Friday, June 28, 2013

A Broken Rabbit

 "We bought a broken rabbit Grandma but it isn't really broken. You've got to come and see it." That was my first introduction to a broken rabbit. Before I just thought they were spotted.  Now of course I know New Zealand rabbit colors are red, black, white, or broken. Any other breed and I'm clueless. I can't tell you though if broken refers to brown and white or just black and white. It would make sense that there are red and white ones since I'd think if you cross a white rabbit and a red one you would get some of the litter with red and white broken.  

But now that I've seen the black and white broken ones, I've got to say I'm rather partial to them. My husband would give me a resounding NO!! if I asked for one but this little one is my favorite. We had a house rabbit once and it wasn't a positive experience. He terrorized the cat. The problem might have been that he came home as an adult male and we had a female cat. He chased her all over the house and peed on every rug. He didn't stay for long. Maybe if he had been castrated things would have been different. Who knows but at least he probably wouldn't have been marking territory.
 When our daughter said she wanted to raise rabbits I was kind of excited. Seriously, how can you resist this little black one? He reminds me of a hippo, he is so chunky and fat.
Then there is this cutey pie. All white like his daddy or is it a her? Our daughter and I stared at every one of these kits behinds and declared every one of them a girl --if they were kittens. Cat kittens I mean, not rabbit ones. But since these are rabbits, I guess you have to do the baby chick thing and gently squeeze their little opening to see if anything resembles testicles. They hide in the abdomen until the bucks are 9 to 20 weeks. I'm guessing they say that because a male can hide his manhood if he desired or is scared.  

With the question of gender so much in question ( I was going to say sex but with rabbits that answer is always yes, 365 days a year) it is lucky the males mature approximately one month later than the females and so by that time we should be able to figure out if this litter of eight minus one lost a couple days after birth is does or bucks. Most likely a combination of the two. 
The heavier and larger breeds taking longer to mature than the smaller breeds of rabbits. That puts maturity for New Zealand at about 7 months. This does not mean the doe will not become pregnant at an earlier age but her body will not be mature enough to handle the strain and her health is at peril if not her life and the kits. She isn't mature enough mentally either to handle the responsibilities of motherhood.

Oreo here did an awesome job. She had eight kits her first litter and they are all as fat as butterballs. Eight is a lot of babies to feed and tend to.

The next stage is what has me wondering. How will the grand kids handle putting these bunnies on the dinner table. Yes, that is what New Zealand rabbits are bred for. The bucks weighing in at 9 to 11 pounds and the senior does 10 to 12 pounds. Fryer weight being around 5 pounds in 8 weeks, pretty impressive.

Compare that to broiler chickens who reach the weight of 31/2  to 4 pounds at 8 weeks. I'd say the rabbits out do them. And since does are induced ovulators, meaning during copulations they release an egg, they are ready and able to become pregnant at the drop of a hat. 28 to 32 days later out pops  passel of baby bunnies.

No wonder so many pioneers raised rabbits. How come all you hear about is the family cow?

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