Managing the herd[edit | edit source]

Success in raising rabbits depends on efficient management. Become thoroughly acquainted with your animals - their characteristics and behavior, their likes and dislikes. Consideration for the welfare of animals is always necessary for success in raising them. Proper arrangement of equipment, hutches, and location of buildings is also essential to efficient management. When you enter the rabbitry, do it quietly and make your presence known by speaking in a low tone. Caution others to do the same. Otherwise, the rabbits may become frightened, race around in the hutch and injure themselves, or jump into the nest boxes and injure the litters.

Methods of handling rabbits[edit | edit source]

Never lift rabbits by the ears or legs. Handling in this manner may injure them and even cause drooping ears.

You can lift and comfortably carry small rabbits by grasping the loin region gently and firmly (Fig. 15). Put the heel of the hand toward the tail of the animal. This method prevents bruising the carcass or damaging the pelt.


FIGURE 15 - Lift small rabbits by grasping the loin region gently.

To lift and carry medium weight rabbits, let the right hand stroke the ears down and grasp the fold of the skin over the rabbits shoulder. This allows added control of the head portion. Support the rabbit by placing the left hand under its rump.

Lift and carry heavier rabbits in a similar manner. If the rabbit scratches and struggles, tuck his hind legs under the right arm and hold it snugly; or release the animal on the ground and follow the stated steps again(Fig. 16).


FIGURE 16 - Carry heavier rabbits by tucking the hind legs under the right arm and holding snugly.

Determining pregnancy[edit | edit source]

It is not accurate to determine pregnancy by "test mating" (placing the doe in the buck's hutch periodically). Some does will accept service when pregnant and others will refuse service when they are not pregnant. Diagnosing pregnancy by noting the development of the abdominal region and gain in flesh is not dependable until late in pregnancy.

You can quickly and accurately determine pregnancy by palpating, after 12 to 14 days from mating, but you must handle the doe gently. The method for restraining the doe for palpating is illustrated in figure 17. The doe may be palpated in her own hutch or if it is more convenient she may be placed on a table covered with feed sacks or carpeting to prevent slipping. The ears and a fold of skin over the shoulders are held in the right or left hand; the other hand is placed under the shoulder between the hind legs and slightly in front of the pelvis; the thumb is placed on the right side and the fingers on the left side of the two uteri for palpating the fetuses. At 12 to 14 days following mating, the fetuses have developed into marbleshaped forms that are easy to distinguish as they slip between the thumb and fingers when the hand is gently moved forward and backward and a slight pressure is exerted. Caution must be used in this operation, because if too much pressure is exerted, the tissues may be bruised or torn loose from the walls of the uteri and a toxic condition or abortion may result.

There is less danger of bruising the tissues or causing the fetuses to be torn loose from the walls of the uteri in palpating at 12 to 14 days than at a later period. Also, diagnosing pregnancy after the 16th day of the gestation period is more complicated because the developing fetuses are so large that they may be confused with digestive organs. The inexperienced rabbit owner should make examinations at 12 to 14 days and then as he improves his technique and attains confidence in the operation he may be able to develop the ability for diagnosing pregnancy accurately as early as the 7th or 8th day. The chief advantage to be derived from palpating as early as the 7th or 8th day would be in the case of the breeder selling bred does. When it is desirable to ship bred does a considerable distance, diagnosing pregnancy at this early date makes it possible to have these does arrive at their destination in sufficient time to become settled and acquainted with their new environment, with the minimum risk of complications at kindling.

If on palpating no fetuses are found to be present, the doe has failed to conceive, in which case she should be retired. The doe that is pregnant can be placed immediately on a diet that is best suited for pregnant does. Twenty-five-days after breeding, the doe may then be given a nest box with nesting materials, giving her ample time to prepare for kindling.

While palpating is the most reliable method of determining pregnancy, it is also the most dangerous for the inexperienced caretaker. As an alternative to palpating, observe the following signs in a doe:

  1. Rejecting buck when returned for service.
    2. Enlarged abdomen.
    3. Total rejecting of new types of feed.
    4. Grunting when tapped on head or personality change.
    5. Will scratch a corner of her cage thus showing her preferential location for kindling during the second to third week.

Although the above mentioned signs are not as accurate as palpating, they will assist the caretaker in determining pregnancy with up to 85 per cent accuracy.

Kindling[edit | edit source]

Place a nest box in the hutch about 25 days after the doe is mated in her preferred corner. This allows the doe to prepare a nest in advance and assure a proper place for birth of the young.

Sometimes does fail to pull fur to cover their litter, or they kindle the litter on the hutch floor and let them become chilled. If you discover the young in time, you may be able to save them by warming, even if they appear lifeless. To warm the babies prepare a cup of lukewarm water. Hold the baby by the head and dip a few times in the cup. Then, dry with a cloth. Arrange the bedding material to make a comfortable nest, and place the warmed young in it. The doe usually will take over from there. The doe's fur is easily removed at kindling time, and you can pull enough from the doe's body to cover the litter in the nest. It is advisable to keep extra fur on hand for such cases. Remove some fur from nests where does have pulled an excessive amount and keep it handy in a separate bag or box so it will remain clean. It is not necessary to sterilize or to deodorize the fur, but, take special measures to prevent the doe from smelling the strange fur by holding her bunnies with the strange fur and rubbing your hand along the doe's back before placing the fur in the nest box. This aids in transferring her smell to the strange fur. If the doe smells the strange fur, it is likely that she will eat it if these precautionary measures are not followed.

A day or two before kindling, the doe usually consumes less food than normally. Do not disturb her, but make her as comfortable as possible. You may tempt her at that time with small quantities of green feed and commercial feed. This will have a beneficial effect on her digestive system. After the doe kindles, give her plenty of fresh green feed.

Most litters are kindled at night. After kindling, the doe may be restless. Do not disturb her until she has quieted down.

Leave the young in the hutch with the doe until they are 8 to 12 weeks of age.

Care of young litter[edit | edit source]

A few hours after kindling, remove the nest box from the cage and inspect the litter to remove any deformed, undersized, or dead young. If you are careful and quiet making the inspection, the doe generally will not object. There is no danger of causing her to disown the young. If she is nervous and irritable, place some tempting feed in the hutch immediately before inspection to distract her attention and quiet her.

Litters vary in size. The more common breeds usually average eight young. Some may number 12 to 18. For commercial purposes 7, 8, or 9 may be left with the doe. Does from strains that have been developed for heavy production may care for 9 or 10.

You can transfer some of the baby rabbits from a large litter to a foster mother that has a small litter. Adjusting the number of young to the capacity of the doe insures more uniform growth and development at weaning time. Therefore, mate several does so that they will kindle at about the same time. For best results, the young that are transferred should be within 3 or 4 days of the age of the foster mother's young. To facilitate acceptance by the foster mother, rub Vicks Vaporub on her nose as well as the nose of the bunnies to deaden their sense of smell; or better yet, run your hand through the foster mother's fur thus transferring her smell to the bunnies. This will enable a successful acceptance by the doe.

Causes of losses in newborn litters[edit | edit source]

If the doe is disturbed, she may kindle on the hutch floor and the litter may die from exposure. Even if predators - cats, snakes, strange dogs, ants cannot gain access to the rabbitry, they may be close enough for the doe to detect their presence, and she may be frightened and kindle prematurely. If she is disturbed after the litter is born and jumps into the nest box, she may stamp with her back feet and injure or kill the newborn rabbits. Discourage strangers, even your good friends, from entering the breeding section of the rabbitry during kindling time except for the caretaker, whose voice and presence are familiar to the rabbits.

Occasionally a doe fails to produce milk. In such cases the young will starve within 2 or 3 days unless the condition is noted and the young transferred to foster mothers. Keep a close check on newborn litters for several days after birth to make sure they are being fed and cared for properly.

Does sometimes eat their young. This may result from a ration inadequate in either quantity or quality, or from the nervousness of a doe disturbed after kindling. It is also possible that the doe is of a strain that exhibits poor material instincts and cannibal behavior. Does usually do not kill and eat healthy young, but limit their cannibalism to young born dead, or those that are injured and have died. Proper feeding and handling during pregnancy will do more than anything else to prevent this tendency. Give another chance to a valuable doe that destroys her first litter; if she continues the practice, dispose of her.

Weaning[edit | edit source]

Young rabbits open their eyes at 10 days old and start coming out of the nest to eat feed when they are 19 or 20 days old. If the young come out of the nest sooner, they may not be getting enough milk or the nest may be too warm or the door blocker is too low at the front section of the nest box.

The doe usually nurses her young at night or in the early evening and morning hours during the first 2 weeks of nursing. After 2 weeks she will nurse them at her will. If the litter becomes divided, the doe will either nurse the young in the nest or those on the floor. She will not nurse both groups, nor will she pick up the young and return them to the nest. This results when the nest box is too large or not tilted backwards or up at the front.

Leave the young rabbits with the doe until they are 8 to 10 weeks old. By that time, the milk supply will have decreased and the young will be accustomed to eating other feed, thus allowing the doe to prepare for the next kindling. Fryer rabbits should be in marketable size and weight by the time they are 14-16 weeks of age.

Determining the sex of young rabbits[edit | edit source]

Separate the sexes at weaning if you are saving junior replacements or breeding stock. It is possible to determine accurately the sex of baby rabbits less than one week old, but it is easier to do so when they are weaned at 8 weeks. To keep the rabbit from struggling, restrain it firmly, yet gently. A commonly used method is to hold the rabbit on its back between legs with the head up. With your left hand restrain the rabbit around the chest holding the front legs forward alongside the head. Using the right hand, place the thumb behind the right hind leg and use the index and forefinger to depress the area in front of the sex organs to expose the reddish mucous membrane (Fig. 18). In the buck, the organ will protrude as a rounded tip, while in the doe the membrane will protrude to form a slit with a depression at the end next to the anus.

If your eyes or hands are not keen enough to follow the above method, observe the rabbits during feeding, if they ride or mount on one another at even 1½ months of age, surely they are males and are bound to be good quality breeders in the future.

Records[edit | edit source]

As mentioned before, record keeping is essential to good management. The most important features of a simple record system are illustrated in the hutch cards shown in figures 19 and 20.


FIGURE 18 - Sexing a doe: with the thumb depress the mucous membrane so the protrusion shows a slit with a depression at the end below the anus.

Mark each breeding rabbit for your record system. Tattooing is the best marking method because it is permanent and will not disfigure the ears. An adjustable box (Fig. 21) is convenient for restraining rabbits for tattooing. Ear tags and clips are not satisfactory for marking because they tear out and disfigure the ears.

A convenient and simple record system is needed to keep track of breeding, kindling, and weaning operations. Information from the records can be used to cull unproductive animals and to select desirable breeding stock.

Records need not be extremely detailed, unless the personal desires and time of the operator allow for minute record keeping.

Whatever records are kept should permit the operator to calculate costs of production and evaluate the progress made over comparable periods of time (Fig. 22).

Basic information desired includes: (a) the number of does bred, (b) the number of conceptions, (c) the number of does kindling, (d) the number of does raising a litter, (e) total young left with doe, and (f) total number of young weaned or raised per breeding. These facts will provide the necessary permanent production factors. Information can be obtained from the hutch record cards and compiled on a monthly summary form. The monthly figures can then be accumulated on an annual summary form; and an annual summary of the rabbitry can be ascertained by posting the accumulated investment, income, and expense figures on a summary chart.

Records are essential for success in a rabbitry whether it be on a commercial level or in the backyard and on a small scale. Highly productive does and bucks can be secured from past records for replacement stock and sale.




Animal No. W 301 Born 12/12/61 Breed New Zealand White
Sire W 394 Dam W 604 Litter No. W 714












W 418





W 19









W 175




W 418




W 421





W 316




W 421





W 465











W 19


days 56

gm 30.2

W 175







W 316




W 465





Buck No.________________

Bred_________________ Sire _________________
Date born ____________ Dam _________________




Result of breeding
































*(1) Includes equipment, stock, and fur.
*(2) General overhead: feeds, labor, taxes, electricity, etc.


FIGURE 22 - Vertical section of a box for restraining a rabbit for tattooing. The spring-type holders tacked to the lower side of a movable floor compress the rabbit toward the top of the box. A movable cross partition holds the rabbit toward the front. Blocks of wood on each side hold the rabbit's head in the center of the hole at the top.

Preventing injuries[edit | edit source]

Another aspect of good management - caring for welfare of the animals - is preventing injuries. Many injuries such as paralyzed hindquarters in rabbits usually result from improper handling or from injuries caused by slipping in the hutch while exercising or attempting to escape predators. Such slipping usually occurs at night around kindling time. Another cause of injuries is faulty cages that possess protruding nails, wire, or improper wire size. Common injuries are dislocated vertebras, damaged nerve tissue, or strained muscles and/or tendons.

If the injury is mild, the animal may recover in a few days. Make the injured animal comfortable and feed it a balanced diet. If it does not improve within a week, destroy it to prevent unnecessary suffering.

It is important, therefore, that your rabbits be provided with quiet, comfortable surroundings and be protected from predators and unnecessary disturbances. Again, we stress the fact that noise in the rabbitry should be avoided at all times. Also do not allow visitors to poke the rabbits..., instead they should be courteous to them.

Trimming toenails is another preventive measure. The toenails of rabbits confined in hutches do not wear normally. They may even become long enough to cause foot deformity. The nails may also catch in the wire mesh floor and cause injury and suffering. Periodically cut the nails with side cutting pliers. Cut below the tip of the cone in the toenail. The cone can be observed by holding the foot up to daylight. This will not cause hemorrhaging or injury to the sensitive portion.

Sanitation and disease control[edit | edit source]

Daily cleaning of hutches, containers and surroundings is the easiest way to insure sanitary condition hence control disease. When rabbits appear sick refer to table 4 on the following pages which presents in a concise form useful information on the more common disorders of the domestic rabbit.

The most common diseases in the Philippines found in rabbits are coccidiosis, pasteurella type pneumonia, and enteritis. These generally are caused by lack of sanitation in the rabbitry. With strict sanitation practices such as cleaning all cages and water containers EVERYDAY and collecting roughage from uncontaminated areas, (ideally, you will have provided space for planting your own forages) you can drastically minimize chances of ANY disease in the rabbitry or even yourself. (Fig. 23)


FIGURE 23 - (Left) healthy Chinchilla and (right) disease stricken New Zealand White.






Ear Mange or Canker - Shaking of head, scratching of ears. Brown scaly crusts at base of inner ear.

Infestation by mites through feeds or unsanitary cages.

Remove scales and crusts from inner ear and swab with a mixture of 1 tsp. of edible oil to 3 drops iodine. Pour into infected ear. Crush cartilage to break up scabs. Repeat once a week until cured.

Skin Mange - Reddened scaly skin, intense itching and scratching, some loss of fur.

Infestation by skin parasites due to unsanitary conditions of the cage and feeds.

Sevin sprayable 85 mixed with oil and rubbed on infected areas. In severe cases, cull animals.

Favus or Ringworm - Circular patches or scaly skin with red, elevated crusts. Usually starts on head, fur may break off or fall out.

Fungus infection of the skin.

Treat with Fulvicin given orally at the rate of 10 milligrams per pound body weight for 14 days. Combine this treatment with dusting nest boxes with industrial fungicidal sulfur. Apply to infected area, hexetidine, for 7-14 days. Combine with sulfur dusting.

Sore Hocks - Bruised, infected or abscessed areas on hocks. May be found on front feet in severe cases. Animal shifts weight to front feet to help hocks.

Bruised or chafed areas that become infected. Wet floors, irritation from wire, nervous "stompers", are factors in cause.

Small lesions may be helped by placing resting board in cage. Advanced cases are best culled. Apply crude oil mixed with three drops iodine once a week until recovery.

Warbles - lrritated, raised area under skin, usually back or flanks. Active larvae can be felt under skin, area usually moist.

Infestations of skin by fly larvae.

Drop chloroform on larvae and remove with forceps. Apply mild antiseptic to wound

Lympjadenitis - Multiple abscesses or lesions under the skin or in lymph glands. Loss of appetite and weight. May become generalized blood stream infection.

Bacterial infection caused by staphylococous aureus.

Disinfect nest boxes. Severely infected animals should be destroyed. Com bination of 400,000 units of Penicillin and ½ gram Streptomycin to each 2 millimeters should be given orally approx. 1/2 ml. each day for 3-5 days.


Urine-Hutch Burn - Inflammation of external sex organs and anus. Area may form crusts and bleed and, if severely infected, pus will be produced.

Bacterial infection of the membranes.

Keep hutch floors clean and dry. Pay particular attention to corners where animals urinate. Daily application of lanolin will hasten recovery.

Spirochetosus or Vent Disease - Similar lesions as produced by urine or hutch burn. Raw lesions or scabs appear on sex organs transmitted by mating.

Infection by spirochete, Treponema cuniculi.

Do not breed until lesions are healed. If only a few animals are infected, it is easier to cull than treat. Do not loan bucks. Inject intramuscularly 100,000 units of Penicillin.

Conjuctivitis or Weepy Eye - Inflammation of the eyelids discharge may be thin and watery or thick and purulent. Fur around eyes may become wet and matted.

Bacterial infection of the eyelids; may also be due to irritation from smoke, dust, sprays, or fumes.

Early cases may be cleared up with eye ointments, argyrol, yellow oxide of mercury, or antibiotic. Protect animal from air-borne irritants.

Infected Nose - Inflammation or swelling with cracking and chapping of nose and lips. Sometimes brown scabs mat up to considerable thickness on the nose.

Bacterial infection of the nose and lips, similar hutch or urine burn.

Remove scabs from nose and lips and inject intramuscularly 100,000 units of penicillin. For scabby nose continue for 3 days Clean up cases of urine clean and dry.


Caked Breasts - Breasts became firm and congested later hard knots form at sides of nipple. Knots may break open showing dried milk.

Milk not drawn from glands as fast as formed because of too few young, or young not nursing sufficiently. Usually a management problem with high milk producing does.

Do not wean young abruptly; if litter is lost, rebreed doe and protect doe from disturbances so young can nurse properly. Correct faulty nest boxes that injure breasts.

Mastitis or Blue Breasts - Breasts become feverish and pink, nipples red and dark. Temperature above normal, appetite poor. Then breasts turn black and purplish.

Bacterial infection of the breasts usually by Staphylococous or Streptococcus species.

For early cases inject intramuscularly 100,000 units penicillin twice each day 3-5 days. Disinfect hutch, reduce feed concentrates. If case advanced, cull. Never transfer young from infected to another doe.

Snuffles or Cold - Sneezing, rubbing nose, nasal discharge may be thick or thin. Mats fur on inside front feet. May develop into pneumonia, usually chronic type of infection.

Bacterial infection of the nasal sinuses. Sometimes caused by mash feeds given dry.

Individual animals may be treated with combination of 400,000 units of penicillin combined with ½ gram streptomycin to each 2 ml. Give intramuscularly 1 ml. for fryer size, 2 ml. for mature. Repeat on third day. If tends to reoccur add feed grade Sulfaquinoxaline so that level will be 0.025%, feed 3-4 wks. Add water soluble Sulfaquinoxaline so that level will be 0.025%, feed 2-3 wks. This will reduce transmission to young. Save replacement stock from clean animals and cull cases of snuffles from herd.

Pneumonia - labored breathing with nose held high, bluish color to eyes and ears, lungs show congestion, red, mottled, moist, may be filled with pus. Often secondary to enteritis.

Bacterial infection of the lungs due to exposure to rains and typhoons.

Treatment the same as for snuffles. Eliminate stress factors, ear mange, sore hocks, abscesses on body all predisposing factors for pneumonia. Provide cover during windy, rainy season for cages.

Heat Prostration - Rapid respiration, prostration, blood tinged fluid from nose and mouth. Does that are due to kindle are most susceptible.

Lack of ventilation and improper location of hutch.

Ventilate hutch or building to allow air flow.


Malocclusion or Buck Teeth - Incissors grow long so mouth cannot close properly Uppers curl back, lowers protrude. Animals cannot eat. Prone to pneumonia.

Some types are inheritable, others are result of injury.

DO NOT SAVE breading stock from parent showing long teeth. Trim teeth on fryers to get animals to market. CULL RABBITS.

Coccidiosis, (Liver) - White circular spots on and through enlarged liver. Bile appears yellow in color and bladder may show sediment of cocysts. Usually cannot detect in live animals, not fatal.

Parasitic infection of the liver and bile ducts caused by Eimeria stiedae

Keep floors clean, dry, remove droppings frequently. Prevent fecal contamination of feed and water. Treat w/ Belmet or Sulmet. Follow instructions on lable.

Coccidiosis (Intestinal) - Mild cases, no symptoms; moderate cases, diarrhea and no weight gain. Severe cases have pot belly, diarrhea with mucus; and pneumonia is often secondary.

Parasitic infection of the intestinal tract.

Keep floor clean, dry remove droppings frequently. Prevent fecal contamination of food and water. Sulmet or Belmet combined with SANITATION will greatly reduce numbers of parasites and animals infected.

Enteritis. Bloat, Scours - Loss of appetite, little activity, eyes dull and squinted, fur rough, and animal may appear bloated. Diarrhea or mucus in drop- pings and animal may grind teeth. Stomach contents fluid, intestinal contents fluid, gaseous, or filled with mucus.

Never has been shown to be infectious or transmitted to other animals. (Beware of fermented, spoiled feeds and forages.)

Terramycin scour tablets with vitamin A, D, and Niacinamide. If this is not available use Sulfasuxidine or Sulfaguanadine. Follow instruction on lable.

Fur Block - Animals reduce feed intake or stop eating completely, fur becomes rough and weight is lost. Stomach filled with undigested fur, blocking pas- sage to intestinal tract. Pneumonia may become secondary.

Lack of sufficient fiber, bulk or roughage in diet. Junior or developing does most susceptible.

Increase fiber or roughage in the ration. Feed dry Leucerne or timothy hay.

Tapeworm Larvae - White streaks in liver or small white cysts attached to membrane on stomach or intestines. Usually cannot detect in live animal.

Intermediate stage of the dog or cat tapeworm.

No treatment, keep dogs and cats away from feed, water and nest box material. Eggs found in droppings of dogs and cats.

Pinworms - No symptoms in live animals. White threadlike worms found in cecum and large intestine causes slight local irritation.

Parasitic infection of the intestinal tract.

None; infection not considered one of economic importance.

Metritis or White Discharge from female organs, often confused with sediment in urine. Enlarged uterus detected on palpation. One or both uteri filled with white, purulent material.

Infection of the uterus, by a variety of bacteria, nonspecific.

Dispose of infected animal and disinfect hutch. Infected area difficult to medicate. When both uteri are infected animal is sterile.

Myxomatosis 3 - Inflammation and swelling of the eyes, ears, nose and genitals, high fever, loss of appetite ears may droop from weight of swelling. Usually fatal, mature animals most affected.

Infection cased by virus.

None, antibiotics not effective. Reduce mosquito population by spraying, draining stagnant water. and screening, promptly dispose of infected animals.

Papilloma - Wrinkle horny growths, usually on ears, may form "stag horn" type of growth. Not fatal, cannot be transmitted to other domestic rabbits.

Infection caused by virus.

None, not fatal, self-limiting. Usually an infection of the wild rabbit, transmitted to the domestic by the bite of insects.

MILKWEED Poisoning - Paralysis of the neck muscles and lack of coordination. Head droops between front legs, and animal cannot eat or drink. General paralysis in advanced cases.

Paralysis caused by eating leaves or stems of the wolly-pod milk-weed, Asclepias eirocarpa.

Force feed and water into animal.

Pseudotuberculosis-Chronic infection, weight loss weakness, and progressive emaciation. Small abscesses found in liver, kidneys spleen, lungs, or intestine.

Bacterial infection.

Destroy hopelessly sick animals, disinfect hutches. Add 50 grams NF-180 per ton of feed to give a final concentration of 0.0055%. May be fed intermittently or continuously.

Listeriosis - Loss of appetite and emaciation, generally in young animals. Minute white abscesses in liver, spleen and reproductive organs. May involve central nervous system.

Bacterial infection.

Early treatment with Terramycin at a level of 1 pound to 100-150 gallons of water. Advanced cases should be destroyed. Disinfect hutches.

Hydrocephalus - Found in young only; top of skull raised, resembles large welt, firm to touch. Ventricles of brain enlarged, filled with fluid.

Nutrition deficiency, lack of sufficient Vitamin A in doe's diet.

Insure adequate vitamin A in ration. Damage is done during pregnancy. Symptoms appear in young about 10-20 days old.

Paralyzed Hind Quarters - Found in mature does, hind legs drag, cannot stand or support weight of pelvis. Urinary bladder fills but does not empty.

Injury, resulting in broken back displaced disc, damage to spinal cord or nerves.

Protect animals from disturbing factors; predators, night prowlers, and visitors or noises that startle animals, especially pregnant does.

Wry-Neck - Head twisted to one side, animals roll over, cannot maintain equilibrium.

Infection of the organs of balance in the inner ear, may be bacterial or parasitic. This is severe case of untreated ear canker.

None, eliminate those with ear canker from herd. Some cases result from nest box injuries.

Use Affsilin for general use as a disease resistor. It is used as a food supplement added to the feed. Terramycin premix added to the ration is a general treatment for common rabbit diseases in the Philippines to help prevent serious ailments.

There are certain principles, however, some of which may appear to be self-evident, that are so generally applicable that space would not permit their repetitious presentation in the table. These together with certain relevant comments are, therefore, enumerated:

  1. Disease is in a sense a natural phenomenon which can never be completely eliminated but, can be greatly decreased through an intensive daily sanitation program. (Fig. 24)


FIGURE 24 - Manure collects daily in corners of the cage. If not cleaned regularly, skin mites multiply and infest the rabbit.

  1. Purposeful and intelligent sanitation practices may usually keep disease at a low level.
  2. Prevention is vastly to be preferred to treatment and possible cure - proper sanitation practices are PREVENTION.
  3. High natural resistance, long life and high productivity are as certainly inheritable as other traits, such as size, color, ear length, etc., but not necessarily in as simple a pattern. Persistent selection of breeding stock on the basis of superior performance will pay well for the trouble expended.
  4. Do not overcrowd your animals (see "Hutches").
  5. Observe good nutrition practices to permit the greatest expression of superior inheritable traits.
  6. Provide plenty of draft-free ventilation. Up-drafts through selfcleaning floor result from over enclosure of the sides; and these drafts are particularly objectionable.
  7. Permit your animals plenty of sunlight, if not attended by great heat. Shade must also be provided.
  8. Keep all equipment CLEAN and DRY and, to minimize the possibilities of injury, keep it in good repair.

10. Avoid unnecessary handling of animals, their feed, their containers for food and water, or any equipment with which they come in contact. The clothing and hands of the caretaker may spread disease.

11. Isolate all stock being brought into your herd, for 1-2 weeks, whether it be a new introduction or one of your own animals that has been in possible contact with other rabbits, directly or through equipment and handlers.

12. Isolate animals suspected of having infectious diseases, and care for such animals AFTER the normal ones have had their attention.

13. Protect your animals from disturbing influences, particularly night prowlers. Allow your animals complete rest during the day as routine care will permit.

14. If rabbits are sold on regular schedule to a dealer, have marketable stock segregated and confined outside of the rabbitry or at its entrance. The pickup man visits may rabbitries in rapid succession and will appreciate your cooperation in minimizing the possibility of his becoming a factor in the spread of disease.

Fur eating habit[edit | edit source]

Rabbits that eat their own fur or bedding material, or gnaw the fur on other rabbits, usually do so because the diet is inadequate in quality or quantity. A common cause is a diet low in fiber or bulk. Sometimes the protein content of the diet is too low. Adding more soybean, sorghum, peanut meal or any other legume may correct the deficiency.

The experienced breeder notes the condition of each animal in the herd and regulates the quantity of feed to meet its individual requirement. Providing good-quality grass or feeding fresh, sound leguminous feed or rootcrops as a supplement to the home-mix or pelleted diet also helps to correct an abnormal appetite, or else remove all feed for 24 hours.

Preventing fur block[edit | edit source]

In cleaning themselves by licking their coats, or when eating fur from other animals, rabbits swallow some wool or fur which is not digested. The only noticeable result may be droppings fastened together by fur fibers. However, if the rabbit swallows any appreciable amount, it may collect in the stomach and form a "fur block" that interferes with digestion. If it becomes large enough, it blocks the alimentary tract and the animal starves. The most satisfactory method of preventing this is to shear Angoras regularly, and try to prevent fur eating among your rabbits by providing adequate roughage and protein in their diets. A block of wood soaked in salt for three days and hung in the cage for the rabbits to chew may be used to reduce fur chewing.

Gnawing wooden parts of the hutch[edit | edit source]

Gnawing wood is natural for the rabbit. However in excess, it may indicate insufficient amounts of salt in the diet. Protect wooden parts of the hutch by placing wire mesh on the inside of the frame when constructing the hutch or by using strips of tin, galvanized iron, or flattened cans (make sure there are no rough edges protruding) to protect exposed wooden edges. Again, a block of wood soaked in brine solution and hung in the cage is the best solution.

Rabbits that have access to good quality grass and are receiving legumes and rootcrops are less likely to gnaw on their hutches.

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