Paul Mannell Rabbits

magazines: Domestic Rabbits comes out 6 times a year from the American Rabbit Breeders Association, c/o Glen Carr, PO Box 426, Bloomington, IL 61702; [email protected] aol.com; www.arba.net. The magazine, Standard of Perfection, and breed guidelines are available to members—$15/yr for adults, $8 youth. Send $2 for their beginner's booklet, $5 for their rabbit cookbook, or $1 for a bumper sticker "Get into the Rabbit Habit." It's a good place to find local rabbit clubs, rabbit products, and basic breeder stock. books: Check out Rabbit Feeding and Production by Peter Cheeke (1987), Rabbit Production by Peter Choate (1987), Raising Rabbits Successfully by Robert Bennett (1984), Practical Rabbit-Keeping by Katie Thear (1981), The American Rabbit Breeders Association Official Guide to Raising Better Rabbits, Rabbits and Hares by Robert Whitehead, Rabbits: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual by Helga Fritzsche, and The Book of the Domestic Rabbit by Carl Naether. Older classics in this field include How to Start a Commercial Rabbitry by Paul Mannell, Domestic Rabbit Production by George Templeton (1968), and Raising Rabbits by Ann Kanable (1977). Raising Small Meat Animals by Victor M. Giammattel, D.VM. (1976) has a terrific rabbit section. Rabbitry Suppliers

Bass Equipment offers the "world's most complete line of rabbit and small stock equipment": PO Box 352, Monett, MO 65708; 417-235-7557; fax 417-2354312; www.Bassequipment.com. Care Zap's It sells an Odor Digester and rabbit care products; send long SASE for brochure: 11727 Leader, Houston, TX 77072. Vocabulary Buck: male

Bunny: a baby rabbit, also called a "kit"

Crib: to chew on a wooden cage

Doe: female

Droppings: rabbit feces

Hutch: a rabbit cage

Kindle: to give birth

Junior: young rabbit of either sex

Rabbitry: where your rabbits live

Run: group housing of a "natural" sort

Senior: an adult

Buying Starter Stock

Finding Rabbit Breeders. You could probably arrange to buy your first rabbits from someone exhibiting at the fair, or ask advice of the fair superintendent or extension agent. They may know of rabbitries close enough to visit. In addition, good places to inquire are the local newspaper's stock-for-sale section, especially if you live in a rural area, and the local feed stores. Look over the feed store bulletin board and ask the clerk for advice. Because most rabbit owners buy feed and/or vet supplies, feed store clerks know who has what—and also have an idea how well cared for the animals are.

Get Good Stock. No matter whether you're buying papered or mixed-breed stock, get healthy animals—the best ones you can afford. You'll have a better idea which ones are best cared for and the best stock after visiting several rabbitries. Be cautious, even suspicious. A good rabbitry is clean. The animals look alert and happy—not listless and droopy. Ask what the rabbits are being fed and about other aspects of their care. A good match would be a rabbitry where the animals are fed and managed very like you intend to do.

Try to catch any problem before you put your money down. It's normal for the rabbit owner to want to unload a cull rather than the best rabbit. Why a cull and how bad a problem are your questions to answer. And all are not necessarily problems; a discard from a classy operation could be a great start-up animal for you. On the other hand, that cull might have a truly unfortunate condition such as a disease or bad genes that could doom your operation. What to Start With. The minimal option is a single rabbit for a pet or a single bred female to start your rabbitry. You can go from that one pregnant doe to having enough rabbit for dinner every day and some to sell within 6 months. Rabbits are famous reproducers. But most people choose to start with more than 1, such as 2 bred does and the mature buck that bred them. These rabbits know what to do. Or choose a mature buck and pregnant doe, plus a junior buck and doe. This protects in case of failure by the older rabbits who may have been sold because they were close to stopping reproduction. Or get just a buck and a pair of does, all fairly young. Your trio will probably be plenty to start your own rabbitry.

Changing a Rabbit's Diet. Most livestock arriving new at your home will make the transition better if they don't have a sudden change in diet. Before you take them home, ask the previous owner what the rabbits have been fed, what feeding schedule, and how much of it. Ask the previous owner to sell you enough feed to help them make an easy transition, gradually switching from old to new if you will be feeding them differently.

You change a rabbit's diet by adding a little larger part of new feed and a proportionately smaller part of the old every day until the changeover is fully accomplished. Check their feed container to make sure they're eating the new rations okay. They may refuse a new food. Rabbits can be picky and opinionated. And going from an all-pellet diet to a home-grown one, for example, is a big transition; give it several weeks.

Quarantine. Any time you bring new animals onto your farm, it's a good idea to quarantine them away from other animals of their kind for 2 weeks or so. You may never run into a problem of a new animal getting sick. But if you do, you'll be glad you didn't let the other animals get it.

Continue reading here: Rabbit Breeds

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