Recent Rabbit Failures

I always tell myself that I’m as happy to share my failures as I am to share the successes, but I realised this afternoon that my biggest failures in the last few months I haven’t even mentioned on the blog or facebook group.

My struggles/mistakes lately seem to be largely around the rabbits.

It started (although I didn’t realise it at the time) when we processed the last batch of rabbits I think we did a batch after the post below but the most recent time I mentioned it was;

https://quinsgunnado.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/pressure-canning-rabbit-stew/

I always make the mistake of letting the rabbits grow out a bit too much, they end up pretty well adult size by the time I usually finish culling the last of a litter. In this case, one of the black babies must have been particularly big. Because I mistook the black breeding female for a baby and left the ‘baby’ in the cage.

I killed my breeding female and didn’t even know.

When dad was over I bred the black female in hopes of getting a nice looking litter to sell rather than eat. They had a lot of issues and didn’t really seem to do the job very well, but I just put it down to them having a bad day. 4 weeks later (when ‘she’ should have been due) nothing had happened, no nesting, no fur pulled out, no babies.

I decided to have a closer look, that’s when I realised my mistake, I had a black male rather than a female, he will have to go when I feel like a nice slow cooked stew.

Unfortunately my mistakes didn’t end there. I decided to breed the white female, things went much smoother with the breeding and about 3 1/2 week later she was showing all the signs that babies were on the way.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. She had her babies on a Thursday night/Friday morning which is pretty standard when I breed them on a Sunday (rabbits are very exact about their cycles). The Friday was raining heavily and winter was finally setting in so it was icy cold.

I checked on them Friday after work and there was a dead baby outside the nesting box. Things like that happen and I wasn’t too worried to start with, but then I felt inside the box to check on the remaining babies.

There was a leak in the roof that I hadn’t noticed and water was pouring in and soaking the nest and babies. I was starting to get pretty wet but spent the next half an hour trying to make the hutch water proof again, I managed to stop 90% of the water.

I reached into the hutch and felt that there was at least one baby and it was still moving, but I didn’t want to spend long with my icy hands stealing their body heat so I went inside and hoped for the best.

The following morning I went out and checked on them, I convinced the female to come out of the nesting box with a bit of basil bribery and went about checking on the babies. There were no babies in the nest, I’m guessing they died in the night from the cold/wet and the mum ate them (not unusual either).

As you can see, we’ve made some mistakes and had to bear the consequences, but we’ll keep on learning from our mistakes and trying to do better. I’ll give the female a few weeks break and probably breed her again in mid August for a mid September batch of babies, they will be nice and big for Christmas.

I considered giving up on the rabbits after everything that has happened, but between the very high quality fertiliser and delicious meat they are definitely an important part of the homestead and worth continuing with.

I’ll try to remember to include the mistakes we make along with our successes because it’s more important that we and other learn from our mistakes than from our successes.

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