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close this bookBetter Farming Series 36 - Raising Rabbits 1: Learning about Rabbits; Building the Pens; Choosing Rabbits (FAO, 1988, 56 p.)
close this folderThe rabbits
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentChoosing good rabbits
View the documentHow to handle your rabbits
View the documentBringing your rabbits home
View the documentPreparing the pens and putting in the rabbits


81. Now it is time to buy your full- grown rabbits. You will have to learn how to choose healthy rabbits.

82. Let us begin by learning the parts of a rabbit. This will help you when you choose yours.

83. Below is a drawing of a rabbit. Look at it carefully and learn the name of each part.


Choosing good rabbits

84. It is best to buy your rabbits from a place where you can go to see them before you buy them.

85. This way you can be sure that they have been kept clean, that all the rabbits are healthy and that they have been well cared for.

86. Perhaps you can visit a nearby farmer who raises his own rabbits. There may even be a big rabbit farm near where you live.

A nearby farmer

A big rabbit farm

87. Try to find out as much as you can about the rabbits that you may buy. Here are some things that you should look for when you are choosing your rabbits.

88. Look carefully at each rabbit to see that it is active and moves well.

89. Never buy a rabbit that moves slowly or looks dull and sleepy.

A rabbit which looks dull and sleepy

90. Look to see that each rabbit has bright eyes, a dry nose and clean ears and feet.

91. Never buy a rabbit with a runny nose, or with sores in its ears or on its feet.

A rabbit with runny nose, sores in ears and feet

92. Look at its fur. The fur of a healthy rabbit is smooth and clean.

93. Never buy a rabbit with fur that is rough or dirty or grows In patches.

A which is rabbit rough, dirty and grows in patches

94. Look at its teeth. The front grinding teeth of a rabbit should be in line.

95. Never buy a rabbit If the grinding teeth are crooked or out of line. Teeth that are out of line grow and grow until the rabbit cannot eat.

Rabbit with grinding teeth

96. Try to get rabbits from females that have five or six babies at a time.

Female with babies

97. Try to get rabbits that grew well and were healthy when they were young and that weighed 1 1/2 to 2 kilograms when they were three to four months old.

Weigh the rabbit

98. Rabbits that come from big families, that grow well and weigh a lot when they are young are more likely to have big families and big, healthy baby rabbits.

99. When you buy your rabbits, make sure that your female and your male rabbits are not brothers and sisters.

100. The female rabbits that you choose should have eight teats so that they can feed eight babies.

Four tits each side

101. With most kinds of rabbits, females are ready to mate when they are 4 to 4 1/2 months old. Male rabbits are ready a little later, when they are 5 to 5 1/2 months old.

102. So, when you first begin, try to get rabbits that are old enough to mate, so that you can begin to raise your own baby rabbits as soon as you can.

103. When you have decided what rabbits to buy, find out what kinds of food they have been eating.

104. This will help you to know what to feed them when you get them home. You may even be able to take home some of this food to feed them for the first few days.

How to handle your rabbits

105. Rabbits must be handled with great care in order not to hurt them.

106. When you pick up a rabbit hold it firmly but gently.

107. Make no sudden movements or you may frighten the rabbit and it will begin to struggle or scratch you.

108. Remember, never pick up a rabbit by the legs or the ears or you may hurt It.

Never pick up a rabbit by its legs or ears

109. Now let us learn the right way to pick up rabbits of different sizes and how to carry them.

Full- grown rabbits, small rabbits and heavy rabbits

110. When a rabbit is full- grown the skin over the shoulders at the back of the neck is very loose.

111. Gently grasp this loose skin with one hand to hold the rabbit and put the other hand under the rabbit to pick it up.

112. When you lift the rabbit, the hand under the animal should carry nearly all of the weight.

Full- grown rabbit

113. A small rabbit can be lifted and carried by holding it firmly between the hips and the ribs with the head hanging down.

Small rabbit

114. With a heavy rabbit, gently grasp the loose skin at the back of the neck with one hand and put the head of the rabbit behind the elbow of the other arm.

Heavy rabbit

115. Hold the heavy rabbit firmly against your side with the lower part of this arm and put the other arm under the rabbit.

Bringing your rabbits home

116. When you bring your rabbits home you will have to be very careful not to frighten them or they may get sick or die. So, move them quietly and gently.

117. Do not give any food to rabbits the night before you move them. It is not good to move a rabbit when its stomach is full. However, if the trip is long they should be given water from time to time.

118. It is best to move each rabbit in a separate container such as a crate or a basket with a lid that can be closed. However, the containers you use should let in plenty of fresh air during the trip.

Take everything needed

119. If the weather is hot, move your rabbits early in the morning. If the weather is cooler, move them in the evening.

120. When you reach home, put the containers down gently near the pens. Let the rabbits rest and become calm while you prepare their pens.

Let rabbits rest

Preparing the pens and putting in the rabbits

121. Put fresh food and water in the pens. This will help your rabbits to feel at home and to settle down more quickly.

Put fresh food and water in pens

122. It you were able to bring home some of the food that they were used to eating (see Item 104 in this booklet), use that.

123. If you were not able to bring home some of the food that they were used to eating, try to give them something that is nearly the same.

124. When the pens are ready, lift the rabbits carefully out of their containers and put them gently in their pens.

Lift the rabbits carefully

125. You have already been told that it is best to have the same person take care of the rabbits all of the time.

126. So, this person should put the rabbits in their pens and take care of them from now on.

127. Now, let your rabbits settle down. Stay away from them as much as you can until they become used to the pen.

128. Do not bring people to see them. Do not let your children play near the rabbit pens. Do not let dogs or cats or other animals near them.

Do not let the children play near the pens

129. In Booklet No. 37, Raising rabbits: part 2, you will learn

· what to feed your rabbits, when to feed them and how much to give them
· how to mate full- grown rabbits and raise your own baby rabbits
· how to take care of your rabbits
· when and how to use or sell rabbits.

130. You will be told some other things that you can do to raise rabbits better in the section on Further improvement.