Friday, May 6, 2011

the rabbitry

Future plans for the rabbitry are to phase out of Mini Rex's and buy a breeding pair of Silver Fox rabbits, and a breeding pair of Champagne D'argent rabbits.  I've been in contact with a breeder close by, and also placed a wanted ad for both breeds on Craigslist.  I'll be waiting to sell my 2 pregnant Mini Rex does until their babies are 8 or 9 weeks old.  Currently I have a 1 year old doe and 2 year old buck for sale. 

Silver Fox rabbits weigh around 9-12 lbs. Their fur is unique as it's longer and courser than other rabbits, they're named after the silver fox because of the similarity in their coats.  This is a breed that was near extinction not too long ago, and are still on the road to recovery as a heritage breed.

 This is a Champagne D'argent rabbit, a breed that is over 400 years old, 
they're from the Champagne region of France.

It's been a lot of fun raising Mini Rex rabbits, however with changing times and the economy come more practicality.  The old saying, When time's are good rabbits are for pets, when times are lean rabbits are for meat.  Thus my decision to totally change my breed of rabbit from a pet breed to a meat breed.  Silver Fox and Champagne D'argent's are meat and fur rabbits.  My plan is to raise them not only for our own meat, but to also focus on selling breeding pairs.  A good quality purebred breeding pair is approximately $80, or $40 each for bucks or does.  I will  hopefully be going to look at a Silver Fox buck this week to check out more about this breed.

I've researched many of the meat breeds of rabbits, and have looked into California's, New Zealand's, American's, Dutch and Florida rabbits.  I keep coming back to these old breeds of rabbits.  I like the idea of raising heritage breeds too.  My thinking is that more people may be buying meat rabbits in the days ahead rather than pet rabbits.  The kids have been in charge of the rabbitry over the last 4 years yet I have been taking care of them more as they've gotten older and are more involved with friends and sports.  The Mini Rex's were great for all those years, and kept the kids in spending money throughout the late Spring and Summer months.  For any parents with small kids that want sweet small rabbits, I would highly recommend Mini Rex's.

We also have an Angora rabbit named Peppermint, who we just clipped a couple of days ago, we will be selling her as well, when her fur grows back thick in a couple months.  The main reason for selling her is cage space.  Then I'll have access to 4 large cages to house the other 2 breeds.  We're also planning to make a chicken/rabbit tractor, that I will rotate with each other on different days so they can all have access to fresh grass and greens.

A note about feeding rabbits.  This is what I feed: rabbit pellets, alfalfa, corn or scratch grains ( a small amount of whatever I'm giving the chickens) alfalfa every other day, grass, clover and dandelion greens are the most important part everyday.  It only takes a few minutes to gather for them and they love it.  They will always eat this before anything else, otherwise if I don't add fresh greens the next priority they'll eat are the corn.  I also make sure I always have a salt and mineral lick for them.  They get kitchen and garden treats like apple and carrot peelings, lettuce, and other vegetable ends.  I like to give them a variety of things and usually rotate days with corn and alfalfa.  The rabbit pellets form the base and everything else fills in the nutritional needs.  Fresh water everyday is critical, and needs to be checked twice a day. 

I feed all the animals in the morning, so the rabbits are in the feeding routine, they like it and can count on me seeing them and feeding them every morning.  You know I'm really looking forward to a change in our rabbitry, and will have fun getting it all set up and running.  I'd like to double my cage space, and create a pasture area surrounding the bunny barn, so they can have a yard to run around in. 

Part of the plan for our farm is to make sure every animal has a purpose and can pay for their own feed.  While this is not possible in the beginning stages of getting set up with your breeding stock, there comes a point where you want each group of animals to be self sustaining.  I want to keep a ledger and better track of all my farm receipts, to know how much it costs for the chickens, rabbits and honey bees, and soon to be goats. 

Do you have a favorite breed of rabbit or know of another meat breed of rabbit that I haven't mentioned?  What do you feed your rabbits?.


Snohomish Shepherdess said...

Jewel, I love the Palomino breed of rabbits that I've raised the past few years, but they can be difficult to find. I feed mine mostly alfalfa pellets -and treats from the garden during the growing season. I've personally found the hardest part of trying to have each animal project pay for itself is what to do when the older breeding stock stops producing. It becomes costly if you end up feeding a lot of retired geriatric farm animals.

Jewel said...

I've never looked at the Palomino breed of rabbits, you have my curiosity up. I will research them before I make a decision. As always I'm looking for the best breeding stock I can find to start with.
That's funny about geriatric farm animals, I'm not there yet, that may be interesting. What do you do with your Palomino breed of rabbit?

Snohomish Shepherdess said...

We've raise them for meat but ours have stopped producing (I'll be replacing them). I think rabbit meat is great -it's very lean and mild, and they are quite economic to raise. Good luck with your rabbitry adventure.