08 March 2010

Rabbit Farm News

I am pulling my head out of my books for a few moments for a rabbit update. This term I am taking a class in Immunology and I have spent alot of time brushing up and relearning all the immune cell names and functions and then all the chemicals, molecules, granules, signals those cells secrete and produce.

So rabbit world news:

1. Coloured rabbits for Easter
I have a couple colored female rabbits I bought locally so that I could sell colored rabbits as kids' pets. My brief survey confirmed that people are a bit creeped out by the red eyes of my New Zealand White rabbits. And what kid wants to hold 10lbs of white rabbit. So these little guys are smaller and cuter.

2. Crunched a year's worth of production data

I am a data nerd. I like to gather it, input it, add it up, divide it up and then ponder its meaning.

My first litter was born in May 2009. Since then I have:
- weaned 24 litters of rabbits; I have an additional 13 litters born, but not weaned in the barn right now
- averaged 6.05 babies per litter
- bought 24 local females and culled 17 of them due to poor mothering, no disease resistance, and genetic defects
- had 4% birth to weaning fatality among my babies (kits)
- averaged 3 litters/adult female/per year (number low because of number of females I culled and stock acquired throughout the year)
- averaged weaning weight of kits - 635 grams
- clinically confirmed coccidiosis infection and Pasturella multicoda infection in my rabbit herd (There is no disease data available for rabbits in Uganda and I am starting to gather figures to help in breeding better stock and generating marketing ideas)
- culled all clinical cases of Pasturella multicoda
- started quarterly prophylactic treatments for coccidiosis and all worms
- had females enter the breeding rotation that were born on sight. These females are exceeding all of my averaged production data.

Goals for the next year:
- cull all females that do not meet these production parameters (weigh 3 kilos at 6 months; produce 5 litters in a calendar year averaging 6 babies per litter and weaning those babies at 650 grams each). This means goodbye to all my locally acquired stock.
- breed for female replacement stock that is: 3.5 kilos at 6 months (my bigger females produce more babies that wean at higher weights), resistant to clinical signs of pasturella multicoda infection, produces 8 babies per litter, has 5 litters a year and weans those babies at 850 grams each
- perform fecal floats quarterly to determine what worms my rabbits have and to tailor my deworming program accordingly
- ascertain carrier status for Pasturella multicoda of all adult breeding stock to help in breeding more resistant stock

I am most proud of the production numbers for litters, kits born, weaning weight because it was all done on a forage based diet and exceeds many of the rabbit figures I have read in articles on tropical rabbit production.

1 comment:

John said...

Go, data nerd, go!!! Very interesting. Don't understand it all yet, but I appreciate all you have learned about rabbit production.