Weaning Your Litter
Well, after a tough experience with the whole mating, birth, and raising deal, now it's almost over. Weaning the litter isn't hard, but there are some things that you really have to do, or you'll get bad results.
If you remove the whole litter at once too early, the doe could get caked udders from not expressing enough milk from her full milk glands. I remove my young at about 2 months. With very large litters, like 8 or 9 babies, you can remove the bucks first and then the does. When you wean the litter off, be prepared to give each baby its own cage. With smaller rabbits, around 2-4 pounds, expect to have 1-4 babies. With medium sized rabbits, around 5-9 pounds, expect to have around 5-7 babies. With very large rabbits 10+ pounds, you may have up to twelve babies. Because rabbits only have eight nipples, all the babies may not get fed enough. If some babies were not growing well, you could foster over about four babies.
When the babies are on their own, treat them like any other adult rabbit. Feed them what your seniors eat. And at about 2 1/2 to 3 months old, you may want to tattoo them.
Ear tattooing is for show rabbits only. It is a permanent mark in the ear that gives the rabbit identification at a rabbit show. You can pick any ear number you want, there's no list of taken ear numbers or anything. I actually went to a show where there were four rabbits with the same ear number! Tattooing is sort of like getting your ear pierced. It gives the rabbit a little stinging pain for a second, and then it goes away. It is done with pliers that have letter and number pieces you insert that are spelled in little sharp spike things. Don't worry, it's better than it sounds. After squeezing in the spikes in the rabbit's ear with the pliers, there are little indents in the rabbit's ear where ink is placed and it forms the identification number.
An ear tattoo of one of my rabbits. It is a series of dots forming letters and numbers. As you can see, this rabbit's ear tattoo is SD, for the initials of his name, Sunny Day. Since I raise Polish rabbits, most of my rabbit's ear tattoos are from P3 to P8. I have two that have bigger ears and their ear numbers are LP1 and LP2, for Laura's Polish 1 and Laura's Polish 2. Most people don't know how to tattoo their own rabbits, and I've never done it myself. If you are in 4-H, then ask your rabbit club advisor to tattoo your rabbits for you. If you go to any shows, ask the people at the sign-in table if a registrar is going to be there. If there is going to be one there, you can pay $1.00 to have your rabbit tattooed. You cannot show a rabbit in an ARBA show without an ear number.
Well, that's a wrap! I have listed some excellent resources for you for further rabbit care and other information about this subject. compared to all there is to learn, this was a brief overview. I encourage you to check out some of these sites and books for resources and just for fun. I hope you have allot of fun with your new baby rabbits and I hope you find the hobby interesting and fun. If you have any comments on my site, PLEASE email me! I need to know what you think.
NOTE: This was a special project for 4-H by Laura R. The email button is below this, and she would appreciate your opinion or her work. Feel free to contact her.