It was very nice to get through a day with no dead kits. After one a day for three days running it was getting a little discouraging, despite counting my blessings. We checked both litters of newborn kits today to make sure they were all thriving and put the smaller ones up on top of the piles. Since the mothers go to check them out as soon as we put them back in and start nursing, we figure that gives the littler guys a chance to get there faster than the bigger ones. We will continue to check on them daily.
We are keeping an eye on two of the kits. One has a slight discoloration around the eye and the other is small. Not small like Colossus was small, but small enough to keep watch. We may need to do at least one session of force nursing tomorrow if he doesn’t seem to be thriving. I think with how active he is though, he’s probably just small. I’d rather nip it in the bud if it starts looking like a problem, though. The small one is Lola’s and the discolored one is Serenity’s. You can see the kit with the weird eye in the photo below.
Colossus is up to 8.5 ounces. That little guy is doing me proud. The little bunny that could.
The husband comes home Wednesday at midnight, so hopefully we can set up the fodder system soon. I still need to buy some straw. We’ll need it for nesting boxes in about 4 weeks and we need it now for the chickens. They are getting pine shavings at the moment in their nesting boxes. It has been pouring so transporting straw in the rain has not been on my list of enjoyable endeavors. It is heavy for me and I walk too slow. The husband can move it much faster than I can.
On the coming weekend’s agenda is to go buy 250 pounds of rabbit feed and see if that farm store carries feed quality wheat, oats, or barley with which to start our fodder system. We also need to pick up the containers for it. And on Saturday our turkey will be ready from the ranch so we will need to pick it up along with some more roasts and hamburger for canning.
I am not sure if all of the oldest litter is at slaughter weight or not. They were getting pretty close. We will weigh on Thursday when they are 12 weeks old and that will help us decide when to dispatch them. According to the weather report we are supposed to have several rain free days in a row running through next Monday. At least three of them will be ready and that will clear up a cage so we can move the rest of Phoebe’s kits out of her cage.
As much as I still want to get the New Zealand reds, I am through the huge temptation to do so. I think we have enough on our hands right now and while we could make the space, it would make things more difficult. I know if we choose not to keep Andromeda we will likely replace her with a red, but since she hasn’t had a litter yet, that decision is a long ways off. Unless she goes nuts though and proves not to be a good mother, I don’t foresee us selling her. She is everything we want in a meat rabbit breeding doe. And since all of our other rabbits have settled down with motherhood, I have high hopes she will, too.
Right now with six does we will be at the point of each doe having 4 litters a year. Assuming an average of 7 does per litter and an average of 2.5 pounds of usable meat, we can get 420 pounds of rabbit meat a year and 42 pounds of liver. And for every 3 rabbits, we can get 6 quarts of stock/soup, so 336 quarts a year. With that output we can eat up to 8 pounds of rabbit meat a week (divided by 4 people) and up to 3 meals per person each week of soup or stock used for cooking other items. That more than adequately fits our needs. We are big meat eaters here, but we don’t want to eat rabbit every single day.
To add any more rabbits to the rabbitry right now would mean the need to sell some of the offspring either as breeding stock or as meat. I’ve already given some to my sister and my mother. So with those numbers in my head, I can’t in good conscience say we need to take on a couple more rabbits for production just because they have pretty red fur. Instead we need to focus on what we have and also on gearing up to raise quail for meat so that we are raising an alternative to rabbit meat. I’ve got almost $300 saved up for start up costs. I need to double that. I also need to find a place that sells quail meat. Although I have liked every bird I have ever eaten, quail has not been one I’ve tried. We need to know that we will all like it before taking it on and spending any money on it. We will raise meat chickens this summer if the quail turns out to be a no go. Anyway, that is the plan.