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Preparing for next step: weaning and grow out

Discussion in 'Birthing, Weaning and Raising Young Rabbits' started by JT17, Jul 25, 2018.

  1. Jul 25, 2018
    JT17

    JT17 Exploring the pasture

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    My New Zealand White just had kits yesterday, but I'm trying to makw sure I'm,prepared for the next steps. Ive done tons of research and read Storeys guide but would just like to get some imput from some of you.
    I'm,planning on weaning at 5 weeks and rebreeding at 3 weeks as they are for meat and would like to have a consistent supply. How do you go about weaning them: just take them all away or a few at a time? Have any of you weighed the differences between just putting the kits in a hanging cage with pellets or instead raising them in a "rabbit tractor" eating grass? Whats the best for quick grow out?
    Any other advice would be appreciated! Thanks
     
  2. Jul 25, 2018
    promiseacres

    promiseacres Herd Master

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    I take the doe out f the cage for 12 hours, for 3-4 days to prepare them. I have allowed smaller ones more time with the doe if necessary.
     
  3. Jul 25, 2018
    Tale of Tails Rabbitry

    Tale of Tails Rabbitry Loving the herd life

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    You are going to get lots of differing opinions on this, and it comes down to trying and what works with your set up and goals.

    Typically mine are weaned naturally around four to five weeks old. I remove them typically between five to six weeks. I might leave in the smaller ones for a few more days to a week. Much depends on cage space as well.

    Did not understand when you plan to rebreed so could you clarify, please.

    I will not put rabbits on the ground at all. Being in the southeast, we do not usually have enough winter weather to reduce pests and parasites. This year has been particularly bad for us with fleas, but not with our rabbits double stacked hanging cages. I will not even buy a rabbit that has been on the ground.

    A higher protein diet is always going to produce the fastest growouts, but that has to be balanced with ruffage or else it can cause problems.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  4. Jul 25, 2018
    JT17

    JT17 Exploring the pasture

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    I plan on three weeks after the kindle date to rebreed the doe. And at 5 weeks from kindle date to wean kits.
     
  5. Jul 25, 2018
    Bunnylady

    Bunnylady True BYH Addict

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    Grazing rabbits is a guaranteed way to get slower growth - they just won't get as much nutrition that way. Not only that, but (as @Tale of Tails Rabbitry pointed out), rabbits on the ground are exposed to a number of parasites; coccidia in particular can kill young rabbits very quickly.

    While it's growing, grass is cheaper than pellets, of course, but you will probably need to move the tractor several times a day to give the rabbits access to an adequate supply of grass. That brings in the question of what your time is worth.:idunno
     
  6. Jul 25, 2018
    JT17

    JT17 Exploring the pasture

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    I forgot about parasites. And fleas and ticks in my area are really bad this year too.
     
  7. Jul 25, 2018
    Tale of Tails Rabbitry

    Tale of Tails Rabbitry Loving the herd life

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    Okay, again, lots of differing opinions!

    I have Silver Foxes now and plan to show so fur condition is a big factor for me, but I used to do NZWs, SFs, and crosses for mostly for just meat. I never have bred any does until they had at least two weeks after the mother naturally weaned her kits, whether I left them together in the same cage longer or not. I feel it is harder on the doe to be still producing milk and work on the next pregnancy at the same time particularly at this time of year with the heat, because it seems to be the time that they are prone to go out of condition, if there is added stress on the body (like heat) and I question the quality of the milk for the kits not yet weaned, which might affect your grow out rates. However, I understand the mindset that wild rabbits are practically perpetually pregnant so it can be done and as long as you understand that it will burn out your does faster also.

    We did not do this in the beginning, but this past year, I kept weekly weight records to analyze the effect of temperatures, kindle size, feed, genetics , etc. with growth rate. Larger kindles means smaller kits at birth. I found that regardless of their weights at three weeks when I began my recordings, every week all the kindles would grow about the same percentage, except there was improvement when I added a supplement with higher protein to the mother and the kits.

    As to parasites...I have not had any because my rabbits are off the ground, but I was helping a friend process her rabbits and she had one with a bit of cocci in the liver even though it was not on the ground either. I don't know if she had a rabbit infected sometime before in that cage or if she picked it up from one of her other foraging animals and passed it on to her rabbits or it was in something she fed them that was grown on the ground, but there it was. It is hard enough when you have them off the ground to not be infected or infested or even attacked! North Central Florida has some serious stuff living in the soil so...no, I strongly advise against it.

    Just some fun facts, rabbits like kudzu which is higher in protein so they should not eat too much of it. They also love, some more than others, to nibble and play with pine cones. Both are abundant in the SE. Just be sure that the kudzu has not been sprayed and you can soak or rinse pine cones to get out any bugs: they close with the moisture and open when they are dry.