What breed to pick??
In a survival mode, asks one visitor to Raising-Rabbits, what breed would be best to raise? Would NZ be hardy enough to survive on grass clippings and such or what breed would you choose? Karen Sez - It's a good question. All domestic rabbit breeds have been fed with commercial pellets for years, especially NZ and Californians. These breeds have been selectively bred for quick weight gain on commercial rations. Change their diets drastically, and they may not do so well at all. I personally doubt that most breeds would fare very much better. What you need is a strain of rabbit that has been bred to excel and multiply well on lower quality forages.
in Virginia have been breeding their rabbits in this manner for years, though they also feed some pellets (much less than the rest of us feed).
I think choosing a meat breed such as the American rabbit
or the Silver Fox
might be a better initial choice. Or even the smaller, dual-purpose Rex rabbit.
Talking about dual purpose, in survival mode, raising a dual-purpose animal could be very advantageous -- rex or satin for the pelts, or French Angora for the wool, if anyone in your family likes to spin.
Lastly, get started with rabbits NOW. Why? Because TEOTWAWKI is much closer than the general public realizes, and because you'll need some time to breed for the trait of doing well on native forages. Start feeding your rabbits half pellets and half the forages in your yard and neighborhood. Start hoarding 50 lb bags of whole oats and black oil sunflower seeds for supplementing the forages. You'll probably notice that as you continue breeding and then selecting the animals that fare the best on the feed you offer, their overall size at adulthood might decrease (this is okay), but they will begin to be well-conditioned on less than commercial feed.
Starting our own rabbitry set up for survival, and rotation of breeders
Black Oil Sunflower Bloom in August
We want to start some rabbits of our own. We have one male and 2 females to breed to start off with, how many "breeders" would you recommend, and how often should they be rotated out?
***** Karen Sez *****
Your own set up and needs will probably dictate what you do. In the meantime, here are our thoughts:
1) Start small while you learn how to best care for the rabbits. You're doing this. 2 does and 1 buck is perfect. 3 does and a buck is great too.
After you've gotten a couple litters from each doe, and you're comfortable with the routine, then the question is a matter of need. If you have 15 kids all at home, you might need more rabbits than if you're raising them for the two of you and Aunt Molly.
If you'd like extra rabbits for use in bartering, take that into consideration.
2) Feed plays a huge role in rabbits' performance. In a survival situation, if they have nothing to eat but bark and yard scraps and compete with you for the oatmeal, your rabbits will be lower in weight and will be unable to reproduce up to their potential.
So take this into consideration and put away bags of BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) and whole oats for use if and/or when life shifts to survival.
3) How often to rotate out? When they no longer produce ample litters. Most rabbits on an excellent diet of commercial pellets can give you two full years of service. We've heard from breeders whose animals are still reproducing at age 4-5.
True, but in a survival situation, you'll starve if you wait for a 5 year old doe to squeeze out 3 kits 2-3 times a year. There's always the rare doe that can give you more good years than average. But physiologically speaking, rabbits wind down just like people wind down. Retire the 3-year-old doe to the soup pot when you have excellent offspring from her.