Pure New Zealand White rabbits are large white rabbits with pink eyes and pink ears.
I have two bucks left from the last litter and a new litter born on 29th December that will be ready for new homes in the middle of March.
Rabbits need hay to eat as well as rabbit pellets or rabbit mix and they need a constant supply of fresh water – or water changed every day. They are quite clean and will usually keep one corner of their pen to use as a toilet. It is also possible to house train rabbits – and some of my rabbits are now ‘house pets’ and sit and watch TV with their owners.
Diet is very important with young rabbits as they can easily die from digestive upsets. My breeding rabbits enjoy lots of different plants from the garden – see list below – but until they are at least 10 weeks old it is better to stick to just pellets and ad lib hay. Insufficient hay can also cause digestive problems – as I have learned by experience.
The most wonderful part of rabbit keeping for me is when the babies get to about three weeks old and their fur has all grown and their eyes open for the first time. They jump around and are so happy and funny it’s a real pleasure to watch them.
Being such a large breed, New Zealand Whites are large enough at 10-12 weeks old to be sold as meat rabbits. Much older and the meat becomes fattier. Rabbit meat is one of the most healthy meats as it is very low in cholesterol.
Pet rabbits kept in cages or well cleaned out pens probably have a much better (and certainly longer) life than wild rabbits.
Food plants that rabbits like: * feed in moderation
*Apple – whole fruit, peelings,
Twigs and leaves of most fruit trees including hawthorn
Borage – young leaves and flowers
*Brassicas – broccoli, sprouts, cabbage,cauliflower, kale – feed sparingly to avoid urinary problems
Carrot tops and thinnings (contrary to popular belief, rabbits are not keen on carrot roots but they do love carrot tops)
Chickweed (although I find hens prefer this – particularly chicks)
Clover (they love Clover)
Parsley (useful tonic)
Plantain – young leaves only – avoid roots and seeds
Raspberry – young leaves – good for pregnant does (as we humans have raspberry tea when birth is imminent!)
Sage – young leaves useful for digestive upsets – in moderation
Shepherd’s purse – also useful for digestive upsets – ad lib
*Spring onion and onion – green tops
Sow thistle (not common or creeping thistle)
*Spinach thinnings or young leaves
*Strawberry – young leaves
Rabbits form an integral part of my recycling programme as they like the plants my hens and ducks do not like so I can recycle nearly all the weeds in my vegetable garden and the peelings (eg apple) and trimmings (eg spring onion tops). Also any surplus vegetables provide food – my hens love courgettes – and marrows if I’ve missed one! And the ducks and hens love slugs and snails – and caterpillars and other insects that damage my plants.
Rabbit droppings make excellent manure for the vegetable garden.
Every day I get real pleasure from digging up some choice titbits for the hens, ducks and rabbits and watching them enjoy them along with their regular food.
Some of the meals we eat are prepared totally from what I have grown in the garden – fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat – and it’s very satisfying – and healthy.
If I can be of help with advice on the management of a vegetable garden with ducks, hens and rabbits please contact me.
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