Mink Hollow Rabbitry Blog

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In an effort to move away from Facebook more, I am starting a blog. I will post things here that I would normally share on the farm page on FaceBook.

watch this space for more


Monday was “Hay Day”.
Also cleaning day.

No new losses today.

This is Cobalt and her litter. She has TEN babies, born March 12, so they are 3 1/2 weeks old, same as Cancon's.
She's been a great mom - hasn't lost a single one.

Here we have our 4 roommates: Sisters Chloe (broken chocolate otter) and Cutie (black),
and their friends Crayola (blue/cream tri), and Dazzle (black/orange tri). They seem to be enjoying themselves.

2020/04/08 14:31 · becker

Some days are more fun than others.

Today is one of the “other” days.

There's a good reason why I count and check over all of my litters every couple of days.

We lost Maggie's harlequin baby.
The baby had no obvious sign of illness other than a bloated belly.
It's a real shame - she was very cute, and also very large.
Maggie now has just 5 left: the 3 tris, the broken tort, and the broken red.

DCD: Cancon X Andy

They were born March 12, so they are 3 1/2 weeks.
They are hopping about and exploring quite far as you can see from the video.
The neighbours don't seem to mind.

DCK: Choir X Cinder

Choir lost 3 of her babies including one of the chocolates. She's now down to 7 and compared to some of the other litters, hers don't look as healthy. Choir only weaned 4 of her 9 babies from her last litter, so I'm starting to wonder if maybe she's not a great mom. I've decided to foster off her two remaining chocolate babies to Cebreez, who only has four.
This is part of the reason that it is a good idea to breed your does so that some of them have their litters at the same time. Most of the time it is quite easy to foster baby rabbits to other moms, so long as they are fairly similar in age. All you need to do is just drop them in the other doe's nest box, and she will adopt them. Choir's babies are smaller than Cebreez's, but they are the same age, and it should be no problem for her to go from looking after four to looking after six. I'll keep you posted on their progress.

April 6 Update: The fostered babies have full bellies and seem fine. :-)

DCL: Cindy X Trigg

Cindy's babies are all big, fat, and healthy looking.

DCM: Windy X Andy

Windy's babies, while small, also look pretty good. She still has 11.

DCN: Tink X Atticus

Tink lost ALL of her babies.
This is one of those things that people raising rabbits just have to get used to.
Even though we've all heard the idiom “breeding like rabbits”, the reality is not quite so simple.

Rabbits are what's called 'forced ovulators'. That means that they ovulate as a result of being bred. That also means that they can have another litter ANY time they are bred. In a natural setting it is advantageous for the MOTHER to survive so she can have another litter. That means that rabbits will sometimes let a litter die if they sense that they might not be able to raise the litter, either because of compromised health of the mother, or some perceived threat to the babies in the nest. Their overall chances of survival are better if mom effectively abandons the litter, gets pregnant again and then has a new litter, probably in a new nest.

Tink appears to be otherwise healthy, and she raised a litter of seven quite successfully at the start of the year. My plan is to move her to a different cage (in case she has some issue with her current one), and try again.

DCO: Cebreez & Chai

Cebreez, as you recall, only had 4.
They are very fat babies.
Cebreez is a large doe and appears to have planty of milk, which is why I decided to give her a couple of Choir's babies to look after.

Two of Cebreez's babies are harlequinized broken castors.
The harlequin gene, also called the Japanese gene (“ej”) is a tricky one.
Many genes have a simple dominant or recessive relationship to the other genes in the same series.
A dominant gene is one whose effects can overshadow the effects of recessive genes.
The Japanese allele is not fully recessive to its dominant counterpart (“E” = full extension of hair colour).
You can see the harlequin effect showing through when you look at the babies' ears. Instead of a clean lighter colouring inside the ears, we see a brindling effect.
That measn that these babies are carrying the Japanese gene and could produce tris, when bred to the right partner.

This is the tri. In the coloured parts,
you can see definite black spots and an orange background.
This is one of the harle'd castors.
The castor colour looks patchy but doesn't have
the clearly defined black dots like the one on the left.
This is another of the harle'd castors.
Same here. You can clearly see the brindling in its ears.

DCP: Conina X Buddy

Conina's babies are also pretty small compared to Cindy and Cebreez's. She also has only six. They are not staying in the nest mom made for them, and you can see that mom's housekeeping is not quite as good as, Cerise, for example.

As you can also see, their eyes are starting to open, ears too.

DCQ: Cerise X Comet

Cerise still has 9. She has not lost any in the last few days. If you recall, she started out with 11.
The nest is a really good one and the babies are snug and warm.
I took them out for the picture.
Can you tell what colours hers are?

2020/04/05 17:34 · becker

Thought it was time to explain a bit more about the sprouts that I feed to my rabbits and birds.
Everyone LOVES them.
Sprouted grains are very nutritious, the critters get to have fresh greens on a regular basis, PLUS it helps to defray the cost of feed. I can easily triple or quadruple the amount of feed I have available, simply by sprouting it.

This is my set-up.

It's coloured oddly because I have grow lights in the top few levels.

The youngest ones are at the bottom, and the oldest at the top.

There are 3 sets of 3 trays.
Each tray is 20“ x 10” with lots of holes in the bottom.

Each batch consists of 4-6 cups of wheat, 2 cups each of: oats, black oil sunflower seeds, and green peas.

They get watered (rinsed) 3 times a day.
I feed sprouts 3 times a week, so each batch takes 7-8 days.

I found that if I only watered 2 times a day, I had much smaller root beds and much MORE mold.

I start with whole seeds:

  • 4-6 cups of wheat
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups black oil sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups green peas

There is NO rule about what you can use, so use whatever you can get your hands on.
I use feed grains and not seed grains.
I have used corn in the past, but right now the corn I can get doesn't sprout well, so I'm not using it.
I have tried barley a few times, but the stuff we can get here doesn't seem to sprout well.
If too many seeds fail to sprout, they tend to get moldy, which is not good.

Wheat Oats Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (a.k.a. BOSS) Green Peas

After soaking for about 24 hours, I pour them into a strainer basket.

This is what it looks like after 1 day of soaking and 1 day of sitting. If you look closely, you can see that the wheat has already sprouted, AND you can see that the sprouts from the peas are just about to burst out of the pea.

By Day 3 pretty much ALL the seeds have sprouted both shoots and roots.

Day 5: Things are continuing to grow.

By Day 7 or 8, they are ready to be fed to the critters.
They smell WONDERFUL! Like fresh sweet grass on a summer day.
You can see that they have LOTS of roots.
Each flat has grown into a carpet of greens.
When it comes time to feed the buns, what I actually do is flip each mat of greens over, and use a back saw to cut strips that I can give to the gang.
The root bed is often an inch or more thick, so it's hard to tear apart evenly.

Since birds have no teeth for chewing, I tear theirs into little wads.

Apologies for the video being sideways at the start. This is what it looks like just after I water.

2020/04/04 18:01 · becker

Time to introduce some of the other 'cast members' at Mink Hollow Farm.
These were going to be posted yesterday, but I did a bunny baby update instead.

First, the horses … and Gadget. Gadget is *almost* a horse. ;-)

We currently have four equines living with us:
Red & Lance (both geldings), who are Tennessee Walking Horses, and 1/2 brothers. They were born 1 day apart and are 15
Bree, who is a Quarter Horse mare, approximately 25 years old.
Puzzle, our 26 year old spotted standard donkey.

The Rottie is Gadget, our ever-faithful house dog. He's 5.
Gadget is what I would describe as “AGGRESSIVELY HAPPY”.

Back in the house, we have two of our three kitties.
We've had an Addams Family theme going on with our cat names for some time now.
It all started with 2 half-sisters we got in 2003. We decided to name them Morticia and Wednesday. We lost Wednesday a few years ago, but Morticia is still with us. We'll meet her another day.

When our old male Kipa died, the kitten we got to take his place was named Gomez. He's the orange guy below. He is also sometimes called Uncle Phlegm. As a kitten, he had a respiratory illness that I think has left his lungs scarred. He is nearly 9 years old, and some days sounds a bit like he has emphysema. Poor Guy. He's a real sweetie though.

His polydactyl buddy is Calpurnia, a.k.a. Little Ninja Stealth Cat. She will soon be 2 years old. She has 6 toes on each foot (polydactyl means many toes).
She got her nickname because she normally does not like to be touched. Today, she was being VERY friendly. :-)
\In keeping with the Addams Family theme, Calpurnia was Wednesday's great aunt, and also a witch. It seemed fitting. I discovered later that Calpurnia was also the name of the Finch's cook in To Kill a Mocking Bird. At one point in the book she is described as having very large hands, so that fits our little kitty too.

2020/04/02 13:33 · becker

I know I said I'd introduce the horses today, but I realized that it's been a few days since we checked litters, so that's what we are doing today.

Cobalt's kids are just starting to venture out of the nest.
They are starting to try and hop, but aren't very good at it yet.
Cobalt's kids are the same age as Cancon's but there are 10 here (Cancon had 6), so they are somewhat smaller.

These guys are almost 3 weeks old now.

They were born March 12.
They are really starting to get hoppy.
It turns out, the shelves come in really handy when the babies get this age.
For about another week, mom will easily be able to get away from them simply by jumping up on the shelf.
Once they start wandering around, they also start chasing mom for extra helpings of milk.
Most moms don't like that so they can get some peace by being out of the way.

Choir is the mom with the chocolate babies.

Windy is our girl who had 12 babies.
She's lost one so we're down to 11.
The rest look just fine though.

I know I say Cerise in the video, but I misspoke.
These are actually Cebreez's babies.
Sorry for the confusion.

We finally have some pictures of Conina's kids.
They look fine!

Sadly, Cerise had 11 babies, but has lost 2, so she's down to 9.

The 9 that are there look good!

2020/04/01 11:35 · becker
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