Feedback on Rabbit Raising

A reader with extensive rabbit experience takes issue with what he considers unreliable advice on rabbit raising published in MOTHER EARTH NEWS and offers his own recommendations.

| March/April 1973

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    Detailed views of an automatic waterer (top left), nest box (top right), and hutch you can use in a rabbit raising operation.

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Normally a bad or misleading article on rabbit raising wouldn't bother me . . . but three?

Now please don't get the impression that I'm down on MOTHER EARTH NEWS. On the contrary, I think you have an excellent publication that provides me and my Peace Corps volunteer friends with a lot of interesting reading and some good ideas. It bothers me, therefore, when an otherwise fine magazine puts out poor information on a subject I know something about.

My credentials as a rabbit expert? Well, first, I've had extensive experience with raising these animals in the United States and three African countries. Since my background is in microfarming techniques, I've devoted a lot of time to correctly running inexpensive rabbit projects. In fact, I've raised the critters commercially for years and have written three books and a number of articles on the subject. I think, then, that I ought to know bad advice when I see it.

Let's begin with the reprint from the HAVE-MORE Plan. I realize that you published this material with a statement that some of the original info was out of date . . . but, even when you add such a warning, I'm not sure it's wise to print incorrect information for MOTHER EARTH NEWS' eager readers.

Take this statement on the rearing of young by foster mothers: "Wally rubbed a little Mentholatum on (the doe's) nose so she couldn't smell the difference between her own and the young one from another litter." Well, Wally shouldn't have done that. Mentholatum really burns tender tissue and you could actually peel a mother rabbit's nose by using it. If you want an aromatic substance for this purpose, peppermint oil from the drugstore is a better choice.

In fact, though, scent of any kind is probably unnecessary when you're transferring a litter. There's no need to destroy the smell either of the human hand or of the dam whose offspring are being moved, because does are not choosy in this respect and don't distinguish among the young even if they're of different colors. Evidently, when the young to be adopted are moved to the foster mother's nest and come in contact with her own litter and the nesting material, any distinct scent that might be discernible to the doe is destroyed.

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