Reluctant Bunny Herder!
Brutus the Buck
My partner surprised me with a new hobby a few weeks ago, “Darling,” she said “How would you like to try your hand at breeding rabbits?”
For the purposes of this article let’s just say I said “No Dear!” as we already have three chickens, one very large ginger Tom and one Jack Russell who think she's a Rottweiler.
So four weeks ago I became the chief cleaner, feeder and carer of four New Zealand white rabbits, one buck and three does.
Also, I had to rediscover my woodworking skills, without the bad language as my four-year-old daughter is often around when I am doing it!
In this last month I have surprised myself. I found I really enjoy keeping rabbits. I have not put any of the females to the buck yet but I intend to do this soon.
My partner has suggestedthat I start this blog to keep a journal of my successes and failures, to help others who may be thinking of doing this type of thing.
Also any advice from people who have already started this enterprise would be gratefully received.
The first thing I rediscovered about rabbits is how much waste they produce. Although reasonably clean, they like to leave a nice pile. However this isn't a bad thing as rabbit droppings can be put straight onto your plants and vegetables without fear of burning them and anything that can save you money in the long run is good.
I have also found that moving the run for the does has reduced my need to mow the lawn. However, whereas before I used to mow the lawn now I have to clean out rabbit runs and hutches.
The buck lives in his own house and run in the back garden. I would not say it was a hutch, more of a mini bungalow! I discovered that most of the shop bought hutches are too small for New Zealand whites. The does are out in the garden, in a run during the day and at night they share a large cage. However, I have a three tier indoor hutch for them which will be large enough to accommodate one doe and her litter.
We will soon be putting one of the does to Brutus the buck, I will let you know how it goes!
As stated in the main post here is my next update, last week we took one of the does to the buck, I will remember that next time I do this, make sure my daughter is not around, “Why does Brutus keep jumping on Green Ears’ back daddy”?
She is called Green Ears because of the food dye; we have done this so we can identify which rabbit has been ‘serviced’. As you can appreciate I had to figure out some way to separate them, as a sticky label with ‘I was laid on Thursday’ just wouldn't last, and T-shirts just seemed a little over the top!
I have discovered that it was quite traumatic; rabbit mating is not for the fainthearted. Rabbit copulation time is exceedingly short, we will not make the mistake of leaving the doe in the run so long next time. The advise we were given was to leave them together for 30 minutes, although the Buck appreciated the company, the doe did not appreciate his advances! We found the doe was very grumpy towards her unmated sisters when returned to their shared run.
She now has her own hutch and run and seems quite contented. We now eagerly await news that the joining successful and you will know as soon as I do.