Currently, there is a trend (especially among large families) to move to the countryside. This is due to the fact that parents care about creating more favorable conditions for the life of their children. This is both fresh air and environmentally friendly natural products. Most often, such families begin to breed their own farms. If the maintenance of cattle and pig breeding is not always possible for novice livestock breeders, then breeding rabbits at home is quite realistic. Today in our article we will talk about how to start breeding, about raising and caring for rabbits, and about creating comfortable conditions. Such information will be useful to beginner rabbit breeders.
The wild rabbit is considered the ancestor of the domestic rabbit. During the period of the new stone age - approximately in 4500-2500 years. BC - the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula caught these animals and keptcaptive. Then the Romans took up domestication, a little later - the French, who bred rabbits in special nurseries. In the XII-XIII centuries, rabbit breeding spread to the rest of Europe. Rabbits appeared in places where they had never met before - in America, New Zealand, Australia and other countries. Today, rabbits are distributed throughout the globe.
Methods and features
Rabbit breeding is one of the most promising areas for the development of agriculture in Russia. They are engaged in both small private firms and large livestock complexes. A huge number of rural residents raise rabbits in their personal subsidiary plots. Interested in the animals and the townspeople who have suburban areas within the city, and are now breeding rabbits in the country. The popularity of these particular farm animals is due to many reasons. One of the main ones is that the maintenance of rabbits does not require any special costs, it is easy to care for them, the animals are unpretentious in nutrition, they eat well and grow quickly, gaining excellent weight in a short period of time. Due to the fact that rabbits breed quickly, the livestock is growing rapidly, which allows you to quickly recoup all the expenses spent and even make a profit. In addition, tender and tasty rabbit meat belongs to dietary products, and the fur is of excellent quality and is highly valued.
A large number of rabbit breeders raise animals according to the methodfamous scientist from St. Petersburg I.N. Mikhailov - the so-called method of accelerating animal husbandry.
In rabbit breeding, two methods of breeding rabbits are used, which have long been known and have proven themselves: purebred mating of rabbits and their crossing. Purebred mating allows you to enhance the more valuable qualities of a particular breed in the offspring. In this case, mating is done only with the best individuals of this breed. When selecting a female and a male, their compatibility with each other and the compatibility of family lines are strictly taken into account, this is the name of a productive large group of animals that have one male ancestor. A group that shares a common ancestor with a female is called a family. Lines are the most important link in animal husbandry, as they allow you to get individuals that pass on useful traits to future generations. The most effective pairing with this method involves mating grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nephews and nieces. It is better to use this method in breeding work in breeding farms, since when using it at lower levels, you can get the opposite effect, which may result in inbreeding.
In the second method interline crossing (hybridization) takes place. In this case, the best representatives of highly productive lines are crossed with each other. They do this in order to obtain and consolidate the necessary useful features. This method allows you to breed rabbits with high viability, intensivegrowth, rapid weight gain and high quality fur or down.
Crossing is divided into different types and implies a narrow use, which is suitable only for breeding work. In breeding farms, industrial crossing is used, where rabbits of two different breeds are mated. The significance of this type of crossing is practical when animals are bred, for example, with a specific need: to get more meat or fluff, as well as to have early-ripening rabbits with a larger carcass and, which is especially valuable, with large skins.
Stud farms also use variable mixing, which means crossing up to three breeds with excellent results. The two described methods are closely related to each other and often complement each other in breeding breeds that are distinguished by the best productive and breeding qualities.
How to start breeding rabbits
First of all, I would like to say that breeding rabbits is a profitable business that does not require too much financial investment from breeders. Here, livestock productivity, meat quality and other parameters directly depend on the conditions of detention and the absence of errors, and income depends on the well-established sales market. People start breeding rabbits at home in summer cottages, on small farms and even on balconies. Before you start breeding animals, you need to determine for what purpose you are going to raise them. Currently, a large number of breeds of rabbits have been bred. Therefore, you should first decide, and only then acquire suitablebreed:
- meat, which give more meat than other breeds;
- meat-skin, from which both meat and skins are obtained;
- downy (skin) that are grown for down or skins.
Breeding rabbits for beginners is best done in several stages. At the first stage, it is necessary to gain theoretical knowledge, and then evaluate your financial and, no less important, physical capabilities. After you have fulfilled all these conditions, you can proceed to the selection of the breed. It must be remembered that you cannot buy animals until cages are prepared for them.
How to choose a breed?
Experienced rabbit breeders advise beginners to breed rabbits of medium and small breeds at first. They also do not recommend keeping several different breeds at the same time, because this can be an overwhelming task for beginner rabbit breeders. Despite the fact that today there are about 60 rabbit breeds that are in great demand, among breeders, no more than 13-15 breeds are most common for keeping at home. They are of particular value for obtaining meat or fur. The most common rabbit breeds for home breeding:
- Viennese blue;
- white giant;
- California White;
- grey giant;
- angora downy;
Before buying rabbits, do not be too lazy to find out whichit is the breeds that are most popular in your area. This information may be useful in order to avoid difficulties in the future in the sale of animals, as well as products from them.
How to choose?
When breeding rabbits, it is especially important for beginner rabbit breeders to choose a he althy animal that has the characteristic features of its breed. First of all, these include: body length, weight, coat color characteristic of this species. A he althy rabbit has a strong body, clear eyes and a shiny coat. When making a purchase, pay attention to the behavior of animals - rabbits or adult rabbits must be active and mobile. It is not recommended to purchase for breeding animals with such defects:
- crooked limbs;
- too protruding hips;
- emaciation or vice versa obesity;
- head too long;
- drooping ear tips;
- sagging belly or back;
- too crooked paws;
- Protruding in all directions or falling out pile.
Rabbits: breeding and keeping
Before you start rabbit breeding, you need to create comfortable conditions, as well as build a home correctly. Keeping rabbits can be divided into two types:
- Closed keeping of rabbits - indoor rabbitries are used for this.
- Open content: outdoors - in cages, aviaries or specially prepared pits.
Animals that grow outside are usuallyhe althy, hardened, can tolerate frost well. Many rabbit breeders use combined methods of keeping: in the cold season they keep rabbits in warm rooms, and as soon as warm days come, they take eared pets to prepared premises on the street.
It must be remembered that the cells, no matter where they are, must meet all the necessary requirements that are necessary to maintain the he alth of pets. They must be clean, light and dry. For rabbits, high humidity and drafts are unacceptable. When breeding at home, rabbits, young animals and mature individuals are always kept separately. From the age of 3 months, rabbits can also be placed in group cages, and a little later it is better to place them in individual cages - in order to avoid aggressiveness from other animals. In the cage of a rabbit who is going to become a mother, it is imperative to place a mother liquor where the birth will take place. There, little rabbits will live one month after birth.
Cages for breeding and keeping rabbits can be purchased at any pet store. There are a huge number of very different cells that consist entirely of a grid. They have their own advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include the fact that they are compact, lightweight, easy to maintain. The main disadvantage is that the mesh floor can provoke paw disease in rabbits - prodermatitis. Such a cage, when breeding rabbits at home on the street, must be insulated.
If you want tomaterial costs were minimal, cells can be made by yourself. In this case, the following materials will be required:
- wooden planks or beams;
- metal mesh;
- wood slats.
Experienced rabbit breeders recommend making the floor from wooden slats, the distance between which should be no more than a centimeter. This allows for a longer time to maintain cleanliness in the cells between cleanings. You can build bunk cages for rabbits using wood for this. Chipboard is not recommended for use in construction, since this material absorbs moisture after a short time of use, swells and crumbles. The inner corners in the cages are upholstered with iron strips, otherwise the rabbits can simply gnaw them; the walls and ceiling in the cage must be made of wood. Floors can be made simply of wood or two-layer: the upper part is a grate (with such cells so that the rabbit's foot does not fall through), the lower part is a wooden pallet.
It is advisable to keep rabbits in winter in insulated rooms, it is especially important to provide heat to the female with rabbits.
Food for rabbits at home should be complete, balanced and supplied in sufficient quantities. The best option is ready-made high-quality feed, in which there are enough vitamins, minerals and amino acids. You can diversify the diet of rabbits with juicy vegetables, tree branches, green grass and hay.
Freshly cut grass for animalsit is not recommended to give, it is better to dry it a little or ensilage.
It is especially important to give animals only fresh food. In the event that the diet is compiled by the owner of the rabbits, it is necessary to add cereals and legumes to it. Be sure to give meat and bone, fish meal, introduce whey or reverse into the diet. Rabbits should have clean, fresh water at all times.
Giant rabbits are considered the largest representatives of the rodent family. There are dozens of large rabbits in the world. The most popular today are:
- Belgian giant;
- French ram;
- white giant;
- white buscat;
- grey giant.
Let's take a closer look at these breeds.
The Belgian giant is considered one of the largest breeds of rabbits. Thanks to breeding work, the weight of one animal can reach 12 kg; it is considered the progenitor of almost all large breeds of rabbits. It has several more names: Riesen, Flanders.
French ram is the most common breed among amateur rabbit breeders. The weight of individuals varies from 6 to 7 kg. The breed is especially famous because of its appearance: representatives of this breed have hanging ears, animals are sometimes also called lop-eared sheep. Most often, these rabbits can be found in the household. Farmers consider this breed of giant rabbits not promising for breeding.
White giant - a breed bred in the Soviet Union by selecting albino rabbits frombreeds of the Belgian giant. The average weight of an adult representative of this breed is 8 kg.
White buscat - the ancestor of this breed was also the Belgian giant and several other breeds. The average weight is from 6 to 9 kg. This breed is most popular in France, in other countries it is almost never grown.
Gray Giant - The Belgian giant and outbred rabbits were taken as the basis of this breed to improve the resistance and adaptation of the new breed to the place of residence. The breed was obtained in the Soviet Union. The weight of an adult animal is about 7 kilograms.
Features of breeding large rabbits
When purchasing these breeds of rabbits, the following facts should be taken into account: rabbits are late-ripening, puberty occurs at the age of 7-8 months, and sometimes after one year of life. Such breeds are the most demanding on the conditions of detention. From the females of these breeds, they almost do not receive winter births, since they do not mated well in the autumn-winter period.
Feeding giant rabbits
These animals are more whimsical in terms of feeding. When caring for them, there are two main ways of feeding. The first method involves the manufacture of feed by the owner himself. In this case, the animal's diet includes hay, vegetables, cereals, succulent feed. But this method has a number of disadvantages: without special skills and knowledge, it is difficult to make a balanced, nutritious diet. There is also difficulty in arranging various types of feeders. There is an urgent need for additionalrooms for storing different types of feed.
The second method is considered the best, because in this case the animals are fed with a special ready-made food, which is considered more professional. Its composition, among other ingredients, includes herbal flour, which contains a large amount of vitamins. Special types of feed are also provided for different age groups: for example, starter feed is intended for feeding young animals, fattening compound feed is for young adolescents and before slaughter, uterus compound feed is used to feed female producers, and male compound feed is used to feed male producers, respectively.
Let's take a closer look at breeding rabbits in aviaries. First, let's define what an aviary is? An open-air cage is called an open space, which is fenced around the perimeter on all sides. Its dimensions directly depend on the number of individuals that will be there. For example, on an area of about twenty-five square meters, a female with up to 20 offspring or 30 young rabbits can be placed. In order to prevent flooding of the enclosure, it must be arranged on hills. The walls are made from any available material: it can be wood, slate or metal.
One of the four sides is best made of mesh - so that there is good air circulation, and the sun also penetrates unhindered. The height of the walls should be at least one meter, and it is better if it is one and a half meters, since rabbits canjump high. To reduce costs, the floor of the enclosure can be left earthen, but then some measures must be taken to ensure that the rabbits do not dig and run away. To prevent this from happening, the walls are dug in to a depth of 40-50 cm. Iron bars should also be hammered along the perimeter every 10 cm. Such a floor has some advantages when breeding rabbits in an aviary: it can be removed less often, the animals dig holes, which allows them to develop physically. In order for the grid that is in the ground to serve longer, it should be treated with an anti-corrosion agent.
Fat for meat
When breeding rabbits for meat, the way the animals are kept, the quality of feeding and the timing of the rounds play an important role. Therefore, if you are going to fatten rabbits for meat, you should take into account the requirements for feed and maintenance when choosing a breed, and calculate the effort spent on caring for the animals. The best option for raising rabbits for meat:
- The best females are kept until five months of age in individual cages, and then happen.
- After the female has hatched, she lives with the rabbits for some time, and then she is sent to slaughter.
- Three-month-old animals are sold for meat.
With proper nutrition and favorable conditions for breeding rabbits, young females mate twice in their first year of life. All this allows you to reduce the number of cells and get a large offspring. Those rabbits that are intended for slaughter must necessarily comply withGOST.
Animals are divided into three groups:
First: This group is divided into the first and second sub-categories. In rabbits of this group, the muscles are well developed, the processes of the dorsal vertebrae are practically not palpable, the hips are rounded and well developed. Fat deposits are well felt on such parts of the body as the withers, abdomen and groin.
Second: in individuals of this group, the muscles are somewhat worse developed, the dorsal vertebrae protrude a little. Animals of the second group have more toned hips, a flatter buttocks, and there may be a lack of fat deposits.
Third: rabbits have poorly developed muscles, vertebrae protrude strongly, animals are considered skinny and not suitable for meat.
The following breeds of rabbits are most suitable for fattening for meat:
- New Zealand white - the weight of a rabbit is about 6 kg, for one round the female of this breed can give birth to 7 to 12 cubs;
- New Zealand red - the males of this breed are inferior in weight to females, the rabbits are precocious, very quickly after birth they gain the weight necessary for slaughter;
- grey giant - adults most often grow up to 5-6 kg, the female brings from 7 to 8 cubs, which grow quickly and gain good weight. Good large skins are obtained from these animals when slaughtered;
- California breed is characterized by rapid growth and high weight, during the year from a female you can get offspring from 30 to 35 rabbits, the meat has high palatability;
- European silver - animals of this breed are unpretentious, they have a calm character, consume little food, tolerate frost well, have excellent skin quality.
There are different ways to raise rabbits in the winter. Owners breed rabbits in cages, in a pit or aviaries. In order for the keeping and breeding of rabbits in the winter on the street to be more successful, rabbit breeders need to follow some rules. Full details of such content can be found in the video below.
Of course, breeding rabbits in such conditions is quite troublesome, but if you follow all the recommendations received, you can get good results.