By Laurie Stroupe
The Good And Bad Of Spring
With spring just 15 days away, it’s really on my mind. We’ve had a wacky winter, to say the least, and I’m ready to get on with spring.
Spring is the best breeding time of the year. I really look forward to willing does and successful litters during the spring. I’ve already talked about spring cleaning, which I also really look forward to. There are plenty of shows in the spring, too, and I’ve got a couple on my list that I’m really excited about. Spring is a wonderful time!
So with all of this good in spring, what’s the bad? It’s the mercurial nature of the weather. It’s really hard on rabbits. Spring (and fall) could be called the dying times of the year for rabbits. Really warm days and very chilly nights cause a lot of trouble for rabbits, who don’t deal well with any kind of change.
You’d think that the dead of winter or the height of summer would be worse, but rabbits actually deal with the constant extremes (assuming they have appropriate protection) better than changing situations.
So what should you do about it?
First, since you know that rabbits are being stressed by the uneven weather, keep that in mind if you decide to make other changes in their lives. You will want to mentally calculate their total stress load to see if the change is really worth it at that time of the year.
If your barn is still wrapped up for winter, which is very common in early spring, make sure that you increase ventilation on warm days, especially warm sunny days. We cover our northern windows with tarps and our southern windows with clear plastic. That greenhouse effect is great in the winter but deadly in the spring. Keep a close watch on it.
Consider adding a probiotic or other treatments that you normally reserve for traveling or illness. The change in the weather is a silent killer that can sneak past you – treat it as significantly as you would other stresses.
Keep the hay flowing. Hay helps rabbits deal with all kinds of stress.
If the worst happens and you do lose a rabbit or two during the spring, try not to panic. Sure, check out the usual suspects. Rabbits can die for other reasons during the spring, too. But don’t jump to conclusions about your feed or some otherwise symptomless illness.
And don’t feel guilty. Our little guys are a little on the delicate side. Chances are that any rabbit that succumbs to the wiles of spring was a little less than hearty to begin with.
So this spring, just take a little extra care. There’s no call to get all neurotic about it! And if the worst happens, just realize that it’s the downside to an otherwise wonderful, successful time of the year.