A Sufficient Life

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Breeding Methods

Posted by Shannon on October 11, 2013 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (2)

The following information is from the Rabbit Education Society website and is a very clear and concise description of various breeding methods used by rabbit breeders.

Breeders also use several different breeding systems:

Inbreeding: Mating individuals who are closely related such as father/daughter, mother/son. Brother/sister combinations are also used on occasion as test matings to determine genetic recessives but not done often by show breeders.

Linebreeding: Mating less closely related individuals. This is very commonly used by show breeders. Usually a show breeder will mate parents and offspring as a form of linebreeding, adding unrelated or less closely related rabbits to keep the gene pool strong.

Outcrossing: Breeding same breed but unrelated individuals.

Crossbreeding: Breeding unrelated individuals of different breeds.

Inbreeding and linebreeding are valid breeding systems. Groups or individuals who say inbreeding or linebreeding should not be done probably have little understanding of genetics. One must be wary of genetic problems when breeding closely related individuals but this system also increases the chances of passing on desirable traits. Outcrossing does not guarantee there will be no genetic problems as what genes the offspring receive-good or bad is dependent on what genes the parents carry.


5 C's of Raising Quality Rabbits

Posted by Shannon on October 3, 2013 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This is an excerpt of an article written by the owner of  Shiny Satins Rabbitry

5 C's of Raising Quality Rabbits 

1. Culling and careful selection (a.k.a. genetics) 

2. Cleanliness 

3. Consistency 

4. Care (or Calmness—avoiding stress). 

5. Culling and careful selection again

To read the entire article, visit  the page on Shiny Satins Rabbitry.

Links and excerpts reprinted with permission of Shiny Satins Rabbitry.

Proposed Changes to the Animal Welfare Act

Posted by Shannon on June 27, 2012 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

If you have not read the ACTUAL proposed changes to the

Animal Welfare Act which is administered by the USDA and APHIS,

here they are:


My three biggest concerns with the proposed changes to the

Animal Welfare Act administered by the USDA and APHIS are:

1) "Specifically, we would narrow the definition of retail pet store so that it

means a place of business or residence that each buyer physically enters in

order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase

and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase, and where only certain

animals are sold or offered for sale, at retail, for use as pets." 

[Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003]

I don't know about you, but I don't want to have to let anyone and everyone onto

my property. During a teleconference held with the Show Rabbit Protection

Society, Dr. Gerald Rushin of the USDA/APHIS, one of the drafter's of the

proposed legislative changes, told SRPS members that

"We just want to make sure that people who are buying your animals, have the

opportunity to check out the condition of those animals, and if they don't, if htey

are being sold over the internet, then APHIS comes into play, by that rule and will

check out the conditions of the animals, before they are sold. So as long as those

people are having the opportunity to come in and view your pets, even if they are in

seperate location, but they see your pet, you are good to go."

This seems to indicate that meeting the potential buyer offsite and allowing

them to see the animal before purchase also meets the "retail pet store"

definition, as long as there is face to face contact. This needs to be spelled

out in the proposed legislative changes.

2)" We are also proposing to increase from three to four the number of breeding

female dogs, cats, and/or small exotic or wild mammals that a person may

maintain on his or her premises and be exempt from the licensing and inspection

requirements."[Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003] 

There is no way a commercial rabbit breeder can break even with only 4 breeding

females. That may be enough for someone that is only breeding for their family's

use, but anyone that breeds to sell for any reason, will need more than 4

breeding females.


In the teleconference transcript, Mary Hammond of the SRPS ask this,

"I want to  confirm, just a minute, let me find it, the three to four breeding female limit

does not apply to rabbits."

To which Dr. Rushin replied, "That does not apply to rabbits."


NOWHERE in the proposed legislative changes does it say rabbits are excluded.

This also needs to be spelled out clearly.

3)" A person may...be exempt from the licensing and inspection requirements...if

he or she sells only the offspring of those animals born and raised on his or

her premises, for pets or exhibition. This exemption would apply regardless of

whether those animals are sold at retail or wholesale." [Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003]


What if I want to later sell an animal that I purchased, after using it in my

program? It was not born here....am I not allowed then to sell it without having

my exemption taken away?


In the teleconference, this question was raised by Mary Hammond of the SRPS and

answered by Ms. Jones and Dr. Rushin of the USDA:


Hammond: Now since rabbits don't fall under the three to four breeding females,

are they also exempt from the requirement to only sell what is born and raised

on the property issue?

Jones: Which regulation are you citing?

Hammond: the individual only will sell that which is born and raised, for

example, let's go back to the heritage breeds. I purchase an a breeding buck for

the purpose of widening my gene pool, the goal is accomplished and I want to

resell him, am I now, because that buck was not born and raised on my property,

going to need a license to resell?

Jones: I don't have the passage in front of me, but the only place we discuss, as I recall, animals born

and raised on the property, is the proposed four female rule, so that would probably still fall

under that rule.

Rushin: Correct.

Hammond: So that does not apply to rabbits.

Rushin: Right. That is correct.


This would also seem to indicate that they don't mean this portion of the

proposed changes to apply to rabbits, which again, is not ANYWHERE in the

document and also needs to be spelled out clearly in the proposed legislative


My Rabbit Medicine Chest

Posted by Shannon on June 1, 2012 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (4)

Most of this is available at Feed Stores or Tractor Supply Company online, and Walmart or the drugstore for the general first aid stuff.

*ProBios Paste - Equine formula (enteritis issues)

*GasX strips or simethicone drops (gas issues with enteritis)

*Tums-fruit flavored (calcium boost for kindling does)

*Injectable Penicillin: I have PenG w/Procaine (mastitis)

*Powdered and injectable tetracycline (vent disease)

*Triple antibiotic ointment, no pain meds in it (general wounds)

*Terramycin eye ointment or Veterycin spray (nestbox eye)

*Disposable Scalpels-- rounded and pointed blades (lancing abcesses)

*Vet wrap,sterile gauze pads, telfa pads or large non stick bandages, Q-Tips, Cotton balls (general bandaging if necessary)

*Syringes- feeding type, tuberculin (1cc) and larger, 6-12 CC sizes

*Hypodermic needles..18g to draw with, 22g to inject with

*Blue kote, Bag Balm (for wounnds, ie. sore hocks, etc.)

*Spray Iodine, different dilutions (general cleaning, wound care)

*Vinegar and rubbing alcohol (general cleaning)

*Liquid bandage or Super Glue (small cuts)

*Scissors (we have bandage scissors, and small, straight scissors)

*Tweezers- sharp and blunt

*Mineral oil (ear mites)

*Scale (charting weight)

*Calculator (for calculating dosages for ABX)

*Dosage charts (for your commonly used meds)

*Clove oil (natural topical pain reliever)


Posted by Shannon on May 9, 2012 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Alrighty! You have decided on a breed (or three or four!) and now you just need to figure out where to keep them. Sounds simple enough....you will need the following:

1) A cage, or cages

2) A place to put said cage/cages

3) Somewhere to purchase said cage/cages

4) A way to keep said cage/cages clean and tidy

At first glance, these don't seem too difficult. However, once you start really looking into it, the challenges start to pop up.

There are MANY different brands, styles, types of cages or hutches on the market. They are not all equal and they can and do function quite differently. There are a few things to think about:

a) How many rabbits will you have? (to start with....they always seem to multiply!)

You will need one cage for each doe, one for each buck and at least one growout cage for every two does. So, if you start with 2 does/1buck, you will need at *least* 4 cages.

b) What breed of rabbits will you have? (this will determine the size/style of cage/hutch you need)

Dwarf breeds can use a shorter height, commercial breeds will need a taller, larger cage and giant breeds will need a more supportive type of floor.

Figuring out the perfect spot BEFORE you rush out and get cages will help you out in the long run. Better to look at all the options now, than to have to redo it all later. Things to consider:

c) Will the rabbits be raised indoors or outdoors? (you may need cages with drop pans...)

Indoor rabbitries generally use cages with drop pans. These are emptied regularly and may or may not use some kind of absorbent material in the pan, ie. shavings, bedding pellets, etc. Some use slant boards and collection receptacles instead. Outdoor rabbitries have a few options, letting it fall on the ground, slant boards to channel the waste to a specific spot, worm beds beneath to collect the manure. It is important to have this chosen and planned for ahead of time.

d) How much space do you have? (this will determine your layout)

If you have more vertical space than horizontal, look at stacking cages to maximize your available space. Is your space long and narrow? Put cages on the outsides with an aisle down the middle to give easy access to both sides.

Once you have this all figured out, you will need to find either a place that sells the cages or a place that sells the materials to make the cages. Feed stores will often carry cages or cage materials. Local pet supply houses are also a good resource. There are several online retailers that sell quality products you can order and have shipped to your location as well. Here are a few:





If you are looking at wire mesh cages, and I strongly suggest that you do, keep the following in mind:

1) Look for 14gauge, Galvanized AFTER Weld (GAW), wire mesh.

2) 1"x2" for the top and sides, 1/2" x 1" for the floor.

3) Cages for breeding does should have "baby saver" wire, or a row of about 4" at the bottom of all four sides where the wires are closely spaced to prevent kits from crawling to the edge and falling out of the cage. THIS IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT!!! Kits can and will crawl a long distance if they happen to get pulled out of the nestbox when nursing.

4) In general, sizes for commercial rabbit cages are 30" x 36" x 18" for breeding does, 24" x 30" x 18" for bucks and open does, and growout cages of at least 24" x 30" x 18".

5) Make sure the doors are large enough to accomodate the nest boxes you plan to use.

6) Don't cheat on quality to get quantity! You will regret it in the long run...

7) If you plan to construct your own cages, have the following:


  • Eye protection ("You'll put your eye out!")
  • Gloves (only if you plan to actually *use* your hands afterwards)
  • Heavy duty wire cutters (two pair) or a grinding wheel
  • Needle nose and blunt nose pliers (at least one pair each)
  • Measuring tape/sharpie to mark wire (don't trust your eyes to remember where)
  • Good quality J clips or C rings and two heavy duty appliers (you will need a buddy)
In addition, you will need feeders, watering devices, resting boards and a place to store all your various and sundry rabbit care supplies, of which there are many! I will cover those in a subsequent post.


What Rabbits?

Posted by Shannon on February 22, 2012 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (2)

So, now you have figured out why you want to raise rabbits and have decided to forge ahead. Good for you! The next question that you should ask yourself is, "What (kind of) Rabbits do I choose to raise?" The answer to this question depends on a few factors...

What is your primary goal in raising rabbits?

  •  You are wanting to provide your family with a healthy, sustainable source of meat. Virtually *any* rabbit can be raised for meat, but some are better than others.  It all has to do with the ratio of meat to bone. What you want is a meaty rabbit with small bones, that grows quickly on a reasonable amount of feed. One might think that a large rabbit, such as a Flemish Giant would make a great meat rabbit. The problem with that is that the Giant breeds have very heavy bones and they eat a LOT! A commercial meat breed is likely your best bet. The most common of these are the New Zealand White, NZW, or the Californian. There are many breeds that can be used for meat, however, so you needn't limit yourself to one of these. Other options include Champagne d' Argente, Silver Fox, Standard Rex, New Zealand Red or Black, and American Blue or White.  If you are looking for a smaller rabbit, or you have limited space, the Florida White or the Dutch Rabbit make excellent small meat rabbits. They can be pedigreed or not, purebred or not. When consumption is the end goal, it only matters that you have healthy, meaty animals.
  • You want to raise rabbits for the show crowd, ie. ARBA, FFA, 4H, etc. You want to start with the best rabbits you can afford from a reputable show breeder. ARBA.net is a good place to start if you want to show rabbits. There are so many different breeds, it is good to actually GO to a show and just observe. These rabbits are expected to be purebred, pedigreed and free of disqualifications. They must comform to the SOP, or Standard of Perfection, for that breed, so you will need to become intimately familliar with the SOP.
  • You want to raise rabbits to sell as pets. The small breeds or dwarf breeds are good for this. Netherland Dwarf, Holland Lop, Lionhead, Polish and Dwarf Hotot are just a few examples of these smaller type rabbits. It is not always necessary for these rabbits to be pedigreed and quite frequently rabbits that cannot be shown due to a disqualification, miscolored toenails for example, are sold as pets.
Are you going to raise rabbits indoors or outdoors?
  • It may seem elementary, but smaller rabbits are easier to raise indoors, unless of course, you have a barn or are going to build one.
Lastly, what type of personality do you want in a rabbit?
  • Rabbits are like dogs, in that each breed has its own general personality. If you want laid back, easy going rabbits, then you do NOT want an arched breed like Checkered Giant or Belgian Hares. These rabbits are made to run, and hop, and bounce and ...well, you get it. They make incredible Agility Rabbits, though. Flemish Giants and Silver Fox are reported to be very laid back and calm in demeanor, although as in anything else, there is always some variance. 
Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be able to tailor your "rabbit accomodations" to better suit the rabbits you will eventually acquire. Which is the topic of our next installment...WHERE?


Why Rabbits?

Posted by Shannon on October 12, 2011 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The most important question to ask yourself BEFORE you run out and buy a bunch of rabbits is....WHY? Why do you want to raise rabbits? There are a few typical answers:

1) I want to raise my own healthy, sustainable source of meat for my family.

2) I want/my familywants to participate in 4H, FFA, or other rabbits shows.

3) I want to raise rabbits to sell for pets.

4) I want to raise rabbits for their wool. (Yes, rabbits can have wool... :) )

And lastly,

5) I just like rabbits and I want to raise them.

The first four are legitimate reasons, the last one....not so much. If you "weally weally wub dat wittle bundle of fluffyness" then, by all means, get a rabbit or two. What you don't want to do is get a male and a female and just let "nature take it's course." You will soon be overrun...remember the Tribble episode of Star Trek? :D

Get one, or two of the same sex, and cuddle to your hearts content.I say same sex because spay/neuter surgery is risky for rabbits. I would rather not take the chance, myself.

Whatever your reasoning for raising rabbits (say that 10 times fast!)  you will need to think long and hard about what you want to accomplish. Come back for our next installment.....WHAT?

Welcome to Rabbit-Ville!

Posted by Shannon on September 26, 2011 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

So, you have decided to try your hand at raising rabbits...I mean, how hard can it be, right? They multiply like...well...like rabbits, don't they? Not always.

There are a few very important things to consider BEFORE you run out and buy your first rabbits. This blog will focus initially on those things, and then branch out to other related topics and ideas. If you have suggestions on topics, feel free to let me know.

As with many other adventures, rabbit raising begins with a few questions....

WHY, WHAT, and  WHERE?  Stay tuned for the answers to these, and many other questions!


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