Rabbits and Ducks

The rabbits arrived last night.

The first of the official meat stock, anyway.

They’re just under 6 weeks old and the recommendation was not to breed the buck till he’s 24 weeks. That’s maybe the end of September, gestation is roughly a month, and butchering weight isn’t reached until 12 weeks.

So we might be seeing our first meat and our first eggs at about the same time.

I bought a Californian buck and two of his sisters. Late in June I hope to get another set from another breeder to swap lines and (Lord-willing) keep everyone healthy.

They are tiny and cute. Despite the red eyes I don’t like.

I also got their half-sister who is half silver-fox.  She’s black with brown eyes.  I’ve decided she’s my special “pet.” I’ve been handling her a lot.

Each of the kids has claimed one of the Californians.  And named them.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt since they’re foundation stock and it’s not them that we plan to eat (for a very long time, anyway).

I’m still trying to put together a good place for them to live.  Which entails finding good cage wire. Closest I can find in town is chicken wire.  It might have to do.

Today someone asked me whether I plan to have them live in “a little cage their whole lives.”  The way the question was asked made me defensive and I describe alternative options (e.g. colony living), and giving the dimensions of the cages, to show they’re not exactly little. But I realized, yeah, I’m planning on (all things working right) using them as little meat factories.

I’ve said I wanted rabbits because I wanted “ethical meat.” But now I have to be a big girl and acknowledge that will mean different things to different people.

For me it means the space to stay healthy without modifying them to fit my goals.  They will never be free range (unless we figure out some brilliant way to make big-area enclosures they won’t escape from or be eaten in), and I’m okay with that.

Perhaps I should have pointed out the “attention” the animals are getting, but, then, I don’t know how my kids will be with them when they outgrow the laps that are holding them now.

As for the ducks, they’re now outdoors in their interim enclosure.  They’re beginning to get their first feathers (I’m floored at how fast this is happening; they’re barely two weeks old).

We have modifications to make to the meat/playhouse to make it duck-safe. Those changes should line up with the birds’ speed of growth, so I expect them to be ready for that about the time it’s ready for them.

About then will be the “correct” butchering time too, so depending on the number of drakes we put in our freezer we might even let them stay in the medium-spot longer.

I’m also pleased to learn that ducks are actually supposed to be more cold-hardy than chickens, so going the duck route is pseudo-sensible, not just being contrary/unique.

All that said I’m still having trouble quitting before I’m exhausted.  There is always something that needs to be done, no matter where you live, but here it seems especially true.

2 thoughts on “Rabbits and Ducks

  1. Mom Teena says:

    Our chickens learned to take the cold just fine as long as they had protection from the wind and had enough light during the day to keep them laying. However, we did enjoy our duck and goose eggs too and their meat. Have you been able to use the little coop for anything yet? I wish we could get some of the piles of rabbit cages and paraphernalia down to you. Some of it is rusty and no good, but other stuff like feeders and waterers are still good.

  2. Brooke says:

    Wow!! Well good for you! I don’t think I could manage raising my own meat. I think I’d get attached to the rabbits and ducks.

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