As I forgot to do one of these last year I thought it was about time to get some goals set for 2017
UPDATE RABBIT HOUSING
Yes i'm always wanting to do something, this year i'd like to:
- get the shed all re-painted
- set up the paved aviary for Lizzie's pets
- get a woodland aviary attached to the does colony
- Produce the next generation of smoke pearls
- Breed a litter of standard rex
- Breed a litter completely pellet free
- Finish Duke & Catkin's Championship
- Finish a home-bred rex Championship
- Achieve a Best Fur
- Build new tortoise habitat
- Plant betta tank
- Get goldfish again
- blog regulary
- keep up regular instagram posts
- reach 1k subs on instagram
- restart youtube channel
- finish natural feeding ebook
Skye's babies are growing well and are now nearly 4 weeks old, we have 1 marten smoke pearl buck (Duke), 2 marten smoke pearl does (Holly & Willow) and 2 marten slate bucks (Prince and Earl). At the moment I'm planning on running on Duke, Holly and Willow to see how they develop. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the litter theme.
But the really big news is that all the babies and Skye are now back into the main colony enclosure, Skye just popped out at feeding time one night and went to eat with the other girls. I spent the next day closely observing them together and all seems well. Which is great news because those bouncy babies certainly need the extra space.
It's been a difficult week in the colony, some days had me questioning my decision to keep my girls in a colony at all, but I have to keep reminding myself that the ups most defiantly out way the downs.
It all started well, with Skye kindling a nice healthy litter in one of the ground level nesting cages (huge plus as the last litter was kindled upstairs). Unfortunately it was a rather large litter, 9 kits in total and they were all rather small, I like my does to raise smaller numbers as it means bigger, chunkier, healthier babies in the long run. A quick call to my breeding partner Ann and I discovered that one of her new moms had lost her litter in a tragic accident., so the 4 smallest babies were pulled out, snuggled up in a make shift nest and off I popped in the car. It looked to go well at first as the foster doe came over and fed the babies, but sadly it was not meant to be as I'm told the following morning there was no trace of the babies at all. A sad end but at least here we have 5 beautiful healthy babies now looking much stronger and growing well.
Then things started to get worse. Sadly Zyanya, my beautiful sable doe and the current dominant doe in my group, fell ill. She came down with a sudden and unexplained case of gastro-intestinal stasis, I still can't pin point the cause, she was 4 years old and had just finished raising her final litter, she had looked so fit and well. At first Zy had just slowed down and wouldn't eat the dried food, however she was still passing droppings (albeit misshapen) and eating fresh greens, especially dandelions, parsley and strawberry leaves. This went on for a couple of days, with me providing pain relief and hand feeding her, but sadly after 3 days she stopped eating altogether, no amount of coxing or syringe feeding would help, I made the decision to remove her from the colony to bring her indoors, but she passed away the same evening.
This left a huge and sudden gaping hole in the hierarchy of the colony. The group structure completely dissolved, it may not have been so bad if I hadn't only recently (2 weeks prior) introduced bluebell to the group, or if Skye hadn't only just kindled (her babies were just 4 days old), meaning her hormones were rampant. But if truth be told I'll never know. In theory Skye should have taken command of the group, as she was 2nd behind Zyanya, but I guess she was torn between asserting her dominance and protecting her new litter. Minerva (who has recently been speyed) is the group matriarch and former dominant doe, Zy always left her pretty much alone and she slotted in without any arguments. However the order was not resolved peaceably as I had hoped and there was a fair bit of fur pulling, this is not something that normally bothers me as it is a normal part of dominance behaviour, however the next day, things still hadn't settled back down and the girls were not sitting together, or eating together (a sure sign of discourse), and then Skye got a bite on her nose. I assume this happened during a dominance display - a dominant rabbit will often approach a more submissive rabbit with their head low to the ground and push it under the other rabbits face, if this animal submits they will groom the dominants rabbit's head - however in this case it looks like she got a nip for her efforts. If I had to guess which doe did it I'd say Minnie, as all the others would normally submit to Skye without any quarrels. While this injury may just have been a one off, and everything settled, I made the decision to split Skye from the group to protect her kits from getting caught up in the hubbub.
Skye is now shut into the double nesting area with her babies and all seems happy and well. The other four girls are back to living harmoniously - although at present I cannot tell who has taken on the role of the dominant doe. Skye can still interact with the others through the bars of her hutch, but for now will remain separate, I have yet to decide if or when she will re-join the group. But at least for now, everyone is calm and happy and I can enjoy my sociable girls once again.
On a happier note the colony has been over-run with newly emerged butterflies this week. All the chrysalises that I found throughout the shed at the end of last year have begun hatching out. The adult butterflies however are too large to fit through the mesh that the caterpillars came in through, so they have had to be removed one by one to the garden. But they have certainly brightened the place up, and I forgive them for eating all my sprouts.
I'm also very happy with how 'Moorcroft's Catkin' is coming on - she is Zyanya's daughter and a real looker. She has lovely chunky type and her coat is coming on nicely, I'm looking forward to getting this baby out onto the show table later in the year, it's been a long time since I've felt this proud over a baby I've bred.
The following few days went along as normal but whenever Min would approach Zy, the new head doe would assume the dominant position (body still, low to the ground, head down and ears raised). This sight often makes me nervous in groups that are new or have unstable dominance but this was certainly a peaceful takeover. Minnie just settled straight in to grooming her younger sister. Minnie was a little quiet for a few days and spent most of her time with Blackberry the low-rank doe and our resident outsider. While I felt sorry that Min was not the centre of the group anymore it was really nice to see Blackberry finally getting some loving with a close buddy.
It's been three weeks now and Minnie seems happy to settle with her new lower ranking and enjoy her retirement but she's back in the middle of the hubub now and has taken Blackberry with her. The change in lead doe has had an impact on the standings of the other does. Zy's daughter Ava who was previous the 2nd bottom doe is now 2nd in command sticking to her mum like glue. While Min's daughter Pandora has taken to splitting her time between her mum and the lead doe group.
In other news this month Pan has been experiences a phantom pregnancy... building a nest and eating for England - but there's nothing in there. It's about time I mated up another one of these does my plan would have been Pan but with the hierarchy reshuffle i'm thinking maybe Ava.