Saturday, April 9, 2016

Breeding Rabbits: Plan Ahead for a Safe Breeding Event

It's time to breed your meat rabbits. Here are a few things to consider when you put two very territorial animals together in one cage, and you'd like to still have two animals after they are finished breeding.

The safety of the animals should be the first thing on your mind. I always place a piece of carpet into the males cage floor. They both may be running around, circling the cage, and I want to reduce the risk that they hurt their feet. 

I remove anything from the inside of their cage like feeders, water dishes, water bottles, chew toys or anything that they can run into while on "the chase." If there is nothing in their running path, there is a much reduced chance that they hurt themselves. I've posted a link near the end of this article to a YouTube video I made a while back that you can actually see my (and the rabbits) process.

Now that you have the cage ready, move the female to the males cage. If you do this the other way around, you may end up with injured or even dead animals. Put her in with the male and close the door. 

If the female is extremely receptive to the mating, it will all be over before you know it. You will know that the male was successful if he "falls off" and faints for a fraction of a second. It's up to you, but you may want to see the male have a second or even a third "fall off" to make sure the breeding is going to be a complete success.

After they are finished, place the female back into her own cage. Mark the following on your "bunny journal:"
Date of breeding
Name of male and female
How many "Fall offs"
Date to place the nest box into the females cage (28 days from breeding date)
The "due date"
The "actual" birth date
How many were born...alive and dead

This, you will find, is all good information for the future. It helps to know what breeding pairs work best together, providing the best results (ie. litter size ect...)

28 days after breeding, place a nest box in with the female. Fill it with pine shavings. You can find pine shavings at the local animal feed store. At day 30, I add straw to her cage. Having the straw in her cage allows her to collect it in her mouth (called "Haystaching") and shape her nest in preparations for the babies. 

Anywhere between day 30-40 (typically day 31-32) you may see her pulling fur from her belly or her dulap (under her chin). This is an indication that she is ready to have the babies soon! Keep a close eye on her without stressing her, so that you can clean up the nest box of any mess she has left behind after giving birth. 

Again, without stressing her, pull the nestbox out and check on the babies. Count how many are alive and dead and remove any dead babies. Get your hands on each baby. I do this so that the momma knows my "smell" is safe. Momma should feed the babies soon, so just leave her alone for now

I promised a video link to my "Breeding Video" on YouTube. I hope you enjoy, and good luck with your breeding program!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Help! My Rabbit is Sick.

Although I will cover some easily fixed medical problems, I am not a vet, so I turn to reference material to help me out. If you are just starting out raising rabbits, you should consider this book. It is a little pricey but worth every penny. You can get your copy by clicking on the link below. Here's the Amazon information about the book.

"The new Textbook of Rabbit Medicine draws on the latest information from around the world to make it a truly global resource on all aspects of rabbit medicine and health. It will continue to be indispensable to veterinary surgeons in general practice, veterinary students, referral veterinarians specializing in exotic pets, and veterinary surgeons studying for certificates in advanced veterinary practice.
The book is carefully constructed to allow for the biology, husbandry and clinical techniques that pertain to rabbit medicine to be treated comprehensively and conveniently. Clinical chapters follow a logical progression from clinical pathology, through anaesthesia, therapeutics and diseases covered by body system, to surgery and post-mortem examination.
The author offers a strong emphasis on clinical practice to ensure the content is as practically useful and accessible as possible. Key points boxes integrated throughout the book provide a stand-alone prĂ©cis of important subjects. New clinical techniques boxes are packed with tips from a practising expert who regularly applies this same information in practice.
  • Comprehensive, in-depth and authoritative coverage of the health and diseases of the domestic rabbit
  • Detailed and explicit line artwork provides a clear understanding of physiological processes
  • A practical, evidence-based resource for the effective treatment of pet rabbits.
    New to the second edition
    • A new expert author revises and reframes the original classic text for today’s practitioners and students
    • Content is thoroughly updated to include the latest drugs, anaesthetics and techniques
    • A new full-colour design is used to improve access and navigability
    • Many new colour illustrations and diagrams throughout help emphasize and clarify key content
    • The book’s additional clinical emphasis makes this edition more practical than ever before!"

    Buy This Book

    You’ve bought Your Rabbits…Now What?

    You’ve made arrangements to pick up the rabbits that you have agreed to purchase from your breeder.  You’re driving up their driveway just a few minutes early. You brought enough small cages or other types of safe and secure container/s to transport them to their new home. You’ve inspected each rabbit with the breeder and are happy with what you’ve bought…Now what?

    You have made all of the necessary preparations, in advance, at home, and have arrived home safely. You’ve immediately placed the rabbits in their own cage. The cages are shaded and in an area that is as cool as it can be and with good air circulation around their new homes. Here are some things to consider for the next few weeks, to help reduce as much stress as possible. These are not “hard and fast” rules, but they sure don’t hurt to take advantage of at this point.     

    1. Make sure the animal has fresh water as often as needed. Some rabbits may not eat, or eat much, over the next two days, so it helps to keep them hydrated.

    2. Although your rabbits may not need to eat, fill up their food dish so it’s there for them if they want to eat. If they are not eating after the first day, I place a large handful of Timothy Hay in their cage with them. Sometimes it just takes something for them to chew on for them to know it’s safe to eat food in this new home. Plus, Timothy Hay will help to keep their intestinal tract moving until they start eating again. 

    3. I have seen the stress damage that can occur from active children who are unaware that they shouldn’t make a lot of noise or fast movements around a newly homed rabbit. I have lost rabbits from stress created by parents who do not warn their children how to act in a rabbit barn. I no longer allow parents to bring their children to my barn for this reason. Having said this, when you get your rabbits home, you should not allow your children to get anywhere near the rabbits for at least a week, and then they should be supervised for a week or so, so that the rabbits get used to them slowly. Reducing stress levels should be one of your priorities for the first few weeks.

    4. In line with number 3 above, dogs or other animals that the rabbits may consider potential predators, should have NO ACCESS to the rabbit raising area AT ALL. My dogs are about 50 feet away from my barn and are separated by a fence as well. Since my barn is insulated, that helps to reduce what the rabbits hear. If your rabbits are caged out in a shaded area, though, you should consider the method that works best for you to reduce the threat of predators.

    5. Make sure you talk to or touch your rabbits daily (adults only). This will help to reduce stress in such a manner that you don’t realize the value in doing this. Despite what some “know it all” breeders say, rabbits DO have personalities and should be treated without the fear that they will be hurt as you work with them. I have posted a new video on my YouTube channel related to this entire post, and hope you will go take a quick look. Here’s the link.

    These are just a few things that you should really pay attention to as you begin your journey in raising your meat rabbits. The less stress you expose your rabbits to, the longer they may live and produce quality meat for you and the family. Please become a friend to your breeder, as they should become a great resource for all of your questions. If I can help you on that journey, please feel free to call me at the number at the top of this blog page.

    Monday, March 28, 2016

    So You Want to Buy a Meat Rabbit

    As time goes on, and for a variety of good reasons, people are turning back to not only growing their own vegetables, but their own meat too. Many are finding that a cow or a goat are just too big, and require a lot more cash outlay to purchase. Rabbits, on the other hand, are very inexpensive and easy to maintain, so the choice becomes much simpler.
    Today’s prices range from $25.00 to $50.00 for quality meat breeding rabbits. Here at the Texas Rabbit Barn, we are in the middle of that range, charging $35.00 per animal (March 2016 prices). If you spend less, the chances are that the quality of the animal is much reduced. If you pay more, you may not get a better animal (you should for that price), but only get a greedy breeder.

    There are hundreds of questions you should have already researched for yourself PRIOR to laying out your hard earned cash. Part of that research should have been with a few breeders. A good breeder KNOWS his/her stuff. They should be able to communicate responses to your questions clearly and concisely! If they can’t/don’t…THEN RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Choosing a good rabbit includes choosing a good breeder. The only way to find this out is to talk with them on the phone and visit their bunny barn.

    When you make arrangements to visit their barn, please show them the courtesy of being on time (some folks just don’t show up at all). If you’re going to be delayed, please make a quick call with an updated time of arrival. When folks show up to my barn late without a previous call, or they don’t show up at all, depending on the reason, they don’t get to buy a rabbit from me. This showing of disrespect to a breeder MAY be a sign of how they might care for their rabbits.

    When standing outside of the barn, a good breeder will ask you if you already have rabbits. If you do, I like to give you a hand sanitizer to rub onto your hands. BUT, if you came to my barn with your “rabbit working” clothes on, I’d send you back home to change into something clean. I do not want to risk you bringing something that sticks to your clothing that came from a sick rabbit in your own barn.

    Once you enter the barn, move slowly! Talk quietly! The breeder’s rabbits don’t know you, your smell or your voice. You may even, like me, be seen by them as a big predator. If the breeders cages are outside, you may cast a bigger shadow that could very well scare them and stress them out.

    Now inside of the barn, look around. Is the barn fairly clean? Barns are not noted for being clean, but they should not have trash lying around, and if the bunny poo is allowed to drop just below the cages, make sure it isn’t piled 3 feet high underneath them. Is there a foul manure/urine smell in the barn? Is their air circulation present? Without good air circulation in a barn, these rabbits may be more susceptible to respiratory issues.
    Okay, you like what you see so far. Now, let’s look at a rabbit. I show all of my customers the rabbit's attributes.  We both look at the rabbit from the tip of their nose to the end of their tail. We look at the teeth to make sure they are straight and the top teeth overlapping the bottom teeth. We look for clear eyes, no foggy eyes in my barn, thank you. We look at the rabbit’s body conformation (shape). Sitting in a posed (for judging) position, my New Zealand rabbits should have a bulbous rear end and broad shoulders.
    Rubbing on its backbone, you should not feel sharp points of its vertebrate. They should feel smooth and rounded. This tells you that the animal has sufficient fat and meat on its bones (that is to say that the rabbit has been over fed).

    Turning the rabbit on its back (in your arms), look at its feet to insure that there is no scabbing on its back feet (a sign of sore hocks). Check the front feet too. You should also look at the toenails. A rabbit usually does not need its first toenail trimming until at least 3 months old. This has been my experience.

    Rub your fingers on the rabbits belly to check for any bumps, cuts or other abnormalities. Twist (ever so tenderly) the tail to make sure it is not broken. Finally, check the gender of the rabbit. We have a running saying in the rabbit world that “the gender fairy visited last night and now the boy is a girl.” 

    Make sure that you both agree that the rabbit is the gender you are purchasing. I wait to sell my rabbits until they reach at least 8 weeks old. That way I can insure the right gender, and I know that you are getting a healthy, well fed animal.

    Once you have looked over the rabbit, agree on the price, cage the animal, and be on your way. GO HOME DIRECTLY! Do not stop. If left alone in the vehicle for too long, the rabbit may suffer stress, dehydration, or be out in the back of a truck bed in direct sunlight…NOT GOOD!

    In a future article, I’ll discuss what you should do when you get the rabbit home. Rabbits can be fun to raise, even when you are going to use them as a food source.

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    How to Prepare to Raise Rabbits

    I am of the mindset that you prepare yourself whenever you take on a new task or project. Raising rabbits was no different. Although I had experiences with raising rabbits, before I established my bunny barn in Texas, I spent two solid years learning before I pounded one nail into a board for the barn.

    I found a mentor and studied websites all over the Internet. I bounced things that I read from Facebook groups off onto my mentor for his opinion. Most of his responses were to “keep it simple,” and that’s what I do to this day! You can easily inundate yourself with completely useless information, or with information that may not necessarily be relevant to your situation, so don’t overwhelm yourself.

    I would ask myself a lot of questions in preparation, so that I could direct my learning to specific areas like a particular breed. So, the rest of this article will be a list of what I think are the most important questions that I would ask you to consider before spending a dime on rabbits, or food or a building that may end up to be too expensive for what your needs really are! 

    Here they are. These three categories are not in any particular order, but all of these questions should be considered regardless.

    I’ll list the category heading and then pose the questions under each heading.

    What breed are you going to raise?
    Are you going to raise rabbits for meat, for show, for sales or for pets?
    What size rabbit are you physically able to handle?
    Do you have a particular color that you prefer?

    Are you looking for an individual hutch type cage for one rabbit, or are you interested in raising multiple rabbits and you need long, divided wire cages?
    Will you be hanging this/these cage/cages by wire from a beam in a barn?
    Will you be letting the manure fall to the ground or will you provide trays under each cage?
    Had you considered stacked cages for raising multiple rabbits?
    Will your cages be inside of a barn or outside under some sort of natural shade?
    What type of material do you want your cages to be made out of?
    How are you going to clean and sanitize your cages?
    How are you going to attach feeders and a water supply to the cage?

    Are you going to feed your rabbits a pelleted product?
    How and where are you going to store enough pellets to keep on hand?
    Will you feed weeds and other things like fruit, grains and vegetables to your rabbits?
    Do you have a resource that tells you which other foods and grains are good/bad for your rabbits?
    Will you place free standing bowls for food and water?
    If you are going to attach feeders and watering devices to the cage, which type will you use?

    There are obviously so many more questions to consider, but this should be a great start! Don’t forget to search out a mentor. Ask a LOT of questions, but be respectable of their time. Good luck in whatever the future holds in store for you as you begin your journey!

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

    Out of respect to someone who already had the name "Texas bunny barn" as part of their name, I'm making a slight change in the name of my new Blog.  Our Blog is now called "Texas Rabbit Barn" If you have already subscribed to us or followed us by email, your settings are still the same and you do not have to sign up again.

    We really do appreciate everyone who has already followed us and hope you will share this blog with your friends and family. Thanks again and I hope we can help you as you raise your own rabbits.

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    I have made it SO MUCH easier to follow the "Texas Rabbit Barn" blog now. All you have to do is look to the upper right hand side of this blog home page and fill out the "Follow by Email" box! Please get subscribed for free today!

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Welcome to the barn!

    Hi everybody, from the great state of TEXAS! Texas Rabbit Barn is a blog devoted to the raising of New Zealand rabbits, no matter what color they are and also American Blues. I will also be using this blog to share photos and descriptions of rabbits I have for sale.

    Since I am what is known as a meat breeder, I produce rabbits throughout the year for meat for my family and will produce rabbits for sale as meat breeders to those of you who are tired of buying meat from the supermarket loaded with who knows what! 

    I am also willing to work with 4H and FFA programs that need meat pens, but I must be contacted prior to 110 days before your show date to schedule you as needing whatever quantity you will show.. I do not tattoo rabbits I'm planning to sell. That responsibility rests with you, depending on what you plan on doing with them.

    My breeding stock is from the John Gillis line (from Terrell, Texas) and although John has since passed away, I'm proud to have been mentored by him, and the owner of some of his best breeding stock. Now, my breeding stock, with the same Gillis quality, can be found all over 6 different states surrounding Texas.
    If you want to produce your own meat rabbits, then you've found a place where you can not only buy rabbits, but you'll be able to read about raising, care and more. I am also one of the most willing breeders to answer your questions...even if you don't ever buy rabbits from me. So, look around our blog and let us know if we can help you get started!

    The photos of the rabbits posted here are for sale, or are similar to what you may be able to purchase from my barn. Contact me quickly about buying one or more of these quality rabbits. There is a "Contact Us" form on the upper right side of this blog.

    Will you please consider subscribing to, and sharing my blog with your friends and family? I will be forever grateful. We readily welcome any comments or questions you may have.