Breeding Day for Two Pairs of My Rabbits–New Zealand Whites

Today was warm and sunny enough to finally be able to put the rabbits outside in the tractors. And a good thing, too, since it was breeding day for two of my does. There is much more room for the mating dance in the tractors than there is in the bucks’ cages. Plus since I have both bucks on the PVC hutch frame, that amount of moving and shaking at the same time on a stand that also houses six kits, their mother, and another pregnant rabbit was more than I wanted to deal with.

We paired up first timer Serenity with Leo, who has plenty of experience under his belt pelt. Well, Miss Serenity is 7 months old and she was more than ready to be bred. We waited because she was smaller in size and I wanted her to get bigger and also because I didn’t want to have 3 does kindling at the same time. She didn’t even run, she just lifted her tail and off they went. The first time was a success and then she led him a merry chase after that, but he got in at least one more successful mating and several not so successful ones. I am hoping with this pairing to get kits with Serenity’s fur and Leo’s body type and fast growth rate. I am also hoping that since Serenity, who comes from a large litter herself, will have an effect on Leo’s tendency to father a litter of six kits. There have been more on occasion, but usually the litters are smaller.

Now my decision to pair Lola with Starbuck was to get away from line-breeding. Even though there are great genes from Leo, Lola is his daughter and Lola’s mother Piper is Leo’s sister. I know a lot of people believe strongly in line-breeding for rabbits, but I’ve studied too much of genetics to believe that it will be healthy long-term. Yes, it passes along the good things you are breeding for, but it also passes along the bad traits and those are likely to increase the longer you breed the descendants back. It’s just a fact of genetics.

So, anyway, I am hoping for larger litter size from the Lola/Starbuck pairing. Starbuck, like his sister came from a large litter (10). Since Lola’s first litter, with Leo, was six, and since Lola’s mother Piper, has had 3 litters of six and one of seven, I figure any future pairings of Lola and Leo would be the same. We will see what Starbuck will do to increase litter size. It’s not like six kits is bad, but when the average litter size for NZW rabbits is eight, I’d like to see a little more than six, you know? And so far the only doe that has produced 8 or 9 kits is Phoebe.

Starbuck, however, was not winning Lola over quickly. He chased her around for what had to be a good ten minutes. So by the time she was finally receptive, and lifting her tail, he was done trying. So she’d try to entice him and he’d chase her for a bit, but then she’d stick her backside in the corner and he’d go into her side or onto her face and then he’d give up again. He’s young, this is only the second time breeding for both of them, and I wasn’t sure there would ever be a successful shot between them. It was clear they both wanted to and finally after a half hour of watching, we decided maybe laughing at them wasn’t the most inducive soundtrack for romance, so we went in and left them alone for a few hours.

I never did see if they had a successful mating, but they were both wet and a little sticky when we put them away, and judging from the appearance of Lola’s lady bits there was at least one try that got the job done. And if you think sexing kits is hard, try checking out your grown doe. Oh, goodness can she kick! Well, we will know for sure in a little over a month.

I broke a water bottle today because my left hand got tremors and I dropped it. Then I had to have one of the kids sweep it up because of the broken finger on my right hand which cannot grip right yet, although it seems to be typing okay now, didn’t want to grip the broomstick enough to steady the left hand. It took a half an hour for the tremors to stop. It is perfectly normal now.

I still got done what I wanted to get done today, which was dishes, laundry, and making applesauce. I didn’t get it canned, I will warm it back up tomorrow and can it. This batch was particularly sour and took 2.5 cups of sugar. Oh, well. It’s really good now. I had a peanut butter and hot applesauce sandwich and it was delicious. I didn’t even have my usual texture issues because my tongue was busy dealing with the peanut butter.

I also started 2 quart jars going making apple cider vinegar. We shall see how that turns out. I used my finely woven mesh produce bag in place of cheesecloth since I couldn’t find my cheesecloth. It’s actually of a finer weave, but it should catch whatever it needs to catch to ferment. I hope. I didn’t have much luck the first time I made sourdough starter. Hopefully this experiment will work better than that one did.

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