Yesterday was national pet memorial Day and along with the many pets I've lost over the years I payed tribute to my little Maximilian whom we lost all too soon in his life. In those few short months he was with us he touched the lives of many people and changed my life. #miloandme #frenchlop #memorial #petmemorial
When people start showing rabbits (I mean REALLY showing) they all want the same thing, to "win". No, it is not everything but I can imagine it is a very rewarding feeling after the excruciating hard work and money you have put in to get your lines started and established.
I have only actually taken a BOB with a rabbit out of MY lines once and it was joyous beyond anything I had felt before, not because she had taken BOB but because of the rabbit itself that had taken it. That rabbit had been dubbed "pet" quality the year before and no one ever imagined she would have taken BOB in her life, not even me for that matter, until I decided to bring her along for the numbers. She was my bottle baby, my pride and joy and for her out of any of the others I had in my barn to have taken a BOB really made my heart soar.
Some people only buy rabbits expecting to win with them at shows when the fact is, Breeders are usually not selling their best rabbits. That does not mean they are selling bad rabbits, only that they have worked hard to get the best and are going to keep the best to continue improving their lines.
A beautiful, fluffy nest with warm bundles of healthy babies in it, it's what every breeder wants to see right? So what happens if that is not the case?
Recently myself and other breeders have had problems with getting and keeping litters. From not getting any litters, getting a beautiful nest but no babies in it and getting babies and losing them it has been a frustrating battle!
In MY battle to get litters I found that my feed may have been the culprit. Slowly I transitioned my herd over to another feed to see if it would help. Whalla! I got my first two litters and large ones at that!
I wish it had been as simple as just switching the feed. Shortly after the birth of litter number two we started losing them. I found that my female had not gotten any milk in to feed the babies. Only 2.5 weeks after the birth my other female dried up leaving 5 orphaned baby bunnies for me to step in and care for. After the third litter and the mom not having any milk supply, I gave all types of supplemental foods such as veggies and oatmeal to try and boost milk production for the first 9 days with no success. As a last ditch effort I started sprinkling a calcium supplement on her feed and Oatmeal. Within the day her milk had come in full force and the three remaining babies survived.
I started sprinkling the calcium supplement on all of the lactating moms as well as all females and babies and since have noticed a huge difference in their health, activity levels, milk production and the overall health and size of babies in the litters they are now finally having.
I decided to start adding in some whole grains and more natural items for their diet such as Fodder, veggies, plants and grasses that are safe and good for them.
With this new diet they have been doing much better and I have been able to keep weight on them more so than before.
My conclusion is that there is something lacking in the feed or an ingredient in the feed that is not doing what it used to anymore and that was what was causing so many of my issues since with this new diet I have not have the issues I had had pre-diet.
Every year Milo & Me teams up with local breeders to head to the local Central Square Mall for the day before Easter Carnival with some of our rabbits in the campaign against buying rabbits for basket stuffer's at Easter. With every year, more and more people come to meet the live rabbits and have their picture taken with them. This year, the turn out for the Milo & Me meet and greet was astronomical! We had people lined up well before the gates opened at 11 o'clock Saturday morning and it was supposed to end at 1 o'clock but we didn't get the gates closed again until 2:30 due to the extreme number of people who came out to visit us at the Easter Carnival! Pictured inset are from the left, Nash and Tucker, who were two of our biggest stars. They just hung out all day for pictures with the kids and did wonderfully.
3/26/14 we welcomed a litter of 12 babies from Lilly and TJ. As of this morning 9 had some milk in their bellies so we are hoping that's a good sign moms milk has come in or is coming in. Her last litter we sadly lost 9 of the ten due to her milk not coming in.
First and foremost, you should always pick a feed and stick with it. The constant change is hard on their guts. If your rabbits are doing well on something don't switch because something is cheaper. If you are going to switch, switch because it is a better feed or because you can't get the other one anymore.
Fiber is an extremely important factor. Anything below 18 is really too low. Rabbits can do fine on lower but for the larger breeds many think they do better on the higher. Fat is also important. A minimum of 2.5- 3 is better.
Protein is another extremely important piece of the nutrition puzzle. A giant breed such as the French Lop should be on an 18% protein blend. In some areas this can be hard to find in a quality feed but for their development and overall health of your giant breed rabbit.
I personally struggled with finding a feed that worked best for my rabbits. It was a nightmare for a while. My two French lops started losing weight and there was nothing I could do to fix it. They were eating fine, getting treats and exercise and still, dropping weight and deteriorating. I found out that they needed a feed with 18% protein in it and most feeds only contain 15-16%. I was feeding a feed with 15% and it just wasn't enough even with treats and fresh veggies daily. Once I started learning more about it from experienced breeders they turned a major corner and started gaining their weight back and becoming my healthy and happy rabbits they were before. Most people are unaware that not all feed is equal for each breed. Their size, activity level and portions all determine which feed to choose for your rabbit. The issue is how do you know what your breed needs? If you are buying from a breeder, they should inform you what to look for in a feed for that specific breed as well as send you a small bag of feed to help transition your new rabbit over to what ever feed you decide to put him on.
A friend of mine forwarded me this in an email and I thought it was very interesting
Five Fun Facts about the Color Chestnut Agouti
By Ellyn Eddy
The study of coat color genetics has taken the rabbit world by a storm. Breeders remain extremely interested in this important subject. Not only do you need to know color genetics to be able to choose your breeding pairs wisely, but the study is fascinating in itself. Here five fun facts that you might not have heard before about an important rabbit color.
Fact 1. The color we call "chestnut agouti" is the original rabbit color. It shows the "normal" gene in every category. As you may notice, wild rabbits appear chestnut agouti.
Fact 2. Every other color results from a mutation of one of the genes that makes chestnut agouti. A mutation happens when some genetic information is lost in the process of transferring a gene from a parent to its offspring. As a result, almost all other colors are less dominant than chestnut agouti. If you breed a pure chestnut agouti to almost any other color, the resulting babies will be 100% chestnut agouti.
Fact 3. Chestnut agouti shows a beautiful blend of pigments. If you look at a chestnut, you'll see a brilliant blend of black and red pigments. The top of the rabbit looks brindled with the two colors, and if you blow into the coat, you'll see black and red/orange form concentric rings on the hair shaft. All recessive mutations of the chestnut genes limit this pattern, either by reducing the color intensity (so the black hairs would become blue or chocolate) or by preventing the two pigments from interacting properly. (For example, a solid black rabbit has the potential to produce red pigments, but it doesn't because the self pattern geneisn't giving the red pigment a place to show up.)
Fact 4. Chestnut shows the normal dominant gene in every main category. So a pure chestnut - one that didn't carry any other colors - would have the genotypeAA BB CC DD EE. A rabbit that had the most recessive gene in every category - the genotype aa bb cc dd ee - would be albino. Another highly recessive color is lilac tortoise - the genotype aa bb CC dd ee.
Fact 5. There are a couple mutations that produce a color pattern that's actually more dominant than AA BB CC DD EE. These are in the "E" series, and the names of them are Steel and Dominant Black. The steel gene will cause the black pigment to over-produce, so it covers up some of the orange pigment in a chestnut, and only lets the light tips of the hairs show. You can see that illustrated in the picture below.
Yes, I breed quality, healthy and show quality, papered rabbits. That does not make me a bad person or mean that I am over populating or causing more unwanted rabbits in the shelters. Nor am I taking homes away from a shelter rabbit. First off, we do NOT have a shelter near me, nor do most people. Second, my rabbits are loved and if they are going as pets, placed in homes that I feel are good. This does not mean a shelter rabbit is losing out on a home. Yes, adopting from a shelter is good but for those who want a giant breed rabbit, even in a city that has a shelter for rabbits, it is hard to find one. The ones that don't go to homes as pets stay in the show circuit. Other responsible breeders who are making sure they are producing HEALTHY and quality rabbits to continue on the breed will get them. If everyone only rescued, many many breeds would die out.
I raise on a variety of different surfaces. Any with white feet are on wire bottom cages with a resting mat, not one has ever gotten sore hocks in my care on the proper gauged wire for the breed, and some are on solid bottoms with litter pans. The only rabbit I have EVER had get sore hocks had never been in a wire bottomed cage in her life. At three years old she had lived her life with me in a dog Kennel and a litter pan that was always clean and she developed sore hawks. After getting her in a wire bottomed cage, she finally cleared up. She is now back in a dog kennel until she has any other issues. Wire bottomed cages are not bad like people will lead you to think either, They keep them clean and out of their own filth, they give proper ventilation and so many more pro's than con's if used correctly. Plus, no one wants to see yellow footed rabbits, it just makes them look dirty and does not look good while showing.
A breeder has to keep their animals healthy for showing and, well, breeding. You can't show, breed or sell unhealthy animals nor do you want one in your barn. A breeder, not a back yard breeder who will produce mutts and focus sales towards holidays and gifts, cares about the breed, the standards and the well being of their animals. We give the females proper spacing between litters and do not over breed them. The stereotype breeders have is thanks to those who do not care.
I may be a breeder but at my place we rescue just as many if not more animals than we sell. I educate my community on why animals do not make good gifts, refuse to sell at any holiday or as gifts and I will take any animal I have sold or re homed back if it didn't work out for them. We take in rescue rabbits, cats and wildlife and we rehab them and find them new homes or release them in the case of wildlife. I have been an active member of rescues since I was a child with nearly every animal in my care having been a rescue. Yes, even some of my prize rabbits came from bad homes/breeders. The very rabbit this site is based off of, Milo, came from a horrible place. The people thought that it was OK to carry him by his ears, he was not fed enough for his size and he was scared and mean towards people due to it. I worked with him and he turned out to be an amazing member of my family and barn. Mailey, my very first French Lop came from a farm where she over powered them and she thought if she could them then she could anyone. She is now one of the best rabbits and trusted around the smallest of kids. No more attitude issues, nothing. I have stories like this for several other rabbits in my barn now but my point is not to tell stories of how they have been miss treated but to show that an animal does not have to come from a rescue to be rescued nor are all breeders bad. In fact most breeders I know, or at least the ones who care about the breed standards and are not raising animals as a profit but to improve and carry on the breed, refuse to sell as gifts or Easter and other holidays and have similar views as myself.
As a breeder and a person who's heart is animal welfare and rescue I can tell you that BREEDERS are not the bad ones in all of this, most of it is the uneducated people who are buying from pet stores, fairs and back yard breeders who are raising no particular breed or for standards and are breeding too close together so they can have more to sell as gifts or a novelty item not knowing that a rabbit can live well into its teens not just a couple months/years. They are a long term commitment and social animals. They need interaction not just to be in a cage in a child's room to be played with when remembered about.
If you are going to rescue, I applaud you! It takes a special person to take on the baggage most rescue animals carry from previous homes. But if you are going to purchase, please do so from a responsible breeder who has quality animals and purebreds. Someone who will answer your questions and be there to help you through any hurdles you encounter in your rabbit owning journey.
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I currently Volunteer through Dark Star Wildlife Nursery wildlife rescue to aid in saving the lives of wildlife who would otherwise be left motherless or worse.