Serenity had her kits. There are six and they are all fat and sassy. I didn’t think she’d had them because there was no sign of fur, but the son stuck his hand in the nesting box anyway and felt squirming. On further investigation, she had buried the babies and the fur underneath the hay instead of having fur on top of the hay. And she had actually given birth in the nesting box, which the rabbits almost never do. So judging from their size and their bellies, I think she had them after we left last night or this morning and we just didn’t see them.
Lola’s seven all have full tummies, but they are super squirmy. They can travel from one end of the nesting box to the other as a litter in ten seconds. I just hope none of them flip themselves out of it. I tried to move them to the back, but they just came back to the front again. Oh, well.
Both mothers are doing well, eating like there is no tomorrow, and drinking a ton of water. I am kind of relieved that the litters are not larger. I mean, nine kits per litter sounds great until someone doesn’t get fed or there’s too much crowding in a cage but they are too little to be weaned. All I know is that I didn’t have problems with smaller litters, Kalia being the only exception and she still lived, and except for Sweetie Belle’s litter, I have never had all nine kits make it past 4 weeks old.
I am working on a breeding schedule. I’m not planning to breed past mid-May, so the last kits will be born mid-June. I will skip breeding in June, because I don’t want to have any kits born or real small in July. They need to be old enough to go outside in the rabbit tractors if we have extreme heat. I don’t like to do that until they are at least 2 weeks old. They go out in the nesting box and are put in heavy shade with their mother in that case. We won’t breed again until the second half of July for kits towards the end of August when it has started to get more reasonable in temps, around 75 to 70. That gives the mothers a break during the 80 to 90 degree weather. We will breed in August and early September for a last slaughter date at the end of November or the very beginning of December.
The thing we learned this past winter is that we don’t want to carry kits through the winter. It is hard to be at maximum capacity and not be able to clean cages and dropping pans with regularity because of the weather. There is only so much you can do in the confines of a shed with baby wipes or a bucket of hot, soapy water, but it would be much easier with just 10 cages than 22. We don’t want to slaughter during the bitter cold of mid-December through February again, either. Waiting for that one sunny day a month to coincide with the husband being home often meant keeping kits on a few weeks longer than we’d planned, which increased feed consumption as well. So the breeding schedule will take that into account as well.
We will start breeding again in February, though, instead of waiting until early March like we did this year. Mid-February would have worked fine for births Mid-March. I’d like to have about 104 rabbits total for the freezer for a year. I can do that if I schedule well enough, assuming litter sizes of 6 to 7 rabbits. And hopefully Kalia will hit weight. She will be old enough April 21st, but as of right now she is not big enough to breed. I want her to be at 10 pounds, or at least 9.5 like Lola. She is only around 8 pounds right now, if that.
Serena will be old enough to breed towards the end of May, but I want to breed her with Alexander who won’t be old enough until mid-June, which would put babies born in July, so I won’t breed with him until the end of August. I may give Serena a litter with Wildfire since she is the daughter of Leo and the niece of Starbuck, in May, and then she will be ready to get pregnant again by Alexander at the end of August. Things may get complicated. I will definitely need a spreadsheet to keep it all straight.
I will have to do 3 rabbits at a time for a couple of months to make up for the months we are taking off and for the fact that we no longer have Piper or Sweetie Belle. By the time Sienna reaches maturity we will have 8 breeding does, though, or maybe just 7 if Kalia never hits weight. Sienna won’t be until the first week of July, and we won’t breed her until the end of July. Cinnabun hits maturity 6/9, but again, no breeding at that time of year.
Well, I’ll get it sorted out.
My Royal Palm turkeys are supposed to come in to the store on Thursday. They are $14 each. They open late, at ten, so it will be easy enough for me to be at the door and get what I need right away. I’m not ready for them, though. I think I’ll do a Rubbermaid tote and a heat lamp in the bathtub. I am only getting a few so that should be just fine until the husband, who left for Alaska tonight, returns home and finishes the duck house. Then the ducklings will move and the turkeys can move into the duckling brooder after a through clean out. I would like to get 4 turkeys. That way I should have a chance of at least one of each sex since they are straight run. I want one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas and the other two for breeding. I would just love to be able to sell Royal Palm poults eventually. From what I hear, turkey toms aren’t fertile until somewhere in their second year, though, so it would be a while before I could do that.
There were no seizures spotted with Special Pekin today. That’s two days I haven’t caught her having one. Considering how frequent they were, I am starting to believe the vitamin regimen might actually be working. I hope so. They were getting quite hard on the little critter.
I’ll have to take some photos of the ducklings tomorrow. There is quite a size discrepancy between the two biggest Pekins and the two smallest, and between the 2 biggest Welsh Harlequins, one of which is almost as big as the biggest Pekin, and the 3 littlest Welsh Harlequins. The two smallest Pekins are still bigger than the 3 smallest Welsh Harlequins. The growth rates are just weird. I really do wonder if they are all the same age as I was told they were or there might not be a few days between them. Or it could just be the trauma and stress of being attacked by a bezerker chicken made the smaller ones unable to eat at the same rate as the bigger ones. I certainly think the seizures have affected the one’s growth, too. Oh, well, they are all growing now so I’m less worried about it than I was. Either way, all I can do is provide fresh water with vitamins, good food, and a clean brooder box. They have to do the rest.