Update on Rabbits for Sale – Plus Rant

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Californian bunnies

We have lots of cute baby rabbits for sale right now, here’s an update of what we have left:

There were only two Californian does this litter, so they sold quite quickly. (It would have been quicker if I hadn’t been stood up by an RPN from Gabriola Island. No email, no phone call, nothing. So that was a good couple of hours of my life wasted. For those of you reading, if you ever stand me up without giving me some notice, consider yourself ineligible for future sales. It is stressful for the bunnies, and it is disrespectful of my time. Thank you!)

There are now only four Californian bucks remaining. They are nine weeks old, eating lots of fresh forage and very friendly and sweet buns, easy to handle. They are $25 each. They will probably be here until mid-May, and then if not sold will be going to freezer camp. They’d make great herd sires for a meat operation.

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Hybrid meat bunnies

Two of the Creme d’Argent/Californian hybrid does are sold, and there are three nice does left. They are nine weeks old. One agouti and the rest variations on steel or white tipped black. Very attractive coats this litter, almost like a Silver Fox. There are also two nice big bucks, both tipped blacks. These are excellent forage rabbits and are out on fresh pasture 24-7 now. They are also always my friendliest rabbits. Does are $30, bucks are $25.

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Standard Rex bucks

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Standard Rex does

The first Standard Rex litter is now almost eight weeks old. One blue otter buck has been reserved, and there is a self black and two black otter bucks available. There is one blue otter doe, a self black doe and a black otter doe. The Rexes are a little more high-strung rabbits, but if you treat them right and earn their trust they make fantastic pets. They all get a big bunch of fresh forage each day but only the does have been moved to pasture at this time. Does are $30, bucks are $25.

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The younger Rex litter

The second litter of Standard Rex will be ready to go in about a week. The little tort is a doe and has been reserved. There are blues and black otters left, but I haven’t sexed everyone yet. Does are $30, bucks are $25.

Thanks for reading!

New Addition

DSC_0034Say hi to the new addition to the coop, a juvenile Red Golden Pheasant cock!

This little guy, also known as a Chinese Pheasant, is very sweet and tame, and is used to living in a mixed flock. He hasn’t developed his striking plumage yet, but that should happen this summer and it should be pretty spectacular! Hopefully his broken tail feathers will grow back at the same time.

I’ve read that it’s possible for pheasants and chickens to produce offspring, so I’ll be interested to see if he takes the “rooster” role as he matures. He’s a lot smaller than the hens, just a little larger than a pigeon.

I’ve also seen some people who free range their pheasants and have them return to the coop at night just like chickens will. I’ll have to see about that! In the meantime, he’s very quiet and cute and has settled in nicely after just a short time. Even with his juvenile plumage, he’s still very impressive.

Three Little Pigs

DSC_0066It seems wrong to keep calling them squabs, I suppose technically they’re called squeakers now, which would make sense to anyone present during feeding time.

I have three little ones now, the most recent addition has a scar over his eye where I think he must have been injured as a young chick. It makes his eye look a little bit funny, like his eyelid is crooked. Hopefully it will grow out and be less noticeable with time.

Pigeons are very funny birds. I only had to bottle feed the first two for maybe a week, and they didn’t get the hang of it so I was basically force-feeding them every time just to make sure they had something in their crops. Even though I was providing food, they didn’t associate my hands with happy feelings and remained a bit skittish.

I decided to start exclusively hand-feeding them so they would think my hands were good things. To do that you need the emotional fortitude to leave baby birds in a cage with no food for at least 24 hours. Not easy! But once they were really hungry, after a lot of patient waiting, Fifty finally starting pecking from my hand. On seeing this, the other two immediately joined in. Pigeons really notice things like that.

DSC_0052Baby number three is a little happier with me since he never needed force-feeding. To him my hands are not quite as scary. However he would probably have not begun eating on his own so quickly without the other two to show him how.

I do allow them to come out of their cage sometimes now after feeding, which I think is a mistake. Since they are full, they don’t really care about going back in, they want to explore. Then I end up having to chase and catch them which just makes them scared of my hands again. I need to train them to come out of the cage when hungry, then go back in to be fed. I think this can be done by luring them out to a little bit of food in a consistent location, and then back to the cage for the rest of the meal. They need to be trained to go back in the cage by themselves on command.

There looks like there may be a fourth white squab in development in the loft. I expect it will be a piece of cake to continue to train new birds once I have them living with well-trained older ones. They will just copy exactly what the older birds do, like good little pigs.

Stay tuned for a post about an exotic new addition to the coop!

Bluefin’s Litter

DSC_0031These little Standard Rex bunnies are nearly five weeks old. I am feeding all the rabbits a primarily fresh grass and forage diet right now as there is so much lush growth in my yard. Every day I go out with my little scythe and mow down fresh bunches of greens for them which they happily dive into. They all eat a lot less pellets this way and they all love it. Plus it’s free!

DSC_0050I took a little look at the tort baby and it seems to be a doe. I’ll know for sure next time once I’m able to do everyone. She is the runt of the litter but still doing very well and very friendly. Bluefin has done a great job raising everyone and soon they’ll be out in their own tractor, on lawn mowing duty with the other kits.

DSC_0032In other news I finally got myself a tattoo machine for doing rabbit ear numbers. I decided on the KBTatt pen which I ordered through Martin’s Cages. I’m excited to try it out on these little guys, it’s a skill I’ve been wanting to learn since I got into rabbits a couple of years ago. More info on that to come!

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Why I Wean Rabbits at Six Weeks

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These are five week old kits, still a week away from weaning

Nothing annoys me more than people selling young animals before they are ready to leave their mothers. I have personal experience with cats and kittens and I think knowing what I do now, I wouldn’t let a kitten go to a new home before 14 weeks of age. I find that at this age, they gain a lot of confidence and start seeking their independence, so are much more at ease adapting to a new environment. I would never, ever wean a poor little kitten at six weeks, and I think this is a very cruel thing. I know the litter of kittens that I recently raised were still nursing well into 16 weeks and getting a lot of comfort from it. (Note: I do not breed cats and I do not ever plan to. There are enough unwanted cats in the world. I’m talking about an abandoned litter I took in last summer.)

The second most annoying thing is people who think that rabbits cannot be weaned and sent to new homes at six weeks of age.

Rabbits are not cats, they are prey animals. In the wild, a baby rabbit would be lucky to get three weeks with their moms, for various natural reasons. I know from personal experience breeding rabbits, that mother buns dislike nursing and will generally refuse to nurse at about the four week point. By this time the kits are all happily eating everything mom does, and generally have been for at least a week. They need no further tutelage in how to be a rabbit. They do not gain comfort from their annoying siblings bouncing around in their faces. They are fully ready to go out and claim their new rabbit territory. Rabbit survival instructions: See something scary? Run!

I have never had an issue separating babies from moms at six weeks. I don’t have any problems with them going to new homes at this age, and I have zero problems with so-called “sensitive stomach” issues that people seem to associate so often with young rabbits.

I raise my rabbits to not have sensitive stomach issues. My rabbits are always fed a variety of fresh greens from the time their mothers are pregnant, up until the day they are sold or butchered. They eat safe greens like grass, dandelions, plantain and blackberry bramble. You cannot give them too much of these. They also have all the rabbit pellets they can put away and unlimited fresh water.

I used to offer a bag of transition food with my buns, but I don’t find it’s really required. Unless you’re not very informed about rabbit nutrition and you choose to feed a diet of candy-colored seeds, banana chips, carrots and raisins, the rabbit you purchase from me will be just fine. The proper diet for a rabbit is boring old rabbit pellets, grass, hay and weeds. Vegetables or fruits, unless the rabbit is used to them, should be an occasional treat. Grains like oats, black oil sunflower seed, barley or whole corn can also be fed sparingly; or you can go with a fresh fodder system.

Another reason to wean at six weeks, especially if going to a pet home, is that this gives you added opportunity to bond and make friends with your new baby. You will find they will warm up to you very quickly at this age.

I know a lot of people have very strong bonds with their pet rabbits. I also know that coddling rabbits will give them issues just as surely as dirty living conditions will. If your little bunny eats a perfectly measured out, washed, organic salad four times a day for his whole life, that rabbit’s system and gut bacteria have been trained to deal with this routine. If one day he gets into the garden and eats himself silly, he may end up with very bad stomach problems. The same goes for a breeder who feeds nothing but one kind of rabbit pellet and nothing else. Of course a rabbit raised like this needs to be acclimated slowly to greens or different pellets, just for safety’s sake.

I have been given a lot of advice pertaining to raising rabbits, and I followed much of it without knowing why. Things like providing transition food and medicating every three months for coccidia. Then I began doing things my own way. And it worked a whole lot better. My rabbits do not get coccidia or parasites, they do not get heat stress, they do not get sore hocks, they do not get upset stomachs and die, they do not keel over from heart attacks when the dogs run by and they do not randomly turn up dead.

One provider of much useless advice was a local rabbit breeder who I had freely given a pair of Silver Marten kits to, to thank her for loaning me a pair of her rabbits. A few months later when I inquired how they were doing, I was told they had both died. What? All their siblings were doing just fine. They weren’t the first rabbits in her care to mysteriously die… According to her, sometimes waves of illness would sweep through her rabbitry, obliterating entire breeds. She blamed the feed store and the breeds. Odd. No wonder she was medicating every three months. I haven’t medicated my rabbits in a year and a half.

So there you have it. Buy a baby rabbit from me and you have the healthiest, most robust bunny that I can possibly provide you. Bunnies doesn’t need to be with their mom for eight weeks any more than a mouse does. How you feed and take care of your bunny after you get it home is now completely up to you. Do some research and keep your bunny in the same great health they arrived in.

Thanks for reading!

Welcome Home Kitty Committee

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Jeffie, AKA Jeffrey, Jeppie, Jip, Jippidy, Jippie

One of the best parts about returning home from a trip is being welcomed back by the cats.

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Fluffy One, AKA Raoul

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Fred, AKA Frey-Frey, Friend

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Mushrooms, AKA Shoo Shoo, Musharoo, Mushashoo

Not pictured is Parsley, AKA Pickles, Parsley-Puss, Paws; and Norma, AKA Bun, Bun-Bun, Norma-Bun. These two were much more interested in rat patrol after 48 hours stuck inside than posing for photos. Hard working girls!

White Squabs’ First Flight

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Here is Fifty. I think she’s a female.

The two white squabs have been living in the barn for a few weeks now, getting used to their new accommodations. They are fully feathered out at this point and have been handled regularly. Today while I was working outside, I decided to take them out of their cage to see what they would do.

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This is Fifty One. I think he’s a male.

Fifty and Fifty One as they are affectionately known, are very nice little birds. They were taken out and placed on top of their cage where they observed me with great interest as I took care of all my rabbit chores. As their courage built up, they hopped and flew around a bit, checking out the tops of the rabbit cages and pecking at spots on the windowsills.

DSC_0044I had purposely not fed them before letting them out and had only given them a small meal yesterday. I went over to see them every once in awhile to talk to them, pick them up or give them pets. Fifty is a little better with being picked up than Fifty One. Maybe it’s because she was the one who fell out of the nest a few weeks back.

DSC_0056After a little while they flew up to the door and hung out there, heads peeking out into the sunshine. It was very sweet to see two little white doves gracing the entryway.

DSC_0060 DSC_0070I was feeding the quail chicks when I heard and felt flapping wings near my head. The squabs had flown to the top of the chicken coop, attracted by the sounds of the other pigeons. I was a little worried. Would they come back down or keep exploring?

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You can barely see them against the sky

Thankfully after about five minutes they gracefully flew back into the barn and landed on top of their cage. They were very proud of themselves, shaking their tails and preening. I told them they were very good birds, very smart, and put them back into their cage with some food. Have I mentioned what awesome pets pigeons make?