Monday, January 25, 2010

Nest Box News 2

Cut up the wool.
Bungee hook with plastic sweater bin.

Plastic mini clamps

The cute little munchkins.
Sorry, for some reason my photos never downloaded and another photo showed up instead. Here are the correct photos of 3 little darlings, two torts and I think a pearl. They are from the same breeding as Sweet Pea so here's hoping.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nestbox News

GC Shepherds Sweet Pea in her BIS chair at Delmarva

When you have a long awaited angora litter you want to give the new babies the best of care and when they a really special litter then you are even more on guard. I gave up using the regulation metal nest boxes many years ago when I had frozen babies. I then gave up wooden nest boxes because they were so hard to clean. What to use as a replacement? Plastic sweater bins work out great for me. They are the size of an English Angora (I use shoe box size for the Jersey Woolies), easy to clean, they stack together and are see through. They have a smooth lip around the top so the babies seem to stay in the box when Mom jumps out. The only problem was they are light weight and the Angora Moms like to throw them around the cage. I did alot of experimenting to keep the boxes in one place. First I tried wrapping bungy cords around the sides of the box and hooking it to the sides of the cage. This worked for awhile until the Moms found out they could chew through it. Then I used bungies outside of the cage by hooking it over the edge of the box pulling it down and hooking it to a lower cage. This was alright but then I found these mini clamps and they work perfectly. They are like clamps or plastic clothes pins and they hook over the cage wire and pinch the bins in place. Perfect!
Keeping the nest box clean and safe is also important. Depending on the weather and the Mother bunny, I might keep the nest in a safe place and bring it to Mom once or twice a day. If it is left in with the Mom, I take the nest box out of the cage at least 2 times a day to make sure the babies are doing well, Mom is feeding them and that they are not tangled in wool. Angora wool makes yarn and it will do that in the nestbox with wiggly babies moving through it. The wool can easily get wrapped around a leg or a neck and really hurt or kill a baby. Clipping the doe short before she has babies are born, will start the pulled wool off at the right length. I then go back and cut up the wool in short bits mixed with hay to keep it safe. You want to clean out the soiled hay and wool regularly to prevent illness and nest box eye. Holding the babies at an early age really gets them used to the sound of your voice and makes them so comfortable with humans as they grow into adult bunnies. But there is nothing as cute as a baby angora bunny!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grooming the Show Bunny

Shepherds Hydrangea
GC CR Ice Maiden

GC Shepherds Lydia

Tulamores Caprice
Growing a beautiful coat of wool doesn't start with a comb, brush or blower but with good nutrition, fiber and clean water. It starts many months before you might actually be showing your rabbit with care and nutrition as a baby. I have always said that wool breeds require a good deal of patience and waiting for wool to grow. A good quality rabbit pellets, fresh grass hay and clean water will give you the best quality wool but it is a waiting game. My best english angoras may never be shown or do well as juniors because they are at home growing in that winning senior coat. It has density but not much length at the junior age and it really shouldn't need much grooming. Just keeping it matt free and clean is the plan at this age. Then as the coat starts to blossom, more intense grooming is needed but less often. I think the best coats need very little care and just seem to never tangle. The bunnies just see to sit there and look beautiful.
The woolies are a little different in that they go through the junior "uglies". This can be a full out molt or just a weird looking growth spurt where none of the body parts seem to go together. If you like them as babies most likely you will like them again after the growth spurt. It is a little frightening when they hit this phase as you often think they will never grow out of it. The senior coat is the most beautiful coat and the most easy care.
As show season creeps up on us, lets just sit back and watch the wool grow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Woolies Grow Up

Shepherds White Diamonds
Shepherds Hydrangea

Shepherds White Hot.
It is hard to believe how time flies by. Remember those REW bunnies in the mug before Christmas. They are all grown up and ready to show now. I named the after their father White Excitement and their mother Blue Diamonds. They are the sweetest little bunnies and love being groomed. Very much like their father and mother who have a wonderful temperament. Can't wait to show them.
It is surprising how fast you can fill up a pedigree with your own breedings. I already have some Shepherd great, great grandmothers on some of the pedigrees in only 4 years of raising woolies. Shepherds Hydrangea has almost a full Shepherds pedigree on her mothers side but I thought it was important to keep improving the type. So I added PP's Tom Thumb aka: "The King of All" to her mother and to every one of my blue does. As you can see by Hydrangea, he sure made a vast improvement to my blue and broken blue lines. She needs only one more leg for her grand championship after winning two BOB's at the Richmond show. Here's hoping.
PS: I finally have had some angora babies born this week, hurray!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ideas for the New Year

Comfortable temps for bunnies and humans.
Feed scoop made out of a laundry soap container.

Feed bucket and measuring cups from the dollar store.

Rolling oil filled heater.
Sorry, I couldn't get the heater photo to go in the right direction but you get the idea. Winterizing your animals is a much for their comfort as for yours. There is nothing worse then trying to defrost frozen water bottles in 20 degree weather. Many years ago, I was searching for a safe heater that would just take the chill off of the rabbitry and found these oil filled rolling heaters that are temperature controlled. I started using these and they kept the barn just warm enough so most times nothing froze. Now that I have moved the rabbits to a new location, I again was using the heaters in a smaller but less insulated area. They work great as you can see by the thermometer, inside 40* outside 20*. Very comfortable for everyone. They sell these heater everywhere now, Home Depot, Loews and Wal-mart for between $35-60. Well worth the expense in my opinion. I keep mine on low so they use very little power. Just keep them clean of wool and hay, center them in the middle of the rabbits and away from hay bales, spraying bucks or fabric. You never want to use a heater with an open heating element around livestock as there is such a big chance of fire.
If you want to change out frozen bottles, one idea a friend of mine does is to have 2 sets of bottles with the rabbits name written on with sharpy marker. When you replace the frozen ones with fresh ones, run the frozen ones through the empty dishwasher with no detergent. Defrosted bottles every time.
I am a big believer in recycling things and have used these laundry bottles with the tops cut off for feed scoops for many years. They last forever and can even go through the dish washer when dirty. Cut off the top section, but leave on the handle, with a sharp knife and wash out very, very well. The other thing that I found just recently were these small black buckets from the dollar store. They have handles and hold enough feed to fill a whole row of bowls. The measuring cups are also from the dollar store. I use them to measure out food to make sure I can see that everyone is eating well. Just some ideas of mine to start out the new year with.