnant doe rabbit to Local Farm, with a share-cropping proposal. We’d keep the doe and raise her bunnies at Local Farm. He’d supply the feed. And after the harvest, we’d split the meat.
Until we could furnish a better cage for her, we put the doe in our chicken brooder with an apple box with bricks to hold a hay nest in place. Francisco told me to watch the doe to start pulling fur from her chest and belly to line her nest. Mama rabbit decided the apple box made a better latrine than nest box!
On Saturday morning, she was pulling at her fur. We left for the farmers market wondering how soon she’d kindle her kits. While at the market, our friend Dave Bean stopped by and we peppered him with questions. Dave has a lot of experience raising meat rabbits and offered to lend us a cage and nest box. A little while later, he was back at the market to tell us, the doe had already kindled. Because she didn’t know his scent, he was hesitant to move the young kits, but thought we should get them into a nest box ASAP because without the steep box sides, they can wriggle out of the nest and get hypothermia. Apparently, there were two dead kits already.
When we got to the barn, this is what we saw…
The doe had pushed the apple box away from the brooder’s side and made her nest in the space behind the box! Underneath all that fur were eight baby bunny kits.
We put Dave’s nestbox in the brooder with the doe and she sniffed it all over and seemed to really like it, so I carefully scooped up her babies and their mama-fur coverlet and laid them in the nest box. The wriggling mass was hard to hold and one of the little ones slipped through my fingers and stayed behind. I carefully picked it up and put it in with its sibling kits. Once the kits were in the nest box, the mother seemed to lose interest in it. We hoped we hadn’t interfered too much!
Later, Margaret read that a mother rabbit only feeds her young once a day and stays away from the nest all the rest of the day to protect them from preditors. Under her loose fur, they keep each other warm. Then when everything is quiet and safe, she will return to the nest and stand over her kits so they can suckle. They have an easy time finding her nipples because she pulled all that fur away while making her nest!