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Thursday, December 27, 2007

2008 Rabbitry Goals

With Christmas over, it's time to come up with New Year's Resolutions. I thought I'd share mine with you guys.

-Get Babies:
Pretty self explanatory! My resolution is to get more lighting in to the rabbitry and get more babies! However, two of my wooley girls bred today! Fingers crossed they take! :)

-Have more Keep's Rabbits than non-Keep's rabbits *all breeds*
I'm fairly close on this goal with Jersey Woolies! With the massive herd reduction on the hollands, it may not be possible this year to get them in to this category. As for mini lops- I'm moving out some non-Keep stock now, so we'll see how it goes! Of course, this goal depends on getting babies!

-Herd Reduction
I'm working on this one right now and I have to say, I've already been fairly successful with moving out a few. I do plan on keeping my herd smaller, which may be hard once I get the aforementioned babies! Help me stay strong guys :-D.

-Grand my first Keep's DOE
I specified doe here, because I've granded Keep's bucks in the past- the most notable being Keep's Super Fly who I believe had 8 legs when I sold him! I'd love to see one of my does grand! I'm already close with one of my mini lop gals having 2 legs. Unfortunately, I've misplaced one of those legs. Gah! This one is heartbreaking because I've had several does come so close to granding, but something always happened to prevent the 3rd leg- for instance, the doe won out of a class of 4, or there were only 2 exhibitors, she placed 2nd the rest of her life until I sold her or she passed, etc, etc.

-Get GCs sent off in a more timely manner.
I'm so bad about this one! I've got one to send off now, as a matter of fact. I'm going to try to get it done by the new year lol.

Good luck thinking up your own goals and resolutions! Make sure to keep them handy, it's fun to see what you've accomplished!

Keep's Rabbitry

Monday, December 24, 2007


MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our friends and future friends!

Everyone be careful if you're out traveling!

Keep's Rabbitry

Friday, December 21, 2007



I recently stumbled across a blog community. I decided to repost two of my blogs there, the Bunny Poop post and my FAQ for new bunny owners. I'd absolutely love if any readers here could check out the link above (To the FAQ for bunny owners) and give the post positive feedback.

Theoretically, if you have a blog you can make money through folks clicking links on the blogs, etc. I think it's probably about as likely as making money through breeding rabbits (ahaha...we know how that goes), but I would appreciate the "thumbs up" or a comment if you think it's a good guide. I'd like for new pet owners to get information from knowledgeable breeders, rather than someone out to make a quick buck and telling them what they think the person wants to hear in regards to rabbit ownership!

I am definitely going to continue to do the majority of my posting in this blog, but I wanted to let those folks interested know about the cross-posting I'll be doing! I will most likely link the hub here as well :).

Also, please feel free to pass links to articles in this blog on to friends! I just ask that content in this blog be given credit to me, so prefer the article be linked, rather than copy/pasted :).

Thanks so much! I hope everyone isn't getting too stressed out by Christmas! I know we ran to Wal-Mart on some non-rabbit-related errands and WOW! That won't happen again lol.

Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Herd Reduction?

I'm doing a giant herd reduction right now- well it seems giant to me. A pair of mini lops, two jersey woolies and most of my hollands. (Details can be found on my website!)

I wanted to explain why I'm doing a herd reduction.

When I started out breeding, I couldn't wait to get 40-50 rabbits. You know, have a lot to show, lots to breed, feel like a "real breeder". I got up to about 30, sold most of my hollands and got a fresh start and began producing better animals. Then I sold down some of the hollands to make room for Tim's mini lops, then sold down a little more to get some Jersey Woolies. Then I got stuck. It became too easy to buy more cages and keep some of the rabbits, rather than make an effort and staying at a certain number.

I started getting a little frustrated- I'd have babies and no where to put them, I started feeling a little overwhelmed and I realized- I'm not having the fun with the rabbits I'm used to. Don't get me wrong, we do well at the shows, and I love bringing home legs on rabbits! LOVE IT! But still- it's hard to explain unless you've gone through it, and I'm lucky to have such a network of rabbit friends across the country that have told me they've felt the same way! The rabbits just seemed to be a bit of a burden

So I came to the decision to let some of them go. I looked at some of the older bucks, or guys and gals I have several babies out of. I picked a few who come out of nice lines, but aren't as close as some other animals I have, and I decided to move them out. I'm letting some REALLY nice animals go, and probably some of the ones going should stay. But I don't care.

I'm feeling more optimistic and confident. I shouldn't be afraid of empty cages, and I haven't been for a while! But selling one here, one there- after all, one good sized litter can fill the piddly amount of empty cages I had! There where would I be?

So, there you go, I feel like I just need to destress my bunny habbit by selling off a few, it's a chance to get some nice stock for cheap prices, and I do mean cheap, they are priced to sell very quickly.

I also wanted to put the word out to expect pictures at the end of this month- our AKC mini weenie dog Roxy is having puppies! They will be AKC registered and available around Valentine's Day, but that's definitely far away. :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Monday, December 17, 2007

Seasonal Rabbit sales

It's almost Christmas! That means the requests for pet rabbits have gone up. This time of year is rivaled only by Easter.

There are two kinds of breeders- those who breed for seasonal sales and those who don't. And I'm not saying one is better than the other, because there are ups and downs to both sides!

You're more likely to get spur of the moment requests for Santa to bring a bunny, or for the child to have their own "Easter Bunny". These folks just know it would be cute to give the pet and usually don't know ANYTHING about caring for rabbits. This can be combated by providing a care sheet, as well as asking a few screening questions in the course of your discussion. For example "Have you ever owned a rabbit before? What kind of cage are you thinking of getting? How old is the child?". I once had a lady want one of my pets for a 18 month old baby. She felt she had to reassure me by telling me that they have a fenced in acre of land, and the bunny would get to play outside all day. It was a 9 week old holland- no. That's not really the situation I think the bunny needs to be in, so I declined the sale. Remember, you don't HAVE to sell your rabbits to someone if you don't feel like it!

If you have animals that tend to have large litters, like mini lops, timing weaning/culling dates around seasons is perfect for moving out the pet quality or broods you're willing to pet out. With the increased demand for these pets (and pet stores want to buy them up too), you're able to move them out more quickly. As we all know, sometimes those pets linger!

A downside to breeding for a season only is, if you don't sell all those pets, you're taking up cage space and feed! So NEVER breed just for pets, unless you know for an absolute fact you can sell them all. I think most of us don't breed for pets in any case, but it should be mentioned.

Some folks refuse to breed for seasonal sales, and actually won't sell around Easter or Christmas unless it's to another breeder. This is to avoid the impulse buyers, the hassles of the people wanting you to hold the rabbit until late Christmas Eve (has happened to me!), the added stress in general of trying to meet folks with small baby bunnies in cold weather, etc. etc.

Personally, I breed my rabbits when I have space for them. if they wean around a season, GREAT! I'll screen buyers and then move out anyone I don't want to hold on to. I don't specifically time my litters to coincide with when they are exactly 8 weeks old, and I do not sell at 6 weeks just because someone wants the smallest baby then can get for Easter.

People can be rude, demanding and hateful in general when they don't get there away, especially when it comes to Princess getting her Easter Bunny. Remember- YOU as the breeder hold all the cards. If they don't like your policy of asking a question, or holding babies until you feel they are ready for new homes, they can go elsewhere. Don't let someone affect your policy! I wouldn't put faith in someone who says "Oh, if you have babies at ______________ I'll buy two for the kids!" Breed for you first and worry about everyone else later.

Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, December 15, 2007


There are four main types of cages- hutches, hangers, stackers and solid bottoms. At some point in my life, I've owned them all, so I thought I'd give my impressions of them all.

My very first rabbit ever was an anti-social mix breed lop by the name of Thumper. He and his successor "Whiskers" both lived in a hutch my Maw-maw (Grandma to you none southerners :)) gave me. I love hutches, if you have a place to put them. No pan cleaning, we just let the poop drop and if someone needed some for a garden, they brought a shovel and helped themselves.

Hutches generally have very small mesh wire on the side for sunlight and ventiliation, and can either have a section made of wood sides for winter, or have tarps put over it, to keep the rabbit from getting too cold. A well made hutch will last for years, with only minor replacements needed.

Downside is, they are usually much bigger than your average cages, and with the price of wood, can be much more expensive. Since hutches are usually outdoor rabbit cages, dogs are able to get to the rabbits. (Poor Whiskers was attacked by a Chow. I was able to beat the dog off with my hand- not smart but I was only in middle school- but she did end up with very bloody feet).

Stackers - the majority of the cages I own are stackers. They are my preference, simply because you can get them stacked up to four high, in the same 24x24 floor space. Of course, those pans aren't exactly thrilling to clean! We have several sets for the smaller rabbits that are two large split cages (I think it's 24x36? I don't recall), on top of another set of two. I could theoretically add another set of cages on top of each of these, but you have to consider your lifting abilities. These pans get HEAVY from having two rabbits use them and I honestly don't think we could lift them over top of our heads. And what a mess that would be if we couldn't!

Stackers give you more for less space. So for very small (space wise) rabbitries, this is what I recommend.

Hangers- ahhh hanging cages. I've got two sets and I'm torn. I see rabbitries that having amazing set ups with hanging cages, the poop drops right on down in to either a compost hole or a sterilite container (we went the container way), and it's wonderful. Definitely not a must clean every few days thing. However, our rabbits love to run around like maniacs and make the cages start swinging. Or chew on each other. Or purposefully scrunch themselves up in different corners so they can pee outside the box. Not cool. Some really nice hanging cages have small wire spaces or very tiny wire to prevent them from giving their neighbors haircuts. So definitely take that in to consideration if you're looking to purchase hangers. If set up properly, you can position two sets of hangers back to back, to maximize the cages you can put in your space.

Solid Bottoms- ahhh I mentioned before we started out using pet cages. Oh....man. Don't do it if you can help it. Unless you want to litter train EVERY rabbit you get, and spend half your life dumping out little litter boxes, it's not worth it. They need to be changed often, are completely impractical for wooled breeds and much more expensive, for smaller dimensions! However, if you can find any cheapos at yard sales, etc, I do say try to have one or two on hand. I've actually loaned one of mine out right now, for a doe that keeps having her babies out of the nestbox! They are great for troublesome does, or as overflow cages. I have a guinea-pig sized one (that could easily house a flemish giant) that I sometimes put babies in. It's also nice to have one in case you need to bring someone inside. When you don't need them, they can be broken down and easily stored.

So there we go, my impressions of four different types of cages! I think, when it's all said and done, if I had the room/facility for it I'd have all hangers. But since I don't, I'm absolutely happy with my stackers.

Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I'm so excited! Today- I GOT TWO DOES BRED! As you know, I've been trying everything- well, of the four does I brought inside, one has entered in to "living in sin" (as I joke) with one of my bucks, one still refuses to lift, and my two mini lop does that needed to be bred were caught multiple times!

How did this miracle occur, you ask?

Well, they all lived inside, to get more daylight (and artificial light, since we live inside). Yesterday, they each got turns in my indoor buck's cage, to stretch out, play, and generally get freaked out by the smell of each other and the buck that is on the cage.

Today, it's warm. North Carolina is setting all time highs this week, with temperatures in the low to mid 70s IN THE MOUNTAINS! So, Tim & I seized the chance to clean out some cages.

I hauled the cage with the three does outside (remember, one is living with her bunny boyfriend), and I thought "This is mean, they are so close to this nice grass...."

Something I should explain- when I first started out, my rabbits all lived in solid bottom pet cages. I still have these cages, and when it's a nice day, we enjoy putting the wire tops on the grass and letting a few favorites graze and lay in the sun.

So, I pulled out three of the cage tops, put them girls in them and then inspiration struck- I've done "grass breedings" before, usually when the does were super ready to breed and I needed to get out of Tim's way while he dumped pans. So, I ran off and grabbed a buck, and put him in with Keep's Eve. They cuddled and nothing much happened, then suddenly *GRUNT* off he rolls! Of course I was worried he was faking it, but he seems to be a nice, level headed buck. A few minutes later he got her again, and this time I actually saw her lift!

Meanwhile, nothing much was happening in the other cages. I had 2 large "breeding cages" and a "transit" cage, which was only big enough for one rabbit. I got them used to eating the grass, then rotated that doe in to a larger breeding cage.

Something I've noticed about my girls, especially the mini lops- they aren't fast women. My gals seem to prefer cuddling and getting to know the bucks before they'll lift.

So, I've brought in two new does, one wooley and one mini lop, and the wooley that wouldn't breed today. Tonight, they are getting more apple cider vinegar, rotation in the magic cage, and tomorrow they'll be spending some time on the grass!

Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Colony Breeding

In my continuing efforts to get babies, I've decided to try colony breeding.

For those of you that aren't really sure, colony breeding is where you put a buck and several does (usually two) together for a month (or longer).

I'm not looking forward to this, because at Day 31, a nestbox has to go in and STAY in until you reach over Day 65- or until babies show up. OR if you can palpate, you can save a lot of time. Anyone want to teach me?

My plan is to use my large cage (36x36) to house two does and my least valuable buck. If you know me, my "weakest link" buck is still nice, because I believe the buck makes the herd.

I'm going to leave the animals together, in the sunniest place I can find in the rabbitry, with additional lights on (as outlined in my last post). Then, I'm adding apple vinegar to the water. After about a month, I'm going to remove the does to their separate cages, give them nestboxes and hay, and hope.

I'm gonna keep a close watch on the trio, to make sure they get along with each other. I'm especially worried because I hope to grand one of the does, and the other is usually a 2nd place rabbit, so it's possible she could grand as well. However, what's the point if I can't get them started?

Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cheating Nature

I'm trying to cheat Mother Nature.

In the winter, it's harder to get rabbits bred. It's cold, there are less hours of daylight and the girls just kind of shut off until Spring.

Nope, not acceptable.

I have several does I HAVE to get started. I have several does that now I FINALLY got them started, I don't want to lose that progress to 3-4 months of inactivity.

So, my only option is to very carefully try to cheat Mother Nature.

Right now, I have a large carrier in the house, with four does. Two are mini lops, one is a holland and one is a wooley. Of these four, only one is actually started. Oh joy.

The girls are comfortable, especially the two smaller breeds. Even the mini loppers have room to turn around in their holes, and everyone will get at least a short amount of time each evening to stretch their legs.

I'm lacing their water with apple cider vinegar, which didn't really help last time, but can't really hurt either.

I'm keeping them in the living room, where they'll have more light, especially since our turtle has a UV bulb in his heat lamp. Yayy for simulated Daylight!

Our 10 day forecast is calling for weather from 50 degrees (like today) all the way up to 69 degrees. WAIT! I thought I was in the mountains in December?! Where is my snow mountain folks?! However this lull in cold is GREAT for me, it means I'll be able to transition the does back to outside with very few problems. We keep the house about 70 degrees as it is! That's part of the reason I chose this week to move everyone inside. I don't relish the thought of getting them used to 70 degrees, then throwing them in to the 30 degree rabbitry. It's always best to have them come in to a similar kind of temperature, and then leave again the same way. Of course it's not as big of a deal if you're bringing bucks in to breed the does, then go back outside, or mothers in to feed their kits, because they aren't getting as much time to acclimate.

Once we get down to the cold weather, I'm going to have a harder time being tricky. We've put brighter light bulbs into the rabbity, and we're leaving the lights on in the evenings (only when we are home!) to try to get the girls in the mood. I hope something works, I definitely have a few I don't want sitting for a long period of time! Although I don't like the idea of having 5-6 rabbits living in the house all winter either- then having babies-eeek! Too many bunnies!

I've got a few girls due soon- wish me luck! Two are hollands and one is a mini lop. All three have had babies before, but the mini lop's first litter didn't make it, one of the hollands had the same problem, and this will be my first litter out of the 3rd doe.

Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We're going to Kentucky!

YAYY We're going to Kentucky for Convention in 2008. The room is reserved, the roommates are found and we're gonna start measuring the car to figure out who and what we can cram in there!

How exciting!

Yes, I'll be offering sales animals, as they are available. But of course, only presold, since our space is going to be limited.

I'm already starting to think about who I should take, what breedings I should do for Convention Juniors (I know, I plan WAY in advance). But you know, you really do need to start planning now. If you don't have a room, I suggest trying to find one NOW. They are only going to get more full as time goes by!

Roommates are a great way to cut costs! Right now, we're going to have 2 other full time roomies, and one partial- time roomie. We're all getting out for under $90. Yep, that's for 5 days!

Go on and plan your breedings now, this way you don't get caught flat-footed. You don't want to test a pair of rabbits planning on Convention juniors, only to figure out that they really didn't turn in to the cross you wanted! If you like the look of the juniors, you can always repeat the breeding for those properly aged juniors :). The age to shoot for is 5 1/2 months, up to turning 6 months the day after judging. If you're REALLY good (and lucky), you'll get that day shy of 6 months junior. Of course, if your doe goes a day or two overdue, your perfectly timed baby ends up as a senior. Oops.

I'd love to hear from anyone going to Convention! If you're from another state, I'd love to meet up, if you're someone I show with, it'll be nice to see a familiar face!

I'm going to go work on planning out my Convention some more- I don't care if it IS over 10 months away :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, December 2, 2007

100th post

Welcome to the blog's 100th post! I'd have never thought I'd have had enough to talk about to fill 100 entries :). Thanks again to everyone who reads!

I wanted to make an announcement. I have decided to no longer allow "stud" breedings. It's due to a number of factors, none that I really want to explain in depth, but suffice it to say that this applies to all the breeds and to all people. I hate to have to be like this because I love to help people out- which is why I've given away several nice brood animals or severely discounted prices on animals for new breeders, and why I'll continue to try to do that.

I think it's easier to just stop helpful stud services outright, rather than maintain a list of "you can, you can't". If asked in person, my answer is going to be "I've heard stories" and that's pretty much going to be it. And yes, 95% of the reason I'm doing this is not because any of my rabbit friends or folks I show with are horrible people! I promise :). It's based a lot on experiences of others, and just a small frustration or two I have. I still love you all :).

Also- no, I won't offer stud services for a fee. I'm sorry, but you wouldn't want to pay the fee I'd ask.

For some etiquette tips, in case any of you out there do request using someone's buck:

1.) Make sure you have at least spoken to the person in the past!
2.) Offer a POL or a baby back. It's the least you can do. They may not want a baby, but make the effort.
3.) Ask how to list the names of the babies. Should it be a joint moniker? Do they have a problem with using just your name? If you're unwilling to put a joint name on the pedigrees, don't ask someone to use their rabbit.
4.) Don't use someone just to get use of their stock. If you want to be friends, excellent. If you hate this person, do not kiss tail to get what you can out of them. That's so wrong.
5.) If they say "No", Respect that. Honestly, if you have a buck with 20 legs and someone you barely know asks to use it, what would you say? If you think you'd hesitate, even a little, then you understand the breeder you just spoke to. Don't badmouth them or their rabbits, don't stop being friends with them, etc. It may not be anything personal. Rabbits are a competition, and some folks have spent untold amounts of money and years of work to get where they are. They may not want to give that away for free to anyone who asks.

I wish this post could have been one with happier content, but it's something I wanted to get out there now. I may, in the future, consider joint breedings, with joint pedigree names and splitting of litters, but that will be on an individual basis :).

Like I said before, this isn't aimed at one person, or a group of people. I just wanted to explain my new policy and address issues I've heard in horror stories from others.

Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Not Again

We're still waiting on three does to give birth. I've given up on one, she'll lose her nestbox tomorrow, since she's very overdue. The other two don't get much longer either!

We lost Miss Muffet's broken baby today. As best as I can figure, it was dragged from the nestbox while nursing and against all odds squeeze it's fat self out of the cage. It froze :(.

That's what I get for being lazy and not getting the baby saver up earlier. I removed the baby, then set about fixing her cage up to keep the other three in.

The babies are so adorable, popcorning and warbling in the nest! They are getting so big! Thankfully, Muffet has decided they are insulated enough and has stopped ripping her fur out. I was worried we were going to have to get her a sweater so she'd stay warm!

I finally got around to entering some pedigrees in my Evans software. Hooray! We also just got a new printer, after the old one died, so I can now print a hard copy of all my peds, in case something were to happen to the computer.

I was also able to get a doe bred. Hoping she'll have a successful litter this time! The poor girl had trouble with her first kit last go round, and it killed her other two babies.

We won't have any more babies due until December 8th. At least it gives me a chance to try to get some of the does "in the mood". I've also got to seperate out some babies. Their mama has decided she wants to chew on their wool, which isn't good for her and isn't good for their wool! Poor babies, can't have them bald in this weather!

Ahh well, that's what's going on at Keep's Rabbitry right now. :)

Keep's Rabbitry