Thursday, August 24, 2017

This week I decided I would make a video entry instead of a lengthy article to let everyone know who the new bunny barn has been progressing. It is still a work in progress, but it is coming along nicely.

We hope you enjoy looking at our progress, and once again we would to thank everyone who has helped us during this momentous event. We could not have done it without your support and prayers.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Putting It All Back Together: Part 2

Yesterday marked the third month since the tornado on April 29th 2017 and devastated our homestead in Canton, Texas. Since that time, we have been working as quickly as possible to get the rabbitry back up and running at full capacity. As you may have read in 'TAP Rabbitry: The Rebuild, Phase One: New Cages' we have built many new replacement cages and were been waiting for our new metal carport to be brought and installed on the property. Once again, our friend Steven Coyne from 'Texas Rabbit Barn' and author of the 'I Grow Vegetables' blog to came over to help with the initial part of phase two, and I am sure I will need his help again once we start moving all the bunnies into their new home.

So after six weeks, two of our replacement out buildings were delivered, including the one in which we will be using for the new bunny barn/hutch. I will say this, these guys that put our metal buildings up worked at a breakneck speed. We could definitely tell they had been doing this for a while as they completely assembled two buildings in under five hours, and that is with taking time to eat lunch. Really, it was pretty impressive. If only the factory could have been this proficient in making and or cutting the parts to assemble the buildings. We have bought metal buildings from two different companies in the past, and while they are relativily inexpensive compared to wood structures, the tiem you have to wait is really frustrating. If any company could reduce the turn around time to two to three weeks or less, I think they could definitely corner the market, but I digress.

Once the new bunny barn was in place, it was time to finish stretching the fence and get the barn area fully enclosed and hopefully somewhat secure from predators. So now we have two areas on either side of the bunny barn with 6ft high chain link fence for our Black Jersy Giants, and a 6ft high chain link fence that totally encloses the rabbit barn. Thanks again Steve... Once we had finished with that, it was time for the big gun to come in and give me a little fatherly advice. You see my father served for twenty-two years in the United States Air Force (USAF) in Civil Engineering (CE) which is the maintaince arm of the USAF. There are few things that he cannot do when it comes to plumbing, electricity, painting or carpentry. He is quite the 'jack of all trades', even if we do butt heads sometimes. So I asked him to come over, hang out, and play 'straw boss' to make sure I setup and wired all of my electrical outlets correctly.

Fast forward to a week later, I finished wiring all the electrical outlets and ran all the wire up to the junction box which I had wired off the main power pole when the new home was delivered. The only thing left to do was have my work inspected and hook it up to the live wire. Fo this I once again called my favorite electrician, my father. He came out looked at my work and gave it a passing grade, so next he helped me to make sure the power was safely turned off and we hooked the bunny barn to the power grid. Amazingly, none of the breakers were tripped and there was no smoking at any of the electrical outlets and they all had power, YEAH!!!

Next, we will start on phase three, moving all of the rabbits into the new bunny barn, and setting up the automatic watering system. For this I am sure I will have to beg, or plead for help from my friend Steven Coyne from 'Texas Rabbit Barn' and author of the 'I Grow Vegetables' blog as I am sure I will need his help once we start moving all the bunnies into their new home. Actually, I have never had to beg, Steve usually calls me to ask what needs to be done on our homestead, and how can he help. We could not repay hom for all of the hard work he has done and the projects he has helped me with.


So there you have it, the hutch is just about ready for the rabbits to be brought in from the temporary area under the tree in the chciken pens and be placed in their new home. I purchased the additional 3ft side skirts for the bunny barn/hutch on the recommendation of another breeder that has a similar setup. I have noticed that on some days there is not as much breeze and the temperature is a couple of degrees warmer that the area just under the trees where the temporary rabbit hutch is. So we purchased a couple of barn fans to hang from the top of the beams to help circulate the warm radiating air from the metal roof. While the extended sides will definatly keep the rain out, I am not sure If I am going to like them as much as I thought. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Putting It All Back Together: Part 1

It has been almost two months since the tornado came though on April 29th 2017 and devastated our homestead in Canton, Texas Since that time our home has been demolished and a new home has been delivered and we moved in about two weeks ago. Our two tier outdoor rabbit hutch that was set in the ground with concrete was lifted up and thrown against the back of our house totally destroying it. While we did have plans to replace it this fall, we were not ready to do so at this time, but it appears a higher power had other ideas. All the outside cages that were in the hutch, twenty in all, were a total loss. So the first thing we had to do in order to get our rabbits back on the homestead was build or purchase new cages.

The new cages will be going under a metal carport that we have ordered that is 18' x 26', but getting them to bring this to your property takes 5 – 6 weeks as they do not start cutting pieces at the factory until you order it, so we had to go with plan 'B'. My friend Steven Coyne from 'Texas Rabbit Barn' and author of the 'I Grow Vegetables' blog has played an instrumental part in helping us put our lives back together. And we finished working on building temporary hutches so that we could get the rabbits back from fellow breeder and owner of 'Bailywick Rabbitry' Bonita Hunt, who has been housing them at her expense for the last two months.

Last week we brought the first group of nine adults back to the homestead including three does that have a total of fifteen kits, for a total of twenty four rabbits. We will be finishing up the second temporary hutch today so that we can go and get the remaining seven adults rabbits from Bonita on Monday July 3rd. While the rabbits were at Bailywick Rabbitry, we donated a litter of eight kits to some 4H kids as the two cages containing the litters had their tags ripped off. We had two American Blue litters that were born one day apart, and we were unable to determine the pedigree of the litter that survived. In addition, we donated a American Blue doe to a special needs child. We also had several white New Zealand's, including a beautiful Basgil-Borden litter that was given away as we were not in a position to make any sales at that time. All of this was organized by Bonita Hunt, who as I have mentioned many times has been a saving grace for our rabbits. As for adult livestock, amazingly we only lost two adult males to the tornado, unfortunately, one was one of our original breeding American Blue males 'Clyde'.

Anyway, back to the new cages. If you have read any of my previous articles, you may note that I have been making my cages either 18x24x24 (bucks) or 18x30x30 (does), with some slightly larger grow out cages 18x30x36. This was done primarily because I based my original hutch design on the suggested cages sizes for the New Zealand and American Blue breeds so that I could have a two tier system. After three years of raising rabbits, I have decided to go with a one tier system for our cages for a couple reasons. First, it is simply easier for my wife who is vertically challenged at 4'10”, and second, because we are going to place them under a large metal carport.

So why does this matter? Well I guess in the overall scheme of things it does not, the previous sizes of cages have served me well, however now I make my cages slightly taller. As we can only get the 1x2 galvanized wire in 24, or 36-inch height, I have decided to make all of my new replacement cages a full 24” tall as opposed to my original 18”. Why? Over the years I have found that buying and cutting the 36-inch cage wire did leave me the ability to build more cages, but some would be 16-inch in height and the others 18-inch in height just due to the way you have to cut the wire. I have come to hate the waste, and if all things are equal, I believe the taller cage that allows to rabbit to stand on it's hnid legs is simply better for the rabbit. I have no scientific evidence to base this on, just my own personal observations. Now I simply purchase the 24-inch 1x2 galvanized cage wire and make all my cages 24-inches tall. The cages go together faster and why waste the wire, and now the rabbits can stand up to 2-feet if the so desire.

I could not have done this on my old hutch, it simply would not support cages taller than 16-inches on the top row or 18-inches on the bottom. In addition, I think we are going to experiment with a few of the larger 24x24x36-inch cages by placing drop down nest boxes in the bottom since we have the additional room below the cage, but we have not made any definite plans regarding this design at this time. If we do decide to try this out, I will be sure and take pictures and let you guys know how they work for us.

As for cage building, I still make most of my own cages, there used to be a guy here in my local area that made or still makes great cages, and you could buy them for about the same price you could build them yourself, and they were of great quality. The problem is, it took several weeks to a month to get your cages, and we simply do not have the time to wait. After all, he is 80+ years of age so it takes him a bit longer to do the job. Unfortunatly, I have heard that he is getting out of the cage building business due to his age and failing health, so I guess we will continue to make our own cages. While I am getting good at it after three years, I just cannot get the wire 100% flat without the tools that the 'Cage Man' has.


BTW, 'Miracle' is doing fine, she should be returning from my Friend Steven Coyne's rabbitry soon and will be going into the new hutch. We have the air conditioned breeding barn back on it blocks and the electricity is back on so that a few of the bucks can keep breeding throughout the hot Texas summer months. And the pregnant does and their kits will not be so stressed from the heat. As soon as we are up and breeding and ready for sales once again we will be sure to let everyone know. Once again, we appreciate all the prayers, kind words and help that have come our way during this devastating event.

Steven Coyne
Breeds: New Zealand, American Blues

Bonita Hunt
Bailywick Rabbitry (903)946-4666
Breeds: New Zealand, Lionhead

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

'Miracle', The Flying Bun...

 Many of you are not old enough to remember a small obscure television show called 'The Flying Nun', but if you do then you will understand the gist of my joke regarding the title of this article. Heck, I only remember seeing it in re-runs. Anyway, if you have seen any of our videos, or follow our Facebook page, then you know that our homestead was hit by a E3 (136 – 165mph winds), although some sources mention E4 (166 – 200mph winds) tornado on April 29th, 2017. To be honest the devastation on our county road was unbelievable, but no one nearby was killed although some sustained minor injuries.

Yesterday, May 9, 2017, I was out on the property letting the chickens out of their coops and feeding the for the morning, As I was heading for the small storage shed where the feed was kept, much to my surprise and astonishment I saw a rabbit on our roof! Yes, I said there was an American Blue doe walking around on the roof of our house. How she got there I can only surmise by looking at the only route to the roof and that is by the large tree that is sitting in our kitchen. You see a large tree, of which has a diameter larger than I can wrap my arms around fell through our kitchen and four other rooms of our home making it impossible to access part of the kitchen and the pantry (mud room).

The rabbit hutch was lifted out of the ground and thrown up against the back porch in that specific area and there was a lot of debris everywhere and all of the cages were mangled, many beyond repair. We found a three empty cages in the yard, two on the back porch and one in the front yard, but we only recovered two loose rabbits. We assumed that the missing American Blue doe (who was unnamed) was lost. I believe that this American Blue doe had been hiding in the pantry area for more than a week, as she definitely was not on the roof when we removed the branches and top of the tree that had fallen through the house to cover the roof with tarps. She eventually decided to go 'walkabout', using the tree as a ram and climbed up onto the roof where I found her yesterday.

In a near panic, as only a rabbit person could do, I found a ladder and set it against the roof of the house and tentatively climbed slowly with a bowl of food. Surprisingly she came over to me easily and I was able to grab her where she ate. Not knowing how she would react, the next issue I encountered was how to safely carry her down the ladder without falling myself. Cell phone to the rescue as I slowly reached into my pocket with one hand removed my phone and called my wife to come down from my mother-in-laws house to hand me a small dog kennel to put her in so that we both could safely descend the ladder.


She appears to be doing well, and she finally received her name. My wife said ti was a miracle the she survived. Calling her survival a “miracle” may be a little over the top, but so be it, that will be her new name from this day forward. She seems to be doing fine at this time and when my wife was feeding and watering her, she came to the front of the cage to be loved on. Only time will tell if 'Miracle' continues to flourish and recover from her ordeal, but rabbits are pretty resilient, and our hope is to add her to our line breeding program of American Blues which is why she was originally kept from our last litter. We will keep y'all informed of her progress.

At this time TAP Rabbitry is in recovery/rebuild mode. All of our rabbits are being cared for (at her expense) by a wonderful woman of God and fellow breeder Bonita Hunt (Baileywick Rabbitry 903-946-4666) until we get the new outside hutch up and running. Not only is Bonita housing and feeding our rabbits, she has reached out to the rabbit raising community. Many have donated new cages, feeders, and all the other necessary equipment to get us back on our feet. In addition, I suspect she has spent more money of her own than she is willing to tell us. Thanks again Bonita for all that you have done. As always, if you have enjoyed this article or have found it informative, then please share it with your friends. Don't forget to send us a friend request on Facebook or Google+ so that you will not miss any of our latest articles.

So if you need rabbits at this time I can recommend two friends of mine, Steven Coyne (Texas Bunny Barn) and Bonita Hunt (Baileywick Rabbitry) you will find contact information for these great folks below. Thanks again.

Steven Coyne (Texas Rabbit Barn)
Forney, Texas
Breeds: New Zealand, American Blues

Bonita Hunt (Baileywick Rabbitry)
Honey Grove, Texas
Breeds: New Zealands, Meat Pens, Dwarf Hotots, Californians, Mini Lops, Dutch, Lionhead lops, Lionheads, Mini Satins, Jersey Woolies, Netherland Dwarfs, Polish, and Holland Lops.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Tornado Update

Just a video update for all of our family and friends to know how we are doing. Thanks for all your continued prayers and support!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Canton Tornado 2017

Days after posting or latest rabbit offerings for sale on many different Facebook pages, our rabbitry in Canton, Texas was hit by a tornado. They tell me that the wind speeds were 140+ miles per hour. From the damage that our small homestead revived as a result of these winds I believe it. Essentially the farm has been destroyed and most of the buildings, greenhouse, and chicken pens were destroyed. We are safe, and miraculously we only lost 2 adult American Blues (a male and a female) and one of the American Blue litters (8, 10-week old kits).

To say we were at a loss as to what to do next is an understatement. A fellow breeder (Bonita Hunt of Bailywick Rabbitry) whom we have bought breeding stock before contacted us and offered to come and house our rabbits for us. She drove more than two hours and brought her truck and horse trailer and took the whole herd to their home. She refused to take any money for feed to house or livestock, she is truly a good Samaritan and we can thank her enough.

Needless to say, all rabbit sales have to be put on hold at this time. Thank you for all the prayers and messages and calls that we have received in support. We will keep you updated on the status of the farm. I have included a link to the video that I shot we we first arrived on the scene. Thanks again.

If you need a good source for rabbits please contact our friends below:

Steve Coyne (Texas Bunny Barn) Forney, TX 972-742-4922
Bonita Hunt (Bailywick Rabbitry) Honey Grove, TX 903-946-4666

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Basgil/Borden, John Gillis Lines

We have eight New Zealand White (NZW) Basgil/Borden and John Gillis lines males and females for sale. Both the sire and dam come from strong winning bloodlines. We can pair any females with our two remaining Basgil/Borden bucks (see our other post) for a great trio of NZW that will start you on the road to success in breeding your own meat rabbits. These rabbits would be a great addition to your rabbitry if you are looking to add a new blood to your heard. They are $35 each, or $30 each if you purchase them both. These guys are good lookers and will not last long.

We are loated in Canton, TX, If interested you can send me a PM, or give us a call (469) 526-3665 and leave a message as I am unable to answer my phone during working hours, and I will get back with you as soon as possible.

Basgil/Borden Bucks

We have two New Zealand White Basgil/Borden males remaining for sale. Both the sire and dam come from strong Basgil/Borden bloodlines. These guys would be a great addition to your rabbitry if you are looking to add a new blood to your heard. They are $40 each, or $35 each if you purchase them both. These guys are good lookers and will not last long.

We are loated in Canton, TX, If interested you can send me a PM, or give us a call (469) 526-3665 and leave a message as I am unable to answer my phone during working hours, and I will get back with you as soon as possible.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Self-Injury In Rabbits

Here on the TAP Homestead and Rabbitry, we are a small working farm. The primary goal here is to provide for ourselves as much fresh fruits (blackberries, apples, and pears) vegetables, eggs, and meat (rabbit and chicken) as possible. As well as supplement our income with rabbit and chicken sales. We have taken the Blue Bell approach in that “we eat all we can, and we sell the rest.” Because of this predation, injury or disease that causes us to lose a productive animal is not something that we like to experience. Unfortunately, it happens, and such is the circle of life on the farm.

The purpose of this article is to share with you the rare experience that you may have when you embark on raising rabbits for meat and or sales. We have been raising meat rabbits now for three years, and this was he first time that we have had a rabbit engage in the process of self-injury or mutilation. It is my hope that this article will shed some light on this subject and although rare, if you happen to experience this in your herd, you will know that you are not alone. Included at the end of this article is a picture of the self inflicted injuries that our New Zealand Red (NZR) buck had inflicted upon himself. They are quite graphic, but I felt the need for them to be included so that you could see the extent of what he did to himself in just a few days.

Possible Causes

There are many theories as to why a rabbit begin to chew on their feet, but there is no definitive test that can determine the exact cause of this behavior. For the owner of a 'pet' rabbit, the first step would be to take their animal to the veterinarian to have it examined, and a multitude of tests run. However, for the meat producer or small homesteader, this is most often not a fiscally reasonable option. Spending $100 or more for a breeder that can be easily replaced by another for $30 - $50 is somewhat wasteful, even if the rabbit was of exceptional quality. So what causes a rabbit to engage in self-injury? Self mutilation by rabbits may be caused be any one, or a combination of the following.

According to the Textbook Of Rabbits Medicine, 'The cause of self-mutilation is not clear and it is likely that a number of conditions may result in this type of behavior. Obsessive/compulsive behavior., hypersensitivity, harvest mite infection, atopy and contact dermatitis are among the causes that have been considered. Many rabbits carry Cheyletiella parasitovorax and/or Leporacus gibbus mites and hypersensitivity is a possibility' (Varga p. 240). In addition, the authors indicate that 'self-mutilation sometimes appears to be a psychological disorder. Active, sociable animals seem most susceptible. Environmental enrichment, including the opportunity to exercise and a bonded companion can be successful in preventing the syndrome' (Varga p. 240).

A five year study conducted by scientists regarding the problem of self-mutilation of laboratory rabbits began with the basic assumption that this behavior was caused by poor nutrition, caging, social contact, and or environment and care. The initial outcome of their study indicated that there was no specific trigger for self mutilation. 'No other behavioral abnormalities or signs of disease were evident. Self-mutilation was seen both in stock, breeding and experimental animals, in rabbits kept singly in cages and in those housed in groups on the ground, in rabbits kept in different buildings and under the care of different staff members. This behavioral abnormality of Checkered crosses has also been observed in animals after being placed into other institutions or private homes. No evidence of an agent responsible for the occurrence of self-injury could be found with parasitological, mycological, histological, clinical or haematological examination' (Iglauer, et. al). Their conclusion after completing their five year study was that the cause of the self-mutilation in theses cases was of a psychological not physical condition. Once 'the condition was recognized as an obsessive-compulsive behavioral disorder. Thereafter, animals were hindered from inflicting further self-injury' (Iglauer, et. al).

It would appear that the evidence strongly suggests, that when there is no physical cause, that self-mutilation is rabbits comes as a result of a psychological disorder, but other environmental, age, or stress related factors cannot be totally ruled out. Some of the other factors that have been discussed as possible causes for self-injury or mutilation include:
  • Pain from arthritis (primarily in older rabbits)
  • Nerve damage related to previous injury or injection site
  • Stress and boredom, a rabbit may chew on it's own foot when bored or stressed
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Presence of a foreign body in the foot or fur
  • Contaminated food supply (rare)
  • Hereditary conditions (psychological disorders)
  • Infestation of the skin by parasites such as fur mites or burrowing mites


So how do you keep your rabbits from self-mutilation? The problem is that without being able to identify the exact trigger or cause of the foot chewing or self-injury, it is rather difficult to prevent the problem. Having said that, there are some overall strategies that you can implement to possibly minimize any potential self-mutilation problems in the future. As I mentioned in some of my earlier articles on rabbit nutrition, a diet high in fiber is important to rabbit health, supplying your rabbit(s) with something to chew on other than themselves is important to relieve boredom. 'Chewing through a mound of hay or grazing grass prevents boredom as well as providing indigestible fiber. Toys, such as cardboard boxes or branches of wood will also provide entertainment' (Varga p. 240). If however, the problem of self-mutilation develops as a result of a psychological disorder, there is really no way for you to prevent the problem from occurring.

The Solution

We examined all the possible things that we believed that could have led to this condition in 'LER'. My wife treated his wounds, but he continued to chew on his feet on a daily basis. Our initial observation was that he did not have any pain and this activity did not keep from from eating. In fact, because he exhibited no outward signs of pain or distress, we did not notice this practice until he had be doing it for a few days. Attempting to determine the cause, we examined all the things which we discovered in our research regarding self-injury in rabbits. There has been no change in his diet, environment, and we do not believe that any new stressors were apparent that would have been a factor. It could have been related to arthritic pain, but he was only three years old, and he had no other outward signs of physical injury that we could see upon examination. We could not find any foreign object in either of his back legs or hocks that would have caused him pain. Honestly, we were stumped as to the cause, and whether it was physical or psychological in nature.

Unfortunately, we could not allow him to continue this practice. For us, as breeders of meat rabbits and small time homesteaders, the only viable and humane option was to euthanise our NZR buck LER. It is not something that we wanted to do, or an action that we took lightly. LER had been a really good breeder for us, and fortunately we had a son of his from a prior breeding. In addition, we bred him the morning that we had to put him down with one of our NZR females 'Dottie' so we will keep the best male from this litter as well.


When you live on a working farm, regardless of size, any and all livestock that you have need to be able to perform at their designated function in order for you to make ends meet. Any and every farmer I have known hates to lose livestock to predators or disease, however both are an inevitable part of farming and ranching. While our chickens and rabbits are working animals, there is always a bit of angst when you have to dispatch of an animal that you have become attached too.

Unfortunately, we have no idea what caused our NZR buck LER to start to process of self-injury, but nothing that we did could stop him from hurting himself. When we look back on all the possible causes, I am left to wonder if it was indeed more of a psychological problem than a physical one. Even with his self inflicted injuries, he never displayed any discomfort and was able to breed this morning without any problems. Whether it physical or psychological, at this point is really not up for debate. I simply wanted to share with you our experiences regarding this problem though rare as it is, it sometimes happens. All you can do is to take the necessary precautions to ensure that your rabbits have access to proper nutrition (food and water), a clean home in which to live, and as stress free environment as possible.

Of course all is not lost, as I mentioned, we have a breeding male from a previous litter of LER's that was intended as his replacement, and we were able to breed him this morning to one of our other red doe's, so his genetic line will continue. So ends another day on the farm with both the beginning and end of life. We will miss you LER. I encourage you to do any additional research that you think may be necessary regarding self-injury in rabbits. As always, if you have enjoyed this article or have found it informative, then please share it with your friends. Don't forget to send us a friend request on Facebook or Google+ so that you will not miss any of our latest articles.

Author's Note: By clicking on the link below you can download a free PDF version of the 'Textbook Of Rabbit Medicine'. It may be a bit technical, but the information is quite through and something that every raiser of meat rabbits should have in their library.


Haddon, Celia, Rabbits Which Chew Their Feet or Body, 2007, Accessed April 20, 2017

F. Iglauer, C. Beig, J. Dimigen, S. Gerold, A. Gocht, A. Seeburg, S. Steier and F. Willmann. Hereditary Compulsive Self-Mutilating Behavior In Laboratory Rabbits. Lab Animals, 1995, 29:385-393

Patry, Karen, The Rabbit Raising Problem Solver, Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA, 2014.

Van Pragg, Ester PhD., Self-Mutilating Behavior In Rabbis,, Accessed April 23, 2017.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

American Blue Breeding Pairs

We have two litters from different bloodlines of American Blue rabbits for sale. These gorgeous little guys and gals will be available for purchase on May 31st (10 weeks old). The sire and dam of both litters are pedigreed and from different bloodlines so pedigrees are available. These bunnies would be a great addition to your rabbitry if you are looking to add a new breeding pair(s) to your heard. If you are just starting out breeding meat rabbits these guys will get you started out right! They are $30 each, or $25 each if you purchase two or more. These guys are good lookers and will not last long.

If interested you can send me a PM, or give us a call and leave a message as I am unable to answer my phone during working hours, and I will get back with you as soon as possible. You can check them out on the video below.