Tag Archive | raising rabbits

And Another New Bunny!

Three days ago I brought this handsome boy home to Phoenix Farm.  His name is Garnet and he is a 7-month-old chestnut agouti angora.  I particularly love his big eyes.  Garnet was raised in Blue Hill, ME, about 1.5 hour drive east from us.  Yet, surprise, surprise!  His background has some of the same rabbitry as my current does.  I believe his father is from the same breeder as my senior doe, a place down in southwestern ME, a two hour drive for us in a different direction!  Oh well.  They are not closely related.  He should make a fine buck for my rabbitry.

Garnet is a real snuggle bunny.  Males tend to like being held and fussed over more than females.  Since he was a favorite of the lady who raised him, Garnet likely received lots of attention.  He is also very interested in his girlfriends.  I think they will make some lovely babies in the spring.

The agouti color is the wild pattern.  Each hair has bands of color, just like a whitetail deer’s hair.  Garnet is banded with cream, gray, and a bright chestnut red.  In the photo below you can see the banding of the long hairs and also the red tips of the new coat coming in under the first fiber the rabbit grew.  He is starting to shed his first coat and I will be harvesting him soon.  The color of an angora rabbit is told by the face.  The wild type pattern is quite visible on Garnet’s face.

When agouti fiber is spun, the yarn has a pretty variegated appearance that many people like to use.  I’m hoping Garnet will produce some adorable agouti babies.

 

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Meet Ruby

Meet the newest member of the Phoenix Farm rabbitry, Ruby, a chocolate angora doe.  She was born here on the farm at the end of April.  Although she is not yet six months old, she is the same size as her mother and her fiber coat is lush and long.  The hairs are up to seven inches long!  When this baby is full grown she could well produce hairs to eight or nine inches in length!  Below is Ruby with some of her siblings in June.

Ruby was named by my granddaughters.  I think the name fits perfectly.  She is a gem of a bunny!  Her parentage is mostly French angora with English, German and Giant mixed in.  The ears and face show her ancestry as French angoras tend to have very little long fiber in those areas.  The German and Giant in her contribute to her large size.  Bigger rabbits produce more and longer fiber.

I have just started harvesting her first shedding of fiber.  Our rabbits are hand pulled, a process that does not cause the rabbit any discomfort since only the mature, loose hairs are removed.  When she is done harvesting, her coat will be about two inches long instead of the current six to seven inches.  She feels like a big fluff ball, all fur covering a much smaller bunny body underneath.  The fiber is excellent quality with a superior length, lovely cream color shading to brown and grayish-brown at the tips, with a good crimp.  I know it will spin up into gorgeous yarn!

Ruby shares an over-sized, comfortable cage with her mom, Moonstone.  Frequently they come out to hop around the barn.  Moonstone loves to dig holes!  Mother and child really enjoy being together and I will try to house them in this manner for companionship.  It is harder to keep angoras in groups because the constant rubbing together of their coats creates mats.  They will require more frequent grooming.  It is the least I can do for bunnies who are so generous with their fiber.

Fawns Achieve Maximum Cuteness

The baby angora rabbits are four weeks old today and they have achieved maximum cuteness.  All six are healthy and rambunctious.  Last night they came out of the pen and ran all over the barn for the first time.  Bunny paradise!  These friendly fawns enjoy cuddling.  It’s my onerous task to snuggle the little ones, accustoming them to being handled.  Sometimes raising rabbits is a tough job!

There are three white albinos with red eyes, and one each of chocolate, sable and color point.  I have not checked them yet for sex, but am hoping at least a couple of the colored ones are female so I can keep them.  I might even keep a white one since I’m down to just one adult rabbit with the loss of my buck.  He sure gave me some pretty babies.

The color point is such a lovely shade. It’s creamy with brownish-gray point. Even the little tail and feet are pointed, so adorable. The chocolate and sable are beautiful, deep shades.  And who can resist a red-eyed white fawn that loves to sit in your hand?

The babies eat like little piggies, taking in the nutrition they need for rapid growth.  Fresh dandelions, clover, wild carrot and grass are a daily treat they rush over to nibble.  Mama Moonstone is doing an excellent job raising her babies.  A really great mother bunny.

Since I have so few rabbits, it will be hard to let any of them go.  At least there is another month to enjoy their antics.  The ones going to new homes will be ready to leave at eight weeks of age.  I hope to also locate a young, unrelated buck for my rabbitry so there will be baby bunnies next year.

 

Little Bunnies One Month Old

Moonstone’s three babies are achieving maximum cuteness at one month of age.  The angora rabbit fawns are little bundles of fluff that fit neatly in your hand.  Two are white albinos with red eyes and one is a chocolate point with blue eyes.  I believe the chocolate point and one white are female and there is one boy.  They are still so young that I can be fooled when sexing babies.  I’ll check again in a month.  At that age their sex will be fairly obvious.

By copying what mother does, the little ones have learned to eat pelleted feed, drink from a waterer and bowl and nibble grass, hay, fruit wood twigs and apples.  Young rabbits have big appetites.  We go through a lot of pellets when there is a litter of rabbits to raise.  Happily, there are only three this time so the feed bill won’t be as big as when there are six or eight to grow.  

I talk to the babies and handle them frequently so they will be gentle and accustomed to humans.  As they enter four to five weeks of age, the fawns develop a natural curiosity and are moving away from the protection of their mom.  This is a great time to socialize them with humans. 

Mom still nurses her fawns and allows them milk once per day.  Whenever anyone tries to get a little extra drink, she hops smartly away.  At two months she will wean them and the little ones will be ready to go to new homes.  If the chocolate point turns out to be a doe, I may keep her for my rabbitry.  She is adorable!

Little Bunnies First Day Out

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We’ve had some gorgeous, warm, sunny days lately and now that the little angora rabbits are a month old, a few days ago it was time for them to get to know the great outdoors.  The fawns and their mother came out to the large outside rabbit run.  The area is approximately 8 ft by 16 ft, plenty of space for little bunnies to race around.a4

The babies kicked up their heels, tasted fresh grass, clover, dandelion and plantain from the lawn and stretched out in the shade to enjoy the balmy air and gentle breeze.  Mama rabbit is very happy for the break from close quarters with her infants.  There are three fawns:  two female albinos and one male color point.  The color point can be told by the smudge of brown on his nose.  As he grows, his ears, feet and maybe even tail will turn a soft brown shade.  His coat will be cream and his eyes are blue.a3
He is an adorable baby and I plan to keep him. To enlarge my herd I also will keep one of his little sisters. My rabbit population dropped to just two before these were born. Rabbits do not live terribly long, seven years on average. I had several about the same age who passed away this last winter and spring. Now, thanks to rabbits doing what they do best, I have new members of the rabbitry to produce fiber.a5

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After a good romp and feed, mom and babies settle down to doze away the warm afternoon.a6

Goodbye to a Gem

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Gem 2009-2016

Gem, one of my angora rabbits, passed away last night.  She was nearly seven and the only fawn colored animal my rabbitry has so far produced.  The fiber color was apricot at the tips shading to cream near the body and grew to about 6″ long.  Such a beautiful bunny.

This rabbit also had a beautiful heart.  A pleasant animal, she never fought with other rabbits.  She was best friends with her half-sister Citrine, who is an alpha female and does not get along with anyone who challenges her.  Luckily, she found a pal in Gem, a calm, quiet, friendly creature.  I’m certain Citrine will miss her buddy.

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Citrine and Gem in the garden

Cancer took Gem away.  Several months ago I felt the beginnings of a breast tumor.  It grew quickly and spread to other regions.  I suspect it went to her lungs and that is what got Gem.  She died quietly in her sleep.

Nearly seven is a good age for a bunny.  Nature designed these prey animals to live about two years. Older rabbits often develop tumors.  Gem’s father also passed from cancer last fall.  He lived nine years, a venerable age for a bunny.

I hope this spring breeding season will see the birth of a little fawn-colored girl rabbit to fill the hole in my rabbitry.

 

Determining The Sex of Baby Rabbits

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The baby angora rabbits are nearly old enough to go to their new homes.  They will be weaned in one week and can then leave their mother.  Rabbit breeders must be able to tell the sex of the babies they produce.  Over the years I have shown several people how to sex a baby rabbit.

Telling the gender of a young rabbit can be difficult.  I do not bother trying until they are at least a month old.  Even then I can be fooled into thinking males are females.  By the time they are two months old (at weaning) it is much easier to determine the sex.

The following photos and diagram are provided to help illustrate the differences in anatomy between the sexes of the baby rabbits in the above photo.  I have distinguished three females and two males in this litter.  It is nice to have more females, there is a greater demand for girls than boys.  It only takes one buck to service several females.  It is very important to prospective customers that they receive the proper gender rabbit.  It is also important to separate the sexes when the babies are eight weeks old to prevent any unwanted, very premature, pregnancies.

To determine the sex of a baby rabbit, first hold the bunny on its back, supporting it with one arm and using the hand of that arm to gently push the tail down and away from the genital area.  With the thumb of the other hand very gently press down at the front of the genitals and pull away from the tail area. This will open up the genitals and expose the shape. A little girl has a line, a straight opening, that starts near the anal area and runs up to the end of the genitals.  A boy has a little cone that is expressed and presses upward from the genitals.  The following rough diagram I made demonstrates the differences.e4

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female 7 week old rabbit

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female 7 week old rabbit

Here are photos of the genitals of baby female and male bunnies from the litter.  Note the position of the thumb that gently depresses and extends the area to expose the anatomy.  The babies are not at all perturbed by this procedure.  Bunnies enjoy being held resting on their backs and stroking their bellies puts them to sleep.

I hope this has been helpful for anyone who finds sexing baby rabbits to be confusing.

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male 7 week old rabbit

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male 7 week old rabbit