Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Gearing Up for Babies~ Angora Rabbit Babies

With the weather cooling down, we start turning our attention back to the rabbits. Yes, even some of the trees are putting on their fall colors and dropping leaves already.  We never truly ignore the rabbits. They are too blasted cute! You've just got to touch them and cuddle them besides their usual care routine.

We've been giving their cages some much needed attention. After two years, the GAW (galvanized after the weld) 1/2" hardware cloth bottoms of the cages were rusting and the rabbits were actually chewing holes in it. They were also sagging. Hardware cloth is not as durable as cage wire. I should have bought the 1/2"x 1" cage wire in the first place, but the store was out and I settled for the hardware cloth. Anyhow, they had to be replaced.

I saw this video on YouTube and thought these would be fabulous for our rabbitry, except for the expense.

Jnull0 (John) had a great idea. While I loved the idea, I just couldn't handle the expense especially for the tightmesh shelves. Not for ten rabbits plus two grow out areas. Then I happened on a restaurant auction. I found 8 of the standard wire shelves (1" spaced wires). They would work for some of the bucks' cages. I won the bidding at $15 for all of them. Wohoo! Still I'd have to buy the tightmesh shelves (1/2" spacing wire) for the bottoms and the tops. Still an expensive proposition even for "forever" cages. I would have to budget for them.

Well, then this revamp of the cages came up and I still didn't have enough money put aside. Poo! As a stop gap, Mel placed 1/2"x1" cage wire over the standard wire shelves. Since the sides and the tops of the cages were still good, it was just a question of her removing the J clips from the bottom of the cages and zip tying and wiring the cage wire and the shelf to the bottom. The sides of the does' cages were already made with 1/2"x 1" wire so we were good for babies. The cage wire is a heavier gauge than the hardware cloth so it should be good for a few years. Maybe by then, I can purchase enough tightmesh wire shelves to do a proper job of it all.

The only problem with this new configuration is the drop down nest boxes can't be used. We opted for a permanent nest box placement within the 36"x36"x 36" square does' cages. There's plenty of room for it with these little English angora rabbits. We placed a 12" square tile on top to protect the babies inside. Plus it gives the mama rabbit a place to get away from her kits once they get big enough to get out of the nest box. Even with the nest box in place, the rabbits still has enough head room to stretch. Even though they have no babies yet, they have fun jumping up and down from the tile covered nest box.

We saw that the does were having so much fun with their elevated area, that we decided to put something similar in the bucks' 30x30 cages.

Cara, our newest addition, has doubled in size over the last three weeks. She has no trouble jumping to the tile section. Right now, it a game for her. She's loving all this space over her 24"x 18" quarantine cage. The Satin angora in her makes her a big girl compared to the other does. She's still a junior doe at 16 weeks old.

The Planned Breeding Cycle

Cara will be ready for breeding with Alby in the spring. They will be first-timers together. Neither of them have had litters before. I perfectly expect a couple of false starts with them, but I may be surprised. They'll make some fabulous babies if they carry their parents' fun loving temperament, docile grooming manners, luscious fiber, and good body genes. I can hardly wait to meet them.

Meanwhile, Moira will be bred to Lil Albert Einstein. This will be the first generation of purebred English angora rabbits born at the Cockeyed Homestead. Moira is a REW (red eyed white). She has always had great fiber at almost 5" long. She is docile even when grooming. She is almost fearful and timid, but playful too. This will be her first litter. It will be interesting what colors besides Ermine lies in her gene pool.

Lil Albert Einstein, at 2-3 years old, is a proven breeder. His last breeding netted 6 healthy kits. His grooming manners are quite good considering he has not been handled much over the past year. While initially he was fearful and poor mannered while grooming, he has become inquisitive and a joy to groom. He has socialized well with us and the other bucks although he is a bit smaller weighing in at 4.5 lbs.

It will be the second tier of our pedigree program. It takes at least three for an initial pedigree and get them registered with the NARB (National Angora Rabbit Breeders). Then, all subsequent litters can be registered as show rabbits and command a higher premium.

Cockeyed Moira
When breeding rabbits, I usually like to breed two does at a time. This way, if one doe has too many babies a litter can be split between two moms. Or in the unlikely event of a doe dying, I have a foster mom in milk to take over. I've done the every two-hour feeding with goats milk before. It ain't fun. That means we'll be waiting until spring to breed our rabbits instead of this fall.

Of course, I could breed Daisy and Moira with Lil Albert this fall and Moira and Cara with Lil Albert in the spring, but I really dislike back to back breeding (less than 6 month apart) of my bunnies. To me, it's an unnecessary hardship on the does to breed back to back.

You've heard the saying of reproducing like rabbit? The average angora lives for about 12 years. If they are bred every 3 months, their life expectancy drops. Imagine, as a woman, having babies ten months apart for your whole child bearing years. To me that's cruel and unusual punishment. Sure I'd make a huge profit at the expense of my does. I'll keep a breeding doe in the rotation for 4 years, and then retire them to fiber rabbits. I'd rather have them around for longer not shorter. Either way, the does show a profit. That means Daisy has 1 more year as a potential breeder (1-2 litters) and Moira 2 years (2-4 litters).

Then, there's the selling of the babies. While I have a few outlets in mind, it doesn't guarantee a sale. Ideally, I could get one litter sold by twelve weeks old and sell the second or third set accordingly. I'm really not sure of the market around here and won't be until I have rabbits to sell. I'll start soon after they are born and collecting reserve amounts of cash.

The Price
I've looked at others who are selling angora rabbits and will do our rabbitry the same. I'll do a 50/50 payment plan. With 50% due to reserve a kit and the balance on delivery. For the first purebred angoras out of our rabbitry, it will be with no pedigree for $40 each. That undercuts most of my competitors by almost half. 4-hers will get a special discount of $20 with continuous training in care and grooming tips throughout the school season. After which, they can return the rabbit or keep them. If returned, the rabbit will either become part of our warren and added to the breeding rotation, or sold as a senior to their fur-ever home.

By the third cycle of breeding, we'll be offering a pedigree with all kits. The price will increase by $10-$20. It still undercuts my competitor's price of $100.

To Reserve a Kit
We consider the reserve deposit as nonrefundable funds. A refund will be issued if the bunny reserved is injured or dies before delivery. Or, if the desired kit isn't born. For example, the reserve is for a REW, doe and the litters born is multicolored and bucks. The reserve would be returned in full or held until the next litter at the buyer's discretion. It's regrettable, but it does happen. First come first served on reserves. So money in my hand gets first choice. As a former accountant, I take money matters and record keeping to the next level.

We ask that the prospective owners have prior knowledge of the care and grooming requirements of angoras. If they are first-time angora owners, they must have done their homework and researched the breed prior to placing a reserve on any kit. Believe me. We will ask. We want our bunnies to have happy and healthy lives.

We invest time, money, and energy into ours. We expect prospective owners to follow suit. We will offer a mini course, about an hour long, at delivery to show how we groom them. Each kit will be sent home with a week's worth of rations to help their tummies adjust to dietary changes.

Transportation from our homestead to the buyer is the buyer's responsibility. We do not air transport our bunnies. It's too stressful for them. We can tattoo the rabbit 48 hrs before delivery, if the owner requests it. All rabbits for show purposes have to be tattooed. Otherwise, the bunny will have a Sharpie "temporary tattoo" for our purposes.

As you can see, we've put quite a lot of research and planning into this endeavor. We could just not breed them and keep harvesting the fiber for our own pocketbooks. We want to share our good fortune and expand the breed for the love of the breed. Who knows. Maybe rabbit breeding is not for us and we'll stop. Only time will tell.

You may have noticed that the layout of the blog has changed. The different pages are now accessible at the top of the blog. This is to incorporate a new page on this blog to sell items produced on our homestead. The "For Sale" tab will be opened when we have enough inventory to sell. Be it Angora fiber, angora fiber blends, handmade goods, rabbits, eggs, homesteading computer programs, etc. It's just another outlet for us. Payment is through Paypal for the fastest delivery. But, other options, like cash are available just contact us.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Jo


2 comments:

  1. I so hope this venture is a successful one for you. The restaurant shelves were a great find and a great solution. Yeah, the infrastructure is the hardest part in getting going, but you are wise to take a steady-as-she-goes approach and budget the expenses rather than do an impulsive credit card buy now pay later!

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    Replies
    1. Leigh, While I do have credit cards, they are saved for emergencies. If I can't pay it off in 30-90 days, it gets budgeted for.

      Infrastructure items are the hardest for us on this property. Being on a downward sloping bit of land that has over grown for over 7 years sure doesn't help.

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