Written By: Joel Dowlearn, Age 11
Flemish Giants are thought to be the modern descendants of Patagonians of Argentina. They were brought to Europe by 16th to 17th century Dutch traders. The first written records date to about to the 1860’s. English travelers brought back stories of the giant rabbits in Flanders. They were imported to America in early 1880’s. Flemish Giants received no special attention until around 1910, when they were recognized for they’re large size and beautiful colors. During the same time period in England, there was such a demand for rabbit meat, so much that they started to breed Flemish Giants, as they are a considerably larger rabbit they were able to reach demands easier. Flemish Giants are still popular today for many of these same reasons.
They are shown in six classes, junior bucks and does under six months, intermediate bucks and does 6-8 months, and senior bucks 8+ months. The lowest show weight for a doe is 14 pounds, for a buck lowest show weight is 13 pounds. A doe can take one year to reach full maturity and a buck can take 1.5 years to reach full maturity*]. It is not unusual to see a 22 pound Flemish Giant. The largest rabbits weigh up to 50 pounds, although these species are technically Continental and German Giants.
The average weight of a Flemish Giant is between 12 to 14 pounds in though it can get to be 20 to 22 pounds. They are one of the largest breeds of domestic rabbit. They are usually raised for meat. The Flemish Giant has many nicknames including the gentle giant, for its unique calmness and the universal rabbit, for its many purposes of pet, show, breeding, and meat. It’s back starting at the back of its shoulders carrying through to the base of its tail giving it a mandolin shape or a semi-arch shape. The Flemish Giant coat can be black, white, and blue, fawn, light gray, steel-gray and sandy. The fur is considered glossy and dense. When stroked from the hindquarters to the head the fur will roll back into the original position.
When feeding Flemish Giants it is important to feed the right amounts of food each day to your rabbit, overfeeding can cause obesity, inactivity and/ or fatigue which could result in breeding problems and/ or death. Feeding a three-month old Flemish Giant one cup of rabbit pellets daily is a sufficient amount of food feeding your Flemish Giant an occasional treat will help them trust you more; a small amount of green apple peel is a tasty and healthy treat. You can feed them a very small amount of the fruit but overfeeding of the fruit can result in diarrhea. For nutrients feeding them unlimited hay and leafy greens each day is good. A fruit flavored wood block can help keep their teeth ground down to a safe level. Make sure your rabbit has an unlimited amount of water.
If keeping your Flemish Giant inside or if you’re bringing it inside occasionally, keep electric cords away from the rabbit because they like to nibble on the cords which may cause injury or death to the rabbit. If you are keeping a male and a doe rabbit in the same cage you should split them up when they are about three months old or they will either start fighting or try to breed. Never put two males in the same cage at the same time as they are almost certain to start fighting.
You can start to breed your rabbits when they are about six months old. Put them in the same cage until they either breed or start to fight, if a fight occurs split them up immediately. Flemish Giants will normally be pregnant for about 21 days. After that you should wait 21 more days to have the kits weaned completely. Then they are ready to be raised by you for whatever purpose you want to use them for whether that is for meat, show, pets, fur, selling, and/ or breeding.
When housing your Flemish Giant you might want to consider housing them outside, because if you house them inside they will defecate more than you want them to. Of course you can litter box train them, yes you can do that, they make special pellets and litter boxes. But if you are housing them outside you can do it two ways; 1) you can house it in a shed in just cages so they won’t get wet when it rains (which is very important because they can die if rained on too much and from the cold), 2) if you do not have time or money for a shed, you can build hutches which are basically wooden boxes with arched shaped holes cut in the front of them and hinged lids on the top attached to the cage with an arched shaped hole in the cage. You put straw in the hutches to keep them warm and comfortable. You should change their straw every two or three days; it is very important to do this or they will be walking around in their own feces and urine and if the rabbit got a scratch anywhere it could easily get infected and kill the rabbit. You need to have a cage made of with quarter inch wire; largely spaced wire will hurt their feet and possibly give those back problems or other problems. In their cages there should be a rabbit feeder and a watering bottle attached to the side or a small dish will work for feeding and watering your rabbits. You need to give your rabbit the right amount of food for its age and breed and unlimited water.
If you follow these directions to raise your Flemish Giant the result will be a happy rabbit and a happy you.
*Taken from Wikipedia.com