Amping Up With Silver Fox Rabbits

We currently have one breeding pair, that would seem like plenty since we don't eat a lot of rabbit. However, I spend a couple hours a week collecting rabbit manure from my neighbor to put on my property and I buy occasional butchered rabbits from him. So...that means I am really not using my resources like I need to. If I am buying it locally but I have the resources to do it myself shouldn't I? If all I had was a backyard two might be enough but every plant on my property does better when I regularly bless it with rabbit pellets. So I am going to amp up my production while my neighbor is still raising rabbits so that I can have as large a learning curve as I need.

When we first started out I bought a conventional hutch that I thought was pretty. It worked well for a smaller bunny and I really like that it had a built in 'cave' for them, but our bunnies are huge. So now that hutch is a perfect home for broody hens to give them shelter and a safe place for the chicks to play once they hatch out. Now I build my own cages and I wish they were nicer and pretty like that other one but for right now I am just using my ugly cages and tweaking things as we go.

Currently I have 3 sets of cages plus 3 smaller hanging cages that babies would fit well in once weaned. One of my favorite and most professional rabbit raising site recommends breeding your does 20 days after they give birth. This leads to healthier mamas with higher fertility. I have been going months between breedings and it seems that she and I both get out of the mindset of having bunnies and things don't go as well as they could. My goal is to have 2 more does, so we would be up to 3 does and one buck.

Why am I doing this just as Winter is coming on? Why not in Spring and Summer when we don't have to fight the cold? Well, we butcher ducks and chickens in the Fall and it always reminds me how much space and feed is
required to raise homestead poultry. We could never raise enough chickens on our property to feed us very frequently. So for an animal we could harvest frequently in a small space rabbits make a lot more sense. The other reason is that in Spring and Summer I don't have a lot of time for building hutches or tweaking breeding schedules. Winter is my go time for fixing, thinking, studying, etc. It is always such a huge relief to have some breathing space after a hectic growing season. So rabbits are my next big push.

Since we only have one doe I need to contact my friend that breeds them and find out if she has any that are coming up for me to buy or trade with her for. To be ready for that I need to get one more winter-covering for our wire cage so that we can for a little cluster or
hutches that will shelter each other from the wind no matter which direction it is coming from. Some people will put their rabbits in a garage or other enclosed building and turn on a heater for them but then the ammonia really builds up and isn't good for you or your rabbits. Our first rabbits came from a guy that had his hutches in the back yard in a closed circle that had all of the hutches facing inward to protect from wind and he still had babies coming along fine in February (our coldest month). So that is what we will do.

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