5 new baby rabbits showed up in the house bunny cage this afternoon. I had tomorrow pegged as her due date, but I did add her nesting box yesterday just because you never know. Good timing!
Just as a refresher, my two breeding does are setup in cages where one is closer to the house and the other is further toward the yard. Thus, house bunny and yard bunny.
Each of the 5 little ‘pinkies’ looks healthy at first glance, but this is a new mother, so I did not want to stress everyone out there too much. Within a week, some problems may start to show up, and as they start walking, nearly every possible problem will show up, if any problems exist. Typically, they only really face a condition where their legs are splayed and that only happens with bad (slippery or flat) flooring.
There are no problems with the 5 kits from yard bunny. Those little piglets are growing healthy and large with excellent lineage from both parents. I expect similar results from house bunny.
5 kits are a small litter, but these first time mommas will probably start having 8 kits per litter within the next couple of litters.
A New Zealand rabbit will consume an average of about 16 pounds of food to get to it’s 5 pound harvesting weight, or roughly a 3:1 FCR (Food Conversion Ratio). We pay about $12 for a 50 pound bag of rabbit food. That is 24 cents per pound of rabbit food, or about $3.84 for 3 pounds of rabbit meat in my freezer. Of course, there are other costs involved, but none as high as the cost of feed.
By way of comparison, my chickens have a 1.5:1 FCR ratio and my fish are more like 1.2 pounds of food per pound of fish. Cows are more like 5:1 up to 20:1. Hogs are around 3:1.
FCR is affected by many factors such as health, genetics, feedstuffs, feed quality, temps, seasons, lighting, age at time of harvest, the voices within the critters heads, their astrological signs…. OK, the last two were a bit of a stretch. FCR can be adjusted by many factors, so I speak with the greatest of authority on the critters I have raised in the past few years… Chickens (Cornish Rock Cross), rabbits (New Zealand), and fish (channel catfish, yellow perch). Outside of my own experiences, I am only repeating what I have heard so that I know where to look it up when I start with beef cows and hogs.
I certainly hold my own in the better portion of chicken and fish FCR, but seem to beat the industry with my rabbits. I do not do much that I truly special with my rabbits, except provide them with very pleasant bunny housing. I chalk this up to superior rabbit genetics and drove 100+ miles to visit a superior breeder for my initial breeding stock.
One mantra is “breed the best and eat the rest”. This is sage advice and is the guiding principle behind selective breeding programs. I think I have a good pair of does and I know Bugs is a solid buck (genetically), so good things should come of the younger ones!
House bunny will visit Bugsy again in 45 days. She will then be pregnant for about 28 days. This is about 2.5 months, or the perfect amount of time to raise the new babies up to about 5 pounds live weight or about 3 pounds per butchered rabbit in the freezer. 3 pounds is the weight of bone and meat, but one of these rabbits will feed my family of 3 (or just me if I feel gluttonous and skip the side dishes).
As incredibly cute as they are and as hard as I work to keep them healthy, happy, and carefree as I can, there is no doubt that they are destined for the freezer. I will be the one to see them through that transition as well as the one to transition them from the freezer to the table. I treat them very well and play with them often, but I tend to steer clear of close, personal attachments to the babies.
Congrats on the babies little momma! All bunnies and rabbits get some corn in their food today as a celebration!