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4-H Rabbit Project 101: In Depth Basics

Become knowledgeable about rabbit raising through 4-H!

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4-H Rabbit Project 101: In Depth Basics

  1. 1. 4-H Rabbit Project Rabbit 101: In Depth Basics presented by: Virginia Vickers
  2. 2. Types of projects Meat Pen Consists of 3 rabbits of the same breed and variety(color). 10 weeks old Minimum weight 3 lbs Maximum weight of 5 lbs (note: some shows such as Tomball ISD use different weights) Breeding/Show Keeping rabbits as a breeding herd and showing for confirmation and fur. Similar idea to breeding heifer projects Pet Keeping and caring for animal Good for younger Kids Can show your record book Cavies also known as guinia pigs also are fun project shown as breeding animals and they make great pets!
  3. 3. Selection: Breeds Meat Pen Most popular: Californian New Zealand (White) Less popular but still competitive: Satins Champagne D’Argent New Zealand (Black, Broken, & Red) Palomino Breeding/Show Any breed approved by the American Rabbit Breeders Association 48 breeds to choose from. Pet Any breed including mix breeds are acceptable. Keep size and temperament in mind when choosing. For example a Checkered Giant would not be suitable for a young child.
  4. 4. General Disqualifications & Faults  Ailments such as ear canker, hernias discharge etc.  Overweight  Underweight  Malocclusion (Bad Teeth)  Smut is not a disqualification in meat pens but is in a breeding class.  Non descended testicles on bucks.  All animals must have a personal tattoo in left ear(not including validation mark)  Out of condition  Stained  Over conditioned(flabby/fat)  Thin or poor flesh  Poor ear carriage  Poor eye color  Please note not all are included these are just a sampling of the most common. See the ARBA Standard of Perfection for details. Disqualifications Faults
  5. 5. Selection: Physical Traits
  6. 6. Handling  Do not scruff a rabbit, this pulls the pelt away from the muscle causing bruising and loosening of flesh.  NEVER pick up a rabbit by its ears.  Always handle the rabbit with two hands one to support and one to control
  7. 7. Housing  Floors should be ½”x ¼” wire. Hardware cloth will lacerate the feet causing sores and should never be used.  Allow for maximum air flow to protect from summer heat and keep shaded from the sun.  NEVER use a heat lamp on a rabbit unless severe temperature drops are expected, rabbits like cool dry and shady locations. If you have a litter in midwinter then purchase a nest box warmer.  Keep cages free of objects other than food and water containers. Anything more provides opportunity for feces and urine buildup, permanently staining the coat and leading to unsanitary conditions.  Don’t bed the cage floor with shavings, straw or hay as this also spoils and stains the coat.  CLEAN CAGES MAKE CLEAN AND HEALTHY RABBITS!
  8. 8. Breeding  Take the doe to the bucks cage. Keep under supervision. After a successful breeding, remove doe from cage take back in 15 minutes to an hour and repeat the breeding.  Give the doe a nest box a week before she is due. (31 day gestation)  I recommend wooden nest boxes in winter with a nest box warmer underneath. For summer use a wire box with a cardboard/pegboard floor lining.  Fill generously with shavings and hay  Check daily and clean box as needed  In the case of the doe refusing to use the nest box line the floor of the cage with pegboard, cardboard, or an feed sack and fill with hay. After the birth when the doe has settled into motherhood place the kits into a nest box and clean the cage.
  9. 9. Feed Meat Pens  Free feed your meat pens. If there is no food they are not gaining. I aim for them to finish a days feed within 30 mins of the next feeding.  As show day approaches adjust feed in accordance to weights.  You do not need to add supplements or hay into the diet if feeding a complete feed.  Note: If buying a meat pen feed as the breeder advises. Breeding and Pets  Small Breeds: Adults 3-6 oz  Large Breeds: Adults 6-12 oz  Free feed litters with juniors  Adjust for condition and size Pick a feed and stick to it! Changing feeds causes weight loss and sometimes illness. I feed Livengood brand which is a 17% protein feed. Aim for 15%-18% protein, animals such as meat rabbits, young and wool/fur breeds often require a higher protein.
  10. 10. Meat Pens, Feeding for weight. Gain  Feed as much pellets as they can consume in 24h  The higher their water intake the higher their feed intake. Keep fresh cool water available at all times.  Place pellets in the nest box to encourage kits to eat pellets  Place “teasers”, such as a pinch of sweet feed or show mix, in the feeder to encourage pellet consumption Loss/Holding  Cut feed to measured amounts  Give hay an hour before feeding  Add oats for fat cover or barely to firm flesh
  11. 11. Water  I prefer water crocks because they will drink more from a crock increasing their appetite and coat quality. I will add bottles or an automatic water system in addition to make sure they never run out.  CLEAN YOUR WATER SOURCES!!!  Water bowls and bottles can harbor disease causing bacteria. If you would not drink it they shouldn’t have to!
  12. 12. Common Health Problems  Diarrhea- give hay and pull feed, can give pepto or kayopectate  Mites- dose with ivermectin injectable at 0.1 cc per lb give orally Baby or mineral oil can be dropped into the ears (cover animal with a towel to prevent spoiling the coat)  Hair blockage- give hay to prevent  Rabbit Friendly Vet: Stan Zybolt, D.V.M., P.A. Spring Creek Animal Hospital 101 Epps St. Tomball, TX 77375 281-351-7184
  13. 13. Weights  The pens should be weighed everyday at the same time that the will be shown/checked in. Try to weigh everyday the last 2-3 weeks before the show.  Goal weight: ≤5 lbs
  14. 14. Choosing a Pen  Bigger is not always better.  Uniformity can make or break you.  While even weights help, even type and condition is preferred. Please see the ARBA Standard of Perfection for the full judging criteria
  15. 15. Show Preparation  Trim toenails and groom.  Check for disqualifications and bring an alternate if possible  Check and adjust weights as needed If they are slightly overweight or are in danger of going over pull water the night before and give measured amounts to smaller animals.  Remember to give water back as soon as they are done showing.  Bring extra food and water cups in case you make sale and need to coop the animals until the sale.
  16. 16. Contacts and Resources  Becky Vickers 713-725-5125  Ginny Vickers 713-725-8028 email:  Equipment:   Bryant Small Animal Equipment(Located in Channelview) 281-452-5794  Stan Zybolt, D.V.M., P.A. Spring Creek Animal Hospital 101 Epps St. Tomball, TX 77375 281-351-7184  Governing association for rabbits, to purchase a Standard go here. 