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Sore Hocks

Posted by kaninchenrabbits@gmail.com on August 23, 2018 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

What Are Sore Hocks? What Causes Them?

Sore hocks is the common name for what happens when a rabbit’s feet are injured or irritated. When the fur on the bottom of a rabbit’s foot no longer protects the foot, the foot will get injured causing bleeding, swelling, and even infection. This painful condition happens most frequently on wire bottom cages. Should you stop using wire bottom cages? No, but as part of being a responsible rabbit keeper, you need to be keeping track of everyone’s feet. Once a rabbit has had sore hocks they are likely to get it again at some point.

 

 

How Can I Prevent Sore Hocks?

  • Prevention starts with good stock. Choose your rabbit's carefully and only choose individuals with good foot structure and thick fur pads.
  • Check your rabbit's feet regularly. Spotting signs early can prevent a lot of problems. We check feet every 2-3 months in rabbits who have never had a problem with sore hocks, and every 2-4 weeks if they have had sore hocks. 
  • Trim your rabbit's nails regularly.
  • Provide a resting mat or other place for your rabbit to get off the wire.
  • If you do notice sore hocks or a foot problem starting, treat it as soon as possible to avoid it getting worse and harder to treat.

 

How Can I Treat Sore Hocks?

Mild Cases of Sore Hocks

In a mild case of sore hocks, the fur on the bottom of the foot is thin, there may or may not be some bleeding or scabbing, but it is usually smaller than a penny, and not swollen. There should be no rotting/dead smell, and the rabbit should be moving around fine.

For mild sore hocks the best thing you can do is place 1 or more resting mats or other surface where the rabbit can get off of the wire. In summer we use ceramic floor tiles because they have the added benefit of keeping the rabbit cool. A piece of untreated pine wood shelving or a piece of rigid plastic sheeting are other options. The goal is to give the rabbit a place to sit/stand/lay down where the feet won’t be on the wire and won’t be getting irritated. If your rabbit is stubborn and not laying on the mat you put in, put in a couple more. You have to give them a place to stop re-injuring the area throughout the entire time that the foot fur is growing back into a thick pad. This is very important to healing. Rarely will you heal a case of sore hocks without providing adequate resting places for the rabbit. 

 

Medium Cases of Sore Hocks

In a medium case of sore hocks, you will notice a large bloody or scabbed area, think nickle size or bigger. There may be some mild swelling, but the foot should not be deformed. This kind of wound needs bandaging and to be kept clean to avoid infection and becoming a severe case.

For a medium case of sore hocks you will need to work on keeping the feet clean and bandaged in addition to providing the resting place. To start with, trim away the fur near the area so you can fully assess the feet, and decide what is needed. Next the rabbit's feet are rinsed/washed/soaked to remove any dirt. While the rabbit is soaking, set up your work area with a towel, 1-2 washcloths, rubbing alcohol or another disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, gauze, and vet wrap. Go ahead and put the ointment on the gauze now. You'll also want to cut off your length of vet wrap before you get the rabbit out of the soak, and cut a slit 1/3-1/2 of the middle of it (hotdog style). I use Triple Antibiotic Ointment or Neosporin.

 

Wrap the rabbit in the towel and have someone hold her with her feet up (ideal), or make a spot on the couch/floor with a blanket to cradle her on her back with her feet up. Apply the gauze, and start with the uncut section of vet wrap. Wrap it around the foot loosely, gradually getting tighter. You want it tight enough to hold on, but not so tight that you cut off circulation. The toes can be squished together a bit, but should not be fully touching. They need to still move and flex for the rabbit to walk well. When you get to the slit you cut, start with one side and wrap it up around the ankle, then do the other side. You need to wrap above the ankle so that the total bandage stays on and doesn't pull off, but you still need to allow the ankle to move. Give it a squeeze to secure the bandage to itself and the rabbit is good to go. You will need to change the bandage every 1-3 days until the foot is no longer actively bleeding, the scab is gone, and the area is completely covered with fresh new skin. This can take 1-4 weeks. After the bandages come off, you will need to keep up with the resting place and continue checking on the rabbit’s feet until the fur is fully in and a nice thick foot pad has formed.

 

Severe Cases of Sore Hocks

What constitutes a severe case? Well for us it’s anytime there’s obvious infection - you’ll notice it by a bad smell, or yellow/green/white pus or crusties. If there’s swelling in addition to the sore hocks, that would also bump a rabbit up into the severe category, as would if there’s more than one spot of active sore per foot. The swelling here will deform the foot. If you know what bumblefoot in chickens looks like, this looks similar. You have the rabbit's normal narrow foot, and then a swollen bulge sticking out over either side of the foot. This would be a severe case.

For a severe case of sore hocks you will need to include injectable or oral antibiotics. We do not use oral antibiotics here, so we use injectable Penicillin G Procaine (aka Pen G). You would start with doing everything for a mild or medium case (resting mats, cleaning, bandaging), and then add antibiotics. There are several places that list the dosage and frequency of antibiotics for rabbits. We use Pen G Procaine because that is what our local feed store sells. You will find it in a cooler, and it should be stored in the refrigerator. Read everything on the bottle and make sure you understand what you are doing. This is not a substitute for veterinary advice, but this is how we treat our rabbits based off of information readily available. Dosing for Pen G Procaine varies by website, but they all agree that it’s somewhere between 20,000 IU/Kg and 60,000 IU/Kg every 1-2 days. Most places say the 40,000-60,000 IU/Kg. You can give daily, or every other day. I prefer every other day because it’s easier on us and the animals, and uses less supplies. For a step by step visual of how to accurately calculate the dosage for your individual rabbit, see the post on Calculating Pen G Dosages.

 

The rabbit we are currently treating (worst case I’ve ever seen) is getting:

Day 1 60,000 IU/Kg

Day 2 20,000 IU/Kg (Normally I would skip day 2, but this rabbit has mastitis in addition to sore hocks, so I want her to have some on day 2.)

Day 3 40,000 IU/Kg

Day 5 40,000 IU/Kg

Day 7 40,000 IU/Kg

After Day 7, I will re-evaluate her feet. I will see how they are healing, look for signs of infection again, and either stop antibiotics or give her another dose on day 9. She should be done with her antibiotics by that point. At that point she'll just be getting her feet rinsed and her bandages changed every 2-3 days until the sore hocks resolves enough to be a mild case. This rabbit will have resting mats and regular checks every 3-7 days for months.

 

 

 




 

How to Create a Rabbit Pedigree

Posted by kaninchenrabbits@gmail.com on April 12, 2017 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (3)

Today I’m going to be covering how to create a rabbit pedigree. It can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s first start off with some basics: what is a pedigree, what’s in a pedigree, and why you should pedigree. Then I will move on to how to create a pedigree and record keeping.


What Is A Pedigree?

A pedigree is a listing of the genealogy of the rabbit. It shows which rabbits the rabbit came from. Each pedigree is created by the breeder of the litter and pedigrees are given with the kits when they are sold, or simply kept for a number of years as records. At Kaninchen Farm, each and every rabbit is given a pedigree. This helps us to keep track of who’s who, and to know which pairings are working well and which aren’t. Even rabbits that do not get sold or used for breeding are given a pedigree.


What Is In A Pedigree?

A pedigree contains 5 very important things, and may contain 2 optional things. The 5 must haves on a pedigree are:

Name

Ear Number

Sex

Variety/Color

Weight


The optionals are:

Genotype

*Date of Birth

*Legs

*Grand Champion #

*Registration #


You absolutely must have the name and ear number (if tattoed) of all rabbits on the pedigree. There must be some way of identifying those past rabbits. If there is no ear #, you can leave that section blank, but most rabbits now have ear numbers. Names are made up of a breeder prefix and the name the breeder or owner assigned. For example, Kaninchen’s S39 is the name of one of our rabbits. Kaninchen’s is the breeder prefix, and S39 is the rabbit’s name. If I sold S39 to Ms. Jane, and Ms. Jane decided to call her Daisy, she’d write on the pedigree, “Kaninchen’s S39 aka Daisy”. You can add an aka to your pedigree’s name field. It is helpful to let the original breeder know that you’ve renamed the rabbit, but it is not necessary since the Ear # will be the same.


If you purchased a rabbit that doesn’t have a breeder name listed, you should ask the breeder what they’d like used. In some cases they will just have their last name used because they don’t have a rabbitry name (for example, Draggo’s Mama). Regardless you should not put your farm name if the rabbit came from somewhere else. The breeder prefix is a way to give credit to the breeder who worked hard to choose their rabbits, decide which breedings to do, and then decided which rabbits were good enough to sell. Do not take credit for another breeder's work and don't diminish their work by giving credit to someone else. You should never chop off the farm name/breeder prefix from a rabbit's name on a pedigree either. It is very important. There can be 22 different rabbits named Fire. That breeder prefix is the only way to know which Fire is the right Fire. 



If you are borrowing a buck, you can ask the owner what prefix they’d like used. It should be either yours or theirs. For us, it’s the doe’s breeder prefix that gets used. If we use our doe, then the kits are named Kaninchen’s (name). If we provide the buck to Ms. Jane at Sweetwater's to use, then they’ll be called Sweetwater's (name).


The Ear # is the number tattooed in the rabbit’s left ear and is only to contain numerals 0-9 and letters A-Z. No special characters, shapes, or smiley faces are allowed. If the rabbit is to be shown, ARBA also requires nothing of a profane or sexual nature be tattooed. There are some breeders who want a rabbit to only be used for meat or breeding and will tattoo things like, “meat”, “cull”, “no show”, etc. This does not however prevent the rabbit from being shown. If you truly do not want the rabbit shown, a smiley face, exclamation point, star, etc in the ear is a disqualification and prevents them from being shown. These characters can still be written on a pedigree however, so you can still keep track of your rabbits if they have them in the ear.


All pedigrees must contain the sex and the variety/color of the rabbit. When pedigrees are filled out, there is a certain order to which rabbits go where. The buck always goes on top of the doe. Some pedigrees do not list the sex because they are always to be filled in this way, buck on top, doe on bottom. Look at the example below. The rabbit, KA700 has her father on top, and her mother on the bottom. Then each of the parent’s parents are listed, and so on.


The other must have on the pedigrees is weight. Each rabbit should have a weight given. Here we use pounds and ounces. Some places use pounds only so you would see 9.5 lbs instead of 9 lbs 8 oz. Our scale measures in pounds only, but we do the conversion to ounces for the decimal place. In order to register your rabbits with ARBA, all 15 rabbits in the pedigree MUST have a weight filled in. This can be very difficult. It is advisable to always make sure your pedigree includes all weights when you purchase a rabbit. If it does not, you can still breed, show, and use the rabbit, but you just can’t register. Not all rabbits are registered (none of ours are), but they are still good quality rabbits. Registration means that a judge has looked them over, confirmed they meet the breed standard, and that completed paperwork has been filed with ARBA. Registered rabbits are not worth a higher price, so we do not register our breeders. It is a personal choice.


Under optional things to include on a pedigree are genotype, date of birth, legs, grand champion number, and the registration number. Not everyone knows (or cares to know), the genotype of their rabbit. The only program that I know of that fills this in by default is Global Pedigree. This is a nice piece of information to have, especially if you’re breeding for certain colors or trying to test breed, but it is not necessary.


The date of birth should be on there for the rabbit if you know it. There is no reason not to have a date of birth for any kits that you are selling. Don’t be lazy, write it in. In Global Pedigree, and in Evans, it will record the date of birth for all animals, but only print it for the rabbit named in the pedigree, and for the parents. Handwritten pedigrees have a spot to include this for all of the rabbits.


If your rabbit is shown, or some of the rabbits in the background have been shown, it is nice to include the number of legs the rabbit has won, and the Grand Champion number or Registration number if the rabbit has been Granded or Registered. Not all rabbits have been, so this information is not required in a pedigree. When a rabbit has been Granded or Registered, it will receive a tattoo in the right ear to identify it and signify its achievement.





Why You Should Pedigree

Do you want to fetch a higher price for your rabbits?

Do you want to show your rabbits?

Do you want to help preserve your breed?

Do you want to help children in 4H, FFA, etc?

Do you or your children want to enter the fair?


Do you want to know which rabbits make the best kits together?

Do you want to know who makes the largest litters?

Do you want to know who’s kits grow the fastest?

Do you want to know which rabbits that one came from?

Do you want to try to get blue, chocolate, lilac, etc?

Do you want to try and avoid certain colors?

Do you want to know who is responsible for that funky (whatever it is)?

Do you want to know why these kits keep dying (genetic issues)?

You can figure out all of that and more from a good pedigree.


How To Create A Pedigree

So you’ve decided to pedigree, great! Creating a pedigree is simple. Start in the first box on the left. That is the rabbit you’ve got in front of you (or in your cage). Write down everything you know about that rabbit (name, ear #, sex, color, genotype, weight, etc). Then move up and over to the right a box. Write down everything you know about your rabbit’s sire. Just continue on down the lines until you’re finished. Depending on the pedigree template you use, it may have spots for different things, just fill them in to the best of your ability.


You can buy the ARBA pedigree book and fill in pedigrees by hand. You can also print off blank pedigrees from the internet (just google, “Blank Rabbit Pedigree”;). You can create your own pedigree template in Word or some other program as well. With all of the above, just make sure that you make two copies, one for your records, and one for the buyer. If that seems like too much work, you can use a computer program just for pedigrees.


Record Keeping

I personally use a program called Global Pedigree (www.globalpedigree.com) to keep track of all of my pedigrees. It stores them all and will link up with thousands of other pedigrees. This is especially helpful so that I don’t have to enter the information for all 15 rabbits by hand when someone else has already done it for me. It also permanently stores a copy and can be accessed at any time from anywhere with Internet access. If I were to have a house or barn fire, my records would still be safe and retrievable even if my computer was destroyed. I also like that the pedigrees are automatically generated. I enter my breeding information and it pops out a pedigree in seconds. It also tells me when I click on a buck how many litters he’s sired, his average litter size, and known progeny. When I click on a doe, it tells me her total number of litters, average kit survival (%), and known progeny. I can tell at a glance, who’s doing well and who’s not, without digging out the pedigrees and counting all the kits. Some other record keeping programs include Evans, and Kintracks. I don’t personally use these programs, so I can’t write much about them.


There’s no real recommendation on how long you should keep your records, but you should be thinking in terms of years. If my buck is 3 years old, there’s no reason to get rid of his paperwork after 2 years, especially if he’s alive. You may even have people coming back to you years later asking if you happen to have a weight on a certain rabbit. For instance, I have a great grandparent in my records that doesn’t have a weight on him, so I emailed the original breeder. It’s helpful to be able to provide that information. It is also helpful if funky things crop up in lines later on as well to have a record of what happened and what you found in litters. Saving that pedigree information can be useful for years to come.


Make your own bunny balm

Posted by kaninchenrabbits@gmail.com on May 23, 2016 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Have you ever tattooed a rabbit? How about had an injured rabbit? Whether your rabbit has a scratch you'd like to help clear up faster, or you'd like to ease any tattoo discomfort, bunny balm is a great thing to have on hand.

My recipe uses coconut oil as a base. Coconut oil is antibacterial and is great for helping animals (and humans) heal. You can find it at any grocery store or online. I also use lavender herbs, and plantain. Lavender can help calm a rabbit, and plantain relieves pain. Both are antibacterial. Lavender can be found online or in the bulk herb section of most health food stores. Plantain can be found in your own yard, or growing pretty much anywhere since most people consider it a "weed". Either narrow leaf, or broad leaf plaintain can be used. 


Above: Broad leaf plantain. This one's been mowed a few times, so some of the leaves are a bit jagged, and the stick like flower has been cut off.


This recipe is very flexible. If you can't find the lavender flowers, you can leave them out. If there's something else you'd like to add in, then you can do that too.


Recipe:

~1 cup coconut oil

~1/2 c Lavender flowers

~1/2 c Plantain

4-oz jelly jars

Slow Cooker


Process:

Prepare your crock pot. Put a folded hand towel or washcloth in the bottom to keep the jars off the crock and to help with even heating. Fill with about 2-3" of water, and turn on warm.

Fill jars 1/4 of the way with plantain, and 1/4 of the way with lavender. 

Melt your coconut oil either in a double broiler, in the oven, or in the sun. It melts at around 75 degrees. You want to avoid microwaving, or do it very carefully because over heating destroys some of the healing properties. 

Pour oil over your herbs, leaving about 1/2" head space. Put the lids on and screw the rings down. Place them in your crock pot for 1-8 hours. The longer you leave it in, the stronger it gets, but don't over cook your herbs. You want the temperature between 100 and 120 degrees.

Once time is up, remove jars, and allow oil to cool. When cool enough to work with, strain through a double layer of cheesecloth (or even a clean pantyhose), and place in 4 oz jars.

Store in a cool (room temp is fine, just not 85+), dark place. Should keep for at least a year depending on storage conditions. 


This makes a small batch, enough for 2 4-oz jelly jars. Since it's good for humans too (even on burns and mosquito bites), why not make a double batch? Or add some different herbs to make herb infused cooking oil. Basil + Oregano olive oil? Rosemary + Thyme oil?