Our goal on our homestead for any of the animals intended for food is "one bad moment". We strive to give them the best life possible while they're in our care until their final moment. For our breeding stock this means we keep them in wire cages. This serves to keep them away from germs in the soil and makes it more difficult for predators as well. In each cage, we also provide a spot for the rabbits to get off of the cage wires to protect their feet from injury. In the winter, they get pieces of scrap wood which also serve as something for them to keep their teeth filed down on, and in the summer their get a square of ceramic tile. The tile helps to keep the rabbits cool in the summer too!
In addition to a good rabbit pellet, which provides the foundation of a well balanced diet for all of our rabbits, our breeders also have access to hay, fresh greens from around the farm, and the ladies get supplemental rolled oats and black oil sunflower seeds when pregnant or raising a litter. These additional goodies ensure our ladies maintain good body condition between litters and while nursing. We practice a 14 day breed back program to give our ladies a chance to have a little "me" time between litters, while enabling us to maintain production to meet our own needs as well as the needs of our customers. We also plan a two month break for all of our breeders over the coldest months of the winter. It's great for us and the bunnies!
Once the babies reach weaning age around 4 weeks, we move them out into tractors and start them moving around our property. This enables them to have access to all the fresh green goodies they can eat as we move them daily and helps to build our soil by spreading their wonderful manure around our farm! As the bunnies move, we also gather small branches from trees and other weeds from around the farm for them to munch on. They also have access to unlimited pellets to ensure good growth rates and healthy rabbits. Our TAMUK composites are typically ready to process around 10 weeks or once they hit 5 pounds. We check their growth weekly and track this over time to help us make the best choices when it comes to breeding stock replacement.
As you can see from the above photo, the tractors have wooden slats on the bottom with prevent the bunnies from digging out. Each tractor also all includes a predator protector for the first 3-4 inches closest to the edge to ensure no predators can reach in and harm the bunnies. We learned to include this feature the hard way, unfortunately, and refer to that experience as the Christmas Day Bunny Massacre. We wrap the tractors in welded wire around all 4 walls which enables good airflow while providing protection from predators and ensuring the bunnies don't chew their way out. Again, another lesson learned the hard way! LOL! Finally, the tops of the bunny cages are covered to provide protection from the heat and to keep the bunnies dry when it rains.
Thanks for hanging out with us today, and hope you see you next time!