Kaninchen Farm

Working to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

What should I look for in a breeder?
Finding a breeder is hard. Not only do you want one with the breed/color you're looking for, but you want one that's within a reasonable distance, with good stock, good records, and who can answer your questions. A breeder should be able to tell you who the parents of a litter are, what size the kits are, when they were born, what colors are in the background, if there's anything special about the line, and what the rabbit will be good for. You also want an honest breeder. If there's ever any confusion, or a mix up back in the pedigree, you want to know that the breeder will be able to figure it out. Unfortunately, some people steal pedigrees and sell rabbits with fake pedigrees. This hurts the breed and everyone involved. It's important to remember that everyone is human. It's ok if the breeder doesn't know the answer to a question, or needs to look something up. Mistakes do get made, but if you've got a breeder with integrity, they'll be able (and willing) to make things right.

What should I look for in breeding stock when buying rabbits?

The first thing you should look for is a healthy rabbit. Check that the eyes and nose are clear of drainage, check that the teeth and claws are straight and a reasonable length, and look the rabbit over for any scabs/scars or other disqualifications. If you want a show rabbit, don't buy a rabbit with any disqualifications. If you're looking to breed for something else, then a nick in the ear won't be an issue. If you want a meaty rabbit, ask if the parents are. If you want a rabbit with a long staple length, ask about the parents' staple length. 

How difficult is it to sell unpedigreed rabbits?
It can be very difficult to sell unpedigreed rabbits. Unpedigreed rabbits, even if "purebred", are still considered mutts. These rabbits cost as much as pedigreed rabbits do to feed and care for, and cannot be sold for nearly as much money. For this reason, many breeders will not buy or sell unpedigreed rabbits.

What is the going rate on unpedigreed rabbits?
While rates vary in every area, I would only expect to pay between $5 and $15 per rabbit.

What is a rabbit "binkie"?
A rabbit binkie is a happy rabbit dance where they run, hop, and kick.

Housing

What size cage do I need?

For all of the rabbits that we have, the minimum cage size we recommend is 30"x36". All of our rabbits will get in the 8-10 pound range. This is the size of a baby or a house cat. If you couldn't fit an angry/scared cat in or out through the door, it won't work for a rabbit either.


Can I house males next to females?

Yes you can. If you have them very close, it is possible for them to breed through the wire. A 2"-3" separation between cages is recommended.


Can I house males together? Females together? Both?

This is called "colony style" rabbit raising. It can be done, however you will want lots of hiding holes (more than the number of rabbits), and a minimum of 10 square feet per rabbit. 4 rabbits should have at least 40 square feet of space.


Feeding

What should I feed my rabbit?
Your rabbit should be fed hay, pellets, and water every day. Depending on the stage of your rabbit (growing kit, adult, pregnant/lactating, or growing wool), you will need a pellet with between 16% and 18% protein. A general rule for adults that are not pregnant/lactating is 1 ounce of pellets per pound of weight. So an 8 lb rabbit would get 8 ounces, or 1 cup of pellets per day. Growing kits and lactating does should be free fed pellets. Angoras should also be free fed pellets for the first year of life.
We recommend free feeding your rabbit hay daily. Make sure you also provide unlimited fresh water.
You can also feed fodder, but this is something that requires more research. If you have individual fodder questions, use the contact us form.

What about treats?
Because of a rabbit's delicate digestive system, we do not recommend feeding treats to any rabbit under 6 month old. No matter how tempting, do not give Thumper a small slice of apple or carrot before he is 6 months. After that point, their systems are a little more hardy. This also includes limiting the amount of "greens" or grass the rabbit eats. Young rabbits have died from eating too much grass while out playing. Always supervise your rabbit in the yard to be sure this does not happen.
After 6 months, you can gradually introduce small amounts of treats. Think in terms of dice. You can start off giving a piece of apple or carrot the size of a dice or smaller. In 3 days or so, you can give another small piece. Remember not to feed your rabbit too many treats or he may become obese and have health problems or problems breeding.

Can I feed my rabbit weeds or lawn clippings?
Yes and no. You can save your lawn clippings and dry them out for hay. You can also feed small amounts of fresh grass, however this would be considered a treat and needs to be worked up to slowly.

Breeding

How many babies to rabbits have?
The average litter size is 8. Some rabbits have less, some have more. I have had as few as 2, and as many as 13 in a litter.

How do I breed rabbits?
Always put the doe in the buck's cage or she will attack him. After you put her in, stand and watch them. They will circle and then the buck will mount. When he has finished, he will have what is called a fall off. He will possibly make noise, and then fall off. It is very noticable. You will want to get 2-3 fall offs before removing the doe, but if she's getting aggressive, remove her sooner. Place her back in her own cage. 8-10 hours later, bring the doe back to the buck again for another 2-3 fall offs. Rabbits are induced ovulators, so the first breeding stimulates the eggs to be released, which takes about 8 hours, and the second breeding fertilizes the eggs.

What if my doe is running away, or making noise?
If the doe is running, that's ok. She may be playing hard to get and wanting to see if the buck is worthy. If she's acting aggressive with running, like charging at him instead of trying to get away, she should be removed. 
If the doe is making little whining noises, that's usually ok. If she's hissing, spitting, or screaming, she should be removed.

What if nothing is working?
If you're breeding twice every 8-10 hours, with multiple fall offs, and it's still not working, there are some things you can try. Increase the hours of light that the rabbits get. In the winter time breeding slows down anyway. Increased light can boost this. You can try swapping cages overnight. Put the doe in the buck's cage and the buck in her cage. This lets them pick up each others scent and might get them more interested. I've heard that taking them both on a 15-20 minute car ride with loud music can help too (or taking them to a rabbit show). Something about the stress can kick in survival/breeding instincts.

How long does it take for rabbits to have babies?
32 days. It can take longer, especially for first time moms, so leave the nest box in until day 40.

What size nest box do I need?
We use 18"x10"x9" sized nest boxes for all of our rabbit breeds here.

When do I put the nest box in? What do I put in it?

Put the nest box in on day 28. Put either pine shavings, hay, or straw in the bottom. The doe will arrange it, possibly adding more hay, and she will pull fur to keep the kits warm. Rabbits usually give birth at night. Check the fur each morning and you may find it wiggling.

The fur is moving. What now?
Bring a small piece of apple or a dandelion leaf. Give the treat to the doe and remove the box. Count the babies, record the number, and check for any dead. Remove the dead and put the box back in with the doe.

When should I wean the kits?
We wean our kits at 8 weeks. You can wean as early as 4-6 weeks, but you will have a higher mortality rate.

When can I breed my rabbit again?
We rebreed our rabbits when the kits are about 8 weeks old. If the doe is in good condition, you can rebreed her when the kits are 6 weeks old and wean the kits at 8 weeks, leaving her 2 weeks to rest before the new litter is born. If your doe's entire litter dies or is stillborn, you can rebreed her immediately.

When should I separate males from females?
The best time to separate is at 8 weeks. We used to separate at 12 weeks old, but after two siblings had a litter, we now separate at weaning.

How old do the kits have to be before you can sell them?
8 weeks. Before 8 weeks, the kits are too fragile to handle the stress of moving to a new home. Some states have laws regarding the minimum age to sell, but you certainly should not buy or sell anything younger than 8 weeks.

Why isn't my rabbit # pounds by # weeks old?
There are many factors. 
1. Outside is more difficult than the perfect climate controlled nothing stresses the rabbits inside environment. It's not bad to have them outside, but it opens you up to rabbits being stressed, and then having to burn energy to regulate body temp.
2. Genetics. Some lines grow faster than others. I have a pairing that hits 5 lbs before 8 weeks, but there's a trade off, she has smaller litters. 
3. Litter size. A litter with 2-5 grows faster than one with 8-13. 
4. Feed. We generally do 18% for nursing does and kits. 16% is fine, but higher will grow faster (usually).
5. It depends on what you (and the breeder you got your stock from) breeds for. We breed for fast growth, rich color, and dense fur, in that order. When we keep a rabbit back to be future breeding stock, we first look for the biggest ones (unless we're filling in a color gap in one of our lines), then we pick best color. Density can be corrected by breeding a dense rabbit in, and keeping the densest, best color kit from that. If you got stock from someone who was focused on show vs grow, they might take longer to grow. If you got from someone who wanted the best pelts, more of the rabbits energy goes into the fur instead of growing muscle.

Health

What should I have in my rabbit first aid kit?
Tums for added calcium during difficult labors, raspberry leaves for labor, fennel to increase milk production, hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds (note: most wounds will heal fine and do not need human intervention), coconut oil for wounds and ear mites, bunny balm, lavender, kitten milk replacer (or goats milk, even human will do in a pinch), Pen G (penicillin) in case of mastitis or other infection, and Ivermectin (horse paste) in case of wool mites, ear mites, worms or other parisites.
Equipment: Syringes, eye droppers, makeup sponge
Optional: Sutures (most wounds will heal fine without humans. I've only ever stitched up one rabbit in 3+ years).

Is my rabbit over/under weight?
The Standard of Perfection, put out by the American Rabbit Breeders Association gives weights for specific breeds. As long as a rabbit is in the acceptable range for an adult, it is fine. If you do not have a scale, it is a good idea to check your rabbit by running your hand over his back. If the rabbit feels too thin, increase feed. If you feel a lot of fat, cut back on the pellets.

What can I give my rabbit to put on weight?
Old fashioned rolled oats (not instant), and Black Oil Sunflower Seed (BOSS) are both good options. Try 1 tsp to 1 TBSP per day.

Is my rabbit a buck or a doe?
Don't try to sex a rabbit before 8 weeks. If you push too hard, you can cause a split penis. In general, you'll see things that either look like a donut or a taco. Donut = buck, taco = doe.

What are scent glands?
Scent glands are located on either side of the rabbit's genitals. They've got a strong scent to them. There may be some waxy orange or black build up there. This is completely normal, however if it bothers you, you can clean it gently with a wet cotton swab.

Does my rabbit have sore hocks? If so, how do I treat it?
Healthy feet have thick fur on their foot pads. They support their weight on the toes, not the heel part of the foot (called the hock). Wire bottom cages allow the rabbit's nails and toes to rest properly (the natural dirt would have some give), while solid bottom floors, like wood, offer no give to the toes and nails. Sore hocks happen when the rabbit puts too much weight on it's hocks or when the fur on the foot pad gets too thin. This can happen in both wire and solid bottom hutches, and when the rabbit is sitting in urine/feces too. The first thing to do is to rise the foot with water and cut out any feces or debris. Then rinse again, and place something in the cage for the rabbit to rest on. Stores sell plastic resting mats, but cardboard and carpet squares are good options too. You want something big enough for the rabbit to sit/lay on and easy to clean.

Does my rabbit have healthy teeth?
The rabbit should have straight, normal looking teeth. The rabbit's teeth should not curl back around. The top teeth should not reach into the lower jaw, and the bottom teeth should not be extending into the sinuses. If this is happening, the teeth need trimmed immediately. You can use a pair of human toe nail clippers to do this. If the teeth are getting long, give the rabbit something to chew on. Fruit branches work great, but some kinds of trees are toxic, so do your research. Pine cones and untreated 2x4 pieces are good options as well.

What if my rabbit is stressed?
If your rabbit is stressed, it is a good idea to give some electrolytes in a bowl of water. Stressed rabbits will sometimes drink more willingly from a bowl than their usual waterer. You can purchase electrolytes at your feed store. Look for an all species brand. We use Dumor. It has dosages for cats, dogs, horses, and more.
It is also a good idea to place your rabbit somewhere quiet (when you first get them), or remove noise and visual distractions from where their cage is. Try to keep handling to a minimum until the rabbit has recovered.

What are some common diseases and treatments?
The most common severe rabbit diseases are pasturella and coccidosis. This is not the place for getting information about these diseases, so I recommend checking out http://www.medirabbit.com for more information.

Buck - male rabbit

Healthy Foot

Doe - female rabbit

Sore Hocks

Testicle - there's a 2nd opposite

Healthy Teeth

Scent Glands

Bad Teeth

French Angoras

How much care do Angoras require?
Angoras do not require much care, but they require dedicated care. If you cannot commit to an extra hour per week on top of your regular rabbit time, then an angora probably isn't right for you. 

What should I use to groom my Angoras?
You'll want a metal toothed comb and a sharp pair of scissors. A slicker brush and blower are also helpful. Don't forget the nail clippers.

I want to breed rabbits. Should I get the same color as my current rabbit?
Yes and no. It depends on what colors you're looking to make. In general, there are few hard and fast rules for angora breeding. Here's the key rules of what NOT to breed.   


Wide band colors and non extension

Orange, fawn, and cream to Torts or Pearls

Wideband(ww) and non extension (ee) can give you white bellies, for example, a tort with a white belly. Wide band is recessive so it’ll hide and may cause an issue later on.


Steels

The steel gene needs both Agouti and full extension to express the best.

The steel gene is dominant, but not completely.

Breeding a self (aa) with a non extension (ee) can give you steels that appear to be solid colors (called a self steel). The problem comes when someone looks on a pedigree and sees an agouti coming from two selfs, they’ll think you’re not keeping accurate records. It may be the steel gene causing issues since A_B_C_D_Ese can show up as a black self rabbit.


Shaded, Agoutis, and Non-extension

While torts are not shaded, they are non-extension. Breeding an agouti to non extension could give you reds, fawns and creams, - but if they don’t have ww, they will be smutty and poor color. This can also give agouti colors that do not have the crisp, clear bands.

Shaded (cchl) with Agouti makes unshowable shaded agoutis. Because shaded is so recessive, it will hide in your lines, so it’s a good idea to keep them out of your agouti lines.

Fiber

What is crimp? How do I check it?
Crimp is the natural waviness of fiber in a wool undercoat. Crimp is something you see. If you grab a few strands of wool and gently pull, it will come right out and you will see if it's really straight or wavy. The wavier it is, the easier to spin. 

What is density? How do I check it?
Density is the property or quality of a thick coat of wool. Density is something you feel. If you squeeze a handful of his fur, is it nice and thick or is it thin? Does it really fill up your hand? If so, then he's got great density.

How should I harvest my fiber?
We harvest our fiber by plucking. Shearing or clipping with scissors are another option, but it is VERY easy to cut the rabbit's skin, so we do not recommend it. 

Can I save the wool I get from brushing?
Absolutely. You can save the wool from brushing. You may want to go through and make sure that you do not have any small mats in the wool though or your yarn will be lumpy.

How should I store my fiber?
You should store your fiber in loose containers that can breathe. A good container would be an open box or bucket, or a plastic strawberry container. These containers allow the fiber to breathe and prevent felting. If you use a plastic bag, every time the bag is touched, it will mat the fiber slightly until you are left with a felted mess.

How should I package my fiber for sale?
How you package it is up to you. Many people send their fiber in a bubble mailer, while others send it in a box. Personally a box would lead to less felting of the wool and may be a better option.

How do I card Angora?
You do not need to card Angora.

What is roving and how do I make it?
Roving is a long, narrow bundle of fiber. It is what you spin the yarn from. You make angora roving by lining up the fibers together and gently rubbing them together as you draw them apart. See youtube for a better description.