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Tag Archives: bunny

Dr. Seuss’s Guide to Using Heat Lamps with Rabbits

I can take zero credit for the creativity you’re about to see. It is a straight copy from a thread of comments on the Facebook group page Backyard Meat Rabbits. However, it’s pretty fabulous what can happen with the collective creativity of people – and it deserves to be recorded! The advice is also quite sound!

 


 

“When the internal temperature of hay rises above 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celcius), a chemical reaction begins to produce flammable gas that can ignite if the temperature goes high enough.”

Don’t use heat lamps!

Don’t use heat lamps!

Don’t use heat lamps!

Don’t use heat lamps!

Don’t use heat lamps!

Don’t use heat lamps!

 

 

Could I, should I, in a nest?

You could not, should not, in a nest. Having a fire would not be the best.

 

Could I, should I, in my barn? Surely that will cause no harm.

You could not, SHOULD NOT, in your barn! A blazing fire brings MUCH harm.

 

Do not use them here nor there.

Do not use heat lamps anywhere.

 

You could not, should not, in a barn.

Not in a nest, on any farm!

Not in a cage, not in a herd – they don’t need heat lamps, you silly old bird!

Do not use them here or there, don’t use heat lamps anywhere!

 

Could I, should I, in the cold? My little kits are not too old.

You could not, should not in the cold. The nest has fur, the heat to hold.

 

But if my doe does not pull fur… could I, should I, then for sure?!

You should not not! Not for sure at all! Just grab your doe and pull it all!

Do not use them, Steve, my dear. They’ll be fine! Do not fear!

 

Can we use them for their dad? Frozen water makes him mad.

You cannot use them for their dad. For EVERY bunny, they are bad!

 

 

Credit for this rhyme goes to Justin Beilstein, Stefanie Ryne Godfrey, Nick Gunnells, Jekka Lynn, Steve Detmer, Savannah Berniquez, Linda Wilson, Jeremy Lawson.

 

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Blame it on the Wind

Someone please tell me they are also hearing Milli Vanilli singing in their brains after reading the post title? Please?! Just in case you missed the joys of being a 90s kid, here you go, in it’s full non-rabbit related splendor:

 

 

 

That’s good stuff, that.

 

Now, about the rabbits. Do you know what? My area has a “red flag warning” issued by the National Weather Service today, regular wind gusts of 40mph-50mph are expected with isolated gusts even higher!

 

Friends, that’s strong enough that our 3 year old could be knocked off his feet.

 

Maybe it’s a sad statement, but my immediate reaction to this news was to think of the rabbits in two major areas:

  1. Protection
  2. Sneezing

 

Protection. Wind is a more threatening weather condition than cold to a rabbit. Rabbits, with their nice warm coats of fur, can be extremely happy in below freezing weather. They thrive in brisk temperatures and breeders in very extreme cold climate report great success with their rabbits. Give them a bunch of hay or a box and they can withstand almost any temperatures (assuming they also have access to non-frozen water).

 

But the wind. Oh the wind.

 

There is something about wind that can take a rabbit’s life in an afternoon. I don’t fully understand it myself but I know it is true because of the experiences of multiple friends in our town. When the rabbits don’t have a wind break they can go fast.

 

Please, give your rabbits a wind break. A wind break that won’t go flying in the gusts! Our location has strong winds all spring and we’ve actually had to put several things in place to shelter the rabbits. One is the tall fence of our yard, another is a structure to block the wind, another is using the natural vegetation to block the wind. In areas that might still get wind we also put corrugated metal sheeting.

 

The tricky part is to block the wind while not removing the potential air flow that is also necessary for your rabbit’s health! Study where your wind typically hits and adjust on that side accordingly!

 

Sneezing. If you’ve been reading this blog for long you’ll know that we have a zero tolerance attitude toward rabbits with respiratory issues. If we suspect something is off we remove them from the herd. We practice quarantine religiously. We are those types of anal retentive people.

 

That being said, we occasionally have rabbits who sneeze. Our first spring having rabbits I heard a sneeze and that rabbit went directly to the cull block … where we found not a single thing awry with it upon autopsy. The second rabbit sneezed…. and we had a repeat, second verse, same as the first.

 

When the third rabbit sneezed my spouse (who tends to be pretty reasonable) said, “The last few days have been the windiest this year so far… and we have a dirt yard… and your own eyes are almost swollen shut with allergies… and I think we need to stop bopping them on the head only to discover they’re totally healthy. Animals sneeze. That’s life… not always a pure indication of illness!”

bunny

And he is right. Completely accurate. We need to be reasonable in our animal raising. If there is crazy wind and something sneezes, it’s absolutely possible they have dust in their nose and are trying to clear the way they’ve been designed to clear dust: by sneezing it out. If a rabbit sneezes after drinking water, it’s absolutely logical that it has water up its nose and it’s using its natural defense structure against drowning correctly: by sneezing it out.

 

It’s absolutely wise to isolate a rabbit that’s sneezing and observe it. If it’s just wind then the sneezing will subside. If the rabbit is unhealthy, it will become evident within a few days. Don’t be hasty.

 

It is right to be vigilant about the health of your herd, but also remember to be reasonable. It’s an Occam’s Razor idea: “Among competing hypothesis, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected” or — in other words — don’t bop the bunny on a windy day!

 

 

 

 

 

Posing and Evaluating Commercial Rabbits

As a new breeder it was very hard for us to understand exactly what people meant when they would say “Commercial Type.” We started out by basically describing it as a basketball with a head!

 

We went to shows and did our best to listen and learn whenever any breed of rabbit that is supposed to have the body type of our breeds was on the table. We also discovered some really great resources, like this diagram of Commercial rabbit type:

 

 

2015-03-26 11.47.40

 
Even as awesome as photos and diagrams are, sometimes it’s helpful to actually see something, so I took a few (very amateur!) videos of our rabbits and what we look for when posing and evaluating them. The disclaimer is that we are not rabbit judges and we are not the be all end all of rabbit breeders – but we are pretty good listeners and active learners from those who will teach!

 

Here is a dialogue of a few of the things we have learned and try to implement in our rabbitry. If these videos can be helpful, we’re happy to share!

 

This is Triton. He’s a Grand Champion Silver Fox with six championship legs to date and has won Reserve in Show.
 
This is Dawn. She is a blue silver fox, which cannot win any awards as it’s not a recognized color yet, but you can see that we like her depth and don’t prefer her fur. There’s no perfect rabbit!
This is Lucy. She is a Grand Champion Cinnamon with six championship legs to date. She was kind enough to show you the difference between an unposed rabbit and a posed rabbit.
Here are a pair of two 10 week old Silver Fox kits.

Give the Gift of Rabbits – Heifer International

HeiferI just received this wonderful reminder from Linette:

“Since this is a time of year many people think to donate to charities, I was reminded of the Heifer project which donates animals and farming equipment to people in developing countries. They have a program to purchase breeding trios for people who will raise them for meat.

It’s a wonderful way of sharing rabbits with people in need!”

heifer-international1

Moria chimed in, “We have done this a few times and it’s awesome to be able to share the love of bunnies and the reason they are so versatile to other people! And it’s not expensive at all! highly recommend it!”

 

Would you like to give the give of self-sustainability to those who might not have access to meat in other ways?

http://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/animals-nutrition/gift-of-rabbits-donation.html

 

Share a rabbit c

Blanc de Hotot Sports — Photo and Classification

Obviously, this is not a rabbit. It is a sport. Or a hat. Your call.

Obviously, this is not a rabbit. It is a sport. Or a hat. Your call.

Don’t you just love it when something forces you to think and learn? We do!

 

Raising Blanc de Hotot have given us a whole new topic to explore and learn. To be frank, we’re just working to figure out the genetics piece, and I’m also deep in the research different factors affecting spotted rabbits.

 

Genetically speaking, the Blanc de Hotot is a black bunny with a really, REALLY large white spot! Here’s the starting point: the genetics of a purebred Hotot should be aaBBCCDDEEEnEnDudu. And the broken gene in an Hotot is also called the “English Spotting” gene.

 

I’m sure that means something to you genetic gurus out there. I’m still figuring it out, personally!

 

Since I’m not fluent with the genetic identifications here, another thing we’re learning is that different Hotot sports have different names. I’ve collected photos from around the internet with explanations of what these markings are called. Thank you to anyone who actually took these photos – in many cases I haven’t been able to identify the owner of the photo or rabbit.

 

If a “broken” Hotot produces a show marked animal (dark eyes, white rabbit, black spectacles or eye bands) and looks like this:

Is this not a beautiful rabbit?!  Photo Courtesy of Autumn Denistoun

Is this not a beautiful rabbit?! Photo Courtesy of Autumn Denistoun

 

Then a “solid” Hotot produces a Piebald, which looks a lot like a Dutch rabbit:

20140706-100603-36363433.jpg

Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

Now, within the piebald category there are also silver pied. This is a rabbit exhibiting the Dutch markings but with silvering throughout the black blanket of its coloring:

 

See the white silvering in the black? That's a giveaway that you've got an  hotot! Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

See the white silvering in the black? That’s a giveaway that you’ve got an hotot! Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

Piebald with spots - baby fur. Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

Piebald with spots – baby fur. Photo courtesy of L. Staley.

 

The markings of the Hotot also have specific names. When an hotot has only one eye (instead of both) with the black fur rimming it is called a boxer:

Finger is on the boxer baby. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

Finger is on the boxer baby. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

Older boxer, missing one of the eye bands. Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

Older boxer, missing one of the eye bands. Photo courtesy of Evil Bunny Rabbitry

 

(And reminds me of Petey from Little Rascals!):

 

I know, wrong animal. Cute nonetheless, though, right?!

I know, wrong animal. Cute nonetheless, though, right?!

 

The original goal of the Blanc de Hotot was to build a breed of pure white rabbit with dark eyes. The woman credited with starting the breed is Madame Eugenie Bernhard of Northern France. Because of her influence, when you run across an hotot with NO eye bands at all, it’s called a Bernhard:

A bernhard, named after the founder of the breed, has no black rings of fur around their eyes. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

A bernhard, named after the founder of the breed, has no black rings of fur around their eyes. Photo courtesy of L. Staley

 

Another interesting variation of the Blanc de Hotot sport is the evidence of blue “marbling” in their eyes. Marbling refers to having blue spots or streaks on an otherwise brown iris. This is not a desirable trait, but does come up:

Most of the time the marbling will not be the entire eye, although it's possible for an entirely blue iris to occur.

Most of the time the marbling will not be the entire eye, although it’s possible for an entirely blue iris to occur.

Do you see the blue there in the bottom of the eye?

Do you see the blue there in the bottom of the eye?

 

Many times I am confused by descriptions and need a visual to understand what people are mentioning. I hope this little pictorial will help others as we learn about this wonderful breed. Many thanks to all who offered photos for us to see! We welcome your comments!

 

Best Opposite of Breed, Silver Fox, ARBA National Convention 2014

Photo by L. Fischbeck

Photo by L. Fischbeck

We are just beside ourselves tonight with excitement because we got word that the doe we entered into the ARBA National Convention was placed as Best Opposite of Breed! It is such an treat to have your animal selected for this honor and it’s not something we expected as we waved goodbye to our transporter last Thursday night!

 

This particular doe was bred by Nick’s Nibblers in California — Nick’s Nibblers had Mad Hatter stock to get started in Silver Fox and we traded for Zelos earlier this year. Since she came out of Mad Hatter lines we felt it was still ok to send her as our entry, typically we wouldn’t plan to send a rabbit we haven’t personally bred to the National Convention.

 

Boy are we feeling blessed tonight, and grateful for how things turn out! On any given day every rabbit has a serious chance at top honors. Even though we didn’t place as best of breed, we’re still feeling pretty happy about her performance and eager to bring her home, get her registered, and send her legs in to complete her Grand Champion process before we start her down the merry path of motherhood.

 

So many thank yous to so many people who have assisted with the national show! We’re looking forward to seeing how our other rabbits placed, and preparing a welcome home treat for Zelos, our very first nationally winning rabbit!

How Much is Too Much to Spend on a Rabbit?

Yep. Been known to Happen.

Yep. Been known to Happen.

The ARBA national convention is this weekend and I’ve been having several discussions with different breeders about their purchasing budget.

 

Convention is a two-edged sword, because on one hand it’s a wonderful opportunity to spread bloodlines across the country and have access to livestock you can’t normally get because of distance. On the other hand, a rabbit purchased through Convention is typically much more expensive – maybe double the price or more – than a rabbit you can get locally once you add up the purchase price, transport cost, care cost, and entry fees.

 

So what’s the right choice? To buy… or NOT to buy? This is the question!

 

Everyone will have to come to their own conclusions, but this is how we look at it.

 

1. Gene Pool. We are raising rare breed rabbits. The ability to mix up bloodlines is pretty important – over generations sticking to the same gene pool will lead to a smaller sized, genetic abnormalities, and type characteristics that won’t help the breed long term. So getting new blood is worth the expense to us in that respect.

 

However, we don’t want to buy just anything willy-nilly. When we were first starting out I was interested in buying stock from anyone that had rabbits available. Now that we’ve gotten our feet wet and know our own lines, we can selectively choose animals that will (hopefully) add a specific trait to our herd. No herd is perfect! Part of what makes rabbit breeding so fun is seeing the changes in quality in your herd over time. Convention provides a perfect opportunity to gain access to a wider spectrum of rabbits.

 

2. Cost Analysis. From a purely practical standpoint, each rabbit has a cost/benefit. Let’s say a rabbit’s purchase price is $100. (That’s a nice even number). It’s a doe and she has a litter of 7 – of those you sell 2 and cull the other 5 for meat or such. Even if you sell the two babies for $50 each and the culls at $5 apiece you’ve made your purchase price back off of just one litter, while your original rabbit might produce ten more litters for you in her lifetime… or you might sell her as a proven doe at some point later in her life, recouping some of her original purchase price.

 

With that in mind, I find it easier to spend more on a Convention rabbit, as long as I keep a longer-term outlook about it. Over time rabbits will pay for their own food, the cost of physical rabbitry (cages, water bowls, etc.), any miscellaneous costs, BUT it’s not going to happen in six months. It’s a multi-year process and in the meantime you have to guard your own reputation and make sure you’re keeping your rabbitry clean, rabbits healthy, and selling stock buyers are excited to have and can (hopefully) win for them or produce great litters for their own livestock operation.

 

3. What’s Practical Now. When we were just getting started I practically mortgaged one of our children to get stock! Well, that’s overstating it quite a bit, but at that season I felt we had to snatch up the opportunity to get animals out here, since no one in our area was breeding some of these breeds. Fast forward a few years and now I’m staying within my budget and passing on animals I wish we could buy because I already said yes to some offered earlier.

 

Just a piece of marital advice, stick to your budget! My husband told me I could only buy rabbits with money rabbits made this year and it’s caused a few pains when I passed on a great animal… but a whole lot of peace with my spouse! There will always be more rabbits, I only want one husband!

 

So there you have it! It’s not a straight up  answer to how much YOU should spend on your animals, but at least a glimpse of how it’s working for us right now. May all your purchases be positive!

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