Post by smokeypokes on May 7, 2015 17:08:59 GMT -5
I have two does that I bred this spring so I will have meat rabbits later this year. The babies are going on four weeks old, so I've decided it's time to re-breed the does. The Californian doe I re-bred two days ago since she wasn't too skinny and her kits are coming along well. The other doe, a Rex has really fat babies, but she's a bit skinny which is making me reluctant to re-breed her so soon. I've been feeding the does as much Producer's Pride Rabbit Feed as they will eat along with plenty of alfalfa and timothy hay. Should I be feeding them a higher protein diet? I've been soooo tempted to mix the rabbit feed and the SafeChoice Mare & Foal grain that I for my lactating goats but I'm not sure if it would be safe?
You can add BOSS to give her a calorie/fat boost. My does all get that with their pellets and they seem to stay in really good condition and I leave the kits with them for at least 8 or 10 weeks. Not saying you should, just that my does nurse longer than typical meat rabbits and still stay in good condition with the BOSS added.
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Post by grammagrace on May 7, 2015 21:51:57 GMT -5
My does stay in good shape with pellets, alfalfa hay and or clover, weeds and grass I pull them. Mostly clover. The hay and fresh mix is what I finish my meat rabbits on. No pellets after weaned. Sometimes they get oats or cracked corn. Just be sure the have plenty of water. Good luck with fat bunnies
Grammagrace, [and anyone else who wants to chip in ]it sounds like you have a good thing going. Can you elaborate a little bit more on your feeding program? What advice would you give to a beginner who is considering attempting to raise rabbits that are self-sufficient as possible? How much grass do you give your rabbits at various life stages, when do you wean, what age do you butcher, how many litters per year, how do you know when you are shorting them on nutrients, what problems do you watch out for, etc.
Caveat: I know that feeding pellets is a lot easier, and that a home-fed rabbit would grow a lot more slowly, and that litters would be produced less often. However, I am interested in a substitute for chicken that can be self-sufficient and grassfed.
Interesting trivia: Supposedly, wild rabbit meat contains the most ideal ratio of omega-3:omega-6 fatty acids of any meat.
Don't seem to be getting any bites here, so maybe I'll throw in a bit of interesting information that I learned. According to my Dad's 1986 copy of the classic "Rabbit Production", alfalfa meal can replace ALL of the grain in a rabbit's diet, without decreasing production.
Post by smokeypokes on Jul 1, 2015 12:59:54 GMT -5
Thank you all for your suggestions! I've mixed boss in her food as well as steam rolled oats and she's doing way better! She does selectively eat the boss so I've had to keep on eye on her to make sure she eats her pellets too. Her babies are growing well too.
Just finished reading "Keeping Poultry and Rabbits on Scraps" by Goodchild and Thompson. It was published in the UK during World War II as a how-to book for people who wanted to raising small livestock with a minimum of purchased feed. It a book that lives up to its name. Food was strictly rationed, even animal feed. Rabbit growers were only allowed seven pounds of bran per doe, per three months! This book explains how to be successful without additional grain inputs. Its a great read, available from Kindle for about $6.
Here are the basics of how to keep rabbits without purchased feed, as described by this book.
1) Feed potatoes and sugar beets as a substitute for grain, and feed garden waste and roadside weeds as a substitute for alfalfa.
2) Limit reproduction. The author suggests that does should have no more than four litters per year. Furthermore, rather shockingly, he suggests that large litters need to be culled as soon as they are born, so that the doe is not nursing more than 5-7 kits, depending on the quality of the available feed. Sounded a bit cold blooded to me, but I guess you do what you have to do when Nazis are at your doorstep.
I'm not interested in killing babies just for the sake of reducing feed cost, but I'm wondering if we could use the power of genetics to reduce litter size [as well as discontinuing the practice of breeding a doe for two days in a row], and thereby make the does able to support themselves on a grain-free diet?
Post by lil*farm*angel on May 17, 2016 15:37:54 GMT -5
What about Calf Manna? I have a doe with 10 kits. I add a small handful of Calf Manna to her breakfast to help with milk production. I guess I could use beet pulp pellets instead. Would probably be cheaper!
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