Before I get to the actual debate though, I'm going to explain why we are keeping them, and what our plans are. We are keeping the two girls to breed because right now we have two studs and only two does. That's a bad ratio for feed to return. Ideally we'd have one stud per three does. Obviously that means we need to have more does. Right now we have enough hutches for five breeders, and one growing out hutch, and I'm going to be building more over the summer when I have gotten the chicken coop done. Currently we have Dawn and Dorado for Creme breeders. They are cousins so we can't keep any of their babies for anything beyond eating or as we have with their two daughters, breeding with a completely unrelated stud for meat. We also have Twilight and Umbra our American Blues who are somewhat related but good enough if we really wanted to keep a baby long term.
In that last open hutch is where we put the two girls from the winter litter. I'd love to say we picked them because they were the best, but sadly we picked them because they were the only two girls that hadn't had the back issue I discussed in an earlier post. We are going to give them a bit longer to grow up before breeding them because right now at a little over three months old while they Can get pregnant, they should not be bred for their health. They should be 5 to 6 months old before first breeding. What we are going to do is, when we do the next breeding for Dawn and Twilight we will be breeding Halley and Comet for the first time then. We will then be keeping them to the same schedule as Dawn and Twilight over the Summer and Fall.
This is where the debate comes in. When winter comes I want to kill and eat Halley and Comet since they will never be able to produce "keeper" quality babies. I feel that since they are easily replaceable by any relatively healthy female from any litter that we shouldn't be feeding them over the winter when they aren't producing. The Lady of the House feels that we should keep them since while they can be replaced any time, there isn't any reason to given that an experienced doe generally does better at production than a new doe. We haven't decided yet quite how to handle it and would love to hear other folks give their input on what they would do.
Lastly, I didn't include this in the last post about the snow storm, but this is a picture of the snow on and around the rabbit hutches before it had been shoveled out around them. It got fairly deep, but other than their food dishes being full the rabbits were fine.