It has been two weeks since the first litter that survived was born. So I wanted to give you an update about my first litter of baby rabbits.
I have been told several time by various people that I should expect to loose the first litter from an inexperienced doe, and while I did not expect it and tried to prevent it, it happened to both of my does’ first litters. When my favorite (based upon nothing more than I thought it was nicer) not only lost her second litter but was caught eating them, I called my breeder.
They were very gracious about the whole thing. While they are very busy, they have been pretty free with emailed advice when I had a question. If you are in the Middle Tennessee area and need either sheep or rabbits Chigger Ridge Ranch is worth a look.
Anyway, they not only took back the doe, but replaced her with a bred doe. They also offered to look at my set-up to see if I was doing something wrong. This doe is the one that gave birth, and are the subject of this post.
At about 10 days or so their eyes started opening and they stopped looking like bald helpless fetuses. By 14 days all of their eyes were open and they were hoping around and looking like baby rabbits.
Be Careful Naming Them
They are hopping around and are fun to watch. My wife is beginning to have more doubts about the meat portion of raising meat rabbits. I have broken down and proactively named them. This helped quite a bit when I caught her on the couch petting one. I said “I see that you and Stewy are getting to know each other.” She didn’t fully catch on until I asked her how Dumpling, Fried, Fricasseed, Boiled, Supper, and Low-Carb were doing. She didn’t think I was funny.
In about a month I will start weaning them. I haven’t decided on a gradual weaning, but I am leaning on a more industry standard of weaning the entire litter at once and cutting back on the Doe’s feed to help dry her up.
My remaining original doe also gave birth to her second litter, and they are also doing well. I am trying to plan a cycle of breeding that will not overpopulate my freezer, take into account that I don’t want newborns during the coldest part of winter, and still keep a good rotation of rabbits so I frequently have fresh meat available.
This is a fun process, and I enjoy sitting in the backyard and just watching them. With the new setup, taking care of them is a lot easier, so it’s not a “chore” and it is pretty easy to look in on them so I can keep up to date with what’s going on.