Katie's Journal

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I Did It!

by @ 3:22 pm on March 20, 2011.

There will always be a reason why I should wait to start on my rabbit colony. But for once, I decided to go for it anyway. If I don’t just suck it up and order up some rabbits I’ll never do this. So I did.

While surfing Craigslist I found a link to Amity Angles Rabbitry. She’s in Amity, PA which looks to be about an hour’s drive. That’s not too bad. She raises mainly Californians. In all my readings, there is no disputing that Cals and New Zealands are the two main meat breeds. The eternal question is which to raise. NZ’s are a pound or two larger and typically have larger litters. That sounds good, but according to this breeder and as I’ve heard from a couple other sources NZ’s can be a bit more aggressive to deal with while Cal’s are more docile. In my infinite wisdom, I thought the Cal’s were prettier with their black points over pure white. I do like the other colored NZ’s (black, red, or broken) but there are no breeders of those colors nearby. For that matter there are no breeders of the whites nearby either. Regardless, Cal’s appear to be the right choice for a total beginner. The Amity Angels rabbits are show stock – she’s actually taking her current litter to the Californian Nationals in Ohio. So I feel pretty good that I’ll be getting some nice stock to begin with.

Part of what prompted this change was the decision to reduce the number of calves we have to just what we actually need rather than continuing to keep every heifer born. This will allow us to take better care of what we keep and in the end have healthier, higher producing cows. To that end, I should actually have some room in the calf barn rather than under it which would make it much easier to care for the rabbits.

From that thought I began plotting. I measured, sketched out a plan for a big colony cage, researched the cost to build it, and immediately scaled back. 😛 My plan at that time was to build an 8×8 pen because 2x4x8 boards are pretty cheap. Being inside, they would not need to be treated. Well, it happened there was an old open wood shed on our farm. It’s of no use to us, and several weeks ago a wind storm ripped the roof off and flipped it upside down on the ground. We thought we’d just have to drag it off and get rid of it. I got to looking at it yesterday, and it will be perfect to pilfer some boards out of to build my colony with, and will actually increase it to 10 x 10. There is some other scrap lumber in that shed I can use, so I don’t think I’ll have to buy any lumber. God was giving me a hand there, and he even flipped the roof upside down so I can dismantle it easily. We have some old doors from when we remodeled the house I can use for an entrance. The old roof has tin on it which will be perfect for the roof of the rabbit pen. In the end, I think the only thing I’ll need to buy is some wire. w00t!

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The thing that then occurred to me was that even if I did keep the buck in the colony eventually, I’d need to keep him separate until the does were old enough to be bred. Ern was a help there. He reminded me there is a nice rabbit hutch that the last tenants of Arden’s house built and left behind. Perfect! The doors don’t close quite right, and it needs cleaned up a bit, but it’ll definitely do the job.

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Being able to scrounge up so much material from around the farm helps my startup costs immensely. I could probably get cheaper rabbits (Heather charges $20-30), but good stock is not the place to scrimp. I’m really hoping to break even in this venture, or at least close to it. I don’t expect to make any kind of profit. To that end, I’ll be keeping close tabs on all my costs and I’ll see what I can do. I can’t wait to get started!

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