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RABBIT BREEDING
COMPLETE PROJECT

 

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You have just bought a project for RABBIT breeding ,we congratulate you and we wish you success in your undertaking. If you require more information or if you have any difficulties to download your project on your HD, please contact us , E-mail: erip@worldatos.com.

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e-mail: erip@worldatos.com

 

INFORMATION OF INTEREST

 

Number of females/males 8 to 12

Female serving age 4-5 months

Male serving age 7-8 months

Female parent replacement 100%

Number of litters per year 6 to 8

Work relation/young rabbits per mother per month 2.8 - 3

Working life 90 days.

Weight at slaughter 2.500 to 2.800 kg.

Conversion 3.7 to 4.1

Yield 52 %

 

Rabbit meat is fourth in production after pork,beef and poultry.In 1992 the production was estimated at 150.000 metric tons,of which a large part came from domestic producers.Today there are more than 300.000 producers working on a semi industrial basis.

The dietary value of the meat is excellent the fat content is less than chicken meat or beef having approximately 21% of proteins and very little cholesterol content. The skin of the rabbit is also used which produces excellent leather.The white skinned variety is the most sought after.

 

RABBIT KEEPING

 

On the zoological scale ,the rabbit is classified in the mammal class,belonging to the leporidos family ,of the Oryctogalus genus being of the Orictogalus cunniculus species of europe,the western mediterranean and the north of africa.The domestic rabbit is a descendent of the wild species “Lepus cuniculus”. Thousands of years ago,the wild rabbit was abundant in Spain and the south of France.The romans had propagated the raising of animals within the empire and especially in France.Later on,it was really the monks in the south of France who had domesticated the animal during the middle ages mainly for consumption after periods of fasting.Since then,France is considered the traditional rabbit producing country. The rabbit is a good domestic animal for selection.It is clean,docile and intelligent.The rabbit is admired all over the world for numerous reasons ;it is tenacious and can survive in all kinds of situations.Because of itīs prodigious fertility ,the rabbit is capable of maintaining , itīs race type at a constant number , despite manīs interference. The animal is found in all regions of the world from the desert to the arctic. The first information received regarding the domestication of the rabbit dates back to the Roman Empire.The romans were the first to see the importance of the value of the rabbit as a product or marketable food.The origin of the domestic rabbit is explained by diverse modifications,owing to the processes of selectivity and domesticity of which the rabbit has undergone throughout the ages ,producing marked differences in the species.These differences can be detected in the cranium structure,the body size,the colour and texture of the fur and the form of the ears;likewise different physiological aspects such as the length of time in which the animal is in heat ( in the case of the domestic species this lasts all year so naturally the animal is very prolific and this of course is very positive for the breeder) Some of the characteristics of this species are the following ; itīs sexual precocity ,itīs high fertility,itīs brief reproductive cycle,itīs great proliferation,itīs animal protein content for human consumption,the long history of rabbit breeding and itīs rapid development in a very short time as a family business for family consumption and of course itīs exploitation on an industrial scale. One example of this adaptability and rapid reproduction can be seen in the case of the occurences on the the island of Porto Santo in the Madeira archipelago in 1418.The Portugese set free rabbits on the island and these multiplied so fast that the island had to be abandoned by itīs inhabitants.Another example is the case of Australia where rabbits were introduced by the english.The animals became such a pest that at one point a disease had to be deliberately introduced so as to destroy the rabbit population. During the second world war one could have seen that in those countries where there was a difficulty in obtaining food the local populations were incentivated to raise rabbits on a family basis. Today this species is exploited not only for itīs alimentation but also for the industrialization of the fur.

 

 

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RABBIT

 

The rabbit has the size approximately of an adult domestic cat, between 40 and 45 centimetres long from the point of itīs nose to the tail.The head is round and the face is longish,the nose is small and there is a little patch of humid bare skin called the “ rhinarium”. The relatively wide mouth has lips which when separated one can observe a pair of incisors.The upper lip is cleaved at the front.The areas around the eyes, mouth and cheeks are covered by fine,long whiskers. The eyes of the rabbit are large and placed on each side of the head.The pupils are very prominent and have a field of vision of 360š.It is interesting to note that the eyes have fields of vision which overlap by some 30š to the front and by some 10š to the rear. The rabbit has three eyelids:one upper,one lower and a third which can close so as to protect the cornea during fights or dust clouds,etc.Both the upper and lower eyelids have eyelashes.These are very long on the upper eyelid. The prominent characteristics on the rabbitīs head are the large ears ( pavilions-outer and inner ears).In normal conditions the ears are stiff and erect ,however when the animal runs,fights or is afraid the ears are lowered and aligned with the lines of the body thus offering a smaller target in case of any danger. The head is separated from the body by a short neck visible when it is extended. The fore legs of the rabbit are of a fine and delicate structure.When the animal crouches these bend at the joints and are kept under the chest. The torax or chest is separated from the abdomen by a membrane or diaphragm.Inside the thoracic cavity,well protected by a ribcage are found the heart and the lungs. The lower abdomen has a muscle wall which constantly contracts so as to protect the inner organs. The flexible backbone or vertebral column has seven cervical vertebrae (neck), twelve thoracic(chest) and seven lumbar(trunk).Three sacrum vertebrae and various small caudals support the rear end. The backbone is united with the rest of the rabbitīs skeleton at the shoulders the back and the pelvis. The back legs of the rabbit are long and very strong. These have an important part to play in the everyday life of the rabbit in the field or wood. Their use in running is extremely important. They help the rabbit to suddenly start running.The feet are also used for digging the earth when tunneling.In reality they are not used in the digging process itself,but only as spades for tossing the earth behind itīs body.The earth is thrown behind so as to leave free the the entrance to the hole. Fighting plays an important part in the life of the male (buck) rabbit.The back legs have four large strong toes each one having powerful, sharp claws.When fighting, the rabbit grips itīs opponent trying to destroy it , stabbing it with an aggressive rear leg action.The front legs each of which have five toes are used as secondary arms and are used repeatedly to lash out and scratch itīs adversary. The tail is short and is withdraws together with the back legs. This is composed by a series of small,flexible bones which form part of the backbone.The tail is covered by smooth,dense fur sometimes used as a signal which is especially true in the case of the female.

DIFFERENT RABBIT BREEDS

The finality of repeated crossbreedings of intended selections and the arranging of mutations is to create and perfect races, with the object of obtaining from these,optimum reproductions.This way the multitude of pure races obtained are classified according to their aptitude, being differentiated into races which are produced either for their skin or fur.Nevertheless, there are some double aptitude races, rabbits which are producers of skin,fur and meat. In the same way they can be classified according to their size,weight and animal volume,being differentiated the “giant” races (in which the adults have a minimum live weight of 5 kg.),the “normal” races(whose minimum weight varies between 2.5 and 3.5 ) and the “small” races(which donīt reach 2.5 kg of live weight) Before buying stock,it is advisable for the breeder who is new in this activity,to study the characteristics of the different races.There are many factors which can influence the final decision.It is advisable for this breeder to start with only one race.Sometimes the novice buys two or three different races.Each race requires special attention and the inexperienced breeder will not be able to solve all of the problems which may present themselves.For this reason it is much better to select only one race and dedicate all oneīs attention and time so as to obtain the best results. The final selection of the race depends on a careful consideration of various factors.The most important factor to consider is what the final destiny of the rabbit will be. The following are some of the principle rabbit breeds :

RACES BRED FOR THEIR MEAT

Flandes giant.Weight,6 to 8 kg.Short haired,smooth coat of grey brown which changes in the different existing varieties.Round head.Large,stiff, wide ears in a V form having rounded points.Very noticeable chin in the case of the male and not so much so in the case of the female.This race is not utilized industrially because itīs meat is a little fibrous and also itīs growth is slow and the animals are not very rustic.It is used as a race for bettering the size.

Spanish giant.Weight,5 to 8 kg.tawny coloured,silk coat;There is also a white variety.Large, fat head.Large, wide, straight ears finishing in points.Brown coloured eyes.The females have a barely noticeable chin.

Belier.Weight,5 to 7 kg.There are 4 different types of coat;grey,black and white,light grey and patched.The head is wide and large.Brown coloured eyes.Large ears hanging from each side of the head.The females have chins.

New Zealand.Weight,4 to 5 kg.White coat,smooth,shiny hair,thick,smooth skin.Stiff rounded ears.Eyes with rose coloured irises.The females have a middle sized chin.Mainly used for meat production,but the skin is used commercially.

Californian.Weight,4 to 5 kg.White coloured coat excepting the nose,ears,feet and tail which are all black.The head is round with a short neck.The ears are large, erect and rounded at their extremes.Pink coloured eyes.The females have a slight chin.

Vienna blue.Weight,3.5 to 5kg.Long,shiny and smooth hair.Uniform slate blue coat.The male has a wide head and the femaleīs is longer and narrower.Wide,stiff and rounded ears.The eyes have dark blue pupils and light blue irises.The race is double aptitude,very much appreciated by furriers.

The German Giant.

Ideal for the production of meat and skin. Weight up to 7 kilos.

The Bouscat Giant.

Excellent for the production of meat and skin Weight up to 5 or 6 kilos.

New Zealand.

Ideal for meat and skin.

Californian.

Ideal for the production of meat.

 

 

Bevern Blue.Weight,3.5 to 5 kg.Brilliant thick hair,intense blue coloured coat a little more grey than the Vienna Blue.The ears are narrow and large hanging straight down as a V. Dark blue eyes.A race used for itīs fur and meat.

The Tawny Borgoņa.Weight,3.5 to 4.5 kg.Tawny coloured coat.Wide head with ashort neck.Wide erect ears.Eyes with brown irises.Chin not very developed in the female.

Normandy.Weight,3 to 4.5 kg.The colour of the coat is a uniform greyish colour except in the belly which is a darker colour.The hair is shorter ,more dense and fine.The head is broad and short.Medium sized ears,straight and slightly pointed.The eyes are a dark brown colour.Neither of the sexes have a chin.Used bth for meat and skin.

Brabanzon.Weight 3.5 to 4 kg.The coat is black with white marks although there do exist varieties having different colours.There is a white mark from the head to the nose,snout right up to the neck.The points of the feet are also white.The head is large.The ears are V shaped wide and fall straight down when it is relaxed.A double aptitude race.

French Butterfly.Weight 3.5 to 4 kg.The coat is white having black marks,the loin is striped,a circle around the eyes and a mark on the nose in the form of a butterfly.The ears are black.The rear of this animal is full of black marks which extend over all of the body.The eyes are dark brown.The ears are extended,thick stiff and separated.The chin is very developed.There are also French and Swiss varieties.

RACES BRED FOR THEIR HIDES

 

Champagne silver.Weight,4.5 to 5 kg.A longish big head.Extended ears,which are erect and rounded at the edges.Brown eyes.The female has a small chin.The fur is fine,not too long.Silver coat with the different varieties having different tones.With the white variety,the fur on the bluish parts and the white on the black parts, but what predominates is the long white fur.With the dark variety the tail and the points of the feet are black.The meat is of a good quality.

Castorrex.Weight,3 to 5 kg.The head of the male is big and less long than that of the female.Large pointed ears which are close together.Brown eyes.The female has a small chin.It should have hardly any long surface hair but the underhair should be dense and silky.Brown coloured it has a side band at the back which is darker.The belly is pale,whitish.Various varieties have been obtained in black,white and tawny colours etc.,based on hybrids;these keep the colour of the crossbreed.The meat is good quality.

Chinchilla.Weight,2 to 3 kg.Medium sized head , thinner in the case of the females.Medium sized, erect, ears inclining slightly towards the back.Colours can be black,white or grey.The fur is dark at the base and white and black at the extremes.Giving it the appearance of a chinchilla.There are havana blue and tawny coloured varieties.The meat is very tasty.(by the way, this race has no connection whatsoever with the Andean Chinchilla).

Havana.Weight,2.5 to 3 kg.Finish head,rounded and broad.The small ears are short and straight.Brown coloured eyes.There should not be any chin in either sex.The fur is short and shiny.Havana blue;it is difficult to obtain uniform colours.

Russian.Weight,2 to 2.5 kg.Short ,broad head,more long in the case of the females,The fine ears are short close together and incline towards the back.The eyes are pink coloured.They have no chin.The fur is short,dense and fine.The colour is pure white having marks on the nose;ears feet and tail are all coloured black.The meat is excellent.The “Russian Giant “has been obtained from this race having the same characteristics but in a larger size.

 

RACE PRODUCED FOR IT´S FUR

Angora.Weight,2kg.Large round head.The ears are short, straight ,V shaped and are separated.The eyes are pink.The body is totally covered in fur which is long,dense and silky ;the skin cannot be seen.According to the variety of the race, the colour is black,white,(the most appreciated colour),grey,dark blue,etc.

REPRODUCTION

We have mentioned previously of the various aspects of the precocity of this species.The most appropriate age for reproduction depends on various factors, which are ,amongst others,the race ,the sex,the environmental conditions and hereditary genetics.The smaller sized races are the most precocious arriving to sexual maturity at 4.5 to 5.months in the case of the females and 5 to 6 in the case of the males.In the case of the giant races, the females, it is 8 months and with the males, 12 months.However, the animals should not mate until they have reached full somatic development ;likewise,one must exclude from reproduction those animal which have had some kind of sickness.

Fertility Cycle

As in the case of all domestic species it recurrently and regularly repeats the maturation and liberation ovules,except during gestation,when the rabbit produces ovules in a continued manner and in series this is of course when the environmental conditions are favourable.This way , female rabbits can be fertilized at any moment except when they are in period of gestation.the production of mature ovules and the acceptance of the male can be modified because of the variations in the environmental conditions. For the liberation of the ovules it is necessary that the animals are in a state of sexual excitement so producing the sexual act(coitus) but they can also be similarily aroused with the use of certain artificial stimuli.

When the animal is in heat

The period when the animal is in heat is related to the presence of mature ovules which impels the female to accept the male so as to produce the coupling.It is not very obvious to notice in the animal itself when it comes into heat ,one usually notes this when they start mounting each other,scratching their chins against the cages and arching their backs.Also the vulvaīs aspect changes becoming humid,swollen and having a violet colour.In this moment the female should be brought to the cage of the male so that the coupling can be produced given that this doesn't accept aliens in itīs cage and it is probable that the female will attack the male if it is rejected.

Mounting

To allow mounting to take place there should be no external factors which may distract the animals.It is normal that the breeder should observe the coupling and when this has finished he should procede to separate the reproducers.There are females which for different reasons do not allow themselves to be mounted by the male as may be the case with beginners;so in these cases the breeder should intervene and place the female in the correct position so that it may be mounted by the male.This is called forced mating. Once the mating has been carried out and eyaculation has taken place the male removes itself violently and collapses on the ground losing itīs balance after emitting a groaning sound. On an industrial exploitation it is sufficient to have one male for every 10 females and this will be able to efectuate 2 to 3 matings every half hour.

 

Ovulation

Coitus estimulates ovulation which will take place 10 to 12 hours after the sexual coupling.If during this time there has been a situation of stress it is possible that ovulation may not take place. Ovulation may also be caused by artificial means through vaginal stimulation,induced by being mounted by a castrated maleby way of electrical vaginal vibrations or with gonadotropic hormones.These methods are used to effectuate artificial insemination. Ovulation varies with age,genetic factors and with the physiological state of the animal and also the season of the year.In this sense the best seasons for obtaining the average number of ovules are spring and winter being less so in autumn.As regards the age ,between the first and third litters the ovulation powers increase and from the fourth to the twelfth they stabilize and from there on start decreasing.In what refers to the physiologic state the number of ovules is greater 15 days after giving birth that inmediately. after this.In genetic factors,heredity plays an important part in the number of ovulations,in the number of fertilized ovules and in the percentage of embryonic mortality.

Artificial insemination

With this species,artificial insemination is not general as this method requires specialised personnel and adequate installations both of which in a large measure increase the costs.It is interesting however so as to obtain bettered proven male descendents.Another advantage is that the sperm of one eyaculation can fertilize 40 females and that one can avoid possible diseases which can be transmitted by sexual contact. The sperm can be obtained in an artificial vagina of a doll which has rabbit skin.Once this has been obtained it is diluted and stored in adequate conditions.The semen is induced in determined doses in the vagina of the female,by way of a syringe, to which has been previously been induced to ovulation by methods described previously.

 

Fecundation

This takes place 10 to 19 hours after coition.The zygote is formed around the oviduct to the uterus where it remains.The number of fertilized ovules depends on the litters..

 

Gestation

The period of gestation is from 29 to 31 days, under normal conditions.If the birth takes place before 29 to 30 days this will generally be an abortion.The litter are stillborn.The causes of abortion can be for different reasons:because of a physiological nature due to faulty feeding or because of some other situation such as stress. To determine if the females have really been fertilized one proceeds next to palpation (touching) which consists in trying to look for the existence of embryos in the neck of the womb.One takes the rabbit and places it on a flat surface ;with a hand under the stomach and with semicircular movements of the thumb and forefinger in the region of the uterus,feeling for small nodules in collar-like form, the size of rice grains;these are the fetuses.The palpation should be carried out 10 to 15 days after the mating has taken place,because if this is done before,apart from being imperceptible,can cause the fetuses to be re-absorbed;if it is done afterwards it is possible that they may be detached thus provoking abortion.

When fecundation does not take place following ovulation,that is when it is as a result of mating with a sterile male or as a result as a mounting between females which produces a phenomenon called pregnancy apparent or false pregnancy.This shows itself too when,despite having existed fecundation the ovules for some reason do not evolve and are re-absorbed.The behaviour of the females who suffer from this phenomenon is the same as those who are gestating and like them they reject the male.These symptoms disappear after approximately 16 days at which time they come into heat again.

 

Birth

4 to 6 days before birth one should place a nest made of straw,so that the rabbit,pulling out itīs own hair can make a nest,the function of which is to protect the young from the cold to which they are very sensitive. The birth generally takes place at night or at dawn.The offspring start appearing one by one,the mother expelling them in a fetal covering which it ingests,then cleans them and covers them inside the nest.The birth of the complete litter usually takes between 3 and 5 hours.Each rabbit can give birth to up to 17 young ,this number varying according the race,age,physiology,etc.,but the average is 7 to 9.I t is not important that the litter should be numerous given that the female has 8 teats this being the ideal number for the young so as to have a uniform growth in the litter.When the number of births in the litter is numerous,one should proceed to distribute those in excess to other mothers which have recently given birth and which have a lesser number of young.The introduction of new animals has to be carried out in such a way that the new receiver(mother)does not notice,because if she does ,this will surely be rejected. Some females after birth can turn to cannibalism,in which they eat their young.It is not known what triggers this phenomenon.But to avoid this one should ensure that the female has sufficient water and that it has a completely balanced diet. If this phenomenon is repeated with the second litter this female should be excluded from any further reproduction.

Lactation

Milk secreted by the rabbit experiments variations during 45 days the period considered to be normal for the duration of the lactation.In this sense the secretion increases from the birth up till the 10 th day keeping up maximum production up till the 21 st day when it starts to decrease.The speed of this decline depends on the reproduction rhythm to which it is subjected.That is to say,in those cases where it is in gestation the production will last up to the day 30 approximately,but if the animal is has already given birth the lactation will last up to day 45. Give the composition of the rabbitīs milk,which when put inside domestic milk bottles presents a greater indication of dry material,with protein and fats,the young grow with great speed,duplicating their weight at birth in 6 to 7 days quadrupling it in 12 days.

Weaning

This consists in the separation of the mother from the young.In a natural way,15 to20 days after birth ,the young start to leave the nest and try to bite the motherīs food.This is the moment in which they should be taken from the nest. The weaning period is determined according to the rhythm of the production which is applied which is explained next.However one must keep in mind that the precocious weaning is made before 20 days and the maximum lactation is 45 days.

The sicknesses

The experienced breeder will have the capacity to detect any sign of sickness,even when the animal is out of the cage.As he will know his animals very well he will notice straight away if one of them is not behavig normally.Some signs are evident.The first indication will be seen in the state of their excreta.If this is not solid,the rabbit will have been eating something which has upset itīs stomach.If the excreta smells bad it is possible this may be an indication that there is something more serious than a mere upset stomach.The sick animal should be isolated so as to examine it with attention.The healthy rabbit has a clean nose brilliant eyes.Itīs skin is smooth and flat.If the rabbit is curled up and has the eyes shut this signifies that things are not ok.One has to take steps to diagnose the cause. All of these measures are vital in the process of preventing sicknesses.It is always better to prevent than to cure.However to establish a diagnosis can be difficult for the novice breeder so it is best to seek advice from an experienced breeder or vet.

Twisted neck

When the neck suddenly becomes twisted as a consequence of an injury or lesion to the internal ear and itīs sensitive organs.The rabbit can be of any age or sex.The head of the sick animal falls to one side.In extreme cases the poor animal is even unable to keep itīs balance.The rabbit move in circles as it can not move in a straight line. It is almost certain that this injury has been caused as a result of racing around itīs cage because of panic or any other type of excitation.It is evident then that the neck becomes twisted as a result of nervousness.Case which are slight can correct themselves in a few days but usually only when the animal is kept in a warm and dry cage and having healthy food.Whenthe cases are more serious ,recuperation is more difficult and the animal will have to be slaughtered.

Abscess

The appearance of any type of lump or swelling must be considered suspicious.If this is an abscess this is serious and the animal should be isolated until this has been burst and drained off.At this point one should separate the skin and hair from roud about the abscess. The lump should be washed with a clean cloth dampened with an antiseptic fluid.An incision should made below the abscess.The incision should be made in such a way as to allow the pus to drain freely and totally during the treatment.The animal should be held down by one person while another slowly presses the abscess until it is completely empty. The secreted pus should be burned far from the rabbit cages so as to avoid that this can again become a cause of infection by contact with a cut or scratch. The wound should be washed again with an antseptic cloth and then treated with iodine.The wound should be examined every day or alternate day applying a new dressing.Once the wound has healed the hair will grow again normally.

Intoxication by milkweed or asclepiadea

Hay in the United States can sometimes contain a species of grass which only grows on the american prairies.This,either fresh or dry is poisonous for rabbits.

After eating the hay which contains this herb,the animal is paralysed.The back is arched and the head falls between itīs front paws.This sickness is called “of the fallen head” and itīs gravity depends upon the quantity of this poisonous herb which has been eaten by the rabbit.In serious cases,the body becomes compltely paralysed.In less serious cases only the head and the bodyīs muscles are affected.

Treatment is slow and difficult for the rabbit.It has to be made to eat and drink as often as possible so as to recover all possible energy so as to able to resist the poison.

Colds

The common cold can turn out to be a serious difficulty if it is not treated prematurely.When this happens with man there is no miracle cure.The only thing which one can do is to make the animal as comfortable as possible. The rabbits which suffer from colds,sneeze blow their noses trying to clear their nasal passages.The nose may also have discharge and the animal rubs the nose with itīs front paws trying to evacuate the mucus.The skin on the inside of the front feet becomes soaked in mucus after which it changes and then the skin gets hard. Sneezing can also be a cause of irritation produced by dust or hay.Once the cold has been overcome,the animal should be placed far from the principal rabbit houses.It is preferible to keep the” patient “ in a warm cage which should receive dry air without draughts. One should reduce the rations in compressed form and in itīs place increase the green or vegetable food.The use of nose drops is useless because the rabbit expells these before they can have any effect.It is far better to apply to the nose orifices a mixture of eucalyptus and camphorated oils but with a small brush.This will help the rabbit to breath better and will help the mucos to flow instead of drying iside the nose so causing an obstruction.This mixture of oils can also be applied to the interior areas of the rabbit hutches as well as in all of the areas in which the animal has contact.If the sick animal is one of the the most prominent on the farm,the breeder should not let it out of his sight until the cold has gone.This may take some time,but the rabbit will be healthy again.The animals which have colds should never be in contact with healthy animals and never be allowed to mate while they are sick.

Eye infections

The domestic rabbit is susceptible to eye infections.The most frequent ailment is inflammation of the tear ducts.This can be caused by dust or foreign bodies found in the zone of the tear ducts and which block these completely.The bags under the eyes fill completely with water which leaks out and runs down the rabbitīs cheeks.Generally only one of the eyes is affected,although both may also be affected.The skin remains humid and stained in the areas of the eyes and cheeks.Sometimes the hair of these zones falls out exposing the skin/epidermis which can be inflamed.Treatment consists in regular bathing with a liquid solution of boric acid.The solution is to be applied using a clean cloth of either cotton wool or wool.One can also use eyewashes which are normally used by human beings, successfully. Other eye infections may be caused by draughts, injuries when fighting and other accidents.Sometimes new born rabbits are late in opening their eyes,this is after the normal phase of 10 days.If the eye appears to be swollen it has to be washed in a solution of boric acid and warm water.While they are being bathed the eyelids are very soft and can generally be opened when a little pressure is applied with the fingers.

Pneumonia

Although pneumonia is rare in the case of the rabbit,it sometimes presents itself after having been diagnosed as another illness.The rabbit can be weakened by an attack of a sickness and afterwards dose not have the strength to resist pneumonia.A swift temperature change can also reduce the rabbitīs resistence.But good careful alimentation are usually enough to stop the pneumonia even during the sickness itself. The affected animal usually throws itīs head back while trying to breathe more easily.It is possible that mucus can start to appear around the mouth and nose.The animal loses appetite and is indifferent to all around it. It is much surer to eliminate the rabbit once this sickness has been diagnosed.However if the animal is a valuable one it should be treated by injections which can be provided by the local vet.Homemade remedies are seldom satisfactory and remember that time is of great importance here.The rabbits which are not treated die within a few days.

 

Inflamed hocks

An inflamed hock is in itself a simple matter, but if it is not treated at the first phase it can become something serious.The inflamed hock comes as a result of rubbing the skin and starts to appear on the soles of the back feet.The skin swells and becomes brittle and sometimes forms scales and becomes infected because of foreign bodies. Of all the races,the Rex is the species which is most exposed to this ailment. If the rabbit is not provided with adequate bedding the animals waste away the surface of their back feet from the point of the toe to the union with the muscle and the Rex has very fine skin covering this area. This affects the larger rabbits more so than the smaller ones which have delicate legs and have and much less weight to support.Relatively speaking,the races which are smaller,are the races which have proportionally larger legs to support their weight.All active rabbits can have swollen hocks especially young and adult buckrabbits which are continually having their feet stepped on.The feet become swollen and become infected and if this is not treated immediatedly,it extends rapidly. The rabbit which suffers from swollen hocks reacts against moving while in itīs cage.Itīs vitality becomes diminished. The area affected should be kept clean all the time and one should apply anti-septic ointment.So as to prevent this spreading one should prepare soft, dense bedding of straw.

Dribbling

Dribbling is a secondary infection caused by abscesses in the rabbitīs mouth.The abscess can have itīs origin arising from a broken tooth or by a simple gum infection. The affected rabbit dribbles, letting saliva dribble along the maxillary inferior unto the chest where it stains the skin/fur. It loses appetite and the animal soon becomes sick.There is litte one can do about ailments in the mouth and the animal has to be eliminated.

Ailments of the anal region

Sometimes this ailment is said to have come from burns or swellings while in the cage..It is also said that it comes from coming into contact with dirt in the anal skin tissue nad round about the sexual organs..The skin becomes inflamed around this zone.Scabs appear which later burst and the pus is spread all around the zone. Sick rabbits are reluctant to mate.However if they should do they will pass on the infection to the male or female whichever is the case.The sickness is not hereditary neither is it contagious to man or other animals.

Treatment consists in cleaning in infected zone with a weak solution of soapy water with careful drying.One should then apply a lanoline paste over the skin rbbing slowly.Recuperation is slow but usual.

 

 

Scabs on the face

Another secondary infection.Seems to come about by the taking of food pellets coming from the ano during coprophagy and while the anal region was infected.the skin of the face and the nose are infected with bacteria which cause inflammation and scabs. Treatment consists in giving an injection of 150.000 units of penicillin G,procaina in oil.The rabbit can be infected again even after treatment and will proably not terminate finish until the sickness of the anal region has been erradicated.

Worms

Some of the worms which infect rabbits are the same as those which infect cats and dogs.The eggs of these worms are picked up by the rabbit in the beds or in contaminated food.When the egg penetrates the body it adheres to the internal organs where it incubates.Live worms feed themselves from the food which the rabbit eats and can cause indisposition.Sometimes the adult worms pass through the anus. Dogs and cats should be kept away from the area where the rabbits are and should never be allowed to enter into contact with the food or with the beds where the rabbits sleep.Neither should dogs or cats be allowed to sleep etc on the hay bales or the grass.The rabbit which has worms should be isolated,and the hutches,cages or areas all disinfected.

Mucoide enteritis

This sickness is also known as swelling.The affected animal becomes sick in a question of hours after having been infected.The coat becomes rough to the touch and generally untidy.The eyes become distracted and are opaque,lifeless,torpid.May or may not have diarrhoea. The rabbit loses weight y may even have only a fraction of its normal weight.Young rabbits which become sick with this ailment usually sit beside water in a crouching position.In extreme cases they sit near water so that their front feet are actually hanging in the water.While it is in this position it has frequent little sips of the water from this water.The stomach is extended and swells,(so the name of this sickness).Unfortunately,the rabbit usually dies.Rabbits which recover do not necessarily become immune to the sickness and may be become infected again.There is no simple treatment.Some antibiotic pills have been known to reduce the consequences of this sickness.

Malocclusion

Malocclusion,( faulty alignment of teeth and jaws) or male teeth,! is the result of a bad alignment of insertions in the extremes and the bases of the front teeth. Normally these teeth should meet at the extremes and because of this they should develop normally. If the extremes of the teeth do not meet(when they clamp down on each other) they will continue growing until they take on the aspect of elephant tusks.They have even been known to grow out of the mouth and can reach tremendous proportions if not controlled.A constant adjustment or a filing can in “light” cases help to keep the teeth at the right point.When the cases are serious however the animal will have to be put down as it will no longer be able to eat. Malocclusion is hereditary.All rabbits which have this inclination should be eliminated from the litter. The Dutch dwarf has a tendency to have this abnormality due to the configuration of the flatness of its face.

 

 

 

Mastitis

Frequently affects females which raise their young than those which do not.The ailment is caused by an infection of the mammary glands due to a staphylococcus bacteria. The udders of the female become very swollen.In an advanced stage they can even turn blue.The mammary glands swell considerably and become hard and clotted.The normal treatment is an injection carried out by a vet.The infection is easy to cure if it is dealt with when the first symptoms appear.If one leaves it until it is at a more advanced stage,curing is impossible.The rabbit will have to be eliminated. All of the beds,nests,cages and accessories have to be sterilized thoroughly and the body of the rabbit must be incinerated.

Fleas and ticks

No domestic rabbit should have fleas or ticks.The good administration and managing of the farm guarantees that the rabbits will be healthy and clean.It may occur that a visiting animal can bring these pests and leave them to itīs hosts and even though the rabbits are well maintained will never have these parasites it is always a good thing to be careful. One can be suspicious if you see one scratching itself excessively.One should act quickly if one finds that some rabbit has parasites.In any shop or farmacy one may find adequate powders specially for this purpose.One should never use powders which are for use on dogs as these will be too strong and will irritate the skin.The anti-parasite powders must be used for three conscutive days to ensure that all the insects as well as their larvae or eggs are destroyed.

Myxomatosis

This is the most well known rabbit sickness.The effect is horrible and lethal.About the actual situation of this viral sickness there is certain controversy.Some say that it is the responsibility of the common flea and others say that it is transmitted by mosquitoes and other flying insects. If there is a epidemic breaking out in a locality where the farm is situated it is possible that you can achieve immunity.It is however an expensive operation and may not always be sure that this may halt the invasion.The first thing one must do is to stop the entry of flying insects into the farm.The doors and windows have to be protected with thick meshed metallic cloths.Spraying against flies and mosquitos should not be carried out so as not to subject the rabbits to intoxication. Only in open spaces where there is plenty of fresh air can one use anti- insect spray/vapours.The old system of sticking up paper which has a gum which attracts and retains the insects. Any rabbit which is suspected of having myxomatosis has to be separated from its partners.One should consult a vet.The infected animal has scabs and scales around the anus,the ears,the eyes,the noseand the mouth.Before dying the veins become hard and the lungs become congested.The animal is unable to maintain its balance and it soon dies.

External injuries

Any accident can be the cause of an injury in the rabbit.Many accidents happen as a result of a fall while being transported,or a fall from a table or bench.Genarally the animal doesnīt suffer more than the initial shock,however if the animal does have a hard fall it can fracture a leg.

If one suspects that there is a fracture the rabbit should be placed on a dry warm place so as to reduce the effect of the fall.By way of a careful scrutiny one can establish the full extent and exact place of the fracture.The fractures should not be treated on the farm itself.One has to consult a qualified vet.Apart from then adequate recomposition of the broken member the vet can detect any other internal injury which can not be seen by the person on the farm. Lacerations and cuts can be treated on the farm.The injury has to be treated with a damp cloth of antiseptic solution.The hair in the region must be cut with good scissors.If the injury is deep and continues to bleed despite the intentions to stop the flow of the blood,it is advisable to call the vet so that the injury can be stitched. Covering the injury with a bandage is useless because the rabbit will gnaw it.If the injury is kept clean and free from dust and dirt it will probably be cured in a few days.

 

 

Cannibalism

Sometimes the mother simply eats its young even if they are 10 days old.This can be very disappointing for the inexperienced breeder but the experienced breeders give this no importance.Generally if the female is well fed this will not happen.There are however females which will eat their young even if they are well fed.However if this attitude persists the animal should be eliminated because this is may be a hereditary vice and pass on from generation to generation.One should in the adoption of the young to another female if one thinks that these young are of value to the farm.The young female sometimes eat the small ones in a frenetic attempt to keep the cage clean.These young mothers may be forgiven because generally they do not repeat this with the following litters. Excessive nandling of the young can make the mother nervous to such an extent that she can kill the young without actually eating them. This can be hard to understand.The censure must however be for the one in charge or the caretaker for the rabbitīs behavior.

CONCLUSION

In general terms we can see that the majority of the sicknesses are usually the fault of the caretaker because of neglect,dirtiness and being careful in general.In consequence one should keep the areas excessively clean and dedicate a certain amount of time to the inspection of the rabbits and especially the reproducers. A clean nursery is a healthy nursery !

 

 

Reproduction cycle

To obtain the highest yield of an exploitation it is necessary to establish a programme which takes into account the production possibilities of the animals;and for economical as well as physiological reasons the rhythm of the exploitation should always be the same.So the matings should be effected regularily always with the same rest periods.Similarily,one should proceed with the weaning according to a pre-established plan and likewise with the elimination of animals destined for fattening.

 

Extensive cycle

The system traditionally carried out on rural exploitations.This system involves the mating 28 days after the birth.It is considered as a cycle , the period between the birth and the following which is 58 days(30 days of gestation plus 28 days rest) so during the year one can obtain 6 births theoretically (365 /58) which in practice will really be 4-5.Weaning should be carried out at 40 days.This cycle has the inconvenience of being not very productive.Also a prolonged lactation can create suckling problems with the mothers.Nevertheless, this is the cycle which exhausts less the mothers due to the long rest period(28 days)

Semi-intensive cycle

This is a cycle of 45 days,in which the “service” is carried out 14 days after the birth.Theoretically one can obtain 8 births per year which in practice will be 6 or 7.Weaning will be carried out at 30 days.With this rhythm of production one can obtain a good number of young rabbits per year and one does take advantage of the animalīs fertility although the rabbits do suffer from certain exhaustion.

Intensive cycle

The interval between birth and mating should be 3 days so that the cycle will be of 33 days.Weaning will be at 28 days at which moment it is considered as a precocious weaning and has the inconvenience of increasing the rate of mortality in young rabbits.In one way one can obtain a better production but against this,the system needs the continuous reemplacement of females which of course means more manpower than that of the other cycles as the amount of work on the exploitation has to be increased. Whichever production rhythm is chosen, one must group the births and the weanings,dividing the mothersinto lots so as to unify them all of which should be done on the same day.

Meat production

Once the lactation period is finished the young rabbits should be seaparated from their mothers and transferred to the cage for fattening.Normally they are distributed in groups of litters. At the first stage of development the young rabbits (up till 6 weeks of age) the growth rate will be very quick.From this moment on the rate will be slower coinciding with the increase in the consumption of feed,in which the conversion index worsens(one understands by conversion index, the relationship between the consumed food and the weight increase). The accumulation of fat starts when the animal has reached the weight of 2,5 kilos ( live weight). Because of this and to take better advantage of the cages one should try to slaughter the animals as soon as possible.The recommended weight for slaughtering the animals is between 2 and 2.8 kg which will be after a period of 8 to 10 weeks.The yield of the carcass for the animals which have this weight is 54 to 61%(one understands by carcass the dead animal,skinned and without the entrails and by yield the relation of the carcass between the live weight of the animal and itīs carcass).So taking into account all of this the demands of the consumer will be satisfied withe the meat which will be tender and fatfree and because of the fact that the animals will not have a carcass weight superior to 2kg. The rabbit meat is very rich in proteins,easy to digest and itīs fat content is very reduced.Also in breeding rabbits there is no use of hormones.So,because of all of this it is now a very requested product.

Fur production

To obtain good quality furs of good quality it is essential that the animals are not going through their “change”.This starts at the age of 11 weeks and starts slowly and lasts for 3 months coinciding with the summer season.Because of this it is essential to slaughter the animals before or after this change but only with animals which have reached their maximum stage of development.To obtain good quality furs one has to take into account various aspects of the handling of animals;One has to maintain the animals healthy and they should be well fed and of course it is essential that there should be good hygiene,so that one can proceed with the brushing, a process which eliminates dirt and dead hair and stimulates the growth of the same.As regards their environment this should be well illuminated but not with direct sunlight which can change the colour tones of the fur especially those having white coats which will turn yellowish.Good ventilation helps to make the fur more dense.This also happens in winter when the rate of the growth of the fur increases so as to be able to resist the cold.A recommendable practice is to castrate the males which are not reproducers this way increasing the luxuriance ,the shine and the fineness of the fur. Before slaughter one should inspect the animal.The fur should not have any abnormal stains.If it has dark areas this indicates that the fur is going through a phase of growth.During the slaughter and throatcutting much care must be taken to avoid that this doesnīt show signs of “aging”.To obtain the fur one must follow the following procedure ;slaughter,skinning,rotating,cleaning of the waste meat and fat,hanging,insecticide treatment and then storage for subsequent handling of the fur,etc. The relation of the fur to the animal weight is 13%.A dry skin can weigh between 125 and 150 grams. The white furs are those which are held to be of the highest value.The value of the fur depends on itīs length,itīs density,itīs shine,itīs fineness,itīs resistence and itīs colour;the size of this and itīs weight.The latter so as to establish the categories : more weight ,more category.Likewise the actual state of conservation is of great importance.

 

Rabbit alimentation

It is certain that rabbits eat anything and can eat any kitchen waste.It is true as well that the domestic rabbit is capable of eating any grass or greens which are placed in front of it,but this does not mean that the rabbit has been well fed or is in good physical condition or that itīs diet is that which is the most appropriate.If the breeder wants to be successful and have a good strong and healthy nursery he should fedd the rabbits with adequate feed.The breeder should base the success of his enterprise on a good and healthy alimentation.Without this the possibilities of success will be very slight. In the past the rabbit has had to be content with any food which it found within itīs reach. It was given all kind of grain,roots,hay and all the green food which could be found.Sometimes mixtures were made of vegetable waste,grass and bran.Even this method was a healthy one up to a certain point. The great revolution in the rabbit world came about with the first appearance of grain for alimentation.This was as a result of different requests by breeders for a complete and balanced hard grain diet.The primitive balanced ration for rabbits was basically,grass with vitamins and mineral elements.After various years of investigation the modern ration containing some forrage,animal proteins,milkgrass and bits of other elements. The nutritive necessities of the rabbit can not be reduced to only one formula because different quantities are needed for each factor,according to the different phases of itīs life.For example the females which are not raising their young need less protein than those which are going to suckle and the rabbit which has a young rabbit occupying itīs litter will need more protein because it is feeding itīs young and at the same time keeping itīs own body in good condition. Foods rich in protein are:wheat,oats,barley,soy beans,linseed,milk and peanuts,amongst others.This food also contains fat but itīs content is much less than that of proteins.The fibrous food or forrage which is found in the various kinds of hay and roots like carrots,turnips and beetroots.

Protein

The term “protein” is a little vague because this refers only to a known group of aminoacids which total 23 nutritive substances.No proteins are exactly equal.Each one of them has a different role to play in the alimentation and well keeping of the body.Basically,protein is the principal necessity for good growth.Protein is essential for maintaining a rate of growth at a constant level. What is important is the quality of protein contained in each food.For example if some food article of 20% proteins is deficient as regards to itīs amino acids,the rate of growth of animals which are nourished with this food will be less than those animals raised with a food which contained only 15% of proteins but which contains a higher percentage of amino acids. It is evident that nursing rabbits and their growing young are basically maintained by the protein contained in the foods which thay receive.If there is not found in these a sufficient quantity of adequate necessary proteins,the rabbit will not maintain the growth rate of itīs body.The female will not be able to maintain the high content of milk necessary to raise itīs young.

The principal source of energy of live organisms is the group called carbo-hydrates.These compounds contain only carbon,hydrogen and oxygen.The basic molecules of carbohydrates are simple sugars which originate more complex substances such as starches and cellulose.The vegetable material contains cellulose and starch and seeds especially in starch.The animals have an ability to break down carbo- hydrates with the help of enzymes,during digestion and the resulting products are stored in the body or burned during the metabolism giving off energy and residual products.(water and carbon dioxide)

 

 

Fat

Fattty substances like carbohydrates, provide body energy but with the difference that the latter contain other elements(phosphorous,nitrogen) apart from carbon,oxygen and hydrogen;and are not soluble in water.Carbo-hydrates in excess are stored in the body in the form of fat and when it is necessary they decompose during movement and other actions related with everyday life.

Any excess of stored fat converts to additional weight.An example of this one can see in the hibernation process of some animals.During the warm seasons of the year,when there is a plentiful supply of food,the animal eats so as to make itself completely fat.When the colder seasons arrive the animal sleeps.During this profound sleep itīs breathing slows down but is still needs energy to maintain the body alive using up little by little the stored fat reserves.When spring arrives the animal is very thin.So once more it has to eat everything again so as to prepare itself for the next winter.

Even though rabbits do not hibernate,their excess fat is stored evenly.The females which raise their young are too fat and so are in condition to raise their young and they do not really couple and even if they do the possibilities of conceiving are very remote.The fat also makes birth difficult.

Fibres

Fibre is found in the the stems and leaves of many plants.Fibre is a material which is generally undigestible but has an important role to play in the bodyīs metabolism.

Fibre which adds volume to alimentation is divided into digestible and undigestible.With the rabbit the undigestble fibre is transformed in the body into fecal balls.The digestible fibre is transformed while inside the body of the rabbit being used first those which are undigestible and then during coprophagia is reincorporated into the body again.

Bulky food usually has less nutritious value ; so in consequence larger quantities of these types of foods are necessary so as to provide the body with the vital properties which are needed to keep the body in good condition.Hay or dry grass are very rich in fibre but some types have more quantity than others.The grass or hay have leaves which are of more nutritive value that it is which all stalk and stubble.

Hay or legumes is hay which gathered when it has been harvested.It is much richer in nutritious substances than hay which is prepared using as a base,only grass. The rabbit eats grass when it is not on a balanced grain regime.The hay therfore is of value in periods of excessive heat when therabbit eats less.Normally one should give grass or hay to the rabbits at least once a week.

 

VITAMINS

Vitamins are essential to maintain the body in good state.In general terms the vitamins are divided into six principal groups.A letter has been assigned to each one.

VITAMIN A

The rabbit makes itīs own vitamin A from fresh vegetables.The vitamin A necessary for growth of the rabbitīs body is found also in the cod liver oil.Nervous fatigue has also been attributed to the deficiency of vitamin A .It is also known that rabbits which have this deficiency of vitamin A are more susceptible to certain nervous disorders.The so called twisted or doubled neck and some other dysfunctions which accompany nervous attacks can be attributed to the laack of vitamin A.

VITAMIN C

Present in some bitter fruit, this vitamin is synthesized by the rabbit itself so this one vitamin which will not be lacking in the animal.

VITAMIN D

This vitamin has to form part of the supplementary diet of the animal.It can be found in the hay or the grass but not in sufficient quantities so as to be excluded as an addition to the animalīs food.A small quantity added to the food will retain calcium in the sangre,something which is necessary for normal bone growth.Rabbits which are deprived of vitamin D.can have rachitis.

VITAMIN E

Cereal grains,fresh vegetables and wheatgerm are all rich in vitamin E.If however one adds too much cod liver oil to the rabbitīs diet this can destroy the total vitamin E content of the food leaving the rabbit in a situation in which it will be deficient in this important vitamin.Muscular dystrophy originates in the lack of vitamin E and in serious cases it can affect the fertility of the females which raise their young.

VITAMIN K

Alimentation in compound form contains a large quantity of vitamin K.Ths is important for the growth of the skin and the fur are as a direct result of omitting vitamin K in the diet of the rabbit.

 

 

ALIMENTATION

To keep rabbits healthy the breeder needs to understand all information relative to the feeding of the animals.He must also know which foods he should supply them with so as to obtain the best results.

Granulated balanced feed

Granulated balanced feeds are perhaps the most popular of todayīs food for rabbits.They are prepared on a base of high quality ingredients and are formed with the idea of facilitating a genus balanced diet for easy preparation. This food can vary and so it is best to try to maintain the balance of the alimentation of the rabbits.So,because of this,when a diet is based almost exclusively on granulated balanced feed,it is advisable to mix those coming from a quantity previously acquired with those coming from a new purchase.The possible differences between one production and another will be reduced and with that will be able to avoid any little stomach dysfunctions. The colour is also changeble.Although generally they fluctuate between different tones of green some dark while others are more clear.The colour varies according to the specifications of the manufacturer.A good compound is hard and should not crumble when it is squeezed in the hand.Powder will be inevitable but this should be reduced to a minimum. The granulated feed is easy to store but must be kept dry.When the granulated feed forms the mayor part of the diet,one will have to add hay or grass so as to maintain the sameconstant level OF forrage.

Oats

Oats have been used during many years as rabbit food.Itīs flakes are rich in proteins and have great nutritive value.The good quality oats are golden and each lot should have hardly any residue or crumbled straw remains. While ground oats are preferred before grain or flakes,the ground oats contain a larger quantity of residue and the rabbit can be confused in deciding which part he must eat.The mixture of oats and grain is a very popular combination as a diet for rabbits in England and most of the rabbits which are used in exhibitions are given this feed.

Wheat

Wheat and oats both form part of many of the rabbitīs diets.Wheat is very rich in vitamin E and also has an abundance of natural proteins.Too much wheat can cause the body to become too hot.In these circumstances if one keeps giving wheat to the rabbit , it will eventually find that the food which it is being added to, may be a little unpalatable.Like oats the grain should be whole and have a good golden colour with little residue.It should be rounded and whole.

Barley

Barley is another good feed for exhibition rabbits.It is also good for forming good and firm flesh (meat) which is especially necessary for the Poloish breed and for Belgian and Silver hares.Although it has slightly less nutritive value than oats or wheat it is still a good food and should be added to the diet in small quantities.

Corn

Corn is rarely added to the rabbitīs diet except in cheap mixes or in special alimentation.The corn can be frequently found in the alimentation of birds or chickens. However it can be very good for the rabbits.

Sunflower seed

This seed is not to be used very frequently by the rabbit breeder.Nevertheless it helps to heat the body of the rabbit and can be utilised during “change” or when the female is reluctant to put herself in condition to raise her young.An excess of sunflower seed can cause blood overheating and should therefore be used in moderation.

Linseed

Linseed can be used in similar quantities as the sunflower seed.It is very oily and has heat-giving effects.For many years it has been recommended as an aid to the “change”.Although it also has a laxative effect it can also be useful for giving the coat an extra shine.

Bread

Dry bread can often be given to the rabbits.If it has not been overcooked it can be useful as a variation to the usual diet of compounds and oats.It can also be useful in helping the rabbits use their teeth.One should never give the rabbits soft bread,because it will be rejected and will be left thus eventually dirtying the cage.One can give the rabbit stale bread after first having placed it in the oven.Molded bread should never be given to the rabbits.Brown or whole bread has better nutritive value than white as it has more wheat germ.

RATION EXAMPLES

 

Does in gestation

Formula for 1 Kg. of feed

 
Grams
UF
PB (gr)

Barley meal

Soybean bran(44% of PB)

Sunflower bran

Wheatmeal

Beet pulp

Dehydrated alfalfa meal(18%)

Alfalfa hay meal(15%)

Mineral and vitamin mix

250

20

30

200

100

100

275

25

0.25

0.02

0.02

0.16

0.08

0.05

0.11

-

23.5

8.8

12.0

30.0

8.0

18.0

41.2

-

 

Nursing (suckling) rabbits

Formula for 1 Kg. of feed

 
Grams
UF
PB (gr)

Cornmeal or wheatmeal

Barleymeal

Soybean bran(44%)

Sunflower bran(40%)

Wheatmeal

Beet pulp

Dehydrated alfalfa meal(18%)

Alfalfa hay meal(15%)

Vitamin and mineral mix

160

150

70

40

150

55

200

150

25

0.17

0.15

0.07

0.03

0.12

0.04

0.10

0.06

-

16.4

14.1

30.8

16.0

22.5

4.4

36.0

22.9

-

 

Rabbits for fattening

Formula for 1 Kg. of feed

 
Grams
UF
PB (gr)

Cornmeal or wheatmeal

Barleymeal

Soybean bran(44%)

Sunflower bran(40%)

Wheatmeal

Dehydrated alfalfa meal

Alfalfa hay meal

Vitamin and mineral mix

100

200

80

70

150

150

225

25

0.11

0.20

0.08

0.05

0.12

0.07

0.09

-

10.3

18.8

35.2

28.0

22.5

27.0

33.7

-

Green food

The rabbit can eat a wide selection of green foods.But it is advisable to make a selection of these.Indiscriminate use of green food can cause intoxication. Green food sources are :1.-garden cultivation.2.-growing wild.3-It is very important that the plants are carefully washed before giving them to the rabbits. Often plants and fruit are treated with pesticides.The use of these has eliminated many species of birds and animals.The fertilizers used in the garden can often have a harmful effect if they are used in large quantities.So because of this great care should be taken in the choice and quality of green fod.Once they have been washed they have to be checked to see if the leaves have signs of damage or infection by larvae or worms or other parasites.It is easy to see when young rabbits have eaten green food or grass to excess.The breeder has to have his eyes open in this regard. The quality of the green food depends on the season of the year in which they have been picked/gathered.Seeded plants have much more nutritive value than younger or more tender plants.With older plants, the stalks and leaves have more fibre.Fibrous plants are more difficult to digest and because of this a much of the plant is wasted. Some wild plants are useful and can have medicinal qualities and with this in mind one can grow them in oneīs own garden. Even though the number of root/tubercular plants is limited it is well to remember that they are excellent food for rabbits of all ages.Some of these are the beet,the turnip and the carrot.The roots of these should be well washed and checked to see if they have damage or sicknesses.Roots have a high propensity to get rotten and nothing which is in bad condition should be given to the rabbits.

Cultivated plants

The breeder who has a small piece of cultivatable land can produce any kind of comestible plants so as to able to give these to the rabbits.These take up very little space and may even be cultivated in flower beds.

Lettuce

Lettuce is one of the green foods which is frequently given to rabbits.The animals always accept lettuce and it is a good source of vitamins.It doesnīt occupy much space and can be cultivated in any part of the garden even in flower beds.It can even be cultivated in flower pots on balconies if the earth is good and apt for cultivating plants. Yellow leaves or those infected by insects should be discarded,selecting only those leaves which are healthy,hard and green for the rabbits.One should not give lettuce to rabbits which are less than 2 months old and even then it should be given with discretion.

Cabbage

Another useful garden vegetable for the rabbits is the cabbage but remember that itīs use as food must not be abused. The leaves of the cabbage should only be given to the rabbits and these as only in small pieces from the kitchen.To cultivate cabbage only for rabbits will occupy a lot of time and the plant has to grow for 3 months before it is able to be eaten.Because of this itīs cultivation is not really worth while.

The trunk/stalk can be left in the ground after the leaves have been removed so that it will produce new buds and shoots. These buds given to the rabbit constitute an excellent food .The remaining parts of the stalk can be cut into small pieces and given to the rabbits.The stalk will provide the rabbit with something to nibble. Excess cabbage will give the rabbitīs urine a particularily strong smell.If it is given as food to young rabbits without mixing it with other green food or hay it can cause diarrhoea. The use of other vegetables or herbs counteract the laxative effect to a certain extent.Yellow or infected leaves should be discarded.

 

 

Chicory

The chicory is probably the best cultivated vegetable which the breeder can give to the rabbit.It is a biennial plant which can sown very successfully.It doesnīt need any special cultivation and grows even in the poorest ground. The rabbit which eats chicory,(which helps to condition the fur), will usually develop,a smooth,shiny skin.

Cauliflower

The cauliflower, like the cabbage,occupies a lot of space in the garden but its cultivation is not worthwhile but it is a healthy and nutritious food which can be given to the rabbit in any age.

Clover

This vegetable which has a high nutritive value,is not as popular as it should be.When dried, it can be used as hay.The clover is prone to “ meldew ” attacks and should be never stored in humid places.

Cabbage

This can be cultivated by the breeder in a small area of his garden.It is a very useful plant and can be harvested in any time of the year.Once the plant matures, the external leaves can be cut periodically which will stimulate growth of new sprouts.The sprouting cabbage is one of the most popular types.If the stalk of this variety is left in the ground once the leaves was been removed,new buds start to appear.The new buds and part of the original stalks can be trasplanted so as to obtain new plants.The rest of the old stalks can cut and given to the rabbits.

Parsley

This is a good kitchen herb.It occupies very little space in the garden and is one of the best vegetable foods for the rabbit.This plant is perennial and will last many years if treated with care . The parsleyīs external leaves must picked before they mature,otherwise they will become coarse and inedible. . One shouldnīt, however give parsley in excess,as it has certain properties which can have stimulating effects on the rabbitīs physiological system.It is sometimes given to males so that they be in good shape.It can also be given to breeding females for the same reason.

Spinach

This is a good vegetable food and should be given to the rabbits when the opportunity presents itself.

Brussels sprouts

As is the case with cabbage,this should be supplied with discretion,as the urine of the rabbit smells strongly.This vegetable is very nutritious and can be given as an alternative vegetable.Although the stalks are hard, they can be given to the rabbits,so as to be able to exercise their teeth.

The Carrot

Its root is usually given as rabbit food.They are sweet and are very digestible for rabbits at any age.Carrots can grow in even the tiniest part of the garden and need very little attention except for weeding occasionally.But the carrot is very cheap on the market and unless one cultivates these on a large scale it may not really be worthwhile. The tender and sweet carrot is very tasty but it can get dirty, tough and dry.Pieces of carrot which are left over from the kitchen may be given to the rabbits.

Turnips and Swedes

These are root vegetables and can be given as food at any time of the year.Cultivation,however does take up a lot of space but after harvesting the roots can be stored for many months in a covered and well ventilated place.On giving this to the rabbits for the first time it is advisable to accompany it with grass or hay as these roots can cause some alterations to the stomach.The tips and leftovers from the kitchen can be given to the rabbits at any age and at any time of the year.

The Raspberry

Sometimes breeders forget about the raspberry.This has powerful astringent properties.If it is properly used in time it can save the lives of many rabbits which have had diarrhoea.The rabbits like the leaves and tender stalks of the raspberry.The thorns and spikes do not appear to cause any inconvenience for the rabbits.

Wild plants

The breeder who really has the best in mind for his rabbits, must carry out a detailed study of the wild plants which grow around his house. Many wild plants have strong curative properties.The ability to know how to use these will help to give the breeder of exhibition rabbits a great advantage over his competitors.However,it is important to mention that any error can be fatal for the rabbits.The key to the use of wild plants is the knowledge of these plants.One can never give anything as food which has not been previously positively identified.

Blackberry

The wild blackberry, mentioned previously in the section”cultivated plants”, when gathered one has to be sure that none of the leaves have the “mosaic”sickness, a sickness which is particular to the blackberry.

The Shepherdīs Purse

This is the best and most valuable wild plant which the rabbit breeder can give to his animals.Itīs properties as a conditioner are very well known.Likewise as a medicinal plant it can halt diarrhoea when it is at the first stage.The plant when mature can reach a height of 45 to 60 cm and has long,delicate stalks on which grow heart-shaped leaves.Itīs little white leaves grow in clusters.The Shepherdīs Purse can be found on waste ground especially in places where buildings have collapsed,etc.

 

 

Sorrel

There are two types of sorrel,the broad leafed and the curly leafed.The broad leafed has broad oval shaped leafs ( the texture is leathery)and usually are found lying on the ground.The curly leafed is vertical with delicate leaves slightly curled all around the edges.The plant is useful as green food to be given for the first time to young rabbits(it is slightly astringent).To make this more tasty for the rabbit one should mix it in with some freshly cut grass.Plants which have already seeded should be avoided because at this stage the leaves lose a lot of their nutritive power.

 

Alsine or Canary Pameline

Can be found in all gardens.No matter how efficient a gardener can be in weeding his garden there is always at least some bush or plant which avoids the sickle. This plant grows to a maximimum height of 30 cm, but the majority are usually eliminated by the gardener long before they get to this height.The small leaves have an oval shape and grow in alternate pairs on a long,fine stalk.The flower is white and small.The alsine has little nutritive value but the rabbit finds it acceptable.Some breeders recommend for the rabbits which are raising their young.

Coltsfoot

The umbrella shaped flowers appear before the leaves.The interior face of the leaf is covered by a layer of silver hair.The stalk is spaced out and the flowers are yellow.This herb does not have any special properties but all the rabbits like to eat this.It is useful when it is mixed with other herbs and is served with other green foods.

Dandelion

Although this is in reality a wild weed it can be cultivated in any corner of the garden and given to the rabbits for food.It doesnīt really need a description as it is very well known all over the world. Itīs leaves are sword shaped pressed to the sides and have a fleshy texture.The stalks are hollow and have flowers of a brilliant yellow colour which are shaped like marigolds.The plant is a tonic and is useful for purifying the blood.However if given in excess it can cause kidney ailments.

Horse grass

This is another good friend of the rabbit breeder.It has a slight laxative effect but does help to stimulate the rabbit when it is heat.This is especially useful if the rabbit has difficulties in producing. It should be given to the rabbits which are going through the” change” every day until it is evident that the effect-looseness-a certain loss in the skin and the falling of dead hair.The plant is dark green,with little clusters of yellow flowers on the only stalk.Although it only grows to a few centimetres,the concientious gardener will see it as a weed to be eliminated.It is very tenacious and if it is left untouched it will flower the whole year through.

Bindweed

It is often confused with poison ivy because itīs stalk and leaves are similar.There are two principal types both from the same family.The biggest (the major) and the smallest (the minor).The major has pure, white, bell-shaped leaves.It is often found wandering about in unkept gardens.The minor also has bell-shaped flowers but these have mallow and white stripes.This plant grows between the wheat and can introduce itself between the stalks of the wheat and the oats.The plant is not poisonous until it reaches the germination stage.In this phase the minor type has berries which are half-way between red and black.

 

 

Foxglove

All their variants are poisonous and must never be given as food to the rabbit. The flowers are bell-shaped and are of a light blue colour.Generally we find it growing along the lines of hedges.It reaches a height of 0.90 to 1.20 metres on maturity.

Hemlock

A tall plant that,once identified is impossible to confuse.The stalk is thick ,soft and red with green spots.The leaves are serrated(white at the edges).All parts of this plant are dangerous.If it is harvested with hay the toxic effect decreases once it has been dried off completely.

Wild Poppy

The poppy is known for its effect on man and animals. The sap of the poppy sap has been the cause of attacks and hallucinations on those who have dared to eat or to drink it.

Laburnum,Cytisus from The Alps

This is a common tree which grows in many suburban gardens.The flowers hang in unmistakable brilliant yellow clusters.All the laburnum parts are dangerous,especially the seeds.There have been cases where children who have become really sick from eating these seeds.

Knight Spur,Comfrey

This is a common garden flower which hardly needs description.The thorns of the flowers are generally blue.

Lobelia

There are two kinds: the blue lobelia which is common in gardens,very popular as border plants,and the hanging lobelia which is a creeper and which also has blue flowers.Some varieties also have white flowers.And these varieties must also be avoided.Both kinds of these plants are very dangerous and must never be eaten,not even mixed with other grasses or plants.

Privet

This is the most common bush which is used as a hedge. It is easy to avoid since itīs leaves always green,have a bitter pungent flavour.

Yew

This is another bush used for hedges whose poisonous properties are very well known.Horses and cattle have died as a consequence of eating the leaves of this tree.

Rhubarb

On itīs use there are contrary opinions.The leaves contain oxalic acid which if ingested in large quantities, can be harmful to rabbits.However,other experts sustain that rabbits can eat rhubarb without having any harmful effects. To be completely sure it is preferable to avoid the plant.

Potatoes

The stalk and leaves of potatoes are considered, by some, to be poisonous.So to be on the sure side it is better to avoid potato stalks and leaves.The tuber(the potato itself) when cooked or boiled is perfectly safe and can be given as food in mixtures where one can add bran so as to dry them.

 

 

FOOD ACQUIRED ON THE MARKET

When buying food for the rabbits,the primordial considerations are those of cost and quality.As in all products,there are cheaper brands which are inferior in quality to those of competitors who have made more expensive products with the use of superior quality ingredients.Which should one buy? This is a matter which the breeder has to decide for himself. As a general norm, grain is classified according to itīs quality at the moment in which it is harvested.The compounds however can be controlled by the manufacturer;and it is for this reason that the quality is generally consistent.The best compounds are made with high quality nutritive substances;the more economic compounds are made with waste from the mills or with substances of inferior quality.Not everyone can feed their animals with the best,but one should try to give them the best which one can afford. Poor quality food will be reflected in the health and general aspect,as well as in the reproducer quality of the breederīs rabbits,so that it is in his own interest that he feeds his animals with first quality products. The rabbit food can be bought, directly from a business specializing in this kind of feed or directly from the mill.It is best to buy from the specialised store.Buying from the mill can be advantageous if the food is acquired in large quantities.However,a store which specialises in rabbits and their supplementary material are very trustable and will offer good quality products and can be trusted to be responsible for the same. One can also negotiate directly with the proprietor of the store to ask him if it is possible to sell his products in larger quantities than he would normally but at more advantageous prices.Perhaps the breeder could offer to him to sell those young rabbits which don’t respond to those lines of sale which correspond to his original plans. The store owner may then be able to offer them to his own clientele.For example,those rabbits which are not apt for exhibitions but can,however be excellent rabbits for the house or to have as pets.These kinds of arrangements can be good for keeping down food prices.

FOOD STORAGE

Whatever the quality of the food which one gives to the rabbits,this will be ruined if it is not it is stored appropriately.The worst enemy for the conservation of food is humidity.The food should always be kept in waterproof containers.One can buy special recipients but there again one can use quite satisfactorily recipients with lids which are normally used for rubbish and waste from the house. These containers can be of plastic or metal.The plastic is preferable as it is more light and doesnīt rust like metal or iron Rats and mice are attracted by the presence of grain and this can be a problem.It is better to keep the food stored well away from the rabbit hutches/shelters/cages. Rats and mice can bring illnesses.And once any of the produce stored becomes infected naturally in a very short time all of the grain in the warehouse will also be quickly infected.The common breeder will find that a small cube or some similar recipient ,capable of holding 3 to 5 kg of food will be enough to use inside the hut of the rabbit shelter. Although,one will have to fill this small recipient every day and perhaps more than once,it is preferable this than having the food stored near the rabbit shelter with the risk of attracting vermin to the area.Rats are on the other hand,able to eat recently born live small rabbits.Their presence alone can sometimes influence female rabbits to destroy their own offspring so it is of the utmost importance that the rats should not be able to get anywhere near these areas.

FEEDING AND APPLICATION.RECEPTACLES

For those breeders who only wish to keep a small number of rabbits a receptacle made of pottery will probably be the best place to put the rabbitīs daily ration.If one gives the animals the right amount of food, the plate or pottery bowl should be empty in a space of half an hour,so that the danger of the food dirtying the area is very much lessened. If ones prefers, one can use feeder type chutes.The type which hangs from the wire or from the door of the rabbit cage.Another kind is that which can stand in any place.The content could be overturned by the rabbit,but only with some dfficulty. The automatic chute is a device which has a predetermined volume which will be kept constantly full, this way ensuring that the rabbit has enough food during the whole day.This feeder type is more commonly found on larger commercial farms.As the rabbit eats so the chute carries on getting filled up.

WATER AND ITīS SYSTEM OF SUPPLY

The domesticate rabbit should always have clean fresh water within itīs reach.The type of receptacle used depends upon the breeder’s personal preferences.A mature rabbit coming from a large-sized race drinks,as a minimum,about 60 cubic centimeters of water,that is to say 1/15 of a litre and sometimes even more.The smaller races drink about 40 cubic centimeters per day.But rabbits do differ a lot as regards the quantity of water which they drink every day. The water must be supplied fresh and the receptacles must be emptied and to filled daily,even if the water is was used or not.Stagnant water is breeding area for many harmful organisms.It is constantly necessary to ensure that there is enough water for the young rabbits and the suckling females .If there is insufficient water the female will have difficulty producing good quality milk to feed to itīs young..But even after the young have been weaned they will still need to drink water. The breeder has many classes of receptacles at his disposal in which to supply water.The most common of these is the bottle which works just by gravity.It is made of glass or plastic and has a cork or rubber plug.The bottle has in the upper part a thread with a metal or glass tube.The end of the tube is rounded so as to stop the flow of the liquid .Some models have a mechanism with a ball which restricts the flow of the water until that moment when the animal drinks some of the content. When the bottle is inverted, the vacuum is filled, the water however doesn’t come out because the device at the end of the tube impedes this.The rabbit can drink easily from the end of the tube,without dirtying the interior of itīs rabbit hutch. This bottle can be acquired in specialized stores.This is the most convenient form for the breeder who only has a limited number of rabbits. Bottles however,can also have their inconveniences.Sometimes the metal tubes can be soft and can be gnawed by the rabbitīs teeth and end up having holes,etc. If the bottle falls,it breaks easily.If it is of plastic it can come apart where the moulds join.If the tube is punctured or is bitten,the content all leaks out.Some models are of stainless steel making it impossible for the rabbits to bite or make holes in them. If dust or dirt accumulates at the end of the tube a capillary action takes place and the water which passes through will wet the bedding of the rabbit,leaving the rabbit thirsty and with a wet bed.This kind of accident can be avoided by placing the bottle in a vertical position at the door of the rabbit hutch.The bottle can be sustained in this place with elastic tape which has two hooks so remaining outside of the cage.The tube is passed through a hole in the wire thus allowing the rabbit to have access to the end of the tube. The water bowl is still used by many breeders.It is not easy however,to convince the rabbit that the water is to drink and not to empty all over the floor of the rabbit hutch.A heavier bowl may be used but this may also be dirtied by the rabbit and naturally this soon fills with dirt,dust,sawdust,etc.

HEALTH AND PREVENTION OF SICKNESS

To avoid possible animal sicknesses it is necessary that one should look at all aspects of the exploitaition from a hygienic and sanitary point of view. This way the local itself, the facilites and all material will undergo periodic cleaning and disinfection.This can be carried out either by using a blowlamp or by using chemical products.Both systems have the same final purpose; the destruction of all noxious germs.The disinfectants which may be used are ;bleach which is the most effective and the cheapest, formol, fenol and itīs by-products,or quaternary ammonia. , One should also protect the areas from possible germ carriers such as insects,dogs and rats and the pathogenic germs which they can transmit, -by means of wire netting and inecticides,and by carrying out periodic anti-rodent elimination.It must be kept in mind that the people who manipulate the animals can also be germ carriers,so one will need to take the neccessary measures before allowing them to work with the animals.. Don’t forget that basically the rabbit is a clean animal and likes cleanliness,so give it the opportunity to live as it likes.

 

 

SHELTER/HOUSING

Cages

Actually the cages which are used are of electrically welded and galvanized mesh with a thickness of 1.5 mm.The netting is rectangular of 25 X 13 mm.The cage dimensions are usually 80 cm, length,50 cm depth and 30cm height. There are many different types of cages to suit all needs.

Single floor batteries

Arranged in long lines.The system requires a passage of 1 meter .The floor of the cages is of mesh, which allows the excrement to fall to the evacuation channel.The upper and back parts can be opened(onto the passage) where then drinking trough and the feeders are installed.The nest is placed in the interior at the back.This type can be used as much for individuals as for those animals which are for fattening either in groups or in litters.

Three floor batteries

These are placed vertically one on top of the other.On each floor there is a tray which slopes at the back towards a channel which allows the defecation on the top floor to fall on this and roll towards the channel.For this distribuition type it will be necessary to have a passage of 1 metre plus another 0.5 metres at the back so as to be able to remove the excrement .These cages open up at the front and the drinking troughs and feeders are applied to the doors.These are used for fattening animals.

Nests

A nest is indispensable for mesh cages.The rabbits are born in the nest which has to protect them from the cold.Materials which can be used are wood, plastic, metal or asbestos.The dimensions are:height 25cms ,length 40 cms and width 30cms.At the entrance one must put a border to prevent the young from falling out during the first few days of life..The nest can be internal or external.In the latter case it can be hung on one of the walls of the cages and is closed with a circular aperture of 15 cms diameter.The upper part has a lid, so as to be able to manipulate the controls.

Drinking trough

The food which it eats - granulated fodder - contains very little water.The animal must therefore have water continuously This has made necessary the use of automatic drinking troughs.Diverse types exist:that of the mouthpiece or pipette,that of lever,which works when the lever is activated when puts down itīs head to to drink; and the float which always maintains the same level of water in the recipient .The drinking troughs are usually placed at the front part of the cages.

Feeding Trough (Feeder)

They are of the chute type made of galvanized or plastic foil.There are feeders of different capacities according to those animals for which they are to be destined ;those which have to be specially rationed or those which are to be fattened,with a capacity of up to 3 kg,those which take the feed ab libitum.The edges of the troughs have to be narrow so that the rabbits do not start to throw the food.They have to be pushed close to the bottom part the trough at.

 

HOW TO START YOUR OWN NURSERY

It is advisable to begin with a relatively small facility,this way the breeder will be able to familiarize himself with the handling of the animals.

We recommend him to begin with 25 females and 3 males.It can be estimated that this same facility will after one year be breeding 200 females. The most suitable breeds for meat produccion are:

-New Zealand.

-Californian.

DATA OF INTEREST SO AS TO START A NURSERY

-Number of females/males 25/3.

-Mating age females 4 - 5 months

-Mating age males 7- 8 months

-Annual replacement(mothers) 100%

-Litter number per year 6 to 8 .

-Relation working period/ young rabbit per mother/month 2.8-3.

-Working age 90 days.

-Weight working age 2.500-2800kg

-Conversion 3.7-4 :1 Yield.

HYGIENE AND CONTROL MEASURES

-Remove manure weekly.

-Avoid the growth of weeds.

-Disinfect and paint the cages with lime.

-Clean and wash feeders and drinking troughs,carefully using desinfected tools each time that one proceeds to to carry out any work on the cages.

-Incinerate and bury dead animals.

-Avoid the presence of other animals in the rabbit hutches.

-Combat the presence of insect and rodents.

SELECTING THE REPRODUCERS

The selection of the reproducers is the first step towards the formation of a nursery.It is evident that the future of your whole undertaking depends on this purchase because if the reproducers are not good then results will not be good.

Some care should be taken when selecting the reproducers.

The facility should have a good production so as to be profitable and for that reason it is important that the animals which one buys are of good origin.If the purveyor show animals with a lot of differences, por example some well developed and others less,then the buyer will know straight away that these animals do not come from a good strain.

The animals which are being offered for sale should be all of the same size and stage of development, they should be identified with rings or tattooes on the left ear,according to the recommendation of the genealogical registration,the purebreed animals should have a tattoo on the left ear.

The reproducers should be bought at 3 to 4 months of age in the case of the females and at 4 to 5 months for the males.

 

In selecting the males,it is necessary to be very careful,observing the following details:

- That is of a pure breed.

- That is has good vitality and is well nourished.

- That it has shiny hair.

-That it has a good complete sexual formation.

- Maximum age 4 to 5 months.

- The choice of the male should be done more carefully than with that of the females,since the male has to mate several females and has to transmit its characteristics to a greater number of descendents.. For the selection of females one should keep in mind: The female should have the essential characteristic of good breeding as in the case of the male,but whatsmore it should show the conformation of fine lines,be long and robust, with a well developed rear. It should be docile and calm.It should be from a line which has good fecundity and a have a good capacity for producing milk. To buy sure when buying your reproducer, the best thing to do is go to the confirmed known breeders directly or to some agriculture exhibition.But in general avoid buying in just any place,because although on some occasions one can find a good producer but one will usually get a lot of bad surprises.

 

 

CAGES

The shelter/housing of the meat-producing rabbit is a fundamental problem for the novice breeder because he has to be sure that this small and very emotional animal has maximum comfort.The rabbit is sensitive to external noises,it doesn’t especially fear man but it is always on the alert considering that in nature it does have many predators. We recommend buying initially galvanized wire cages.These kinds of cages are made all over the world and their cost is slightly more than the homemade wooden cages,but they are more hygienic and confortable and also do not get rotten and are easy to disinfect. Cement cajes are also very common because they are cheaper but they are very heavy,and break easily. Wooden cajes are unquestionably the cheapest but they are very problematic as regards disinfection and they can also retain toxin,which makes them unadvisable. To start off this project one should buyt 3 cages for male reproducers,and 25 cages for the females,we suggest that all of these gages should be on the same floor. For the younger rabbits the cages should also be of galvanized wire placed on three floors which will allow them to have space. We estimate that for animals which are being fattened 15 cages is good for a start.

OTHER MATERIALS

 

The feeder

The most sensible feeders are those made of galvanized foil which are very easy to clean,the capacity of these feeding troughs will depend on the quantity of rabbits which are in the cage.One must remember that the feeders are only for giving the rabbits granulated feed because the other foods such as vegetables,etc are always placed out of the trough. It is necessary to accostum the rabbit to eat everything.But it is a capricious and relatively difficult animal .With the purpose of limiting loss of food multiply the distribuitions of food to 3 or 4 per day.

The rabbit doesn’t know how to choose to balance its feeding,so as to obtain the right balance in energy contribution,so the breeder should provide these foods in a correct and balanced form.The rabbit eats slowly,taking all its time and because of this delay an alteration can take place in the quality of fresh food so for this reason,it is necessary to provide it with only a little amount at a time.

The drinking troughs

These are indispensable at all times and in all conditions,and even with more reason,if you feed your rabbit granulated alimentation. The drinking trough of the bell type is simple and easy to handle.However it does require a little more work,so for this reason we recommed the use of automatic drinking troughs which allow rabbits to drink clean, fresh water all of the time and in the quantity which they need.

The nests

These are used during the lactaction period and should always be clean and correctly disinfected between each parturitionThe best thing to use are the plastic nests. It is convenient, to place a little soft straw in these nests taking into account that the mother will always place inside hair which it has pulled from itself 2 or 3 days before the parturition.

The local/hutch

The rabbits are animals which are particularly sensitive to environmental factors, such as temperature, ventilation, light, humidity and noise.For these reasons it is convenient to avoid the very low temperatures,abrupt changes of temperatures and draughts which can cause more sensibility as regards breathing problems.Also a lot of humidity with high temperatures helps to increase the risk of infection .The right temperatures should be between 17and 24° c with a relative humidity of 55 to 80 %. The rabbits expel carbonic gas when they breathe and the process of fermentation of the defaecation produces ammonia,sulfurated hydrogen and other unpleasant gases, so in consequence, ventilation is fundamental to renovate the atmosphere,but always avoiding sulfurated strong draughts. The light has a very important role in the produccion.Studies carried out in this respect have demonstrated that 16 hours of light per day is favourable for good reproduction activity throughout the year.Inside the local the light is correct if you are able to read a newspaper beside the cages. For fattening the half light is as effective as permanent light,as it will be sufficient to illuminate during the moment of the distribution of the food but in this case the light doesn’t have to have glare or have abrupt changes. Noise is “contaminating”. The rabbit is particularly sensitive and afraid and can react violentely to unusual noises,which can have serious consequences for its health.So it is for this reason that it is important to take care of the tranquility of these small animals permanantly. On the other hand a musical background can be recommended as it creates a certain tranquility in the animal. The local/hutch where the animals are breeding should not be considered as a show place,and one should limit the number of outside visitors to the minimum so that the animals get used to the people who are in charge of caring for them and not to outsiders. It is convenient to build a local whose dimensions are 0.25 M2 per adult animal and 0.35 M2 for each mother with her young.

 

 

CAGE FOR THE REPRODUCING RABBIT

1- Walls of galvanized wire

2- Tubes for drinking troughs

3- Doors for inspecting nests

4- Nest

5- Feeder

6- Access door

7- Wire mesh floor

AUTOMATIC DRINKER

1- Supply feeder

2- Branch outlet

3- Valve

MIXED FEEDER

1- Galvanized wire mesh forage door

2- Door for inserting forage

3- Feeder top with separators

4- Two channel feeder

5- Mounted feeder

REQUIRED INVESTMENT

For the necessities of this project, we will not take into account the basic installations such as land,construction ,etc,which we will consider as already in existence.

- Purchase of “reproducers”  
3 pedigree males, New Zealander or Californian breed
600
25 females of good strain 2.500
2.500
 
- Purchase of metal cages
3 for the male reproducers
300
25 for the females
2.000
15 for fattening animals
1.050
 
- Purchase of accessories
58 automatic drinking troughs
1.276
43 feeding troughs
645
25 nests

300

 
- Various purchases
- Water system for supplying drinking troughs 40 meters
20
- Gutter for evacuation of cleaning water 40 meters
1.200
- Wheelbarrow for litter removal
100
- Air conditioning equipment

1.000

- Air extractors ( 4 )
400
- Sound equipment(for background music)
300
- Hand tools,rake, shovel, broom, etc
100

Sub-total 11.791 US$

 

It is convenient to anticipate the maintenance costs of the facility during the first 6 months. - Balanced feed for the reproducers. One should consider a consumption of 150 grs per day, per animal. 150 Grs X 28 X180 = 756 kilos of feed.

- Balanced feed for young from birth until the slaughter . We can consider that in intensive cycle one will have to feed them during this first period of 6 months 130 young rabbits in growth during 4 months giving them 120 grs of feed per day 120 X 130 X120 = 1.872 kilos of feed.

Total 2.628 kilos of feed at 0.40 U$S a kilo is 749 US$

TOTAL OF THE INVESTMENT US$ 12.540

General recommendations

- Plan the daily work and the controls which have to be undertaken.

- Control the production on the basis of dates and indicators.

- Feed the rabbit correctly,according to the minimum required at each stage of itīs life.

- Avoid abrupt changes in the daily diet,always making gradual changes.

-Always be punctual when supplying feed.

-Always provide abundant water especially in summer,to females after parturition and also during the lactation period.

-Select the most efficient specimens and program their replacement. .

-Always keep the books efficiently noting all expenses,revenues and results of the exploitation.

 

DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE .......BUT TRUE!!!!!

Music calms the spirit,and makes things peaceful......If this is the way it is for the human, it is just the same for the rabbits. From what can be seen the rabbit is a great melomaniac!!! Experience on several nurseries have shown us that when there is background music there is a much better yield obtained from the the production,for both “reproducers” and “rabbits for fattening” !!.

THIS BEING SO...........

SOME RECIPES FOR COOKING RABBIT

 

HUNTING RABBIT

INGREDIENTS:

1 Rabbit of 3 kilos 500 grs of carrots

1 can of peas 250 grs.

1 nice chopped onion.

1/4 dry white wine.

3 chopped garlic cloves.

oil-margarine-bayleaf-parsley.

2 spoonfuls of tomato puree.

2 colheres das de sopa de tomate.

 

HOW TO PREPARE:

Using a large size casserole dish, prepare with 1/4 of dry white wine,two spoonfuls of tomato puree,salt ,pepper,finely chopped garlic,and 3 or 4 bayleaves mix them all in and heat for 3 minutes.

Then put the rabbit in,in pieces and to leave it about 10 hours in this sauce.

Then, in a frying pan, put margarine and oil and heat intensively until very hot.Put the pieces of rabbit in the hot frying pan and allow this to cook until the rabbit is golden coloured ,and then ,put in half of the sauce in which the rabbit was marinated, and add 1spoonful of tomato sauce and allow to cook for about 45 minutes.If it is necessary add some white wine.

After more or less 15 or 20 minutes before it finishes cooking add the peas and carrots.

Try the sauce to check the flavour and salt and pepper as you like. Serve hot with white rice or with boiled potatoes.

ENJOY YOUR MEAL !!!!!!!

RABBIT STUFFED WITH PRUNES

 

 

ELABORATION:

Preparation.

Cover the prunes with brandy and put aside.Take out all the bones being careful not to damage the flesh,season with salt and pepper,stuff with prunes and close using a small stick.Then braise the sliced onions in julienne in a little oil until this is transparent,then add the rabbit and some fresh herbs.Sprinkle with white wine and stock and leave on a low flame until the rabbit is ready.Then take the rabbit out of the sauce.

Garnishing.

Cook some small onions and glaze with butter,sugar and vinegar.Turn to cook the carrots.

Presentation.

Serve the rabbit on a dish,put the sauce,and adorn with the onions and the carrots.

 

INGREDIENTS:

- 4 rabbit legs,dried plums (prunes),brandy. white wine, dry herb stock,

- 4 onions, olive oil,carrots, small onions, and butter.

RABBIT LOIN WITH PEPPER VINAIGRETTE

 

 

ELABORATION:

Preparation.

Season the rabbit loins,then brown in a frying pan with olive oil and finally sprinkle with chopped thyme.

The sauce.

Sprinkle green peppers oil and salt,and bake at 180° C.When they are baked, cover ,to leave to cool,and then peel.Put the green peppers in a bowl with salt, pepper and vinegar and then put all of this in the blender,adding oil until it becomes like mayonese.

Presentation.

Place some sauce in on a dish,on one side place the rabbit loins and accompany this with some stuffed mushrooms.

 

INGREDIENTS:

"For 4 people"

8 rabbit loins,salt and pepper

chopped thyme

olive oil

stuffed mushrooms.