Posts Tagged With: bredding rabbits

Our Bunnies and a Easter wish to you

As you already know one of the many things we have decided to do in an effort  to become more self-reliant  is to raise rabbits. I have been a  rabbit lover since my folks let me have them as a kid and have been known to have up to 18 at a time. With our recent move a couple of years ago the only thing I wanted from our farm of animals was my rabbits. I had visions of raising, selling, showing and eating my farm raised rabbits. Well over the first year here at the OLD house on the edge of town two things happened that I could have never foreseen. First was the sickness and later death of my large brood Doe… after about 8 years she caught a cold after our move and died before the antibiotics took effect. Second was the loss of my little Doe that was Christopher’s show bunny. She escaped her cage and we spent days trying to recapture her in our large yard. This was a major set back for me as I had planned to raise a litter of Kits for sale at Easter and/or to show this year at the 4-H shows and State Fair.

Sable rabbit Ratchet as a baby

Sable rabbit Ratchet as a baby

So we started the long process of starting over. I wanted a rabbit that was a multi-purpose breed, that could be sold for pets,shown or used as food if I ended up with more than my fair share of off spring. So I found that perfect combination of traits in the Sable Rabbit. We were off and running when a local woman offered to give Christopher a Sable that was not pure bred as a gift. I thought that this would set us up with a nice pet and get my then 4-year-old interested in animals and their care.  So we were up and running with this little guy.

Well this  wonderful and clam rabbit has won our hearts and has been traveling with us as we take him to local pet shows and 4- H gatherings. By Fall Christopher and Ratchet became a team and we discovered that we had gotten a great starter show bunny for him even if he was not pure bred.

Ratchet and Christopher with trophy at pet show 8 2013

Ratchet and Christopher with trophy at pet show 8 2013

I then started a conversion with some of the local kids and competitors at our local 4-H and many of them suggested that I think seriously about Christopher’s future with rabbits as show animals and how hard some kids work at breeding and showing them. At last count one of our high school girls showed and won multiple  trophies with about 28 rabbits last year at state fair. She sold most of them before leaving and come home with enough money to put around 2500.00 dollars in her college fund.

So this sent me on the hunt for a pure bred version of a Sable rabbit. Taking my family on a car trip to southern Pennsylvania .On Christopher’s birthday we purchased another Buck and attended our first rabbit show. I had a wonderful time and could hardly contain my happiness about seeing so many wonderful animals. We were able to pick up our new bunny who was huge at the same age as Ratchet. We named him Diesel.

Christopher with new bunny Diesel

Christopher with new bunny Diesel

Christopher has really enjoyed  playing with, feeding and holding his first real pets. It has been a good investment of time and money to teach him about the love of animals.

walking rabbits on leashes

walking rabbits on leashes

One of the ways we get to spend time with the rabbits and get them some exercise is to walk them around our yard on nice days. It is hard to believe that only 9 months ago the rabbit in the blue harness fit in the palm of my hand. Ratchet  is now about 6 pounds and Diesel in the red harness is about 8 pounds. Both are of breeding age and ready to move into the show ring and start paying their way in the homesteading world. We are now in the process of finding a nice Doe to add to our growing rabbitry. This may take another trip to Pennsylvania because we have found no breeders in our local area.  The next project on our property is to add a large out-door shelter that will house all of our adult rabbits and an areas for three sets of kits. This will be an addition to a shed that we already have and will be semi enclosed. I hope to get started on it within a month. In the mean time we entertain our neighbors and friends with our walks and we enjoy bringing the boys inside for fun and family time.

Christopher playing with Ratchet

Christopher playing with Ratchet

Sable rabbit Diesel on leash

Sable rabbit Diesel on leash.

There is a far amount or work keeping and raising any animal. Rabbits do have individual personalities and not every one is great for a young person like Christopher who is now 5. Ratchet is the type that loves attention and being held. He will fallow any one around the house from room to room wanting noting more than a rub or pat. He is also more active and loves to run and jump. Where as, his buddy who is a pure bred Sable is shy and lazy. Making him harder to handle but he would rather sit quietly when put down making a real nice confirmation  animal.I believe that Christopher will be more confident with Ratchet this year but in time will enjoy both.

We have our first ” Stock Man” class in a couple of weeks where the rules or care and showing animals at the fairs is gone over. It is an important step for both parents and children, sportsman ship is held to a higher standard than the quality of the animal at every 4-h event. This class covers cheating, animal abuse, animal neglect, feeding and health care and general sportsman ship. It is the basis for a wonderful future in 4-H. I am so lucky that Christopher will be learning these lessons so early and in such a supportive way. We can all agree that teaching a child about the needs of others, including animals, how to play fair and the importance of being a good loser are lessons that build a well-rounded child and a better adult.

But in the end their really is nothing quite as wonderful as an Easter bunny.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday !

Happy Easter from Diesel the Sable Bunny

Happy Easter from Diesel the Sable Bunny

Categories: 4-H, bredding rabbits, Easter, rabbits, State Fair | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Rabbits our new 4-H project

   I have been a rabbit lover forever.We had them as kids and my  family raised some for meat and fur at one time. Over my adult life I have personally owned with or with out my kids about 26 and we have lost a few, sold a few and some have passed away from old age but this little guy is different.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

   By different I mean this is the friendliest, calmest and coolest tempered bunny I have ever encountered. He is a total joy and will be excellent for Christopher to show and use for his 4-h project. “Ratchet” as Christopher named him is a 7 week old Sable Chinchilla.The buck was a gray Chinchilla crossed with a black New Zealand doe…. the sable gene is from the Chinchilla side and Ratchet has all the signs of a Chinchilla with two toned fur and light guard hairs but also inherited the sable markings of dark ears, nose and toes from his dad as he had points of darker gray also. GE DIGITAL CAMERA

    As a 4-H mom you are always looking for ways to keep you kids involved and learning. Raising rabbits is an easy way to teach them all about animals, responsibility, breeding and in some cases about meat production and even the harder life lesson like death. Rabbits are a wonderful introduction to the world of showing animals and competition with-in the world of 4-H. At our last year-end show called, 4-H jamboree, I think their were about 20 rabbits on display and at least 6 were part of the market auction. The market auction rabbits are Pens of three that the member raises for a meat project. The child member bred, raises, and is judged on the weight, size and quality of the animals. Then the child member sells the Pen at an auction at the end of the week. Here the Pen of three usually sells for a price of about 200 dollars . Not a bad price for one litter of bunnies. The money goes directly to the child who raises the animals and is usually used to buy more project items or feed. The buyer has the option of keeping the pen or donating the pen back to the child so that it can either be sold later, eaten or bred again for the following year.

  With Ratchet being so clam and quite ( the best quality for a young child just starting out) I will be able to help train him. He must be comfortable with lots of handling and grooming. Ratchet will have to handle having his toes examined, flipped on to his back to check for missing hair, sex and age. He will need to have his ears checked for cleanliness, carried without jumping over board and sitting quietly when sitting on a display table. All things a child of 5 willbe able to do with help from judges and parents.

   There is no requirement for papers or purebred animals for children this age. the object is to start with the basics and  show what works for you. Only the market rabbits have breed requirements, they need of the meat type and in the correct weight range. older members show purebred and line bred animals for breed classes and thier are 47 listed breeds on the American Rabbit breeders Ass. website at www.arba.net/breeds.htm. Eventually I will pursue another New Zealand for the meat classes and a purebred “REAL” sable for breed classes. Then breed Ratchet to the New Zealand rabbit for the meat bred category.

   Thankfully, Christopher has fallen in love with Ratchet. This is really the first time I have seen him attach to an animal although we had others. He really likes spending time with him. I hope the bond continues and they spend this winter getting to know each other. At this point we have Ratchet in an indoor cage because he is so tiny. His move outside is still up for debate. At some point he should reach a weight of about 10 lbs so he will be too big to stay in a small cage.

Christopher with Ratchet

Christopher with Ratchet

    I am so happy to add another little fur ball to our family and our “living off the land” life style. Ratchet and his babies will further lower my families dependance on the world’s food supply and will offer us another organic meat to eat. I personally love rabbit meat so starting to raise my own for food, fur,fun and profit is a natural way for us to progress. I just hope that as Christopher gets older he will enjoy these animals enough to want to raise a few babies for later projects and is able to sell a few along the way.

 Welcome, to the family Ratchet may you live a long healthy life full of love!

Categories: 4-H, animal health, bredding rabbits, rabbits | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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