Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Rain Keeps Coming

Which has been of great inconvenience to me. Dawn's babies are rapidly approaching the age when they will be getting weaned from their mother. While I do have a spare hutch to put them in, I don't have a full sized growing out hutch made which is what I want them to be in. It isn't built simply because it won't stop raining long enough for me to mow the lawn, much less construct a new hutch. Below you can see our hutches right next to our house. Unfortunately due to the constant rain mixed with when I'm working I haven't even gotten to paint them yet. Of course this weekend when I will be working the whole time it will be gorgeous. That said, the babies are doing quite well.

 Today while weighing Dawn's babies to keep the ones I have weighed separate from the ones I have not, I put them outside of the nest area. This didn't make my life as easy as I had hoped as one took a sprinting flying leap and scooted into the nest area faster than I could move. It was fairly impressive for a fluff ball the size of my hand. Once I had weighed them all I decided to get some pictures of their antics with their mother.
 Unfortunately it was dark enough that most of the pictures didn't come out. That said I still got a few cute photos. Above is the two smallest harassing their mother for more milk. She had none of that, and simply plopped her greater mass down and ignored them. Right you can see the largest of the babies exploring. He decided to investigate the scale that I had just weighed him in. I started getting pictures too late to get the picture of him trying to climb in from the front.
As you can see though he quickly figured how to get in from the raised 2x4. Dawn was cautious about this at first, but once she established he was fine she was ok with it. As you can see Below he eventually just curled up in the dish and settled in. I actually felt kinda bad having to move him out to go get weights from Sunny's babies.

Right you can see Sunny's babies in their pile in the nest. Their eyes are starting to open already, not that they would open them for a photo. That was also the only picture I got before they started bouncing around like popcorn and trying fairly successfully to evade my attempts to weigh them. Above you can see what our yard now looks like. About 6 days ago it looked like a relatively normal yard. Well, normal if you consider strawberry plants to be a normal part of your ground cover. It took next to no time at all for it to grow up in tufts and high grass with clover sprouting everywhere. Unfortunately it has been so wet I can't mow it without causing damage to the mower. Our biggest concern with the high grass is the ticks that infest the area. Lyme Disease being our overall concern with the ticks.

Through next Tuesday I will be working 13 hour days every day which means I will only be able to weigh the babies and not much else. That is particularly frustrating to me because it will be nice, and I have finalized how I intend to make the growing out cage. I have to do a little measurement but it will be 6 or 7 feet wide by 3 feet deep. It will have two, 14" private spaces one on each side, and the rest of the middle will be open space. To facilitate ease of use the two private spaces will have their own doors and the central open area will also have its own door. The central door will open out and down unless in implementation I end up finding a better way. As with any of our hutches easy access for cleaning is one of our primary requirements. The others of course being sufficient space for the rabbits with comfortable space.

Weight Charts

Dawn's Litter

    5/03    5/04     5/05     5/06     5/06         5/07     5/08     5/09     5/10     5/11      5/12      5/13    5/14
1:  71       80        89        87       Weights   103       113      125      133      148       158       158     167
2:  67       75        80        84       At             91        110      119      116      133       144       153     158
3:  65       73        77        84       Death       91        101      110      113      123        130       129    156
4:  65       66        68        75                       88        100       106      110      112       121       128     140
5:  54       56        58        62                       75        100       103      102      109       110       110     132
6:  54       52        55        60                       62        70         71        78        90         106       101    105
7:  52       49        50        52       46
8:  49       48        46        50       43

    5/15     5/16     5/17     Prediction 5/21    5/21    5/22    5/23
1: 180      189      192                        222    248     289    293
2: 178      182      191                        221    244     270    288
3: 175      176      182                        202    226     247    274
4: 163      163      170                        190    221     225    266
5: 145      134      136                        156    177     191    209
6: 116      124      135                        150    167     183    207

Not too much to say about Dawn's litter that hasn't already been said. If she had the extremely rapid baby growth and weight consistency of Sunny she would be a damn near perfect meat rabbit mother. That said, her babies are growing well and quickly. I will be interested in seeing how she reacts when they're out and about, harassing her %100 of the time. The Lady of the House and I have started putting out solid food for the babies to begin trying to eat. So far they have sampled lightly on hay that we have seen. Unfortunately for actual data we have no idea whether they're eating pellets yet or not. It is hard to get solid behavior data when we aren't around to observe anything other than them interacting with us.

Sunny's Litter

    5/14  5/15  5/16  5/17   5/21   5/22    5/23
1: 65     65     71     92      134    163     167
2: 60     60     71     91      133    156     165
3: 57     58     68     89      131    155     164
4: 56     58     67     88      129    146     163
5: 55     58     62     83      125    145     160
6: 55     57     60     79      125    144     158
7: 53     56     58     78      121    139     158
8: 47     49     56     67      110    114     132

Sunny's litter impresses me data wise compared to Dawn's. The weight is very consistent between the babies, the growth rate is high, and the babies seem to be healthy. This sort of consistency I think really points to why the Californian is the standard for mass production breeders. I know that many heritage breeds have bred Californians in at various points to try to get the production quality while keeping the breed standard and temperament of the heritage breeds. I think the Lady of the House already knows the standard methods for breeding in such traits, and will probably try to con her into writing a post on that at some point.


  1. On the subject of ticks: My parents (living east of you) have already started having a terrible infestation. As in, haul some brush and end up with pants covered solid with ticks (eww!). Their vet said it was because it wasn't ever cold enough in their area to get a good freeze to kill the ticks. I know you all got a lot more snow than points east, so you might be a bit better off. Good luck!

    1. Yeah, the fact that our last hard frost was less than a month ago has helped our bug population stay lower. I'm very glad we have fewer ticks than your parents do! In our area dear ticks and lyme disease are such a big area that ticks are very nervous making.