I’ve had it with Andromeda. She bit me three times today in ten seconds, all in the same spot, the bend of my elbow. We were cleaning cages today and starting weaning since the kits are 8 weeks old. I spent a good ten minutes petting her and talking sweetly to her and making sure she was calm before taking her out of her cage to transfer her into a clean one. It was ten feet away. There was no need to bite like that. It still hurts several hours later. If I hadn’t been wearing two sweatshirts she would have drawn blood. A lot of blood.
After we put her in the clean cage we took 3 of her kits to put into a different cage and put two in with her that would have been taken away in two more days. She flattened them and did the dominate rabbit thing. They were crying. We took them out and put them in with their siblings. I didn’t want to wean them all at once, but I can’t have her hurting them. That is just not okay behavior for a mother rabbit. She started it when they were six weeks old, but not enough that it would hurt them. We’ll separate the five of them in a couple more days.
I had planned to give her another chance and to breed her one more time, but not after this. I can’t have a rabbit like this in my rabbitry. This will put me down to four does, but we’ve got plenty of meat. And we may be able to breed Kalia in 4 months, depending on whether or not she achieves breeding weight. Even then her genetics may be flawed.
I am not sure what I will do with Andromeda. I may try to sell her as a proven doe with a bad attitude, who hates kids, and bites. Full disclosure. Obviously at a discounted price. A proven purebreed NZW usually sells for $25, or $30 to $35 with papers. I might be able to get $15 or trade her for a bag of feed or a bale of hay. Maybe there is someone who has more patience than me, some kind of rabbit whisperer who will take her.
If I can’t sell her, than there is someone who is just starting a farm and will take unwanted farm animals, including rabbits, for free. She raises her rabbits in a colony setting and that may be what Andromeda needs. I don’t wish her ill. I raised her from infancy, after all. I want her to live a happy life. But I have put a lot of time into her trying to improve her behavior. She is the only rabbit it didn’t work with. I am tired of being bitten. And I can’t have a rabbit who tries to dominate her own babies.
A stronger person than me would cull her and put her in the stew pot. It is one thing to slaughter animals that you have known since birth are destined for food. But the breeders…you name them and you love them. Not as straight-forward a thing to do. It is something that I will have to learn eventually, but I think I’ve done enough learning for right now. At least for a little while.
The husband and I have talked about getting a couple of red New Zealand does from a breeder in Portland. It’s a 4.5 hour drive one way, so we could do it in a day if we needed to. Or we could drive down one day and drive home the next. The kids and Mom could take care of our rabbits while we were gone. I would like to introduce some more genetic diversity into my rabbitry. With Sweetie Belle gone we’ve lost some of the diversity we had. This breeder has 3 different red lines so we could get 2 unrelated rabbits.
From what I understand, breeding reds with whites results in either white kits or a more muted red coat color like fawn depending on the white rabbit’s genetics, but I don’t really care about that right now. If we got the two red does, we could get a red buck in the future. My hope is to one day breed reds, blacks, whites, and blues. But we’d start by adding reds. The only ones I’ve seen available around here have such muted coat colors. I want the deep red colored ones.
Bringing in 2 new does I could do:
Piper x Starbuck
Phoebe x Starbuck
Lola x Starbuck
Serenity x Leo
Red doe 1 x Leo
Red doe 2 x Leo
With an occasional breeding of Starbuck with one of the red does if I want full pedigrees. Right now I breed Phoebe with Leo because they make wonderful meat rabbits with great fur quality, but she is Leo’s daughter. I’d like to get away from that even if linebreeding is quite common in purebred meat rabbits. I have to think things would be better with a bigger gene pool.