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Monday, July 30, 2007

Exploding Bunnies!

Ok, so they aren't *really* exploding, but it sure feels that way! I'm proud to announce that finally, my two holland bucks Judas and Tommy have decided to ditch their crunchy dead coats. They, along with my chestnut buck Dega and my mini lop buck Funky have gone in to full blown molt! This is great, from a show standpoint- should I want to show them in September, they will have gorgeous new coats with great texture. And, if I need to add any more fur to my "bad mama" collection (fur to line the nests of does who don't pull enough or any fur for their kits), now is the perfect time to get it! Even barely touching the boys makes hunks fall out!

A downside is the air is full of fur floating on breezes, or sticking to everyone else's cages. I'm definitely going to have to distribute some papaya pills to help prevent fur-block before it gets started. I'm also trying to clean up the cages as best I can each day, so their waste doesn't stick to it and soil their cages, rather than pans. Unfortunately, these bucks have just started their molts, so the worst is yet to come!

Chester the wooley is molting himself bald. I find it interesting that only my boys are going through "the change". All the ladies in the rabbitry are holding coat.

Keep my ugly boys in your thoughts! I wish the rest of you luck with dealing with your own exploding bunnies- I'm just happy I don't have allergies!

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Incredible Mr. Licky!

So, as I promised, Mr. Licky is about to make his debut. He's been here for a week, but he's been a little shy. Let me tell you his story-

I had taken a few babies over to Malena's house, so she could help me evaluate their show potential. We were also returning the 4 carriers she had lent us for our cross-state move (only 3 were left there, but that's another story lol). As happens, we were given a tour of her awesome rabbitry, and she happened to show me a set of holland babies. Upon sticking my hand in the cage, I was attacked from all sides, not only by the babies, but by Mama! I twitched a little, before realizing they were all licking me. None licked me so long as Mr. Licky, and I scooped him up to show Tim. Instantly, he started licking my chin! I was in love. To my surprise, Malena offered the little buck to me! Thus, Hamilton's Mr. Licky joined Keep's Rabbitry! We picked him up at the Taylorsville night show. He's a bit uncertain about his new home, but I have hopes for his future show career- not to mention he's my only broken holland buck currently. No pressure to be beautiful, Mr. Licky.

Mr. Licky, the folks would like to see you now...are you ready?

Licky! That's not polite! Turn around here so the folks can see you...don't be shy!

That's much better! See? They don't bite- I told you they wouldn't.

What was that? Get your good side? You're so vain.

Well, there he is folks! The newest addition to Keep's Rabbitry! Take a bow, Mr. Licky!

Thanks for Reading!
-Kristen & Mr. Licky
Keep's Rabbitry

Friday, July 27, 2007

Yogurt-y Goodness.

Oh yes, this is going to be the yogurt topic! Most of the folks on my favorite Rabbit Forum know all about Yogurt- courtesy of the Yogurt Queen Krys. I wanted to post the information I've learned from her here for everyone else.

Basically, use a quality yogurt. I use Fruit on the Bottom Breyer's generally, yogurt isn't expensive and a cup of it to save a bunny is well worth the 50 cents. Some folks recommend using plain yogurt if you're experiencing diarrhea because of the sugar in the fruit. I have fed fruit-on-the-bottom to rabbits with diarrhea with no trouble, so that is really up to you I guess. Keep in mind that a sugar boost can pull a rabbit back from death, so if it is close to dying, it may be worth the chance. A rabbit with mild diarrhea probably doesn't need that sugar boost, so plain may be the way to go.

Always use regular yogurt. The Lite stuff can contain aspartame, which causes more harm than good. Also check to make sure that there are live and active cultures in the yogurt. These cultures are what helps the rabbit's gut, working to get rid of bad bacteria. The El Cheapo versions don't have live cultures 9 times out of 10. The exception to this is Walmart brand, but I personally have a hard time finding regular kinds, not the "lite" stuff.

If you have a rabbit that is not eating, period, syringe feed them as much yogurt as you can get them to take. This food can be what keeps them going. Also make sure to syringe in some water, if they aren't drinking otherwise. I saved a doe by force feeding her yogurt every half hour (she'd only take a cc or two at a time before she'd stop trying to swallow), water and organic pea baby food.

Krys claims yogurt puts a shine in to their coats like you wouldn't believe. While she feeds yogurt on a regular basis, I tend to feed it as a treat, or if someone looks like they are getting a little skinny, for whatever reason. Some were not fans of the yogurt the first time I offered it, others will take the syringe out of my hand if they can!

So remember, if you have a rabbit looking a little skinny, sick or that just needs that little something extra, try yogurt! :)

Thanks for Reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hot or Cold?

People like to ask me how I keep my rabbits warm in the winter. After moving to the mountains, where it actually does snow sometimes (I'm including a picture of last year's "blizzard" in Graham), I understand why they ask.

I explain to them that the rabbits are living in a building, I up their feed a little to help them have that extra bit of energy to burn to keep warmer, and of course, they have fur coats!

"Is that all?! Wouldn't they still be cold? Why don't you put a heater out with them?"

I feel it would be extremely dangerous and irresponsible of me to put a cheap heater outside for the rabbits- or the multiple ones it would take to heat my rabbitry. With hay, wool and fur flying around, all it takes is one unlucky wisp to make it's way to the heater and I would lose everyone. With rabbits being built to withstand the cold, I'm unwilling to take that chance. I do my part by keeping them out of the wind, and on super cold nights, giving the smaller ones boxes to cuddle in. I know some breeders have barns that are climate controlled, or have very expensive heaters that prevent things from getting in there and causing fires. To this I say- I'm very jealous! As I don't have the money for either of these things, I will not use a heater I got for a nickel at a yard sale.

The biggest fear of a bunny breeder isn't winter- it's summer. It's true, winter causes it's own problems- kits that are born on the wire, or hop out of the nestbox too soon may end up frozen to death. As their caretakers, we sometimes have to switch their bottles to crocks and water more often, to combat the ice. But rabbits are better able to cope with the cold, especially when in an enclosed area.

In the summer, you run the risk of heat stroke. That nice fur coat that keeps them cozy in the winter is a liability when temperatures top 100. Pregnant does pull WAY too much fur, in an attempt to cool themselves off. I've had to "skim" hair off a nest, worrying the babies would overheat. They go through their water much more quickly, and a rabbit without water in extreme heat doesn't lead to good things.

In the heat, the flies are worse. No matter how clean you keep your cages, it seems as soon as a rabbit uses the bathroom everyone bug and it's neighbor are there. Flies lead to their own problems, like flystrike.

Of course, setting up cheap fans are not a way to keep them cool- this can also lead to fires, when the hair makes it's way in to the fan. I would rather put in the extra effort of checking the rabbits more often, opening the doors to ventilation, and even icing down ears or bringing inside someone having a hard time coping with the heat. Again, you folks with the climate controlled barns, and fans with motors encased to prevent debris from catching fire-I'm jealous!

Thanks for Reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I did some breedings today- my hollands were particularly difficult last time I tried, but today I got two bred- Tommy to Mrs. Lady and Judas to Dream. Both these does are so cute I had a hard time selling them without at least getting babies from them- in fact, I actually talked someone out of buying Dream! Crazy, I know. The car ride seems to have done them some good- now I just hope those one or two days of heat didn't make the bucks go sterile!

I also bred Chester, my agouti JW buck to Nerissa, a REW. It's my first attempt breeding these two together, I hope all goes well! Of course, I can't be 100% sure Chester "got" her...someone walked down the road and all the dogs felt the need to go run to the road and bark, so I had to exit the barn rather quickly, leaving the two of them alone together. *SIGH* I'll put them together again in a few hours.

And of course, my biggest experiment was Joe to Kris. She has a wonderful body but her head is so darn narrow! It's going to make it difficult for her to get that senior leg she needs. I'm hoping that Joe will be able to successfully "fix" her narrowness, or at least diminish it. If he can't, I'll try her one more time with Funky, who has a gorgeous head. This would possibly produce charlies, but I'm willing to take that chance. If the head fails to straighten out, she'll be removed from the herd.

I'm selling her sister for the same fault, narrow head. However, her ease of posing and gorgeous body makes her a wonderful 4-H bunny, or brood doe for someone looking to see if they can fix that head. I believe she'll work out well for someone.

I'm about to start a fairly large mini lop herd reduction. Notable faces include GC (pending) Keep's Super Fly, a promising chestnut doe out of Joe x Bertha (Fly's mother), one of my brood does Barbara's Ophelia (related closely to Bertha and BIS winner Abby) and various others. Keep an eye on the For Sale page of my website for info, though I'll probably try to post a list here as well.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Art of Losing

Something important a show can teach us is the art of losing. Tim still needs to learn a little more about losing graciously- matter of fact, I know a few people that could learn to take it in to stride that need this lesson a WHOLE lot more than Tim! :)

We all think our rabbits are beautiful. Especially the ones that are GC'd already, or who are our promising juniors. Tim takes it to a new level- he assumes because one rabbit is good to one judge, all other judges should love it too. And, if one judge hates a rabbit, well, they aren't sure what they are talking about. This brings us to a very important thing that affects most of us: bias.

Where Tim has a step up on some folks, is he's aware of his bias. He knows that if that second judge had liked his rabbit, he'd have never said anything about him. You'd be surprise how long it can take some folks to come to that conclusion. This isn't to say every judge does know what they are doing with every breed- some are very obviously more of a meat breed judge rather than a dwarf judge- or vice versa.

Tim needs to get to the 3rd level of losing- the one where he listens intently to the judge, then when the rabbit comes off the table and reevaluating it with the comments in mind. IS that rabbit chopped off at the hindquarters? Does it really peak too soon? When we get him to that stage, the frustrations will lesson a little. Because yes, it's frustrating for all of us to have a bad show.

As you can guess, yesterday wasn't as great as it could have been- Tim and I have been spoiled a little by lots of success lately. In the grand scheme of things, we did well! Of the 4 junior mini lops, 2 were super promising, the 3rd promising, and the last one was kind of eh. The woolies did well with the promising comments also. An old mini lop of ours finally got his 3rd leg, winning his class.

Now we're off to cull. That 4th mini lop baby will probably be petted out, a young doe of ours who has a narrow head will be sold, probably has 4-H or as a pet- and various others probably won't stay. We've noticed we're having troubles with our mini lops does having narrow heads- so if they can't help the problem, they are part of it- and have to be treated accordingly.

Thanks for reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Friday, July 20, 2007


Wow! I've been running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, so no blog from me until now!

Entries were sent in for the Taylorsville show. I was very displeased with the state of the coats on my junior hollands. Consequently, I'm showing 1 holland, 2 jersey woolies, and between us, Tim and I are showing 7 mini lops. However, I have not received confirmation on my entries, so I do plan on printing the email I sent, as well as the email follow up. Always Carbon Copy or Blind Carbon Copy (CC: or BCC:) yourself on your entries, just in case something like this happens!

Speaking of bad coats- one of my up-and-coming woolies has had his nibbled completely off. As I walked around feeding last night, I noticed he wasn't in his cage! At the same time, his cage door was shut and secured. I nearly had a heartattack, because we left the door partially open for ventilation all day. After resigning myself to him being stolen or lost (knowing I hadn't moved him!), Tim found him perched on a ledge, between the cage of a very cute little wooley girl his own age, and one of my holland bucks! Talk about a relief! We still don't know how it happened though, I plan to take steps to up my security.

I sold two of my junior rabbits! I'm very happy about that, it's a little more cage space, and a few less I have to haul to the show! WOO! Go Me ;).

Today is going to be awful. I have to print peds, make sure everyone I want to sell has their pedigree in my program (I'm lazy...), clip nails, do tattoos...I just hope it doesn't rain again today.

We also added a new creature to the menagerie! Her name is Laci and she is an adorable AKC Australian Shepherd Blue Merle!! Thanks Alison :D.

Guys, stay tuned for the arrival of Mr. Licky, the wonder bun from Malena!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Benefits to Rabbit Forums

Non-rabbit people tend to think I'm insane for being on a Rabbit Forum. I'm not assuming, they've told me it's taking it to a whole new level of dorkness (I'm so sorry- didn't realize being able to tell the name and plot of a Star Trek Episode by the first 3 seconds constituted cool these days). But actually, rabbit forums can be a huge benefit to a rabbit breeder.

New People

It's so easy to meet new people online. You just post your typical "Hi, my name is Kristen and I raise hollands, mini lops and woolies" and people come out of the woodwork to welcome you and tell you what they raise and where! You may even get to know a local breeder better and come up with a real life friend. You get the opportunity to interact with folks you'd have never met- we have members from the US, Canada and England. It's fascinating how different our rabbits can be, from those of our neighbors across the ocean. Even animals on the East Coast compared to the West Coast are very different!

I did not know that...

On my favorite forum (link at the bottom), you have the opportunity to take advantage of a critique section, a genetic section, breeding, showing, etc. So, if you're considering a new breed, like I was, I just asked everyone there- "What do you think of Woolies?". We critique juniors, seniors and potential purchases for each other, one of the genetically minded folks can tell you what to expect from a potential breeding- and the most fun is when you have a mystery baby! Just slap a picture up and everyone can take a go at it! Have a medical bunny problem? TRY YOGURT ;).

Support ain't just pantyhose

One of the most important aspects to a forum is support. When I got overly frustrated by my beginner herd, these were the folks I talked to. They offered advice on how to improve the rabbits. We get congratulations for wins, condolences for losses and it really is so much more tightly knit than you'd expect for a forum. Plus, the jokes and teasing folks appeals to me. Poor Tim would be run ragged if I couldn't burn off some energy by playing around with these folks! We can also get support in non-rabbit related aspects of our life. Who couldn't use a little more support? I mean really.


Oh yeah, I post for sale lists up there. If they don't personally need anything, someone may know someone! Not to mention, I'm able to drool over the rabbits of my neighbors, as well as those out in California, Michigan, Georgia- wherever.

I love having a forum to go to when I'm unsure of something, want to brag a little, or just want to let off a little steam.

If you don't have a forum, we'd love for you to come check this one out- Rabbit Habbit

Thanks for Reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Monday, July 16, 2007


A friend of mine just lost his first mini lop to heat stroke and it got me thinking about death.

It's hard to have to put a rabbit down because it is suffering. At one show, we got a cute tri mini lop from a raffle. (I know, I know...raffle bunny!) I had her all of two days when I went to pick her up and she screamed. I sat her back down and she promptly went in to seizures. When she came out of them, she was paralyzed. I had picked her up the normal way, I still don't know what happened. We waited a few hours to see if it was temporary paralysis and as she showed no signs of improvement, we put her down.

I've had to put peanuts down as well- I don't like to leave them to suffer for 3 days, until they pass. When they hit the skeletal looking stage, that's it for me, they won't recover from that.

These cases of euthanasia are hard on breeders. No one wants to put an animal down, but at least in these cases, we made a choice, we did what was best for the animal. What hits me harder is waking up in the morning and going out to visit the bunnies, only to find that little sable point Holland baby passed in the night.

I lost an entire litter to what I can only assume was weaning enteritis. I lost half a litter to baby suicides- jumping out of the nestbox and the like. I nearly lost Star to a mysterious illness.

It's sad, but I always appreciate my rabbits more after one dies. I want to always love them the same amount, but you don't realize how lucky that litter is to survive, until half of it dies. You don't really understand how much your first rabbit, or your favorite rabbit, mean until they die. After I heard that his doe passed, I went outside and cuddled a few of my favorites, and handed out head rubs like they were going out of style. Yes it was hot, and the flies were on my nerves. Yes, the humidity made me feel icky and I wanted to be watching something coming on TV. But I know it makes them happy, judging by the binkying going on. And really, rabbits can be taken so quickly, you just never know when that head rub will be their last.

Have you hugged a bunny today?

Thanks for reading
Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bred Some Bunnies

Due to the coolness of temperatures lately, I bred some rabbits last night- both were mini lops. One is the same cross that produced GC Keep's Super Fly. The other is a cross between Abby and Joe- the same that produced the DOA litter for me just recently.

Unfortunately, none of my Hollands would lift! I guess they are going to have to go on a car ride around the block to get them interested. That is one thing that frustrates me about my Hollands- they are perfectly happy to never have babies! In mini lops, I've had 4 month olds lift so high when being petted, they fell over! Judas felt my frustration too- he tried so hard to get his doe bred, then would come and look at me (I was sitting beside his cage) with this pleading look, like he was saying "make her play nice!". Then, he'd go try again. After the 4th or so pitiful look from him, I gave him a quick head rub, then fished his doe out of the cage and put her back.

I do plan on breeding one of my REW wooley does to my chestnut buck soon. I'm hoping to produce a few agoutis! Otherwise, I'll be overrun with REWs soon. However, the buck does carry REW, so who knows. He's 0-4 for color with REWs so far lol.

I have two wooley litters due next week! Wish me luck. With the move, my record is a dismal 1 baby out of 4 does pregnant. I don't even want to talk about all the DOAs! :( I'm hoping these does give me some little ones to play with!

I'll keep trying on those Hollands!

Thanks for reading,
Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, July 14, 2007

National Convention

Tim and I have been thinking about going to the ARBA National Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Whoa, you say- North Carolina----Michigan? That's quite a ways. Yep, it sure is. We were prepared to drive (oh yes- DRIVE) 11 and 1/2 hours for the biggest bunny show of them all.

But now, we're not gonna.

To begin with, part of the way we were going to be able to afford this trip was by staying in a Sheraton hotel (we're part of a vacation clubish thing...hard to explain really). Anyway, we could stay in a Sheraton or affliate through the usage of points, which we earned when we signed up and bought some property. However, the closest hotel we could use is in Lansing, MI- an hour away. That's two extra hours of driving! EEK.

Then, I went to look at our rabbits. We have some great stock, but we're still developing our own line in all three breeds.. My Holland lops are still in the overhaul stage, the mini's are getting there, and my line of Jersey Woolies practically doesn't exist yet, since I have so few of them lol. I think by next year, we WILL be ready to compete!

I also didn't prepare adequately by breeding for Convention juniors. So our juniors would be too young to really compete, or else my newly turned seniors would have to go up against more mature animals.

We also decided to purchase a mini lop from a friend out in California- so if we weren't going to show, did it make sense to drive 23 hours round trip to pick up one rabbit, or pay insane prices for another rabbit once there? Not very smart. As I said in an earlier post, I refuse to trust anyone else to bring the rabbit back for me- and even if I did, that's another $20-$30 transport fee, on top of the $20+ to get the rabbit to convention.

Instead, we've decided to concentrate on preparing for next year! As for the mini lop, come this winter, she and a few buddies will be making a long flight out to NC :).

Thanks for reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Friday, July 13, 2007


I'm so very excited! My first show in almost 2 months is coming up- the Taylorsville Night Show on the 21st. It's a double open (not sure about youth), but it doesn't start until 7pm! Due to getting home last year at 5:30 AM, I'm only going to get to attend the first show, but something is better than nothing!

Shows can be a lot of work- even though it's still over a week away, I've already got a list of sales rabbits I want to take. I'll probably go through everyone again tonight and make sure I don't want to take along anyone else.

It's also time to start looking at who is going to show. Is that junior still too young to take? Who is in fur condition? Who is likely to still be in condition? Ruling out some rabbits now helps save me time on Wednesday, when I'm checking coats for the final time (since entries are due Wednesday evening.)

I also have to check my entry fees. Oh joy, I just LOVE seeing the totals pop up, as I'm sure the rest of you do. Of course, it hurts a little more that fees went up 50 cents. Though, the clubs have to make money to put on shows! It just means one or two rabbits have to stay home.

Once I find out how many I can responsibly take to show and figure out how many have a chance of doing well in present condition, I've got to make sure everyone has a tattoo! Happily, I just bought a Rabbitat and with a little help from the person who makes them, we got it working! WOOOO! Now, I just have to make those tattoos look better- poor Scout was my guinea pig, and he has a very sad looking "S" in his ear and a mental complex.

So much to do, but I'm so excited! We'll pack the car the night before, putting in my for sale board, our camping chairs, my little cart I got for Christmas from my in-laws (can you believe they didn't think I'd LOVE it?!) and my business cards. It seems funny, I KNOW we'll pack the night before, because it's part of our ritual, even though in this case, we won't even leave for the show until the afternoon. Some habits are hard to break.

I should be posting a final show list Wednesday night :).

Thanks for reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Culling Monster

I'm awful about culling. You'd think with a limited number of cages, I'd be much better at it by now, but I'm not lol.

At first, it was no big deal. After all, I was just starting out, I needed to buy more cages anyway, and I wasn't 100% sure at what I was looking at, as far as promising juniors went. So, I was able to grow them out longer, buy more cages when I got full- oh yeah, and I only had one breed!

Now it's not so easy. With a combined 3 breeds, but still the same number of holes, I find myself in a pickle. Do I keep this promising junior over that one? How long can I keep them? Do I need another holland more than I need a mini lop?

I'm hoping to add a few more holes soon, but regardless, I need to sit down with a plan, divide my holes among the breeds and say that's it! No matter how promising the baby, or how good a breeder that older buck is, this is what I have!

I've started doing this to a certain extent- I'm selling a promising junior buck, because I believe the parents can do even better. I took a look at a litter of 5 mini lops- 3 chestnut does, 1 chinchilla doe and 1 chinchilla buck. I evaluated all 5, then picked the least promising looking chestnut doe (I had 3, after all!) and petted her out. That leaves me with 4 juniors, still more than I need, but baby steps people! BABY STEPS! :). I'm hoping one of these girls can replace their mama, who has produced GCs for me- but hey, if her daughter is better, maybe she can produce MORE GCs per litter!

I'm selling a buck that isn't pulling his weight- he's eager to breed, but because I have nice, small hollands, I don't really HAVE to have a teeny tiny buck to downsize! So rather than keeping him for one or two does, I'm just selling all three.

This isn't to say I'm immune from adorable rabbits or great deals. Ask Malena, I'm TERRIBLE about saying "awww" and rushing to pick something up and hug it. I'm working on getting better about that too- long road folks, it's a long road to not saying "awww" at the fluffy cuteness.

I've also decided no more what-ifs. What if I keep you and breed you to him, then take your daughter and breed her back, then take a baby and breed back to you- it's ridiculous. I shouldn't be taking "ok" animals and making those kinds of plans. Especially when I have better bucks or does in my barn! Try the what-if doe with a buck or two, if I don't like what I see in the babies, she's gone! No more "but this and that look nice, even though that is awful- but in 10 generations I can fix that, assuming I don't lose the first two things!" This isn't to say I'll throw a great doe lacking a crown to the wolves- but I will move out a doe lacking crown, undercut in the HQ and with a teeny head.

You guys should be so proud of me- I've resisted the temptation to work with BEWs not once, but twice! I decided in the interest of my breeding programs, I couldn't afford to get bogged down in VCs and VMs.

Torts tend to get a bad rap in hollands. I'm sorry guys, I'll take a typey tort over a butt-ugly chestnut any day. It's not the rabbit's fault it's a tort, it's probably not the breeder's fault. I don't exactly know how tort came to dominate the breed, but personally I have several colors in my barn- from tort, to broken sable point, to smoke pearl, to chestnut! Guess what my best doe is? Broken black tort. The best buck? Solid black tort. It happens :). So since I won't cull for color, guess I'm just going to have to keep an eye on the type. That is one bullet I've managed to dodge- color preference!

So, here's hoping I can stick with my resolve and cull hard, instead of just buying new cages. If you see me in the market for some stackers, PLEASE stop me and ask "uh, do you really need cages, or do you just need to cull?"

Thanks for reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rabbits for fun and...profit?

Often, when I'm selling bunnies as pets, I get asked the question "Do you make a lot of money breeding rabbits?" Some folks are genuinely curious, others have a gleam in their eye that says "If you say yes, I want a second one".

The cold hard truth is- no, I am fairly sure I don't even break even each month. It's entirely possible that some of the top breeders in the nation DO turn a profit. I think it's safe to say that 90% of us would be thrilled to make $5 in any given month.

Why is it so expensive, you ask?

Let's put aside for a second the entire showing aspect and concentrate on someone wanting to breed rabbits just as pets.

To begin with, you need cages. A cage in a pet store at a decent size is going to run you AT LEAST $40. If you're just hoping that your two pets will breed occasionally and make you some side money, you're probably going to splurge and spend $60+ on a super nice condo cage for your darlings- twice, because you can't constantly house your buck and doe together. Then, you'll need pine shavings or other bedding, either for the bottom of the tray or for the solid bottom cage. Let's say that's $6 a bag monthly.

Conservatively, we're already at $86 start up, and you have no food, water bottles, food crocks, or rabbits!

If you buy your rabbits from a pet store, you will usually pay $40. You may get lucky and get a mean one that has been left too long in the store for the oh-so-discounted price of $20-$30. If you luck out and find a breeder, you can spend anywhere from $10-$15 (my usual pet prices) to $65. Yep, some breeders to charge $65 for pet rabbits. In the interest of this example, let's say you choose to go with a breeder in the middle road and pay $60 for a socialized breeding pair.


Food! You can pay the ridiculous amount of $5 per 2.5 lbs of worthless food at a pet store, or you can buy a good quality pet food from a feed store- how about Purina rabbit chow, at $11.50 per 50lbs. This food will probably last you a while with only two, but remember, you have to keep it dry and clean!


Water bottles and food crocks? Let's see- I'm going to say conservatively you'll spend $10 on 2 bottles and food crocks.

$165.50. Wow. Already. Of course, these are going to be pets, and you probably were going to spend all this anyway, so you're willing to absorb that cost, right? Now you need hay. Do you want to pay $8 a bale or $3 for a pound? Most people don't want to have to store a huge bale of hay, it's messy, so you're going to opt for $3 a pound. Among two rabbits, fed every other day, you can stretch that pound to a week. $12 for hay a month.

$177.50. Add at least $5 for a nestbox.

$182.50-YAYY You now have everything you need to breed rabbits!

So you breed your pair, and because you went with the breeder, both are proven and you get 4 babies your first go-round. But one dies. It happens, they don't all make it. So you're down to 3.

Those three are happy and fat, and at about 2 1/2 weeks or so you notice them eating mama's food and hay, so you up the amounts she gets. You're going through it only a little faster now...just wait. By the time the babies are 4 weeks old, they are regular piggies for the pellets. They have to stay with mama bunny until AT LEAST 6 weeks old though. . They are 8 weeks old now and you've weaned them, so you had to buy food a little more quickly, and of course, you doubled the amount of hay you were buying because young rabbits need plenty of it. So in the last 2 months of their lives, you spent $24 a month on hay. So in just hay alone, these 3 babies cost you $24 EXTRA (remember, you were spending $12 a month for your original two). Because you plan to sell them quickly, you don't buy a weaning cage, you leave them in with mama (you should buy that cage for weaning!).

Now, you want to get rid of the babies quick, so you sell to a pet store. Congratulations, you made $5 a baby. $24- $15= $9 in the hole on hay alone, not including extra feed. So you decide instead to put an ad up on one of the free websites online. You decide to list them for $15 each. After wading through spam (those darn Nigerians have more lotteries...) you manage to sell one. Woo!! Only need to sell 1 more to be $4 in the green! But no one wants to buy and after 2 weeks or so of feeding them, you drop the price to $10 and sell another. Nope, you didn't make money! You *would* have been $1 in the green, but because you had to feed them and give them hay, you still lose money. You can't sell the last one, and the pet store doesn't want it , because a rabbit the ripe old age of 11 weeks isn't as cute as the 6 week olds they want you to sell them. Now you have to give it away.

:( You made no money! See why breeders don't make money?

With show bunnies, there is a whole new added level- depending on breed, we don't pay $30 for a rabbit. The most expensive rabbit in my barn I paid $75 for, and that's only because I have two wonderful rabbit friends who sold me bucks for 1/3 of their value. We have to add in show entry fees, usually $3.50 a rabbit per show, because we have a better chance of selling rabbits with Grand Champions in their pedigrees and with legs under their belts. We sell pet rabbits to folks, brood rabbits to folks, but c'mon, if I pay $75 for a doe and use my $150 buck with her and she only has 2 babies, 1 of which is pet quality (so, $15)...see how FAR I have to go to even begin to recoup the value of the rabbits producing?

Now, you can offset some of these costs- buying hay in bales, finding rabbit cages at yard sales or lucking out and getting some from someone either switching to new ones, or selling out...even using hanging cages instead of stackers reduces costs, because you don't need bedding. The more does you have, the more babies you will get- but there is still the need for hay and food.

Tim and I figured out that once we got past start up costs, we could easily afford the rabbits. Right now, we spend about $25 on rabbit food alone a week. A WEEK. But, that's equivalent to one more meal at home, instead of a nice restaurant. Manageable. And, we're searching for a better food at a cheaper price. Culling hard helps the prices stay manageable too- I'm reducing my holland and mini lop herds, so I'll need less food, less shavings for their pans, etc. We go to less movies, spend less on vacations and junk food, etc.

Some folks sell bunny manure. You're not going to get rich quick that way either, but it's a way to make a little something back, if you have a market. Some people do website graphics that are rabbit related, or bring rabbits to parties/presentations for a small fee (contact me, I'm available for parties ;) ).

Why would you want to have rabbits at all? Now that I've bored/scared you with the numbers, I'm going to get to the fun part.

Rabbits are very rewarding. I still get thrilled when the babies run to the cage door to lick me, or the rabbits beg for head rubs. They are goofy little creatures, as you know if you've ever seen them "binky". Thanks to the rabbits, I've made friends with people I'd otherwise have never met. Nothing, I repeat: NOTHING, is cuter than baby bunnies curled up with their mama and each other.

They teach children a sense of responsibility and work ethics- if you take care of your rabbits and make smart breeding decisions, you could end up producing a BIS winner. They learn sportsmanship, because you won't always win, no matter how hard you try. And lets be honest- if your kid is out in the barn with some bunnies, they aren't going to be on the streets stealing and doing drugs. Not that bunnies are the perfect anti-drug. I'm just saying- you'll be more involved in your child's life through going with them to bunny shows, than if they are plopped on the couch eating cheese doodles and watching Spongebob.

Rabbits aren't a get rich scheme. You're not going to make tons of money and be able to quit your job. But, if friends are important, or if teaching your children life lessons matters to you, they are invaluable.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This and That

This post is going to be a little more of a this-and-that type deal.

To start off, I have several rabbits for sale, bucks and does, juniors and seniors, all Holland Lops. For the sake of NOT being as long winded as usual, I'm going to post just the facts- name, class, color and sex, and any legs. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to see pictures of anyone, everyone will be available at the Taylorsville Night Show on the 21st. I do discount on multiple purchases and I am willing to consider offers, if you don't like the price quoted :). I HAVE to make space, otherwise Tim may have a screaming hemorrhage.

Hamilton's Fendi: Tort Sr. Holland Lop Doe.
Keep's ?: Jr Holland Lop Doe Tort Doe
Keep's ??: Jr Holland Lop Tort buck
NGF Aquilla (Dega): Chestnut Sr. Holland Lop Buck 2 legs
Huckleberry's Mrs. Lady: SMOKE PEARL sr. holland lop Doe. -not proven-
Keep's Liberty- broken tort sr Holland Lop Doe 1 leg -not proven-
NGF Dream- broken tort Sr. Holland Lop Doe

They are not proven if they've never given birth to a litter. In Liberty's case, she's only been bred twice, in Mrs. Lady's case, she has never been bred. Prices will be adjusted accordingly. All torts are black torts, unless specified.

Second, if anyone has any questions they want to ask, topics they'd like my opinion on (Rabbit related pleeease), stories they want to hear, whatever, email me and let me know! As much as I love to chatter, I'd love a direction in which to go. :D. Otherwise, you may be stuck hearing stories about how my baby bunnies like to play "shh-pretend-you're-dead-so-Kristen-has-a-heartattack!" Or how the chickens like to fly the coop each night. Of course, you'll probably end up hearing those stories anyway :D.

Now on to my story of the day- I have two chickens, Rhode Island Reds. I can only assume they are hens, because I've heard no crowing yet- but really, I have no idea :). They live in a fenced off dirt room at the back of the Rabbitry. I hoped they'd help keep flies down, plus we really weren't sure where to put them.

Last night I realized I'd left the back light on, so I ran outside to turn it off, when I saw movement over near the mini lop cages. I've been told by neighbors we have a coyote that stalks the trashcans around here, so my first thought is "It's found some way to sneak in!". Still, I'm hoping it will get scared and run back out the same way it came in. I ease around the bale of hay I have, peek around one of my three stackers to look over the top of the two hole stacker, hoping to catch a glimpse of it....

There, sitting on TOP of my two hole stacker was one of the chickens! I was so relieved. Apparently it had decided to come keep my bunnies company and that was the movement I had seen when I walked in. Of course, once out, she didn't want to go back IN her pen, so it took me another 5 minutes to shoo her to the fencing and lob her over to join her buddy.

Gotta love it.

Thanks for reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Perfect Rabbit

Every breeder is looking for the perfect rabbit. Every breeder hopes that it comes from their lines. Sometimes we think we find it, only to realize later how badly mistaken we are.

I have a rabbit like this. She isn't of my breeding, but as a young junior, this mini lop was gorgeous.

I kept her, hoping she'd be our next Grand Champion doe. When I took her out to pose her today, the depth was still there- but unfortunately, those shoulders of hers had lengthened out. Can she beat the two broken junior does I already have? No. I don't believe she can. But I'll hold on to her anyway, she may be going through uglies, it may have been that she was trying to get away to go play in the grass- or she may have a case of the "Abbys" and wait to get that killer body back until she's a senior. That's the thing about someone else's lines- you don't know how they play out. I know some breeders who can cull at 6 weeks, again at 8 weeks, and have their show team picked by 12 weeks of age. I can't do that. Some people know that at 2 months old, their rabbits will look the way they will as fully mature seniors. I'm one of those "wait-and-see" folks. Because a rabbit is ugly today, doesn't mean they will be ugly tomorrow. Abby has proved that for me, she wrote my policy on growing out babies- unless they have absolutely no trace of promise in any of their development.

Today, Abby kindled 2 DOA babies. I was extra heartbroken, because the father of these babies was none other than Joe. My two favorite mini lops, the two that come the closest of any in my barn to being my perfect rabbits. So I am convinced, put great with great and I stand a chance of getting perfect, right? Well, maybe. Anyway, we've already discussed how lines don't always mix, but I have a feeling these two will mix. I guess there is nothing left to do but repeat the breeding. However, part of me is screaming "NO! WAIT!!"


Because I don't want to chance one of my "close to perfect" (as I see her) does. Because in summer, it's hot. There is more stress on the does, trying to carry their litters to term. It's hotter for the babies, piled in the nestboxes with all that hay. And you've got the risk of fly strike killing the does, if they don't get themselves cleaned up, or if the dirtiness of your trays sneaks up on you. So I don't know- if I do rebreed Abby, it will be soon. If not, September isn't all that far away, the temperatures will be cooler- and maybe this time, she'll kindle a live litter for us. Until then, we do have her two daughters to play with :).

Thanks for reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Where did the big lops come from?

As promised- The only semi-exciting news I have right now is that my Rabbitat tattooer came in the mail, so I'll continue on with the epic saga of how we got where we are today.

We're in a dark period- the tiny beginner herd of Hollands aren't doing so hot- I've started learning what to look for and have brought in several nice rabbits from awesome local breeders. However, shows are long affairs and Tim & I tend to get bored at shows after the Hollands have finished showing, and we're waiting for the second show to begin. Tim also tended towards grumpiness- usually because we had to be up at 5 am to make it to whatever show on time. So I turned to him and said "We could get you a breed!" He looked apprehensive, but he's really gooey on the inside and agreed to get his own fluffies. We looked all all kind of breeds- easy to culls such as Harlequins and Dutch rabbits, tiny Netherland Dwarves, Polish, Havanas, Mini Rex...you name it, we considered it! In the end though, at a show in Tennessee, my friend Sam and I were walking around, and dragged me over to look at baby Mini Lops. I pulled Tim over, we stared for a while.... and Sam bought a little broken Gold-Tipped Steel Doe. I bought Tim her sister, a solid GT Steel and another doe, this one an opal. I ended up later, at the same show, buying a Chestnut doe. So we had three mini lop does. Sam had offered to let us breed one to her guys, so we weren't concerned about a buck yet. It was then I made my first mistake- I let Tim name the chestnut doe. He named her Bertha. *sigh*

We showed Bertha, and she earned 1 leg at a small show in Snow Camp. Opie (Ophelia, the opal doe) never did particularly well on the table, but is an amazing mom. The GT Steel was named Abra Cadabra, because she was SO good at escaping her cage. She was a sweetheart, the apple of Tim's eye. It's no wonder that he was heartbroken then, when as a junior she was basically called "Crap" and sent packing from the table. He considered getting rid of all the mini lops, right then and there. Nevermind that we'd been in Hollands for almost a year, and they weren't great- nope, two strikes and it seemed Abby would be out.

However, I'm stubborn. If you know me, you'll recognize this immediately :D. I told him "I don't care, I still think she's pretty, let's keep her a while longer". At her very next show, her first show as a senior, Abby took Best In Show. Yes folks, you read right...Best...In...Show. This same rabbit who was called crap. She beat a very, very good mini lop breeder around here, the man who gave us our first mini lop buck- Trent of Fatboy's Rabbitry. Trent is the best of what you want to see in a breeder- generous, helpful, honest- and a great sport.

Anyway, Abby granded quickly after that and there was no more talk about getting rid of the mini lops. We still have the original three- Bertha has produced several nice rabbits for us, including a grand champion, Keep's Super Fly. We're looking forward to her current litter hitting the show tables this fall. Abby has 2 very promising babies that will be attending their first show on the 21st of this month (Fly is the daddy! Yay) and is set to kindle with her first litter by Joe any day now. Ophelia has 3 babies of her own and one Holland Lop foster baby.

We've enjoyed a success with Mini Lops that we're still working on with our Hollands. I like to joke with Tim that I just "have the eye" for the minis. They are the giants of our rabbitry, weighing in at a scale-tipping 6 1/2 lbs. (The giant breed folks will laugh at such a small animal, I'm sure).

Well folks, now you know how we brought in the giants- nothing left to explain but how we got the "Fluff of the Fancy". See ya next time :).

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Starting a herd

When we started our herd, so long ago, with those 4 hollands, I remember being so excited. I had heard from many breeders "Oh you'll end up starting over at least once..." HA, I thought, not me! I've studied my standard, I checked out some rabbits, I've talked to people, I'm good to go! I was so wrong.

To begin with, I've already explained how AWFUL Wicket was- 10 of 12...I'm still amazed she beat rabbits. Well, the person I thought was SO helpful in explaining rabbits to me, turned out to be one of the folks who will tell you ANYTHING to sell a rabbit- and the two I got were crap. Complete and total trash. The raffle bunny had his share of problems too, but one important raffle rule to remember is "9 times out of 10, you're not getting a BOB winner"...also known as "No one puts nice rabbits on the raffle". And sometimes it's very true. Sometimes, folks have to make space, want to get out of rabbits, etc and you will find a nice animal on there. You just have to know your breeds. But I'm starting to ramble. If you let me do that, we'll be here all day.

We ended up selling the raffle bunny and 2 I had purchased at the show as pets. This was after I had already purchased another buck, one from Laurie Stroupe of The Nature Trail's Rabbitry. Samson was adorable and he placed very well for us as a junior. He was finally a start to a solid herd. I just recently sold Samson- but he produced several babies who got legs for me, one getting a BOSB, my highest holland placing to date.

As for Wicket- she had one litter for us, all DOA. She was always really hard to breed, and after her dead litter, we bred her again. She died mysteriously. I believe something went wrong with the litter she was carrying. Tim was heartbroken, but it's a cycle we just have to get used to. I say this like I'm tough, I won't tell you about how I bawled over the death of babies, or how I woke up every half hour recently, to force feed a dying rabbit (she lived, by the way! HOORAY).

We did end up starting over, just recently. I sold most of my hollands, and we still have a few cuties for sale (some with legs! Check it out ;)). I have greatly condensed the lines I was working with, removed some of the "parts" rabbits I had and I have a better feeling about the juniors I'm working with now. I'm proud to say I have received legs on hollands I own, as well as hollands I've bred. The homebred win is always more special, but it's pretty sweet to have a rabbit you bought, one you recognized the potential of, bring home a win.

So don't feel discouraged, if you're starting with a herd. Don't buy a rabbit here, one there, one from over there- you may have nice rabbits, but they don't always produce nice babies. This is one of the problems I recently was able to overcome- and you can still see the evidence by the fact one of the bucks I'm selling has 2 legs. You have to learn your lines, learn what works- it's definitely a process where you need help. A friend of mine, Alison of The Holland Farm, helped me with experience of hers- mainly "this line and this line don't really work- these two lines work great with that one...". Thanks Alison, it's been a major help.

Also, don't be afraid to start over- the more you're around the animals, the more comfortable judging them you'll become. You get pickier when you realize how truly tough competition is.

Ask for help! Some of the top breeders I know still pull folks over and ask opinions on rabbits.

Be willing to learn- don't assume you know it all because you saw a picture and read a book. No one likes a know-it-all, and most people HATE a know-it-all who knows nothing.

Well, let me climb down off my soapbox now- next go 'round, we'll broach the subject of how mini lops got added to the herd...that is, unless I have some exciting news. We'll see then.

Thanks for reading!
Keep's Rabbitry

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Keep's Rabbitry

Howdy from Kristen of Keep's Rabbitry! This blog was created as a way for me to talk about the happenings around my barn. Not to mention, all my rabbit friends seem to be doing it :). I guess it comes down to "if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you too?" to which I can now answer "Yeah, I guess I would". Though, considering my semi-sarcastic sense of humor, I would have said anyway. :D.

Keep's Rabbitry is newly located in the North Carolina Mountains. My husband Tim and I currently have 3 breeds- Jersey Woolies, known as "the fluff of the fancy", Mini Lops, gentle semi-giants, and Holland Lops, who I think have to be the prissiest breed on Earth.

My rabbitry also houses 2 Rhode Island Red chickens (one of whom escaped the pen today and caused an uproar among the rabbits), as well as my black otter mixed breed rabbit Scout. He started it all- and I guess I should end this blog with my beginning.

I have had several rabbits over the years- my first being a little lop ear my mom brought home from her job and the last rabbit of my childhood being a chinchilla colored psychotic "up ear" doe from the pet store. After Babs, the up ear, I swore I'd never have another rabbit. Nevermind Thumper, Whiskers, and various other hand-me-down rescues- Babs was crazy enough I had no desire for more rabbits.

Years later, I was in college at UNC-Chapel Hill (GO HEELS!- sorry..it's required) and my then-boyfriend now-husband Tim and I headed back to Burlington for my mom's birthday dinner. We happened to stop at the same pet store I got Babs from, and what did I see? You guessed it- tons of little baby bunnies hopping around. One really stood out though- instead of running to cower in the corner of the cage as we approached, this little one stood up on the bars of the cage and tried to lick my hand. Now what's a girl to do? We were heading to dinner, so I left the baby there.

At dinner, I told my mom about the bunny, and somehow talked her in to buying it for me! (Yes, at her birthday dinner, I'm so bad). Tim and I left the dinner in a rush, I couldn't bear the thought that someone else might buy my rabbit! Not to mention, I had Tim so caught up in the excitement, he'd forgotten he said I couldn't have a pet at his apartment (dorms being so unreasonable about furry friends). I ran to the back of the store with 15 minutes to closing time- and there it was, happy to see me. Thus, Scout came in to my family. We had a bit of a drama naming him, but as this blog is already overly long, I'll save that for another day.

We decided a few months later to add a little holland lop gal, as a friend for Scout and a rabbit for Tim. We never had the intentions of breeding the two- in fact, Scout is neutered. I'm a big believer in not breeding animals to create mutts. Little did we know, Wicket would turn out to be insane. She was, however, our first link to showing.

I purchased the book "Rabbits for Dummies"- a great read, by the way. It was in this book I first heard about showing. We hauled Wicket to a nightshow in a large dog carrier. She placed 10 of 12 and I was tickled- a Top 10 finish I told my new found friend Sam Bright. We later discovered Wicket was a horrible representation of the breed- and an unshowable color to boot! However, at this show I bought 2 more hollands, a buck and a doe, and won a buck off the Raffle. Keep's Rabbitry had begun.

I'll leave for another day how we came to have three breeds-and don't worry, you'll find out all about my first four holland lops.

Thanks for reading :).