Californian rabbit meat pens and New Zealand rabbit meat pens are
a rewarding project. You need the right rabbit meat pen breeder the right type of rabbit ordered and then you need to
be ready before you pick up your rabbit.
Make sure that you have the correct pen ready for your rabbits. It
should be made out of 1x2 wire on the sides and top. The bottom wire should be 1/2 x 1 and should be galvanized after
weld. (Double Dipped) Never Never use hard ware cloth. This will destroy their feet.
This cage should be suspended by wire from the roof or a frame. Do
not set the cage on a wood support frame. This will allow the rabbits to start urinating where the wood is and the rabbits
will get stained.
Next make sure that you have the right type of equipment for them to eat
and drink out of. They need the extra wide mouth fine X feeder. They need some type of crock for their water.
A water bottle will be fine after you have finished showing your meat pen but it is not sufficient to finish one out for the
show. Make sure you give them fresh water 2 to 3 times a day.
FEED! FEED! FEED! Make sure that you are using a fresh feed. Learn
how to read the label off your feed sack. Each company has a way that they code their feed with the date it was milled
on it. Three month old feed is old! I will not accept feed that is more than one month old. Remember it
may take you a month to finish feeding that bag of feed. The rabbits must have clean fresh feed at all times when feeding
out a rabbit meat pen.
Conditioning feed. Remember that the feed companies spend a lot of
money researching their formula, so, be careful with to many supplements.
My suggestions on conditioning feed. Black oil sunflower seeds
are one of the best supplements that you can add. Start slow so that the rabbits do not scour. Work up to about
10 per rabbit. (No more than this) In the winter you can add CRIMPED oats and barley with a little wheat germ
oil. Usually you will add 3 part oats to 1 part barley. I add 1/2 cup wheat germ oil to a 5 gallon bucket of this
mixture. If you are trying to push a litter you can add a 1/4 cup of molasses to this mixture. The molasses will
make them drink more water which will get them to eat more feed. Feed 1/4 cup per rabbit.
Please do not feed bread to your meat pen except on a few exceptions.
This will all weight in a pinch but it will also make them soft and flabby. If you are trying to push a pen then use
Show Bloom. Never use Calf Mana on a meat pen.
I recommend a cup to put the conditioning feed into, so, that they
will not scratch out their feed to get to the goodies. I like the cups that clip on the cage so, that it is
easy to take out after they finish their conditioning feed. By removing this cup after they finish eating their
conditioning feed, will help keep them from getting stained.
It is much easier to keep them clean than trying to get a stain out.
A rabbit has natural oils in his coat. So, remember this when trying to get out a stain. Do not use to many chemicals to
try and get out a stain. This will take out the natural oils in the coat and it will appear dead
in that spot. I have found Clear Eyes for horses is the best to get out stains. Use a white paper towel with no
design on it when removing a stain. Squirt a little Clear Eyes on the spot and let it sit for a minute or
two and then blot out the stain.
Do not over work their fur. Remember the natural oil, we do
not want to destroy that beauty. Work their fur once a day for the three days before the show for a very short period
of time or you will kill the natural luster. The night before the show you can put a very little corn starch in the
fur. Always work the fur for a few seconds with water before they go on the table. This will take out any static
electricity the fur may have in it.
Do not worry about the bottom of their feet. They should be clean,
if you do not have any wood in the cage and have not left any wet hay in the bottom of the cage.
If one of the rabbits get loose stools and if the stool gets on one
of the other rabbits allow it to dry. If it is a couple of days before the show, allow it to dry and
then gently brush it out. (This is the only time you would ever use a brush on a meat pen.) A brush or comb can
pull out the fur very easily. If the rabbit gets stained the day of the show use the Clear Eyes.
Records! It is important that you start weighing each rabbit at 6
weeks old and keeping a chart on how much they are gaining. It is easier to slow one down or push one if you have 4
weeks to work with the rabbits. (It is difficult if you email 2 days before the show with a big weight problem.)
They can gain as much as 2 oz. a day the last week. At first you will need to weigh them twice a week at the
time you will be weighing them in at your show. For example, if check in is at 5:00 pm for your show, then you will
want to weigh your rabbits at 5:00 pm. It must be done at the same time so that
you will have an accurate weight. Remember they usually eat 8 oz. a day. If you weigh them and they weigh 4.15
lbs. and then you feed them 8 oz. they will be over weight when you go to weigh them in.
I do have a way to get them all to the same weight but you will have to
attend one of my free seminars to get this information.
Do not set your rabbits on the ground while you wait to check them in for
the show. Young children love to drag their feet, which causes lots of dust. You do not want to put a sneezing
rabbit on the table. You also do not want to take a chance of something getting into the rabbits ears.
Check in. Do not get anxious to be the first one to put your rabbits
one the table. The coops are cramped and the rabbits will get hot and stress. This will causes
them to go soft.
Be a good sport. Every judge comes and tries to do their very best.
Most of the time they do a great job. However, ARBA rules states that the judges decisions is final. If
you do not understand what the judge was telling you about your rabbits, it is best to be polite and take your rabbits off
the table. Then wait until the show is over to talk to the judge. Go up and ask the judge if they have a minute
to show you what they were telling you about your rabbits. Normally they are more than happy to help someone that is
trying to learn.
There are many more tips and I will try and continue to add more and more.
But for now Good luck and email me with any questions.
Tips on Culling Your Meat Pen
It is important that you start culling your meat pen when they are
born. If your Doe has a nice litter with a small peanut in the litter, you must put the small kit down.
This sounds cruel but it will just take milk from the other kits.
I like litters of 7 or 8. Some breeders cull down to 5 or 6 but I
believe this will hurt your chances in the long run. You should know your stock and not keep a Doe that can not nurse
7 or 8 kits sufficiently. I believe if you cull down to 5 or 6 rabbits then you just narrowed your chances of
matching 3 rabbits at 70 days old.
If your Doe needs some assistance in nursing her litter, do not use calf
mana. I suggest you go to an 18% protein pellet. Purina's Professional Formula works very well. We use Acco
17% Hi-Test. The one additive that I like is Show Bloom. It is very high in protein but will not usually scour
the babies. Doc's Rabbit Enhancer is also good. Purina's Annamax also works very well. Put a piece of
12 x 12 sheetrock in the cage and throw feed and oat meal on it each time you go by.
I like to start taking my babies off the Doe at 6 weeks. I take 2
babies off at a time and put them in a grow off pen together. I try and put 2 Does or 2 bucks in the same pen.
This makes it easier for me if I want to leave them together after the meat pen show is over. The bucks would have to
be separated but the 2 Does can stay together until they are 6 months old as long as they do not start fighting. Try
and wait a couple of days before you take the next two off the Doe because you do not want the Doe to get mastitis.