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  #11  
Old 01-06-2014, 12:10 PM
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Your picture threads are always so entertaining. lol Great shots, as always.
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2014, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shai View Post
My chicken thread is still in the dog photos section (oops) so I thought I'd re-make a catch-all thread for my non-dog/cat photos here.

So to start it off -- the rabbit colony is all bundled down for the cold snap with new stacked bales of straw to burrow into.

Here they all are checking out the new arrangement and deciding whether they like it.


And just a recap, we currently have 8 laying hens, (pictured when it was warm)




And we recently added a rooster as well. He was integrated into the flock last night because the coop is warmer than the quarantine pen, and so far everyone seems to be getting along well. Had a little display between him and the most dominant hen, but no fighting.


I'd like to start letting the flock free range in the back field this spring, but it depends on putting a fence up back there and how well we fare against these guys, of which there are several in the neighborhood:


We also have a garden, which started extremely small two years ago and is slowly expanding as we get a feel for how much we can keep up with. So far we've dealt with an extremely hot and dry summer and an extremely cool and wet summer...would be nice to have something in the middle! Still had a fair bit of success last year, mostly in terms of squash and berries and flowers.








So that's about it. We also have vermicomposting worms and mealworms (the latter for the bluebirds, and now also a special treat for the chickens), the start of an orchard which, who knows, may actually produce fruit in a couple years, a delicious old black mulberry tree way out by the woods, which also has wild black rasperries growing along the edge. Lots of bird life, the occasional deer, a roving pack of coyotes, and the occasional suicidal cottontail.


Also thick clay soil, a bunch of invasive brush and trees out in the little woods threatening to choke out native plants, a mostly-wasted front yard, and various other opportunities for improvement, haha

Always something to do.
Wow I am jealous! We have a large ranch and it's not that nice! Lucky you!
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  #13  
Old 01-06-2014, 01:24 PM
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Any particular aspect you are curious about in particular?
You covered some of it in your other responses, but how do they get along? Do the does just create their own nests away from the others to raise their kits? Do you just separate out and butcher the babies when they're old enough?

I've never seen anyone raise meat rabbits (or any other breeding rabbits) out of the standard small cages, so I'm intrigued. This seems like a far better and happier life for them.
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:49 PM
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Lovely pics. How often do you clean out the rabbit pen? Any reason for straw bedding vs shavings?

And I'm totally envious of your flock, it's so colorful. Assuming you hatch some out, what will you do with them?
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:59 PM
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Lovely pics. How often do you clean out the rabbit pen? Any reason for straw bedding vs shavings?
They mostly mess near where they eat because that's how rabbits roll, and I clean that area up several times a week. Daily, if it's wet weather or there are a lot of kits. The rest I clean as needed. They generally have places they keep neat and places they don't and are pretty consistent about it so it's not difficult to keep things clean.

It's actually half shavings -- the closer part of the picture is shavings, as is the half I'm in which doesn't appear in the picture due to camera limitations. I give them lots of straw in the winter because it has better insulating properties and they can burrow into it to stay warm if needed. In the summer it's predominantly shavings with just enough straw for them to line their nests.

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And I'm totally envious of your flock, it's so colorful. Assuming you hatch some out, what will you do with them?
I may hatch out some eggs from the wyandottes, australorps, and the partridge rock. Not from the Brahmas or Sussex. If I do I'll keep the best hens and everyone else will be grown out for meat unless I know someone looking for layers. I doubt I'd be able to find people who want mix breed roosters that aren't EE/OE type so they'd probably be processed as well. Not hatching any out unless I'm prepared for that.

I'd like to get up to 12 hens as we go through eggs pretty fast, The plan is to add 4 hens this year then rotate four in and four out every year from then out. But we'll see, I'm flexible and just seeing how it goes.
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Last edited by Shai; 01-06-2014 at 09:12 PM.
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  #16  
Old 01-06-2014, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Elrohwen View Post
You covered some of it in your other responses, but how do they get along? Do the does just create their own nests away from the others to raise their kits? Do you just separate out and butcher the babies when they're old enough?

I've never seen anyone raise meat rabbits (or any other breeding rabbits) out of the standard small cages, so I'm intrigued. This seems like a far better and happier life for them.
I raised show/meat rabbits for 7-8 years when I was younger. They did really well at local level shows, never took it farther than that, but they were always in separate pens. Decided to try something new knowing that I could always separate them later and it had really worked out. I love seeing them interact and honestly think they have a better life. They groom each other, have their favorites with whom they hang out, etc. The REW doe is the most dominant doe right now so they others make way and she gets whatever nesting spot she wants, whatever chilling out spot she wants. But I've never seen a scuffle, they get along really well. Just when she comes in, the junior does move over, no biggie.

I remove the kits after the mothers have thoroughly weaned them and they are out and about on their own (the latter usually happens before the former, but I don't take anyone out til both are done). If I plan to keep a new doe, I will sex them at that time and leave the does a bit longer and keep downselecting and moving the ones I'm definitely not keeping in with her male and other littermates in growout pens until I'm down to my keeper. If I can help it I never remove a replacement doe -- she is raised in the colony hierarchy. I don't know if it helps or not, but I'm just playing it safe and so far so good.

The mothers carve out their own nesting areas but they don't really defend it or anything. That's just where they return to feed their kits. Other than the one poor mother, they have been very successful.
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  #17  
Old 01-06-2014, 09:46 PM
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I'm having flashbacks to my grandma's farm and I'm jealous. She kept chickens and rabbits for meat; her rabbits were caged raised though. The kits had a lot of interaction and outdoor time when us kids were around. I'd crochet harnesses/leashes and let them hop around the barnyard to eat clover and hang out in the sun.

I would LOVE to get to a point where I can have a similar set up.
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  #18  
Old 01-07-2014, 09:01 AM
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Thanks for the bunny info!

Most rabbit colonies I've seen have been at rescues with fixed rabbits. I've rarely heard of anyone keeping a breeding colony intentionally. I love your set up. It looks like they have a great quality of life.

One thing I've realized since having my pair of house rabbits is how closely rabbits bond and how much they interact socially. People like to say dogs are pack animals, but the dog-dog relationships I've seen are nothing compared to rabbits. Their hierarchy is also really fascinating.
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  #19  
Old 01-07-2014, 09:37 AM
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While you are adopting people.... Me too please?

You pretty much have the set up I am looking for when I (finally) finish school. Very jealous right now. LOL.
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  #20  
Old 01-08-2014, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Elrohwen View Post
Thanks for the bunny info!

Most rabbit colonies I've seen have been at rescues with fixed rabbits. I've rarely heard of anyone keeping a breeding colony intentionally. I love your set up. It looks like they have a great quality of life.

One thing I've realized since having my pair of house rabbits is how closely rabbits bond and how much they interact socially. People like to say dogs are pack animals, but the dog-dog relationships I've seen are nothing compared to rabbits. Their hierarchy is also really fascinating.
Yeah, they are really fascinating and very social with conspecifics. They really do "breed like rabbits" though so I wouldn't keep an intact colony until you have a plan for all the offspring! It would be very easy to find oneself overwhelmed if not prepared.
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