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Weaning a rabbit litter

Broiler rabbits

It's been a while since we've written a rabbit post.  In that time, we've separated the litter from the mother.  She had started thumping her foot at the kits in early January, and since the mother showed signs of becoming irritable with the kits, we decided it was probably best to go ahead and wean them.  Since then, they've been eating quite voraciously and growing fast.

Rabbit hutchWe bought what is advertised as a 5 lb capacity feeder from tractor supply and we are having to fill it at least once a day, sometimes twice.  We purchased a feeder rather than making another simply due to the lack of time that we've had available as of late.  The purchased feeder holds a volume of two quarts of rabbit feed which seems a bit less than 5 lbs to me.  In addition to rabbit feed, we have been supplementing with clover, hay, lettuce, carrots, and other items from the garden & scraps.  The stereotype of rabbits and carrots seems accurate.  Dawn reports a 4 inch piece of carrot had three young bunnies devouring it at once, and would have been more if they could have fit in the circle. 

The kits have taken to their new accomodations quite well, though some seem a bit skittish.  Perhaps our busy life lately hasn't allowed enough interaction with them.  Individual personalities show through though as some of them will approach the front of the hutch when we open it for feeding, while others crowd to the rear.  Dawn says the runt is the friendliest of the bunch.

White rabbitsSome information sources recommend that kits should be sexed and separated at the time of weaning.  At present, we have all the kits together.  This is partly due to practical reasons - we haven't had time to build another hutch - and partly due to the age at which we weaned them.  At 4-6 weeks, they are difficult to sex.  There are a couple of reasons given for separation of the sexes at an early age.  One being a claim that they mature more quickly when separated by sex.  The other reason is that there should be less fighting as they mature and no chance of breeding when they are past three months of age.

With the way life has been lately, I am quite thankful that our rabbits have required little attention of late.  We still try to interact with them as much as we can so that they remain docile, but also so that hopefully their life is a bit more pleasant with some interaction.

Shannon and Dawn will be sharing their experiences with raising meat rabbits on Tuesday afternoons. They homestead on three acres in Louisiana when time off from life and working as a sys admin permits.

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My kits are quite spoiled. We wean the New Zealands at 4 weeks. From the time they open their eyes we handle them daily and have a run we let them out in to run a few times a week. My blog isn't updated often since I work full-time and have several volunteer commitments. I will try to post a few pictures of the full grown rabbits at butcher age.
Comment by Andrea Tue Feb 19 21:13:28 2013
Are you going to butcher all of them? I've considered selling a few to help offset the cost of feed. Have you considered contacting a fur buyer local to you to see if they'd be interested in the pelts?
Comment by Heath Fri Feb 22 14:55:39 2013

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime