Tag Archives: 4H

When the Show Must Go On… (Or, how do you take care of the animals when you’re sick yourself?!)


Taking Care of Animals When You're Sick Too

What do you do when you’re sick but the animals still need daily care?

One of the worst things about raising animals is how they are so darn needy on a daily basis. Seriously – they want food. They want water. They need milking. They need grooming. It’s just so… regular.


I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week because our family has been hit hard by some type of sickness that’s going around. It’s been about a two week period and it’s cycled through all six of us. Assuming it doesn’t offer the pleasure of a repeat round I think we’re about three days from being totally done of it…

And all during this time we’ve still had to feed and water the rabbits. Milk the goats. Collect the eggs.

Animals don’t care a whit if you have a 103* temperature and chills.

Fortunately in our case the sickness we’ve had has been staggered so there’s always been someone healthy enough to do the chores, but it reminds me of the stories of early pioneers who were found dead in their tracks on the way to the barn while the rest of their family is dead in the bed. The last one standing in that situation was obviously overcome with the immensity of it all.

Morbid, I know. Sorry.

My goal in sharing this was actually not to be depressing and speak of death, doom, and destruction, but to point out the need for a plan when things go bad.

We know that life is always going to through curve balls at us – so when it comes to our animals, how are we prepared? Who is your back up to call and take care of the fur babies if you’re suddenly ill? On vacation?

This has been the greatest discussion in our family when our daughter first brought up wanting dairy goats. We know that with a milking animal our schedule will be much more limited and our travel adventures will slow down. However, we’re moving into a season of our family where that fits… so we can make a sacrifice of time and effort for this season.

How are you prepared for an emergency?




In response to our growing microfarm adventures, I’m taking another look at our emergency plan (initially created after I wrote this post a few years ago) and making sure it’s up to date. My plan is to turn it into a fillable .pdf and make it available to all of YOU so your leg work in creating your own plan is a little less stressful. Hopefully it will be out by the end of next week!

In the meantime, may your animal adventures be calm and that Murphy’s Law thing stay far away from you!

I’d love to hear from you about how you handle emergencies and travel plans! I feel like we should create some sort of a web-based service (like the Babysitters Club) where people could schedule others to come and cover chores!

Youth Discounts & Questions

on-vase-34We have been privileged to work with some excellent young people who are looking for a quality start or continuation of their rabbit projects for 4H or just because they love the breeds we raise! We have children ourselves, and we hope that they will love rabbits through their whole lives. It makes sense to invest in the children who will one day be adults directing the atmosphere of the rabbit world.

Because we have chosen to take a long-term view of the benefit of kids working with rabbits, we will do our best to offer our best stock to young people so they have a chance to work with a great rabbit with reasonable ability to compete strongly. No one likes a loser and it’s not fair to give a child a cast-off rabbit that will not be a winner just because they’re young and need a discount. We feel pretty strongly about this because we want to set kids up for loving this hobby their whole lives… but that’s just us and I’ll get off the soap box now!

One of the ways we work with youth is to offer a lower purchase price for our rabbits, but then also give them the options of gaining an even greater discount by answering rabbit trivia questions correctly. We compiled a list of questions and answers about rabbit raising – when we have an interested youth we let them draw as many as three questions from a fishbowl. Each correct answer is equal to a $5 discount off the purchase price of their rabbit.

Here are the questions we’ve come up with so far. I’m sure over the years we’ll come up with more, but it’s a good starting spot! ** If you have additional questions we should add to this list, please put them in the comments!

Youth Discount Rabbit Trivia Questions
1. Why are rabbits a good livestock choice in an urban area? They produce more pounds of meat per pound of food consumed than other choices, can be kept in a relatively small space, are practically silent, and their manure can be used for backyard gardens, etc.
2. What is the national professional organization for rabbits? ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association)
3. What is a good rule of thumb for cage size for a rabbit? 1 square foot per pound of rabbits adult weight.
4. What is more dangerous for a rabbit – warm temperatures or cold temperatures? Warm temperatures. Rabbits actually thrive in colder temperatures and are quite happy even in below freezing temperatures.
5. When raising a meat breed, what is the ideal weight the rabbit will hit by 8-10 weeks of age? 5 lbs.
6. What is the average gestation (pregnancy length) for a rabbit? 31 Days.
7. What is a male rabbit called? Buck
8. What is a female rabbit called? Doe
9. What makes up a trio of rabbits? A buck and two does.
10. What is a rabbit cage called? Hutch
11. When is the best time to feed your rabbit? At the same time every evening.
12. What is the large fold of skin at the throat of a female rabbit? Dewlap
13. A domestic rabbit can be bred with a wild cottontail rabbit. True or False? False – They are different species.
14. A domestic rabbit can be bred with a wild European rabbit. True or False? True – Domestic rabbits are descended from wild European rabbits.
15. How many teeth does a rabbit have? 28
16. Name two ways to control disease in the rabbitry. Keep hutches, food & water containers clean, do not lend rabbits, quarantine new rabbits, provide fresh food and clean water, bury or burn dead rabbits, good ventilation
17. What mammal order are rabbits classified as? Lagomorphs
18. Where are rabbits believed to have originally come from? Spain
19. What is a pedigree? A record of a rabbit’s date of birth and three generations of ancestors.
20. Who originally is believed to have introduced domesticated rabbits to England? The Romans
21. What is the extra claw on the inside of the front leg? Dewclaw
22. A rabbit’s teeth grow 1/2 inch or more per month. True or False? True
23. What is the most common feeding problem? Over feeding
24. Name three parts of a rabbit besides eye, ear, nose, mouth, foot or tail. Cheek, dewlap, chest, toe, rib, belly, flank, hock, leg, shoulder, hindquarter, forequarter, rump, hip, loin.
25. What is a baby rabbit called? Kit
26. What is a group of kits? Litter
27. What is the mother of a rabbit called? Dam
28. “Variety” is a term for what? Color
29. When do a baby rabbit’s eyes open? 10-11 days
30. What is the father of a rabbit called? Sire
31. How many generations are on a full pedigree? Three (parents, grandparents, great grandparents)
32. At what age should kits be weaned? No earlier than 4 weeks, 6-8 weeks preferred
33. Which ear do you tattoo on a rabbit for identification? Left
34. What book lists pictures, descriptions and standards for all the breeds? The ARBA Standard of Perfection
35. Name two types of records that are important in good rabbit raising. Expenses, Income, Pedigrees, Show Records, Hutch Cards, Doe Records, Buck Records
36. Name a Commercial breed. French Angora, Giant Angora, Satin Angora, Blanc de Hotot, Champagne D’Argents, Californian, Cinnamon, American Chinchilla, Creme d’Argent, French Lop, Harlequin, New Zealand, Palomino, Rex, American Sable, Satin, Silver Fox, Silver Marten
37. What is an official ARBA document indicating that a rabbit is of good quality and meets the standard for it’s breed? Registration
38. How many times a day does a doe normally nurse her young? Once
39. Rabbit show category for breeds having an ideal adult weight of under 9 pounds? Four-Class
40. Rabbit show category for breeds having an ideal adult weight of 9 pounds and over? Six-Class
41. How many rabbits are in a Meat Pen entry? Three

42. What is the maximum weight of a Meat Pen rabbit? Not over 5 pounds.

43. Name a breed in the cylindrical group. Himalayan

44. Name a breed in the Full-Arch group. Belgian hare, Britannia Petite, Checkered Giant, English Spot, Rhinelander, Tan

45. Name some rabbit disqualifications. Abnormal eye discharge, colds or nasal discharge, mange, ear cankers, vent disease, abscess, split penis, malocclusion, marbling, pegged teeth, sore hocks, screw tail, missing toe, wall eye, spots

46. Name a breed in the Semi-Arch group. American, Beveren, English lop, Flemish Giant, Giant Chinchilla

47. Name a breed from the Compact group. American Fuzzy lop, English Angora, Standard Chinchilla, Dutch, Dwarf Hotot, Florida White, Havana, Holland Lop, Jersey Wooly, Lilac, Mini lop, Mini Rex, Mini Satin, Netherland Dwarf, Polish, Silver, Thrianta

48. What are the five groups of ARBA rabbits? Semi-Arch, Compact, Commercial, Cylindrical, Full-Arch

When Kids Win, We Win

That's our rabbit in the paper! Just pulled in $550 at auction because that child rocked her fair experience! Woo hoo!

That’s our rabbit in the paper! Just pulled in $550 at auction because that child rocked her fair experience! Woo hoo!

This year we worked with several 4H groups around the state to set kids up with rabbits for their upcoming fairs. We decided early on that kids would have access to the best rabbits we have available at a discounted rate. Our decision was to start with a set price that was discounted from our normal sales prices, and then give the kids a chance to answer three trivia questions about rabbit husbandry. Each correct answer was an additional $5 discount.


The rules for showing in 4H are different from the rules for showing in ARBA. Typically the 4H guidelines are not as stringent on the “show” quality of a rabbit, which has led to some breeders selling 4H members their worst rabbits and justifying it by saying, “It’s just for 4H.”


When we first got in to rabbits we had an experienced breeder get quite animated about how rotten he thought that mindset was, so from the very beginning we have been of the opinion that 4H kids will get the best quality show rabbit we have available. We want them to love their rabbit, be proud of their animal, and have a decent chance at continuing to show as adults. Getting good rabbits in to the hands of kids is a major step toward achieving those goals.


Having four kids of our own might have also biased us toward helping kids as well!


Over the past few months we have gotten messages from the parents of the 4H-ers who have our rabbits with reports of does having litters as expected and rabbits showing well at the fair. Then today I got news that one of our rabbits went to auction at the fair and earned a $550 bid!


We’re so stinkin’ proud of these kids and the hard work that goes in to preparing for a fair and for showmanship! They have worked their tails off to learn their breeds, about rabbits, and how to present themselves with confidence! Their parents have made sacrifices to get livestock and educate themselves so they can help their children succeed and their project leaders have gone the extra mile to arrange for quality animals. It truly is a group effort and we appreciate that so very much!


We’re thrilled that our rabbits have been able to play a piece in the success of these kids, but mostly just proud of these children who are willing to go the extra mile and participate in agriculture and their communities. When they win, we win… and we truly believe they are a light toward a brighter future for our country.

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