Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Moving The Litters

The growing out hutch is complete, and all of the babies are in the hutch giving their mothers some much needed peace before their next litter is born, which should be around the 16th or so for both Dawn and Sunny. As you can see, the babies are no longer so small, and are very actively curious about everything going on in and around their new home.

Left is a view of the right side of the hutch from the Lady of the House sticking her head inside. This is taken from about the mid point of the hutch and you can see 7 of the 14 babies wandering around on that side. Front and center is fresh greens we put in, not so visible are the two piles of hay, one in each enclosed area. With all of that space, it was a real challenge weighing all of the babies this morning, especially given how similar many of them are. I also learned that even at this age they are quite able to leap over a 2x4 with my arm over it, and clear half the hutch in one mighty leap. It's clear the babies are happy to be in the new hutch from how much they're able to move around. In with their mothers it had gotten to the point that they were definitively cramped, as were their parents. In their new space they're doing all sorts of acrobatics.
As I posted a few days ago, I had intended to wean by the chart I posted from Rudolph's Rabbit Ranch. Talking to Michelle Chandler, she recommended not doing this method since we were moving both litters into one hutch. First and obviously, by mixing the two litters all at once it reduces pre existing territoriality in the rabbits that have already been there, thus reducing fights. Second, she has never spaced out weaning in her rabbits, and has never had a mastitis problem. While in the future we may wean on a slow removal schedule, for this situation it wouldn't have been the correct choice for the health of the babies. We will obviously be watching the mothers to make sure they don't have any issues. The fact that they're under 2 weeks from a new litter may actually help them. Above Right you can see that sometimes the babies will all crowd together in one place. The two that are standing up are looking at something moving out in the woods. We never quite established what. Below is just a few minutes later with just about all of them standing in the central section trying to figure out what is moving out there. The standing as a group is a behavior we haven't seen the rabbits do before. Individuals have done so briefly, but nothing like this.

 The Lady of the House figured it would be good to show some of the traffic patterns we have with the babies in their new hutch. Right you see a small group, only 4 in the right side of the hutch hanging out and doing their thing. Fairly calm and peaceful.

 Left you see a horde of rabbits all over the place, including the rabbit near dead center who is in the middle of some sort of leap and about to cross the whole hutch in no time at all. We figured that they'd probably space out fairly evenly most of the time given the wide variety of food and water spots available. So far, they've clumped up more than anything else. Below the aftermath of the explosive bout of movement, the right side of the hutch is back to being near empty. 

 Finally Below a cute picture of one of the white babies investigating the corner of the hutch. This photo is actually moments before he took a flying leap out of the hutch! I grabbed him rapidly and put him back in, ending photo time for the day. Fortunately he was completely uninjured either by his fall, or by being picked up somewhat roughly as I was startled and wanted to make sure the dogs didn't hurt or bother him.

Left is the view off our deck down rabbit hutch row. The two on the left hold Dawn in the closest, and Sunny in the further. On the right we start closest with Twilight, followed by Umbra and then the growing out hutch all the way back. They were positioned where they are to try to give them as much shade through out the day as possible. Unfortunately they do get hit with sun in the evening no matter what we do, which is why the growing out hutch ended up with closed areas on both sides. The Lady of the House got the photo Below  as we came home on Monday evening, and we thought the lighting looked beautiful. Staged, but beautiful.  Of course, this being nature it can't have been planned we were just there at the right time to enjoy the view.

Weight Charts
Having moved both litters in to the growing out hutch yesterday we were expecting to see little to no growth in weight, or even weight loss in some of the babies. The weight charts bore out that expectation this morning. I do wonder if some of the loss in Dawn's babies was how hard it was to weigh them in the new environment.

Dawn's Litter Weight Chart

Sunny's Litter Weight Chart

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