So far in our meat rabbit series:
The series will continue in the future, however here's a little side diary showing the rabbits I've aquired since beginning this saga.
Firstly: the cages. I found a local cage company who custom makes stackable galvanized wire cages with steel litter trays at a price that's better than ANYTHING I have seen online. I ordered 9 cages (3 stacks of 3) and it should fit nicely in the far wall of my shed. They are 24"X36" and seem to be large enough for the rabbits to make little laps around when they're excited (and they do).
Rabbit #1) My buck. I got him from a woman who advertized having "American Palaminos", but they didn't resemble anything close to any palamino I'd ever heard of. Her rabbits were GIANTS and they were silver and white (palaminos are usually about 10lbs and golden colored), and most of them were way too large for me to consider for meat rabbits. She had a buck she claimed was 37lbs. I don't know if he was that heavy but he was REALLY big. As I'm leaving I see this grey rabbit in a hutch by himself. She tells me he was a pet for a little girl, but as the rabbit grew up (he was only 4 months old at the time and pretty big) the girl lost interest in him. He very closely resembled the American blue rabbits I'd originally wanted but couldn't have yet and the woman mentioned he was the first rabbit she's ever bred that turned out solid grey. So I got him. For a meat operation I probably shouldn't have considered him. He's either a runty giant or a giant cross and he was so boney when I got him. But he is also very sweet. I've had him for about 2 months and he's filled in nicely but still a little on the boney side. He is such a sweetheart and loves dried papaya. He also loves being petted and will lean into your hand if you're not petting him. So I'll try him and see what kind of babies he sires. If his offspring are too boney I'll find him a home as a pet. He's really far to sweet to eat. I named him August (Augie for short)
Rabbit #2) My Doe. I got this doe from a nationally recognized breeder of Californian rabbits (Scott Demanche). The first thing I was surprised about was how solid she is. I've heard of people describing commercial meat rabbits like Californians as meat bricks, but I never quite understood what they meant until I ran my hands over her. She's not fat, but she is dense. At 9lbs she's smaller than Augie and probably won't get much bigger than that, but the breeder assured me his rabbits were all very good mothers and throw large litters (averaging about 10/litter). He also told me she could be bred at 6 months (which she reached a wwek after I got her) but I decided to wait a bit. I've had her about 6 weeks. She's also pedigreed which means she was more expensive, but it also means I might be able to get more for her if I sell her down the line. She is NOT sweet, although she's warmed up considerably since I got her. She "allows" me to pet her as opposed to wanting me to pet her. She also gets a little possessive of her food, but she also likes playing with her toys (I have plastic balls with bells in each rabbit's cage) and she LOVES eating grass and hay and goes crazy for Black Oil Sunflower Seeds. She's very dainty about everything she does. At first I was going to name her "princess" but someone I work with old me how unimaginative that was so I have named her Princess Prissy Pants (Prissy for short). And she is prissy. But she's also a very fine example of a meat rabbit and I'm sure she'll do fine.
So that's my starter stock. I am trying very hard not to get anymore until next spring at the earliest. I still want to get into pedigreed American Blue rabbits and the fewer rabbits I have the easier the transition will be between them.
I finally bred my rabbits for the first time this weekend. I originally planned to wait until the end of October but decided to do it now because I was aprehensive about how well it would go. I hear stories about females biting males and castrating them or fights breaking out and I just wanted to make sure it wouldn't be like that.
And it wasn't. I put Prissy into Augie's cage and they went right at it. It was the first time for both of them and neither knew what they were doing, but it was all rather civil and both seemed "willing". Prissy kept her rear in the back corner of the cage so Augie couldn't get in behind her and as a result he kept trying to mate her head. After about 5min of that I separated them again and came back in 8 hours for another session. I had to nudge them into position during the second time and Augie got 2 good solid shots. There was no biting, no scratching and Augie even groomed her when he was done (ever a sweetheart. LOL!). So hopefully in a month I'll have little baby rabbits. I'm looking forward to it!
I had originally intended to post pictures of my rabbits but after a month of "not getting to it" I figured I would just do without it.