Rabbits at Ten Weeks Old

The junior rabbits are now ten weeks old and are full of curiosity and energy. They like to raise up on their hind feet and reach their noses up to the roofs of their cages. It takes the full stretch of their bodies to do so. Yesterday we were playing with them, by putting a few pieces of straw hanging down from the top and watching them go up and get them.

We scrubbed out the hutches yesterday afternoon, dried the wire, and put down fresh bedding of straw. When we clean out the cages of the juniors we do them one at a time. You can only fit three of them in the holding bin together. Last time we did the major scrub down you could fit five of them in. We wouldn’t want to now as we don’t want the boys and the girls in the same cages. The boys are starting to display boy behaviors which is why we separated them in the first place. The girls are too young for even practice mating.

Since I replaced their feeders with cups that clamp onto the cage I have had no trouble with them knocking their food over or standing in it or pooping in it. They also aren’t knocking it into the catch tray underneath so it is not getting wasted.

Phoebe is now 16.5 weeks old. I’ve been watching her grow and I think that when the younger ones get to about 14 to 15 weeks they will definitely be at the right size for butchering. I consider her to be a little too large now. Come July 2nd she will be six months old. The New Zealand Whites mature faster than some other breeds, so she should be ready to mate at six months. That’s how old Piper was when she had her first set of kits. The ones we bought her with were her second litter. I should post a picture of her with one of the younger girls for comparison. They get along okay outside of a cage. Phoebe is territorial of her cage, but not in an area where they have space.

I finally got a tracking number on the cages we ordered and they are supposed to be here today. I hope so. The wabbitats I have the juniors in were fine when it was two per a cage, but with it being three per a cage it wouldn’t have made it another week. Since it was 3 girls and 3 boys, I couldn’t split them into 3 cages. But these new cages are wider and longer so three to a cage will be plenty spacious for the next few weeks as they get up to butcher weight. They still enjoy sleeping in a pile in close quarters.

Once I assemble those cages and get everyone moved into their new digs, I am going to go set up a couple of play yards so that they can go out on fresh grass. We have a couple of really nice patches and some dandelions outside the chicken range area that they’d love nibbling on and they’d get some sunshine and a chance to play outdoors in the sunshine in the month leading up to the end. I’d also like to take Phoebe and Leo out daily as well. I don’t want to be carrying Piper around while she is in the second half of her pregnancy, but she’s in a well-ventilated area and will be given some dandelion leaves and some blackberry and raspberry leaves to eat. Just three or four pieces to see if she likes it and it doesn’t give her the runs by adding greens too quickly.

Once we have all four cages set up, Piper will be the first to be moved so that she won’t have to be moved again except once more for cleaning before giving birth. Next will be Leo. We will move the kits to the remaining two cages. They are designed to stack so I will have Leo and the boy juniors on the bottom, as the bucks need to be kept in the cooler area for good sperm motility. Then I will have Piper and the girl juniors stacked on top of them. Phoebe will be moved into a Wabbitat cage until the juniors grow out and then she will go into one of the new cages. In the future I will use the hutches as grow out cages. They have more length than the Wabbitat ones so if I end up with 4 of one sex they would be fine in a hutch together. I eventually want to buy more cages if these ones are as nice as they are supposed to be, but I’ll have to save up for them.

The mid-range goal is to have eight to ten cages and take the hutches out of the shed altogether. DH and I have talked about selling them, but we have also talked about maybe getting quail to keep in one hutch, since quail thrive in confinement. We’d just need to attach a perch. They lay tons of eggs, though it takes about 15 quail eggs to equal two to three chicken eggs. They have a special egg cutter (sort of like a cigar tip cutter offer thingy, that’s a technical term) for quail eggs since they have super thick shells. So you just snip and pour.

And they are very efficient at converting feed to meat. One quail can feed one person and they are much less of a mess or hassle to process than chicken. They may even be something we’ll expand on and use one hutch for brooding eggs, one hutch for eating eggs, and one hutch to grow out quail for eating. I am always seeing people begging for quail and fertile quail eggs on craigslist and I know where to find them for sale one county over so they might be something I could sell enough of to cover feed costs. But that is a plan for next year. This year we will be raising meat chickens and I don’t want too much going on at once that anything is neglected. Unless plans fall through for the meat chickens. Then we’ll see.


10 thoughts on “Rabbits at Ten Weeks Old

  1. Interesting that you’re choosing to butcher so late. Most people butcher their rabbits no later than 13 weeks. “Fryer” rabbit size is around 5lbs live weight, have yours not gotten there yet?

    • LuckyRobin says:

      They are at 3.5 to 4 pounds, so they still might get there by 13 weeks. If they are a little past fryer size I will just cook them in the slow cooker instead of frying. One of the locals here doesn’t butcher their rabbits until they are four months old and they are still pretty tender to me. I would prefer to do it when there is enough meat on the rabbit to feed the family and not to have to use two rabbits per meal.

      • That is fair; when I did my rabbits I got 3lbs off of each 4lb rabbit. Keep in mind that a well-fed rabbit in good condition should give you around 60% live weight! I dunno how big your familly is but two 3-lb rabbits fed eight people (with veggies, mind) for me.

        • LuckyRobin says:

          My family is my husband, my two teenagers, me, and my mother. The first three can really eat and they eat a lot of protein even though we have ample veggies and fruit as well. I’ve got a couple more weeks to go before they are 12 weeks so we’ll see when we get there. It might be enough. This is our first time so it’s a learning process. Once we have them processed I’ll have a better idea of what they produce. And of course once we eat it, too.

  2. honour says:

    Hmmm, with a lot of medical issues, home schooling, family meals, laundry, household tasks, teenage DD, chauffeur, gardening, berry patches, chickens, rabbits – breeding feeding, butchering & cleaning, tanning, selling fur…how many work hours a week? How many hours do quail require?

    • LuckyRobin says:

      Medical issues do not affect me on a daily basis, just sometimes. If I am careful and don’t try to do things too quickly, I can go a while without having a flare up. Homeschooling takes me two hours a day, sometimes three. DS does the rest on his own. I spend about 30 minutes a day on taking care of the rabbits unless I am snuggling them, an hour on the day I scrub the cages out. I spend 10 minutes a day on the chickens, except on coop clean out day which is an additional 20 minutes. Breeding is half an hour maybe every 6 weeks.

      Butchering will be one day maybe once a month once we get going on the rabbits, but for now we only have one doe that is old enough to breed. Chickens will be done all at once when we get meat birds. My mom will be raising them, I’m just paying for the feed and helping to butcher. Tanning will be my daughter’s project mostly. I imagine quail will require the same amount of time as rabbits, since they are caged and not ranged.

      The blackberry, blueberry, and raspberries are all established. They don’t require much care. Pruning once and tying up new vines once. We will be planting new strawberries this year, but again, they don’t require much care after planting, just watering really. I am not a heavy weeder when I garden and my mother helps a lot with that anyway. Initially there is a lot of work, but once things are going, we weed once a week. It’s not excessive. Plus my husband’s job is two weeks on (14 twelve hour days straight)/ two weeks completely off, so he’s free every two weeks to work alongside me.

      Laundry is going while other things are going. I make up weekly meal plans and stick to them. I do a lot of crockpot cooking. I bake once a week for the week. I try to make meals that overflow to the next day. Like spaghetti and meatballs one day will be meatball sandwiches the next. Roast chicken and baked potatoes one day will become chicken enchiladas the next day and baked potato soup the day after that. It takes planning is all.

      The kids have their indoor chores (dishes, putting away the laundry, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathrooms and the fridge and the floors). They help in the garden and during canning season. They help with cleaning the cages and mucking out manure and with the compost. They get sizable allowances, more so than their friends who do very little if anything, and do not complain much about it.

      I also watch very little television. In fact we don’t have television service, just Netflix. That clears up a lot of time in one’s day. I don’t do that much driving around of the kids, either. Just DD to school and back in bad weather or sometimes to a friend’s house once a month or so. It sounds like a lot, but it works.

  3. Lookin’ good, Robin. I sometimes have to wait until the 14 week area to butcher. Not very economical, but we do it anyway. I usually see a large growth jump from the 12 week mark to the 14 week mark.

    • LuckyRobin says:

      I had noticed you did that. I know it appears a little less economical, but it seems worth it to me to have enough meat for a meal in one rabbit with maybe some leftovers. And after all, it’s about feeding our families the best food, isn’t it? Not the cheapest. If it was the cheapest, I’d still be buying the ten pound bags of chicken hindquarters at $7.90 a bag. A little extra feed seems like a good trade off to me.

      • We always say that it isn’t about food – it is about knowing where your meat is coming from. When I’m burning $20’s out of my pocket the other week, I have to keep chanting that to reming myself that it isn’t about the money. 😉

  4. LuckyRobin says:

    Exactly. It’s about health and intimate knowledge of the lives these animals lead.

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