Catalogue of catastrophies with Eny’s latest litter!
New Zealand White rabbits are beautiful, very tame and very friendly so they make excellent pets. They are good house rabbits as they are clean, usually using the same place as a toilet all the time. They also grow quite big, quite quickly which is why they are often bred as meat rabbits. Once they reach 3 months old they generally have very few health problems, BUT, until they get to ten weeks old they can be notoriously difficult to rear.
Eny had 6 babies, two of them died in the first few days – no idea why – it was just like she abandoned them. The other four were fine at 3 weeks old, then one of them mysteriously just flaked out and I found it cold as stone in the morning. And then there were three!
Next day I found one of the babies in the hen house, goodness knows how he got out but I managed to catch him and reinstall him safely with his mum. Checked everything but couldn’t figure out how he got out but added extra security just in case.
Two days later – he’s with the hens again – but this time something has attacked him and he’s looking very sorry for himself indeed, so I put him in a pen on his own, cleaned him up and covered him in Aloe Vera gel (works wonders on everything from rabbit scratches on me to hens attacked by foxes – and poorly rabbits).
The next day he looked a lot better, but the shock must have been too much because he was dead the next morning.
So now we are down to two – one of which is quite small and therefore not really suitable for breeding although she’s really sweet and would make an excellent pet. Often people who are looking for rabbits as pets want two of the same sex to keep each other company. Guess what – the other baby is a male. So I am looking for someone who would like a small NZ white doe as a pet and someone else who would like a buck as either a pet or for breeding.
Breeding NZ whites is never simple! (But never boring either!)
On a more positive note, for the first time I have kept one of my own does and one of my own bucks (different mothers and fathers) for breeding and they are just old enough now to breed. George is beautiful, he’s a really large buck and was the only baby Cowslip had in her last litter so he had the best possible attention. He’s just over 6 months old. Holly, my new doe, was one of Eny’s babies. She is now just over 5 months old. Alhough it’s still winter, the weather last weekend was quite mild so I thought I would see how they got on together.
I never leave a doe with a buck unattended as sometimes they can fight so I always keep an eye on them – there’s always lots of things I can get on with in the rabbit shed – cleaning up, washing food bowls, stroking the rabbits (my favourite task!). After 10 minutes of chasing each other round I put them back in their pens and tried again the next day – with no luck.
Holly really doesn’t like being kept in a cage – the other rabbits are fine but she absolutely loves being in the run outside so she gets to go out more often than the others. In the spring she will have a hutch outside but, for the moment, she’s safe in her cage. So I thought I might put a nest box in her cage to see if that changed her mind about mating. (Usually you put the nest box in a week before the babies are due because otherwise rabbits tend to make a mess in them and you have to keep cleaning them out.) Anyway, Holly loved her nest box and settled down happily in it. Next day when I introduced her to George again, she mated straight away, so I am hoping Holly and George will be parents for the first time in February.
Let’s hope the babies in this next litter are less problematic than Eny’s last litter.