Today I took the opportunity (first dry day all week) to move the rabbits around and make some decisions about who's staying, and who's going.
Dora and her three babies moved into a big cage to give them more space to play now that the babies are 4 weeks old and out of the nest more often than not. Little #1 ran circles, kicking his legs out and he sped around the bigger space. They seemed to quite enjoy their new-found play space!
Paris moved in to Dora's previous cage to make use of the lovely nest box (which was cleaned out before Paris moved in), as she's set to deliver on Thursday. She has a bit of a belly on her, and as soon as I put fresh straw in, she started building her nest and pulling fur!
Stew stayed in the same cage she's been in, but I cleaned out her nest box (much to her disgruntled protestation), and added fresh straw. She's due Wednesday, and like Paris, immediately took to collecting straw and pulling fur to build herself a nest!
I gave a nest box to Sweetheart, but I really don't think her breeding took. She enjoys laying in her next box, but has made no attempt to build a nest. She's not due (if she's pregnant) until Friday, but like I said - I don't think Porkchop did his job with her. She's just too fluffy!
I'm looking forward to Monday and Tuesday. I'm hoping to buy all of the lumber Monday and get it all cut to size, and then get the roof up Tuesday so I can finish adding the last three cages to the bunny barn and get the angora bucks situated in new bigger cages.
Pickles has been pulling fur, so I'm concerned that perhaps I didn't separate her buck baby soon enough to prevent an accident. I guess I'll have no choice but to wait and see.
After much thought, I've decided to retire Dora after this litter. I've only had her a short while, and she's been an excellent, diligent mother - but she was born in 2011, and that will make her 3 years old by next breeding time (spring). Once her current litter is weaned, she'll be available for sale, and her daughter (baby #2) will be staying back to take her place when she's old enough. I'm considering doing the same with Paris to get the cage aggression issues out. I believe with lots of handling, the babies will be well socialized, and less likely to show the strange cage aggression that she has. We'll see how she is as a mom, how her babies turn out, and if any of them show signs of aggression.
I've also decided to retire Porkchop. Despite being an excellent breeder, and winning blue ribbon for his category at the fair this year, he just hasn't been the same since the dog attack. He's fearful, spending all of his time in his straw box, flinching when approached, and reacting as though he has to escape whenever he's touched. I'm afraid that he will end up scratching the kids, or flailing enough that he could fall or be dropped, and escape when they're attempting to handle him. At this point, he is no longer a viable option for the kids to handle safely. He's not aggressive, but I'm afraid in his panic-induced frantic responses, he could end up hurting the kids, or himself. I've finally been able to track down some Blu-Kote (recommended by another local breeder), and have applied it to both of Porkchop's ears to treat the scabby mess inside. I believe they are likely fly bites that he scratched and became infected. One ear is nearly healed with just one treatment of Blu-Kote, and I applied a second today. Since I will be (hopefully) buying his replacement at the auction Saturday, I will have to find him a home this week or sell him at the same auction I bought him from just last spring.
And in a bit of a twist, I've also decided to sell my daughter's "Flemish giant" buck. When I got him, I was told that he was a purebred Flemish and that both of his parents were 14 pounds. I've had him for a while now, and guess what - he's the same size he was when he came to us! He looks to be about 7 pounds... even smaller than Porkchop! It has become abundantly clear that he's not a Flemish at all, but likely a New Zealand, or a cross thereof. He's come a long way from the scared bunny we brought home, but he's still not nearly as snuggly as our Flemish doe (who is now 1.5x the size of Death Knight and loves to be picked up). Since I have no use for a black New Zealand (cross?), he's available for sale now too.
Of course, I'd also be willing to trade Dora, Porkchop, or Death Knight for a purebred Flemish buck (in the 15-20 pound range), or a purebred English lop buck (tort or broken preferred). It would certainly save me the time and energy of selling them and then trying to track down the rabbits I want to replace them.
Bunny checks begin tomorrow morning, so keep checking back for litter announcements for the three possible moms-to-be!