How to know when to cull rabbits

Are you wondering if you should cull rabbits, but don’t know where to start? If you find your rabbitry sitting at a standstill in terms of progress or production, it may be time to switch out some breeders. It’s easy to get attached to the animals we care for on a daily basis and watch grow. But, in order to increase efficiency it is essential to cull rabbits. Luckily, culling doesn’t have to mean euthanizing.

There are many aspects that make a breeding rabbit desirable. Determining which traits are most beneficial to your rabbitry will help in deciding which rabbits to cull. In order to do this you need to have a set of goals for your rabbitry. 

A common goal is financial stability within rabbit raising. This can be frustrating and difficult to achieve without direction. Rabbits that are not paying for themselves are often considered cull rabbits. 

Breeders that can successfully raise large, healthy litters will be more likely to pay their own feed bills. We all can appreciate help with the feed bills! 

Let’s dive right in so you can better understand how setting goals, striving for financial stability, and cultivating prolific breeders will impact your cull rabbit decision.

Soft Cull vs. Hard Cull Rabbits

There are two ways to cull rabbits: soft culling and hard culling. Essentially, soft culling means selling the rabbit as a pet or simply not breeding the rabbit anymore, and hard culling, or terminally culling, means euthanizing the rabbit. 

Soft culling may not always be an option, depending on the pet market in your area and space to keep your own pets. Some rabbitries choose to only soft cull rabbits, which can work if there is a want for pets where you are located. If you choose soft culling it is important that your rabbits are socialized and friendly so that they will make good pets. 

Hard cull rabbits can be eaten, sold as meat, or used as pet food. Hard culling opens up more options for making income in your rabbitry and might be the only option if there is not a pet market in your community. If you do not have the facilities for hard culling, or are not comfortable with it, there are meat processors who butcher rabbits. This may be the best option for you if you decide to hard cull rabbits.

Whether you choose soft culling, hard culling, or a combination, it is fundamental to cull rabbits in order to continue refining your rabbitry. 

Cull rabbits

Are They Helping Meet Your Goals?

Part of bettering any process in life is setting goals. While running a rabbitry this can often be overlooked as we get in the swing of doing daily chores. Your rabbitry goals can look very different compared to other rabbitries depending on your purpose for raising rabbits. Some examples of rabbitry goals could be:

  • Each doe produces ____ kits per year. 
  • Increasing growth rate by ____%.
  • Produce ____ pounds of meat this year. 
  • Improving depth, width, or fur quality. 
  • Making a profit from your rabbitry. 
  • Attending ____ amount of shows this year or winning a certain award.

Ideally, your goals will have a way to measure them (number amount) and a time in which you would like them completed. Setting goals for your rabbitry will keep your attention towards consistently bettering your process, and ultimately your results.

Record-keeping to Determine Cull Rabbits

Keeping breeders that are not helping you meet your goals will stall your rabbitry’s progress. That is why it is important to set goals for the direction you would like your rabbitry to grow towards. Some goals will be more work-intensive and require more action on your part in terms of record keeping. 

There are many ways you can accomplish keeping track of your records. Paper and spreadsheet records can often become disorganized and inaccurate if they are not intensively paid attention to. Everbreed offers software available on the web and in a mobile application for pain-free record keeping. All you have to do is enter your numbers and Everbreed automatically calculates reports, allowing you to directly compare your breeder and litter performance. Some of Everbreed’s reports include doe and buck misses, growth rate, survival rate, and more. 

Many different traits can make a breeder desirable, you just have to find which aspects will benefit your rabbitry and help reach your goals the fastest.

Rabbit growouts

Are They Paying for Themselves?

Is making a profit with your rabbitry important to you? Even if it is not, having rabbits that pay for themselves will benefit anyone. Rabbits can bring in income in many different ways such as selling:

  • Meat breeding stock
  • Show stock
  • Meat for human consumption or pet consumption. You can also sell organs and less desirable parts (heads, feet, etc.) for pet consumption. 
  • Manure for fertilizer
  • Hides
  • Rabbits as pets

There are more creative ways to make money with rabbits than those listed above. But, in order to increase efficiency, rabbits should be able to pay for themselves. This means finding ways to completely offset the costs of feed, cages, medical supplies, etc. One rabbitry’s income tactics can look very different than another’s, and your location can greatly impact your markets. 

When the decision comes to cull rabbits, it is paramount to know which rabbits are influencing your financial stability the most. Some rabbits may not be producing enough high-quality kits, because they don’t have the genetics to do so. Or, they might not have a good growth rate, so it would be better to replace them with a kit that has an exceptional growth rate. Both of these aspects are influential to your rabbits paying for themselves. 

Keeping Track of Rabbitry Finances

These financial calculations can be difficult to break down to a per rabbit scale. An easy way to accomplish this is with Everbreed’s Financial Ledger. This helpful tool not only keeps track of your overall expenses vs. income but also breaks them down to a per rabbit scale. So, you can easily see if your rabbits are paying for themselves. Everbreed’s Financial Ledger also allows you to create categories so you can directly see which areas you are spending and making the most money in. On top of that, photos of receipts can be attached to transactions so that you can always reference them straight from your phone.

Large, healthy rabbit litter

Large Healthy Litters

No matter what purpose you’re breeding for, large, healthy litters will improve your overall efficiency. Does that produce small quality litters may be paying for themselves but they could multiply their worth if they were producing large litters with the same quality. Cull rabbits are often breeders who do not have good reproductive traits.

Lacking in Reproductive Abilities = Cull Rabbit

Breeder viability is a direct product of numerous reproductive traits. The first step is accomplishing a successful breeding. The saying “breed like rabbits” does not always find itself true. Having or obtaining rabbits that will breed when you want them to is essential for your efficiency.

After your doe has achieved pregnancy she needs to be able to appropriately kindle. This includes building a sufficient nest, pulling enough fur, and having her kits in the nest box. Does that frequently have deformed kits or dead-born kits will likely be cull rabbits. A doe with proficient mothering ability will produce enough milk to feed all of her kits, keep her kits fed, and will not kill them.

Three Strikes, You’re Out

A common saying in the rabbit world is “three strikes, you’re out!”. What does this mean? It means that does have three chances to show their mothering skills before they are determined to be a cull rabbit. 

Strikes can be kindling on the wire (not in the nest box), killing their kits, or not feeding their kits. There are many ways rabbits will kill their kits whether it is on accident or on purpose. Mothering ability sometimes doesn’t come right away for young does or first time does. These does will sometimes not clean off their kits, accidentally stomp their kits, or eat their kits. Repeat offenders should be cull rabbits.

Increasing Rabbit Litter Size

The first step to increasing litter size is to make sure you are feeding a high-quality feed that is giving the doe enough nutrition. Quality nutrition is essential for the doe to be able to grow her kits, and feed them once they’re born. 

Another way to up your litter size is to breed your doe multiple times in one day. Does are stimulated to ovulate when the buck is riding the doe. So, breeding 2-3 times in one day separated by intervals of 2-4 hours should increase the chances of eggs being fertilized once the doe ovulates.

Breeding multiple does in one day can also help kit survival. If you have a doe who had more kits than she can efficiently raise and a doe with a smaller litter, you can foster some kits to the small litter to even out the mothering responsibility. 

Does from large litters generally produce large litters. Consequently, keeping track of which does produce large litters will help you in determining which grow-outs you want to keep back. When you have a large sum of breeding stock, this can be troublesome with paper records that often become confusing and messy. Alternatively, Everbreed offers Reports where you can directly compare your does to see which ones are consistently producing large litters. This will ease your decision when choosing which kits to keep back. It will also help to determine which breeders will be cull rabbits. 

Replacing Unproductive Breeders

After deciding which rabbits have earned a spot on the cull list, you will likely want to replace them in order to continue and improve your rabbitry’s production. This can be a daunting task depending on your location and knowing what to look for in a replacement. 

Ultimately, any rabbit that ranks higher in the quality that the cull rabbit was eliminated for is progress. And if you do not have many rabbit breeders in your area you may be forced to take small steps to better your production and meet your goals. Your replacements do not have to be outsourced, even if this could be the quickest way to improve your herd. 

The simplest step you can take is keeping back kits from your own stock that out-produce their parents. This may mean they have better bone structure, a quicker growth rate, or better fur quality. It can take many generations before you are producing your ideal breeder from your own stock, but bringing in breeders from other farmers is not always an option. 

If you are able to shop around it is important to choose rabbits that distinctly stand out in the traits you are looking to improve. Finding breeders who diligently keep records on their rabbits will be influential to selecting your new breeding stock.

Conclusion

Setting rabbitry goals, eliminating rabbits that don’t pay their bills, and ensuring your breeders have abundant reproductive viability will aid in choosing cull rabbits. 

In order to expand rabbitry production you must cull rabbits, whether you choose soft or hard culling. 

Part of any successful process in life is setting goals so that your project has a direction. Rabbits that are not helping you meet your goals are putting your rabbitry’s progress on hold, and they should be deemed as cull rabbits. The majority of rabbit breeders do not start for the point of making money, but having rabbits that generate some sort of income means that you can expand your rabbitry even further. Having breeders that can consistently raise sizable, healthy litters will assist you towards financial stability. 

The one factor that will assist you most in choosing cull rabbits is good record-keeping. Additionally, good record-keeping will elevate the most prolific breeders in your rabbitry. 

Records kept on paper and in spreadsheets can quickly become disorganized and messy. Alternatively, Everbreed offers software to keep all of your rabbit records in one safe place that you can access from anywhere on any device. Everbreed’s Reports, Pedigrees, Cage Cards, and Financial Ledger will give you the tools to ensure your rabbitry is as efficient and productive as possible.


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