If I would have known that my rabbit and chicken page would have the most posts, I would have separated them, and until Weebly decides that we can split posts, this will have to do.
So I’ve decided to write about chicken breeds. But only ones I’ve owned and have personal experience with. So this won’t be your typical list and it won’t have histories or any of that good stuff, but it will be honest. Now I know that not everyone will experience the same things with the same breeds, as I’m sure the line and breeding come into play as well. But here’s what I’ve got for ya, and I will update this as necessary.
Growing up we’ve had several different breeds, some of which we just guessed or made up breeds for. I’m much more educated now. But one of the last flicks we had consistented of Black Australorps and Barred Plymouth Rocks. So when I started my own flock, I wanted Australorps, but I couldn’t find any. I settled for Barred Plymouth Rocks.
Ancona are beautiful black speckled bird. She lays a smallish white egg about 4 times a week. She's not the friendliest bird, but she is a nice addition to my flock.
My Ancona pullet. Can’t wait until she matures. (All grown up!)
Andalusian are a beautiful bird. I actually wasn’t sure about them initially so when the opportunity came to do an order from Murray McMurray hatchery, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to test the waters and ordered 4 birds. One being an Andalusian. She had yet to start laying, but her comb has grown so I expect one soon. She’s a lovely blue laced colour and has filled out nicely. She is slightly flighty, but if you catch her and put her in your lap, she will lay down and make herself at home. She is a medium sized bird. I will update later on in the Spring after she starts laying. She lays about 2 eggs per week that are decent size and almost white in colour.
Camilla, my beautiful Andalusian, above. Below is her egg
Barred Plymouth Rock or Barred Rock, as barred is the most common variety of the Plymouth Rock breed. I bought 6 chicks and 3 ended up being boys (cockerels) They’re a medium sized breed. My girls are now 3 1/2 years old and have never once gone broody. My original boys were kind, and so is the one I have now. I picked up a rooster (cock) from somewhere else and he attacked me every chance he got. I just thought maybe it was because I took him fe his home, so I got rid of him and kept one of his sons, and he was a turd, too. The one I have now used to jump on my shoulder. I thought it was cute until he started grabbing my earrings. The hens seem indifferent to you, neither skittish nor overly friendly. They lay a decent sized light brown coloured egg. I’ve not eaten one, but they are a dual purpose breed.
Barred Rock rooster just finishing up his molt, and one of my girls.
Black Copper Marans They’re French. And they’re beautiful. They’re definitely one of my favourite breeds. They are black with copper colouring around their necks and lightly feathered legs. They are a dual purpose breed. I love my BCMs. The roosters are always sweet and top of the pecking order without serious injuries. The hens I have, only two have become broody (some are 3 years old) and are great moms. They lay a lovely dark brown to chocolate coloured egg and are some of my best layers. They tend to moult fast and ugly.
This is one of my older hens.
Marans eggs are rated on a scale of 4-9. This one is about a 5. The higher the number, the darker the egg.
Blue Laced Red Wyandotte It took me a while to get one, but unfortunately it ended up being a cockerel. I may try again next year. He’s maturing nicely and although not flighty, does seem quite weary of me. Hopefully he stays kind enough to stay in my flock. They have rose combs, making them great for cold climates. *I did end up ordering two pullets this year. They are nice looking bird. But this boy, oh my, he gets some worked up. He quite annoying, actually.
Buff Orpington I was always told they’re the most calm, friendly birds. This has not been the case for me. I originally hatched 6. One was a rooster. After being tortured by a couple Easter Egger Roosters (that I rehomed) the rooster decided to start grabbing pant legs. And the hens want nothing to do with you. I rehomed that rooster and hatched 2 more. These two were lovely, one followed me around, but it may have been due to the hens hating him and continually being chased off. The remaining rooster lost an eye due to an injury that came from one of my BCMs roosters. Other than that, he’s fine, and highly entertaining. I also lost all but one hen. So I wouldn’t say they’re the hardiest bird. They are decent layers of light brown coloured eggs and the roosters are a nice size of you decide to raise them for meat also. Orpingtons come in a range of colours, but Buff is the only one I’ve owned so far. I’ve only had one hen go broody so far, so I can’t say they’re a broody breed, and they’re definitely ones for ugly moults.
Here’s my guy, all pretty looking after a light moult.
Chantecler mix Chanteclers are a breed developed in Canada. They’re were designed to have a small comb which makes them more winter hardy. I have two girls that I was told were Chantecler mixes. I’m not sure what they’re mixed with. But I’m wondering if they’re not leghorns. They’ve got huge combs. They’re very curious but slightly flighty. They’re sisters but one lays a darker egg. They’re always into something and are my absolute best layers. They lay a very large egg and have never been broody. They’re almost 3 years old now.
This is Salt. She’s the troublemaker.
Cochin another breed I got from the hatchery. Although my China did not make it, as she never seemed to grow well, my new girl is doing wonderfully and has a similar friendly personality. They come in two sizes, standard and bantam. I ordered the standard but she’s not very big. I’m not sure if it’s just her, or what. I ordered blue, which apparently isn’t a guarantee, so I think mine is more of a splash variety. She’s very calm and relaxed. Being heavily feathered on her feet, they get dirty quickly, especially with my horribly muddy run. I may order another one just to see what I get.
As you can see by her interest, she's pretty friendly.
Lakenvelder is another breed I had shipped from the hatchery. She lays 3-4 eggs per week and the eggs are small and almost white in colour. So for now, I can tell you they are a small flighty breed. She tends to try and kill her self on a regular basis. I’ve had to “rescue” her in more than one occasion from something “scary” and she tries to get away by throwing herself against the walls and such. I’m glad I only bought one. I saw a picture in a book I was reading (Gail Damerow’s The Chicken Health Handbook) and I had to have one. They are a pretty bird. **I lost Charlotte late last year, and I ordered another one this year. This one escapes daily and can't get back in. And acts like I'm trying to kill her when I let her back in. I probably won't order another, as beautiful as she may be.
This is Charlotte, my Lakenvelder pullet. She’s a bit dirty here, as it’s been pretty muddy lately.
Rosecomb Brown Leghorn are beautiful! They are the same as the Brown Leghorns, just that they have a rosecomb. Which is very nice for our climate here. NO frostbite! She's curious but slightly skittish, very similar to the White Leghorn.
This picture really doesn't do her justice. She's so much prettier in person.
White Leghorn are a Mediterranean breed, like the Andalusian. They are closely feathered and have large combs. They are slightly flighty, but curious. They are a chattier breed. They lay a nice sized white egg and are egg laying machines! They started laying 2 months before my hatchery chicks of the same age! I noticed only minor moulting.
This pretty girl is a young Leghorn pullet. And here she is all grown up!
Leghorns are amazing layers and lay a nice large white egg.
Rhode Island Red are a nice hardy breed. They are indifferent to you. They are decent layers of light brown eggs. I’ve never had one go broody. I’ve not had a rooster, so I can’t comment on personality there. I’ve never noticed which one would moult, but I’d alway see a lot of feathers when they do. So maybe they just all moulted at the same time?
Silver Laced Wyandotte is a great breed for Canada with their small peacombs. They are decent layers of small to medium sized brown eggs. I bought two of these as pullets and had to sell one because I was so tired of breaking the broodies. If one wasn’t broody, it was the other. And then one day I came home and they were in neighboring nests. The one I sold had hatched eggs for my sister in law. She was a very dedicated sitter, not even leaving to use the bathroom. Which was not a good thing. But she was great with the chicks. The other hen that I kept, has on a couple occasions, raised foster chicks and did a wonderful job. Though she does seem to want to get rid of them early, so I know only to use her when the weather is warmer. Wyandottes come in several different varieties. She doesn’t seem to moult heavy.
This is my SL Wyandotte. She is very poorly marked, but she’s a great mom.
True Whiting Blue Very pretty, they were actually bred to have nice feathers for fly tying. The one I got is very similarly marked as the brown leghorn. She's slightly skittish but not as bad as some Mediterranean breeds. She should start laying shortly, and her egg should be blue!
My Whiting sure is a pretty girl
Easter Eggers/Mixed Breeds Mixed breeds are beautiful. They're just a cross between 2 or more different breeds. Easter Eggers are a hybrid, usually a mix of a blue egg-laying breed, like Ameraucanas, with another breed. They can lay any colour egg, including blue, green, brown, pink or cream. A lot of EE's have small, flatish combs called peacombs.
First picture is Chloe. She was also a hatchery chick. She was an Easter Egger. I lost her before we could find out what colour egg she layed. The second picture is Pita. (Rita’s twin) I bough her as an egg, was told she’s an EE as well. Pita and Rita both lay brown eggs, they moult fast and horribly and are super inquisitive. Third picture you’ll see a strange fuzzy looking bird. That’s my frizzled rooster. He’s a Chantecler mix. I had one from the same breeder before, and that one was mixed with an Ameraucana. He’s was super tiny and had a nice little peacomb. This guy here is actually battling frostbite as we speak, due to the size of his comb (this is an older picture) It’s been unseasonably cold.
Last year I had a respiratory illness spread through my flock. I lost several birds. It was my fault. There was a leak in the back side of the building, which got he floor wet, which then froze and I couldn’t get it out. So, they got sick. And frostbite. It was awful. And it’s back. Passed on from one of the birds who survived getting sick last year. It hit my McMurray chicks. They should be laying soon, but instead, my gorgeous Easter Egger is dead, and my Lakenvelder can hardly breath. We are going to the vet tonight. I can’t lose the amount of birds I did last year.
Update: the Vet took a decal sample to run tests on, just in case it’s a parasite causing my problems. I treated her with old tetracycline, and the Vet said to continue to do so until she consults with a poultry veterinarian on what the next step should be. But she is probably just going to give me some fresh tetracycline and a dewormer.
Update: The Vet called and basically said that if this is a virus, all we can do is support the birds through it (kind of like us with a cold) Keeping the area very clean, keeping them warm, and continuing with the tetracycline. There was a parasite in my pullet’s stool, which will be treated with the dewormer I was given.
Update: I used the dewormer today that the vet had measured out for me. The tetracycline only seems to be keeping things at bay. The Lakenvelder doesn’t have any discharge or anything, but she has a horrible sneeze/cough. It’s been cold, and it’s not helping. And now my Cochin has swelling in her earlobe.
Do you know how to create your own “line” of rabbits? Line breeding. Most of the best breeders out there line breed. Dispite what you may think, line breeding (or what those who do not do it call it, inbreeding) does not cause deformed rabbits or health issues. What exactly is line breeding? It’s when you breed a son back to his mother, or daughter back to her father. Half siblings, full siblings, grandparents to grandchildren, and so on. Your must choose carefully, though. Line breeding will set traits in your line. So don’t line breed two rabbits that have the same fault. For example, pinched hind quarters or low shoulders. That’s not something you want in your line, so if they have the same fault, so will the offspring. That is something you want to breed out of your line. Occasionally you may need to out-cross. This means bringing on a rabbit from a different line that is completely unrelated to your herd. You can do this if your line is lacking in something that line breeding won’t fix. That doesn’t mean this will fix all your problems, but then you can line breed back to your new addition. Not all species can be linebred. But rabbits can. Please keep in mind that if this is not something you agree with, there is nothing wrong with doing it and it’s a golden rule many follow. So don’t hate on the many of us that do. You are more than welcome to do as you please with your own herd. We won’t judge you.
Warning: picture of dead baby rabbit near the bottom.
Another common occurance in dwarf rabbit breeds is the peanut.
Dwarf breeds can come in different sizes, that does not make them any less a dwarf breed, nor does it change their breed. You can have “true” dwarfs, which is one true to size, and “false” dwarf, that are larger in size.
Some breeders will use a false dwarf doe (female) to a true dwarf buck (male). The flash dwarf doe, sometimes called big ugly doe, or BUD, must have good type true to the standard of the breed you are working on, with the exception of the weight. BUD to a true dwarf buck will give you the chance of a larger litter, less birthing complications, and no peanuts.
A peanut will occur when two true dwarfs are bred together. When a kit (baby rabbit) gets two copies of the dwarfing gene, one from each parent, a peanut will occur. You will recognize them by their size, being about half the size it should be. Pinched hind quarters, smaller ears, bulging eyes. Usually peanuts don’t survive more than a few days and are sometimes found dead when you find the rest of the litter. This is one good reason to check on your kits as soon as they are born. Any dead kits must be removed. You may humanely cull any peanuts you find or let them pass on their own.
Using a false dwarf buck, sometimes call a big ugly buck, or BUB, is not wise when using a true dwarf doe. It is never recommended to use a buck that is larger than the doe. This could result in larger kits that cannot be easily kindled (birthed) by the doe, this you are risking her life.
So keep in mind when using two true dwarfs, that you will need to be prepared to deal with possible peanuts.
In my hand is a deceased peanut that lived 2 days. Next to it are it’s siblings, 3 days old.
Breeding rabbits isn't as easy as everyone else thinks it is. Breeders know better. Females rabbits, called does, breed when they're ready. Males, called bucks, are usually always ready. When you want to breed rabbits, the first thing you need to do is make sure both the buck and doe are both healthy. Both animals should be of healthy weight, no fleas or mites. Check genitals for any signs of sores. If a doe is ready to breed, her genitals will be deep pink, not pale.
You'll want to take the doe to the bucks cage. Does can be territorial over their cage and may attack the buck. A successful mating will be when the buck mounts the doe, then you will hear a "sneeze" and he'll fall off. I like to make sure there are at least 3 successful fall offs, then put the doe back in her own cage. You can put the doe back in with the buck later in the day for a rebreeding.
Rabbits are induced ovulators. They do not go into heat, like cats or dogs. Rabbits will release eggs 12-24 hours after mating. Gestational period for a rabbit is 31 days.
Pictured below is a pair of rabbits. The black and white one (Vienna Marked) is the doe, the white is the buck. The doe is willing to be bred in this case. She was actually mounting him.
A doe will lift her tail when she is receptive, some will even raise their pelvis as well.
If a doe is not receptive, she may attack the buck, growl, grunt, and run away. Her tail will be firmly planted on the ground and she may back herself into a corner. Remove her immediately before she injures him. Try again later.
Rabbits seem more receptive in the spring, when days are getting longer. Sometimes you may need to table breed a pair. This is when you have to put your hand under the does hips and lift her up yourself so the buck can mount her. These breedings don't always take.
Not only is it hard sometimes to get a pair to breed successfully, but even when you do, the breeding doesn't always take. Shorter days make some does not want to breed at all. Hot weather can affect a buck's fertility. I've had one doe that carried full term, but her pelvis wasn't wide enough to kindle (give birth) to them alive. After several tries, it just got harder on her so I sold her to a pet home. Another doe had a stuck kit that she tried to remove herself. I had to help, and the remaining kits were all born dead. My very first doe actually died from a breech birth and I didn't get there in time to save her. Hidden vent disease (syphillis) can cause a doe not to convince at all and will need to be treated with antibiotics.
Rabbits don't usually abort their pregnancies, their bodies actually absorbs the fetuses. Sometimes they don't absorb completely, and will end up sort of mummified. This will cause future fertility issues.
Rabbits have two uterine horns, meaning they can get pregnant twice at the same time. If a mummified fetus is present on one side, she may very well be able to still conceive on a the other. But this is one reason you shouldn't leave a buck and a doe stay together after a breeding. Carrying two litters is very dangerous for both the litters and the mom.
There are other things to consider when breeding rabbits, like fetal giants, max factors, hippos, and peanuts. I have an article on Max Factors that you can read, I'll touch on the others in another article. Be aware that fetal Giants, and hippos may not be born alive, but max factors usually are and sometimes peanuts are as well. These will normally need to be humanely euthanized, as they won't live long or won't have any quality of life.
When it's time
About 3-4 days before the due date, you will need to give your rabbit a nest, or at the very least, nesting material. Nest boxes come in all styles, but I prefer wooden ones with solid bottoms. I put shavings in the bottom for absorbency and hay on top for the mom to use to build her nest. I give extra hay incase the doe doesn't think there's enough in the nest, or incase she wants to eat it. She may start pulling fur for her nest right away, or she may not do it until she's actually giving birth (kindling). When I see fur, I usually stick my finger down inside to see if it's warm. You'll know there are babies there. Mom usually will not need any help and will will deliver the entire litter in about 10 minutes, usually early in the morning, or some other time you're not around. After babies are discovered, pull the nest box out and remove all the babies. Check them over to see if they're all healthy and that they're bellies are fat and round from being fed. Discard any placentas she hasn't eaten, and any bloody hay. Also, a lot of peanuts are born dead, so you'll want to remove those, too. Carefully place the babies back in the middle of the fur, they will dig down themselves.
The doe will only feed her kits once or twice a day, and you may never see it. As long as the kits are fat and growing, you've nothing to worry about. She will do the rest. She may also wean them herself, or you may have to do it for her.
My next rabbit blog post will be about raising them from birth, so keep an eye out! 😊
Heck, ya! Most rabbits will go through an annual moult. Sometimes it looks awful, sometimes you'll hardly notice. Depends on the rabbit and sometimes the weather. It's the end of August here and my rabbits are in full moult!
Here's poor Chester. He moults all over, all at once. This is a picture before his second brushing.
Here is after his brushing. He's not overly impressed with me, but he looks grumpy on a good day.
Here's poor Levi before his brushing. He starts moulting from his head back. This is his first moult, he's a year old.
Here's most of the fur from Chester's brushing. Mind you, this is a two pound rabbit. Bigger rabbits, more fur.
Some rabbits don't moult so drastically. This is Luna's litter pan. Other than some loose fur strands, and this fluff in the pan, you wouldn't even know she was moulting.
Rabbits should be brushed on occasion. But when they moult, you will need to brush them. Rabbits will try to clean themselves but when they moult, it's a lot more fur. When they ingest that much fur, it can cause a blockage. Unlike cats, rabbits can't vomit. So the blockage stays there and that can be deadly. You will not be able to brush it all out at once. You may need to do it several times over the course of a week or even several weeks. Making sure the rabbit has lots of fibre is also important. Hay is great for this.
If you suspect wool block, you should consult a rabbit-savvy vet. Less interest in food, smaller droppings, less droppings, lethargy. In the mean time, you can remove pellets and feed hay. Some claim papaya and pineapple help with moving a blockage along. I have not had this issue so I have not tried it myself, so I can't comment any further. Woolly and Angora breeds are more prone to wool block.
Rex rabbits also moult but brushing them can ruin that beautiful coat. Take a damp cloth or damp hands and just run your hands over them to remove any loose fur.
Just FYI, here's my favourite brush! https://www.amazon.ca/gp/aw/d/B00VBR10K0/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1503852514&sr=8-3&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=the+furminator&dpPl=1&dpID=41LXrbTcpfL&ref=plSrch
Ive already talked about basic rabbit care. Now I want to focus on housing. Keep in mind that I am a breeder, and although many people keep rabbits as pets, they ARE considered livestock.
Size: The larger the rabbit, the larger the space needs to be. The more space you can offer, the better. I raise Netherland Dwarfs. They are fine housed in a cage 18x24. I like 24x24, myself. Flemish Giants on the other hand should be in a space 48x48. Before picking a breed to bring home, make sure you research the size of the cage needed. Also, if you only have the bare minimum for a cage size for the breed you pick, it's nice to let them out for a little play time and exercise.
Type: There are many types of housing you can use for rabbits. The number one concern would be that it is safe. I use wire cages with wire bottoms for most of my rabbits. Again, different breeds require different set ups. My cages have trays under them, but you can also get them without trays that you can hang. This way the rabbit never comes in contact with their own feces and urine, which is way more sanitary. This makes for a cleaner rabbit and helps prevent urine scald on their feet. You just dump the trays out and occasionally give them a spray and a little scrub and you're good to go!
I've tried wire cages with solid bottoms, thinking hey would be better for babies, but a had a new water bottle leak when I wasn't home in the winter and I lost half my babies. So I sold those and changed to all wire bottoms. Wire bottoms also allow for better air circulation for cooling in the summer.
You can get these from many cages builders. http://www.sunnymeadowscages.com/single-level-homes.html
I have some rabbits in pens on the floor that are attached to outside runs. These are all made with hardware cloth and even the run has hardware cloth on the bottom. DO NOT use chicken wire! Rabbits can chew through it, weasels can go through it, raccoons and rip threw it. The only thing that chicken wire should be use for is to keep chickens out of the garden. My Flemish Giant is in one of these pens. Heavier breeds may find wire bottoms hats on their feet. There are also some breeds, like Mini Rex, that have thinner fur on their feet which makes wire hard on them, resulting in sore hocks. My Mini Rex is in a wire bottomed cage, so he has a resting mat he can sit on which makes it safer and easier for him.
Some people choose to raise their rabbits in hutches. For raising outside, these usually have one or many compartments with solid roof and sides with wire front and bottom to allow for air flow and for the droppings to fall through, and you just shovel them up and dispose of it or compost it. (Rabbit manure is great for the garden!) Inside hutches usually have solid bottoms, that you will need to fill with litter (like pine shavings). Some hutches are multilevel to allow the rabbit more space and exercise without taking up more floor space. For outdoor hutches, it is wise to cover the wired front with plastic to prevent the cold wind from blowing on them. Rabbits should always have a place to get out of the wind.
Many pet rabbit owners keep their rabbits in wire cages with plastic bottoms that you can buy at any pet store. Again, you will some sort of litter for these. Many rabbits will use litter boxes, though there will still be the occasional dropping in other places, but most rabbits pick a corner to urinate it, so you can just put a litter box in that corner and dump it out every other day.
Two examples of hutches (pictures from Wayfair)
Plastic bottomed cage (Wayfair)
Large homemade hutch (google images)
My rabbits are housed in a building. They are protected from the elements. If you choose to house them in outside hutches, make sure they are protected from the elements but still have good airflow. If you have them in your house, make sure they are not just shoved in a room where you only go in long enough to feed them. Because really, what's the point of having the rabbit?
Rabbits are incredibly cold tolerant, but are sensitive to heat. Do not leave your rabbit outside in the direct sun where they can not get into shade. Rabbits can suffer from heatstroke very easily. Rabbits do not need heat in the winter, just some place that is draft free. If you have a heater in your building and the power goes out, then the shock of the temperature drop could be very hard on them. In the summer, I use large fans and frozen ice bottles to help cool them down.
If you choose to house you rabbit outside and bring them inside for the winter, do so before the temperature drops too much. Taking them from cold to a place that's heated, you cause them to have a heatstroke.
More than one rabbit?
Rabbits should be housed separately. Many rabbits are very territorial and will not tolerate another rabbit in their space. There are always exceptions, but generally they should be housed separately. Hutches can be built with separate compartments for each rabbit. If you have smaller spaces, they should each have their own cage. They can be next to each other and eventually they may be allowed supervised playtime together and you can take it from there. Some rabbit Breeders have colonies set up up that house several does (females) and one Buck (male). These spaces need to be very large with smaller compartments that each doe can use as a nesting area. I do not have much experience with colonies so I can't comment further.
Silver Fox colony
As long as your rabbit has enough space, and a place to get out of the weather when they need to. Someplace dry and draft free. Someplace safe and secure and clean, you're rabbit should be happy. Now all they need is some food, water and some love.
I wasn't really sure where to put this, (and this may turn into more of a rant) but I came across a post on a Facebook page (run by Breeders, full of Breeders) stating that everyone should have their rabbit spayed or neutered, and how we'll all overpopulating the shelters with our rabbits. That rabbits are healthier overall being fixed. It was even stated that becaue of us, there are rabbits that are dying in shelters, that the rabbits we sell are taking up homes that could go to shelter rabbits, that our rabbits won't ever be truly healthy, and that there are enough rabbits in the world to last a lifetime.
Let's get one thing straight here, if no one bred rabbits, there would be no rabbits. Certain breeds would disappear first, then the rest. For a while all we'd have is a bunch of mixed breeds from the backyard breeders who don't care and really don't know what they're doing. And then eventually, there would be none. It's the same with cattle. If people stopped eating beef, the farmers would stop breeding. Then those breeds would disappear, forever. Breeding is preserving. Breeding is bettering. (Is that a word?) Any ethnical breeder (be that rabbits, cows, chickens, dogs, etc) picks the breed they like. Or one they may find challenging. You find the best specimens you can afford or find and you work with it. Most animals have a breed standard. And that is what you work towards. You will never start out with the best, but you work towards it. And you always use healthy, well cared for animals. And they are treated wonderfully. If they are not, then you aren't bettering anything. You're just making this worse.
My rabbits aren't top notch. I've got a long way to go. And I'm still learning. It's always going to be a work in progress. But the breed I chose, I love. I don't do it for anyone else. I do it for me. Yes, I sell to pet homes, I also sell to other Breeders, I sell to people who want to be Breeders. I sell to 4H. A lot of Breeders don't sell pets. And this post accusing us is why. If a rabbit isn't good enough to breed or show, it's gets terminally culled. Is the animals life wasted? No. These rabbits are eaten or fed to their dogs, or taken to zoos for food for those animals.
I'd also like to point out that you would be hard pressed to find a purebred tattooed rabbit in a shelter anywhere. It's not us that are the problem. It's the backyard breeders. The ones who breed who knows what together just to make a dollar or to have "cute babies". I guarantee you, breeders aren't making money. We're usually in the red. All money I make from selling my rabbits goes right back into them. It goes to food, new cages, new water bottles and dishes, new trays, grooming supplies, better stock. Does it drive me nuts to see "baby bunnies for sale" for $10? Yup. It also drives me nuts to see people looking to breed their "X" dog to a "X, Y, or Z" dog. They just looking for money. They're not doing it to better any breed. It's people like that, that makes ethical breeders look bad. Because that's mainly what people see.
Why does it matter what breed a rabbit is? If you don't care, then it doesn't. But if someone is looking for a certain breed, then it does matter. You can go to a shelter looking for a dog, but you've probably got something in mind, right? Lab? Husky? Shitzu? Small, large, short haired, long haired, good swimmer, high energy, lap dog? Everything is indicative of a breed that's in it. Rabbits are no different. If there were enough rabbits in the world to last a lifetime, how old do these rabbits have to live? 60 years? 100?
I also must point out that I have a return policy. If for some reason you can no longer care for the rabbit I sold you, I will take it back. I will take care of it. I will find it a new home. I did this to ensure mine wouldn't end up in shelters. And some people like to "set them free". You can't "set the free", they're not wild hare, they're domesticated rabbits. And I'm always there. Any issues, questions, my buyers can always contact me. Always.
And let's talk for a quick minute about spaying and neutering. If you want to, go for it. But I like people to understand there are risks. Anesthesia is very hard on rabbits. Please be sure that your vet is rabbit savvy before getting them to attempt the procedure.
I also raise chickens. I don't understand why some people won't eat eggs because they think it's unethical. An egg is not a chick. You're not killing anything. No one is screaming at you because you ovulate once a month. No different. And hens are not forced to lay eggs. They will do it with or without you. If you do it because you believe the hens are not treated humanely at the Big farms that supply the grocery store, buy your eggs from your neighbors. Or the farm up the road. Or your coworker.
And just so we're clear, I'm not against shelters or rescues. In fact, I'm all for them. I think people should be able to make their own decisions. Do want you want to do. You need to what fits you. Don't let people bully you for wanting an animal from a breeder. Sometimes a shelter just doesn't have what you're looking for. I got my dog from a rescue. My barn cat is from the SPCA. And they're all fixed so I don't have to do it myself. If I was just looking for a pet rabbit, I may go to a shelter too. But they don't usually have rabbits here, at least not in recent memory. But I love my Nethies. And my Mini Rex. And my Flemish Giant.
If we don't breed animals, eventually there will be none. You can't save them by extinction. It just doesn't work like that. Please don't let the backyards Breeders out there ruin what you think of all Breeders.
Do you need a rooster to get eggs?
No, absolutely not. Hens will produce eggs as long as they are healthy. Production may slow down as they age but may continue to lay as long as they live. Chickens, like humans, produce eggs with or without a male present. Hens are actually born with all the egg yolk they will ever produce in their lives.
Can I feed my eggshells back to my chickens?
Yes. I just let them dry in a bowl and then I crush them up a bit. But you still need to feed them calcium. I use oyster shells. Egg shells are fine but they are a source of quick-release calcium. Oyster shells are a slow-release calcium which breaks down throughout the night, when the hens are making their eggs. Without a good source of calcium, hens actually pull calcium from their bones and can make their legs weak and brittle, possibly causes breaks just from jumping off the roost. Also, oyster shells should be freechoice and given in a separate feeder, as roosters don't need the extra calcium.
Can I sex my day old chicks?
Nope. Unless they are sexlinked. Sexlinks are two certain breeds that when bred together, male will be one colour, females another. You will notice differences as the age. I find pullets (young females) will usually get their tails feathers first, and cockerels (young males) will develop larger combs and wattles. Also, when I they are older, cockerels will have saddle feathers. Then, obviously, one should crow, the other should lay eggs. Some people claim you can feather sex chicks (by looking at the shapes of the feathers on the tips of the wings at about 1-2 weeks old) I've never found this to be true, and was told it really only works with certain breeds. Vent sexing is how hatcheries do it, but you must be trained properly or you could seriously injure a chick.
Is the yolk, the chick?
I used to think so, but no. You are in no way killing a baby when you eat an egg. It may have been a potential baby, if it were fertilized, but you did not kill anything. Fertilized eggs are perfectly okay to eat, and if you get them farm fresh, they may be. If you look at the yolk closely, you should be able to see a white spot. If the spot has a ring around it, like a bullseye, (blastodisc) then it is fertilized. The yolk is actually the nutrients that the chick absorbs. If you buy eggs from the grocery store, those chickens have never been in contact with a rooster (and may not have ever seen grass for that matter) so those will never be fertilized.
How long does it take to hatch chicks?
21 days. After the start of incubation, the blastodisc will form veins. It will continue to develop for 21 days, at which point the chick will poke through the membrane inside the shell to get some air. This is called internal pipping. Then the chick wil begin breaking through the shell. The first break through is called pipping or external pipping, then they will start to "zip" around the shell until they can push out. This can take up to 24 hours after the initial pip. Hatching is hard work.
Fact: They're all called chickens.
I've heard many people refer to "egg layers" as the chickens and the males are roosters. Incase you didn't know, they're all chickens. Female chickens over a year old are called hens. Male chickens over a year old are called cocks. Young males are cockerels. Young females are pullets. Until you know, its best to just call them chicks.
This post is basically an update/diary entry type thing. A lot has been going on in the past few weeks and I thought I'd just write it all out.
First we hatched out some eggs in the incubator. We've not been having great success with hatching since buying the incubator with the turner. We hatched out 9 chicks after I separated my Barred Rocks. 4 Black Copper Marans hatched, one died. 3 Barred Rocks, and 2 Chantecler mixed Barred Rock crosses. And something else I can't remember. I sold 3, keeping 2 BCM, 2 BR, 1 Chantecler cross. I also traded one BR for a frizzled Chantecler mix. Realizing both BCMs I kept were males and one BR, I gave away one BCM and the BR. So now I have 4 9 week old chicks out in the big coop with the big girls. One of my Silver Laced Wyandottes raised them for me. I'm just now getting them to stop sleeping in the nest boxes. Had to put blockers up.
Second, My other Silver Laced Wyandotte hatched some eggs out for my sister in law. She did a great job but didn't want to leave the nest during incubation. She had to be chased off and was not eating much or drinking and was actually pooping in the nest. Which, I obviously bad for the eggs. When the chicks were taken I felt so bad for her. I started looking for a couple chicks to give her. I had someone contact me about an order they were doing but the chicks wouldn't be here until the 15th. So unfortunately I didn't have any chicks to give her. It took her a few days to get over it, but she's fine now.
Which brings me to number 3, we set another hatch and tried a dry hatch. The humidity was too low at lockdown on only one chick survived. Thankfully, I did take the lady up on her offer of ordering chicks. And they're doing tomorrow. Im super excited and now my lonely hatchling won't be alone. My first Silver Laced Wyandotte became broody again 2 days ago and she will be getting all 5 of the chicks. Sorry, back to the chicks... So I've got a small order of chicks coming tomorrow. These chicks were ordered right from Murray McMurray Hatchery in the US. And I could order anything that was available for hatch this past week. Exciting, right!? I've got a Ameraucana/Araucana mix, and Andalusian, a blue Cochin, and a Lakenvelder. Eeek! The chicks were delivered to the border 2 days ago and will be transported from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia tomorrow morning and I will pick them up in town tomorrow evening. Oh gosh, I'm so excited.
And finally, I bought some BCM hatching eggs from my he guy who I bought my first eggs from, who is working with the guy who I bought my hens from. We're on day 12 of incubation, and the they're in the old incubator that I bought a new wafer thermostat for and we are hand turning them this time. Yesterday I took half of what was left after candling and transported them to my sister in laws place to put in her incubator. I'm hoping between all of us, we can finally get some Marans eggs hatched.