Introducing Butternut


Butternut is a triple hybrid F1 doe who is the latest addition to our meat breeding program. Her mother is Caraway, who is a Creme d’Argent/Standard Rex cross, and her sire was Scorch, a Californian buck that I have since sold. She was the largest in her litter and has matured into a beautiful young rabbit with lovely markings.

She has been bred for the first time to Gonzague, my Champagne d’Argent buck and is due mid-April. Her litter, if it’s successful, will be our first quadruple hybrid F1 meat rabbits.


Rex Litters at Four Weeks


Enjoying bamboo and blackberry today

The babies are currently at their cutest stage where they become quite active and look like miniature versions of their parents.

Running around eating everything is their greatest joy so I keep them all well stocked with organic forage from the gardens.

These litters have developed a special fondness for arugula and Red Russian kale, which has self seeded everywhere this year and is in particular abundance right now.

There are three broken opals from Fire Opal’s litter:



And there is one little broken castor and a solid castor:


There is also a lovely blue otter with a nice, deep colored coat. This bunny is really blue!:


Then we have two solid opals and a broken black otter:


Five Spice’s litter consists of two solid castors, two broken castors and a solid opal. I don’t have individual photos of absolutely everyone but you get the idea!:



Five Spice with her kits

Hybrid Bunnies at 10 Weeks


Triple hybrid buck still silvering out

The meat cross bunnies are now a little over ten weeks old. Many have been sold, but I still have chestnut agoutis of both sexes in various stages of silvering.


A close up of his color layering

Some have turned really white, mostly the bucks, although there are a couple true agoutis with a few errant white hairs and the triple crosses also have some black guard hairs mixed in with their overall white. Many of them resemble Argente Bruns to me.

The one double hybrid Creme/Champagne doe left has developed the most amazing silvered pelt with a bright caramel undercoat and no black guard hairs.


Creme/Champagne doe


Creme/Champagne doe top view


Creme/Champagne doe caramel undercoat

As for weigh ins, we have again broken our previous record and these are now the largest meat bunnies we have ever produced here at Abernathy’s! I only weighed two does today, but they came in at 2286g (5.04lbs) and 2543g (5.6lbs).

5.6 pounds at ten weeks! That’s a new record, and I still have at least a dozen more bunnies to put on the scale. Many that appear to be of a similar size or even larger. Not bad!


Triple hybrid doe


Triple hybrid doe top view


You can just barely see some of the black guard hairs if you look closely


Latest Rex Litters


Opal’s litter

We have two new Rex litters that are about a week old now. Opal kindled ten kits, and her daughter Five Spice kindled for the first time, and produced six. All born in the nest on day 32, like mother like daughter.

Five Spice nearly tricked me with her first litter, I was checking nests every day to see if kits had arrived, and on day 32 her nest still looked undisturbed. Unusual for a first timer, usually they make quite a mess. I assumed she had not taken this time… I even put my hand in the nest and felt no warm, squirmy rabbit bodies.

When I went in and stroked her, she flattened out and stuck her hind end in the air, very evidently keen to breed. That was the clincher, I assumed no way would anyone want to breed if they were about to give birth, so I figured I would waste no time and put her back in with the buck.

While they were cavorting, I tidied up her cage and refreshed her food and water. I was removing the nestbox when I saw that there was a tiny bit of fluff in the back corner. Fur in the nest? Sure enough, six perfect little kits were all scrunched up in the far corner.

We have quite a nice color assortment this time, there are many brokens and solids to choose from. Five Spice produced two solid castors, two broken castors and a couple of opals. Five Spice is a solid castor and the sire is a broken castor, so no real surprise there.


Five Spice’s litter


Broken castor

Opal has a broken black otter, a few broken opals, a broken castor, a solid castor, some solid opals and what looks like a blue otter.


Broken black otter


Broken opal


Solid castor


Blue otter

Bunny Update


Broken blue otter Rex buck

The babies are now a little over a month old and looking very cute. They are eating piles of fresh wild forage each day from our little organic field, which has really been taking off. They hardly eat any pellets at all, and I find this makes them extra healthy and friendly as they look forward to their daily greens.

I did a quick once over and so far it seems like all the bunnies I picked out for the shoot today are bucks except for the little Californian at the end. The photos represent all the colors we have in the current four litters. I have multiple chestnut agouti kits as well as the ticked black. Enjoy!


Broken blue otter Rex buck, right side


Broken black otter Rex buck


Broken black otter Rex, left side


Opal Rex buck


Opal Rex buck, left side


Creme/Rex/Champagne buck


Creme/Rex/Champagne buck, left side


Chestnut agouti Creme/Champagne buck


Chestnut agouti Creme/Champagne buck, right side


Californian doe


Californian doe, right side



Easter Bunnies Update

The first spring litters are now almost three weeks old and everyone is doing great. All kits are fat and happy and just starting to foray out of the nest boxes. Soon they’ll be munching fresh greens alongside their moms.


This first litter is out of Caraway and they are half Champagne d’Agent, a quarter Standard Rex and a quarter Creme d’Argent. Half the kits came out agouti with a little white spot on their foreheads, and the other half came out looking like black otter Rexes (which is what their grandsire was), with some frosting on their bums that is very similar to Silver Marten markings.




The next litter is out of Esther, and they are the Creme d’Argent/Champagne d’Argent crosses. They all came out agouti colored but I’ll be interested to see if they develop any white frosting as they mature. The one white kit in the nest is a Californian baby that was transferred as a day old to even out the litter sizes.




Litter three is out of Samphire, and are our pure Californian bunnies. These little guys are just starting to get their dark points coming in.




And finally, litter number four is out of Fire Opal and are the purebred Standard Rex buns. She only threw three bunnies this time, so I took four bunnies away from Caraway (she had 11) on day one and transferred them to Opal’s nest. They are the agouti and solid black colored ones.


It looks like the solid Rex kit is an opal like mom, which is a blue coat with a reddish undertone and cream belly. Very pretty.



Kit number two is either a broken blue otter, or a broken opal. Also very pretty with a nice pattern.




And lastly, the third Rex kit appears to be a broken black otter. You can see the snips of tan around the nostrils, eyes and ears that give it away.



DSC_0069.JPGHappy Easter everyone!

Deep Litter Method for Rabbits


Mathurine in her deceptively empty cage. She has just demolished a pound of wild greens and the remnants have been folded into the bedding

Lately I’ve been trying something new in my rabbitry, the deep litter method.

Many people use this method with chickens, pigs or cattle; but it isn’t something you would normally think to use with rabbits, unless they’re conveniently on wire like mine.

My cages used to be about a foot off the ground, and this meant I needed to do a thorough cleaning every week. More often if there were growing litters. Most of my bunnies are currently housed over a concrete floor, and I use pine pellet bedding underneath to absorb the urine. This works great because wood pellets require a good nitrogen source to start breaking down properly, and the urine provides that. It creates amazing compost in a very short time.

Not long ago however, I raised my cages up another foot. Not only did this make it easier to clean underneath them, but I noticed that if I just stirred up the litter daily with my garden hoe and kept adding more pellets to wetter areas as needed, that the bedding was beginning to compost under the cages. There was a lovely earthy smell in the barn and pellet use was cut down to about one tenth of what I was using before. The 6″ to 12″ thick layer is also much better at absorbing urine and water spills.

Another added benefit is it’s pretty much ready to go right into the garden once you do finally clean it out. I plan to leave a 2″ layer of old material underneath once I do this, in order to reinoculate the new bedding. I’ve read that commercial chicken farmers actually have a lower mortality rate for new chicks if they are introduced to well-aged deep litter bedding as opposed to a freshly sanitized clean environment, because the good bugs establish slowly and fight off the bad bugs, which establish more quickly. It makes sense to me.

Everything that falls into the bedding gets mixed in and helps the breakdown process along. Hay, straw, bits of vegetation that the rabbits drop, feed pellets, shredded paper and fur. Since I get a lot of free used coffee grounds from the local Starbucks, I sometimes sprinkle a few cups over the top.

In some areas, when I fluff up the bedding I find colonies of maggots. These spots have the blackest and richest looking compost in them, and I will sometimes scoop a bunch of it out and toss it into the chicken coop for the girls to pick through. The maggots are a great and free high protein treat for them.

The Foster Litter

DSC_0010You might remember that we lost one of our senior rabbits not long ago, right after she had kindled a litter. Using what I have now dubbed my Foster Juggling technique, I was actually able to save every single kit! So now there are 22 healthy and happy seven week old baby bunnies that were raised by only two moms. Fantastic! Now to get them out of here!

These kits are all Standard Rex/Californian crosses and Creme d’Argent/Californian crosses. The Creme crosses are nothing new, we have bred them several times and they grow into large, friendly rabbits in shades of agouti, dark brown and black. I love these crosses and I am growing a few out to see how they do as breeders.

DSC_0009The Rex/Cal crosses are new, and they are interesting little bunnies. Some of them look very much like Silver Martens, while others have the tan and white markings of a Black Otter Rex. A few even have extra soft and shiny coats which must be a result of the Rex fur genetics, although actual Rex fur does not show up in the first generation. I love how chunky these kits have turned out to be, with large heads and glossy, compact little bodies.

All of the babies from all three litters are black or dark brown this time except for one little agouti girl. This is pretty much because genetically Californians are actually black rabbits although they are white-furred.

DSC_0007It was getting crowded in there so today I did a little bit of sexing and reorganizing of bunnies to give everyone a bit more breathing room. Some bunnies will now be enjoying tractor life, where they get moved to fresh grass each day. The smallest ones will be living with their moms for a while longer and enjoying garden trimmings like sunflower leaves and stalks and rosemary clippings.

Since I’m planning a trip soon to visit my brand-new nephew, I would love to rehome these bunnies as soon as possible. They’re all on sale for $20 each, both bucks and does.


Hepatic Coccidiosis in Rabbits – Graphic Photos


Notice the white spots on the liver

Coccidia is a parasite that exists pretty much everywhere in the soil. Young rabbits are generally more susceptible to infection, and will show symptoms of diarrhea, loss of appetite and listlessness.

Coccidiosis is very contagious in an environment where feces from a sick animal are present and can be consumed by other rabbits. It’s such a common killer of young rabbits that many rabbit breeders medicate their rabbits against it every few months, whether they show symptoms or not.

In a situation where rabbits are pastured, coccidiosis can be a very real concern. Since I tractor many of my kits I had a couple of cases of it turn up this year. Although nobody died, it left an impact on them physically. I thought it would be interesting to show you the damage that this parasite can cause to your rabbit’s liver.


A moderately infected liver

The most obvious thing upon opening up an infected rabbit is that the liver is spotted with white. The amount of spots will vary according to the severity of the infestation. These white spots are actually the hardened edges of small tunnels that the coccidia carve into the liver. If you slice the liver in half you can clearly see the small tubes.


The tunnels visible in cross-section

Whenever I see symptoms of coccidiosis in my pastured buns, I immediately add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water, feed blackberry bramble daily, make sure they are moved to fresh pasture frequently and ensure everything is kept as clean as possible. So far I’ve been very successful at clearing it out of my herd this way, without resorting to medications.

Usually even if a kit has been infected, once they overcome the parasite and fight it off, they can still lead a perfectly healthy life. Still though, there is obvious damage left to the liver which may or may not heal over time. I’m not a rabbit biologist after all… I’m a whale biologist.

Below is an example of a nice healthy rabbit liver with no white mottling. Infected livers should not be eaten but the rest of the rabbit is still safe to eat.


A healthy rabbit liver

Rex/Creme Hybrid Kits 10 Week Weigh-In

DSC_0004You’ll know from my past posts about hybrid kits that they consistently outperform my purebred kits as far as grow-out speed. Well, this litter of Creme d’Argent/Standard Rex kits are the biggest bunnies yet.

I wondered out loud not long ago if there was anyone achieving 5lb live weight rabbit fryers at 10 weeks of age. Back then, this seemed like an impossibility and all my kits needed at least 12-16 weeks to get anywhere near that. Well, today I’ve seen that it can be done.

The hybrid kits are one day shy of ten weeks old today. Two of the does have been sold but the two I have left are HUGE. The boys are also large but I have never seen does this big before. I weighed them today and they came in at 2063g and 2226g. That means the heaviest doe is already 4.9lbs. That is mind boggling.

DSC_0001I also weighed the largest of my purebred Californian does, who are one day older than the hybrid kits. She weighed in at a measly 1500g. Tell me how Californians were specially bred as meat rabbits again??

DSC_0006I think I’m going to have to hang on to the largest agouti doe as a breeder. Her and her sister are the sweetest rabbits, so easy to handle and loving. The other day they were giving me kisses for almost an hour. I’d love to find a good home for the one I can’t keep, it would be a shame to have to butcher her. She’d make an awesome breeding doe for someone’s meat program.