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- Raisers can start with one male and two females
- It is best to buy them when they are 2 months old right after they weaned.
- Be sure to buy your breeding stock only from reliable sources.
- Select your rabbits that are the offspring of prolific does who knew how to suckle or nurse their young.
- Pick out aggressive, well develop bucks.
- Bucks and does selected should be both vigorous, healthy and free from defects.
- Raisers should provide each animals with its own cage, which should be placed in a quite area that is not directly exposed to sunlight. Bucks and does must be separated because rabbits are territorial animals.
- Rabbits are strict vegetarians and should be fed twice daily, once in the morning and then late in the afternoon. To maximize productivity, the animals should be feed with concentrate, supplements like green roots or bread scraps maybe added to the diet. Scrap table greens may include pechay, lettuce, cauliflower, camote leaves, malunggay and cabbage. Rabbits also relish peelings of banana, melons and various kinds but not the rinds of green papaya and chayote.
- Water should be provided at all times, the container should always be full of fresh, clean drinking water. Rabbits, especially lactating does, drink plenty of water. The container should be cleaned daily
- Does in heat become restless and lose appetite. Their external genetalia become inflamed. When this occurs, the does in heat should be brought to the buck pen. Since rabbits are territorial, the female should be place in the male pen. If it’s done the other way, the female may kill the male.
- The buck should serve the doe at least 2 times. The best time to breed the animals are early in the morning(5:00 -8:00 am) or late in the afternoon(4:00- 7:00 pm). Be sure not to leave the doe in the pen overnight with the buck.
- A pregnant doe has a short gestation period of 28 days to 1 month or 32 days if it is an old animal.
- Build a wooden nest box and line its bottom with rags and shredded newspaper or dry grass. Near delivery date, the doe will become nervous. It may scratch the bottom of the nest, scatter or rearrange box beddings, and pull of its fur and line the nest box with it. At this time, add a vitamin and mineral supplement to its diet.
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- The doe should not be disturbed during kindling. At kindling time, a doe will become extremely nervous. Keep children, dogs, cats and other animals away.
- A litter may consist of 4, 8 or 10 babies, the average is six. A doe may produce 3 or 4 litters/year, sometimes more, rabbits are very prolific animals.
- Within 24 hours after delivery, don’ touch any of the young, because a doe that sniffs an alien smell on its young may reject them or worse eat them. It inherited this trait from its wild ancestors; a trait that is still with rabbits of all breeds.
- The young rabbits will come out of the nest box after 10 days. They will start eating greens and concentrates when about 3 weeks old. After 2 months, they are ready to be weaned. At this time, the mother may be rebreed, and the young fattened and butchered when 5 months old.
- It is a good idea to keep records to facilitate management and control of stock. Basic information that you should record include age of does, breeding dates, expected date of delivery and number of young per litter. The more relevant data you record, the easier your operations will be.
- Raising rabbits is definitely easier than keeping chickens or pigs. Rabbits consume a little of your time, reproduce rapidly and a source of high quality protein.
SELECTING BREEDS TO RAISE
In choosing breeds of rabbits to raise, consider some factors such as prolificacy, growth rate, feed conversion efficiency and the ability to adopt local conditions. For meat production, consider also the yield of meat.
Rabbit breeds that are suited for meat production are the New Zealand White and Californian. Both breeds are white fleshed, rapid growing, and have high ratio of meat to bone. Other breeds, like Angora K and U.S. Chincilla are also good for consumption and other purposes.
AGE OF STOCK AT PURCHASE
Potential breeding stock can be bought from eight weeks of age up to maturity. Does can be purchased already mated. Preferably, stock should be purchased at about 12 weeks old so that it can easily adopt to changes in environmental conditions before breeding.
SIZE OF INITIAL STOCK
For beginners, an initial stock made up of I buck and 6 does is recommended. As he gradually equips himself of the proper management practices because rabbits are prolific breeders, expansion is possible within a short time.
HOUSING. In constructing hutches, use locally available materials such as bamboo or wood for frames, use wire mesh for cage walls and floors. Provide nylon curtains made from empty sacks in front and back of cages to protect rabbits from strong rains and winds. Roll up curtains during daytime when the weather is fine. Cannibalism normally occurs among rabbits therefore, it is necessary for them to have individual cages to avoid such problems. The type of hutch floor for rabbits should be ascertained. Many strain of rabbits housed in cages with solid floors. Do not take kindly to wired floors, they tend to develop sore hocks. Does developing sore hocks in wire floors would likely experience stress which may cause them to abort or drop their youngs over the wired
floor rather than in the nest box. Provide nest boxes for the youngs, particularly for rabbits in wire floor cages. A simple box with the top and one side open is adequate. The open side should have a retaining board 15 cm from the floor to prevent the young from leaving the nest prematurely. Boxes with dimension of of 40 cm long 30 cm wide and 30 cm high are suitable for large breeds, but provide additional are for large breeds.
DRINKING AND FEEDING EQUIPMENT
Drinking equipment to be used should be easy to clean and maintain. Flat bowls can be used to supply drinking water in small- scale operations. These bowls with a wide base are not easily tipped over and can be placed inside the cages. For breeding equipment, feed hoppers fixed to the outside of the cage with the trough projecting into it is used in large units. In small units where wet mash is fed, flat earthenware pts are commonly used to hold feeds and water.
When a doe is in heat, take it to the bucks, never the reverse. At the start, the buck will refuse to mate with the doe. Withdraw the doe and return it to the buck’s cage 3 to 4 hours later. Ten days after the first mating, the doe is palpated for pregnancy. Pregnancy can be diagnosed by ‘palpation technique’( by gently moving the thumb and fingers, embryos can be felt between the hind and legs and in front of the pelvis). The doe gestates for 29-32 days. Three or four days before giving birth, it prepare its nest, sheds some of its furs for lining the nest. Upon noticing this, the raiser should clean and disinfect the animal’s cage and put clean straw bedding. Separate the pregnant doe and observe it closely to be able to assist it when it gives birth
Feed rabbits with vegetables, corn, sorghum and rice, cabbage trimmings and cruciferous vegetables given to rabbits can help them become healthier and more vigorous. Adult animal needs 115- 170 gms of concentrate feed or chicken mash or grains daily. Commercial feed for poultry and swine are also good for rabbits. Pellet food for rabbits is now available in feed store. Always provide drinking water and salt. Provide gestating and lactating does with vitamins and mineral supplements and more feed than bucks and dry does. This will ensure that does and their youngs are now healthy and resistant to diseases.
Proper sanitation must be observed and practiced in a rabbitry. Regular cleaning of the cages is essential to get rid of the harmful microorganisms that could carry disease to the animals. During extreme environment conditions, protection must be provided to avoid stress and prevent he occurrence of diseases.
COMMOM RABBIT DISEASES AND AILMENTS
a) intestinal coccidiosis- the most acute form of disease which damages the bowel wall.
b) hepatic coccidiosis- a more chronic which attacks the liver and badly affects the young ones
2. ENTERITIS:- A form of disease in which large quantities of tenacious mucus are present in the bowel, and particularly common in young rabbits.
3. RESPIRATORY DISEASE- Diseases of nasal cavities(snuffles) and the lungs(pneumonia) often occur in rabbitries when environmental conditions are poor.
4. DISEASES OF THE EARS AND SKIN:
a) ear mange(canker) is a disease that can be easily and effectively treated if it is detected in the early stages. Affected rabbits have cavity reddish brown scales in the ear cavities and on the skin of the ears.
b) Skin mange is due to the presence of other irritation. Generally it occurs on the head and shows its presence by the appearance of yellow scabs on the nose, lips and face.
5. SORE HOCKS- The affected skin of the underside of the hindfoot. Below the hocks becomes sore and ulcerated, due torough floor and scalding from wire.
6.MASTITIS –The disease is due to bacterial infection, and this is common in suckling doe. The mammary glands of the affected animal become hard and reddish blue in appearance
7. MYXOMATOSIS- This is common in wild rabbit and the affected one develops a watery discharge from the eyes. The eyelids swell and become denude of hair.
8.PSEUDOTUBERCULOSIS- This is a bacterial disease frequently carried by the rats and mice. Symptoms are very variable. It maybe caused by the contamination of food and affected vermin, by introducing a carrier animal or by the use of secondhand infected equipment.
If any of these disease are observed in rabbits, consult a veterinarian for proper treatment and diagnosis.
Rabbits mature at 5-6 months. Time of disposal depends on the purpose the animals are intended. Rabbits produced for pets or breeding purposes for instance, can be disposed at a younger age for environment adaptation. For meat production, rabbits can be marketed upon reaching marketable size. These are sold either alive or dressed.