Thursday, February 23, 2012

Champagne d'Argent and American Chinchilla rabbits

Champagne d'Argent doe ~ "Hazel"
After researching rabbit breeds that are good for meat, fur, and selling offspring as breeding stock, I found the Champagne d'Argents and the American Chinchilla's were the 2 breeds I wanted to try.  Last summer I started with 2 does and a buck, they've really grown over the Fall and Winter.  Come the first of March we should have both does kindling.  I put Serendipity our American Chinchilla doe in with Filbert, our Champagne d'Argent buck on February 2nd.  And I put Hazel, our Champagne d'Argent doe in with him the very next day.  Rabbits are pregnant for about 30-31 days, and it's called kindling when they give birth. The Champagne d'Argents are pedigreed so we'll keep one doe and sell the remainder as breeding stock. 
Champagne d'Argent buck ~ "Filbert"
The American Chinchilla doe is not pedigreed, but is still a gorgeous specimen of the American Chinchilla breed.  If we can't sell the bucks we'll raise them for meat, the rabbits are harder for me than chickens, I hope we can sell all of them to families wanting these heirloom breeds.  This is kind of an experiment, and I'll keep you posted here with the results.  Last summer I did buy a Chinchilla buck for the American Chinchilla doe to breed her to.  We still have him in the cage next to hers, but he turned into the smaller Standard Chinchilla.  The person I bought him from had been given a litter and wasn't sure which kind of Chinchilla he was.  The one's I have are the larger version of the Chinchilla.   I didn't breed her to him because of his size. 

American Chinchilla doe ~ Serendipity
The first breeding for Serendipity I decided to breed her to Filbert, and I will be looking for an American Chinchilla buck this Spring for future breedings.  I found a farm about an hour away that raises pedigreed American Chinchilla's, so will most likely buy a buck and doe from them.  Why do I like pedigreed rabbits?  Well, because as a small farm industry I want to sell quality pedigreed breeding stock, simply because they're worth more.  .  I'm planning for 3 litter's per year, and they usually have around 5-7 kits per litter.  They need to be with their mother for a minimum of 8 weeks, and doelings can be in with her longer. 

The rabbit part of our farm is so enjoyable for me, rabbits are sweet and personable, they're small and don't eat too much, although mine are fed really well.  They produce large amounts of wonderful compost material and are easy to house.  Rabbits were the first farm animal we got here at Applegarth, and we all fell in love with them.  Plus rabbits are a great way to start out small and begin your backyard permaculture plan.  My dream is to have a rabbit tractor this Spring and I want to work on a pasture just for them so they can get exercise, dig in the dirt, and lay in the sun.  All animals in my care get the opportunity to run free at certain times, they get to stretch their legs, eat grass and lay in the sun.  Over the last 5 years I've brought many rabbits out to the garden to play in the sun while I work.  It always brings a smile to heart to see them so happy, running and leaping and playing, the garden is totally fenced in so they're safe.

Right now I have 4 mini rex's in the chicken aviary, they have lived there since last summer when I brought the new rabbits in.  They happily got bumped from their cages and I think they're really enjoying being free, running and digging, they've made an extensive rabbit warren underground, and they live in total harmony with the chickens.  In the evening they come running to me when I call them because they know the chickens are in bed for the night and they get their own special food, a partial flake of grass hay or alfalfa, some rabbit pellets, and their favorite cracked corn.   From about 5pm until daybreak they have the total run of the place until the chickens wake up.  Everyone seems happy about the arrangement.

 As rabbit breeders we will inevitably have rabbit on the menu.  Rabbit meat is delicious, in France and throughout Europe it's very popular.  I had never eaten rabbit meat until last year when we had 5 bucks going into the Fall that we couldn't sell, and we didn't have cage space for them.  So my son brought them to me all processed and I made rabbit stew and rabbit pot pie at his request.  Rabbit meat is a good protein that can be raised economically and humanely in a small space.  If you're at all worried about where your meat comes from you may want to look into rabbits.   We don't plan to eat a lot of rabbit, if we had it a couple times per month that would be enough.  
American Chinchilla fur

This brings us to the fur, what will I do with the fur?  My son cured the pelts of the 5 rabbits he did last year.  He studied the information in several books and spent time on each fur.  This Fall I'm sure I'll  be learning myself how to cure the exquisite hides.  What will I make with them?  I don't know yet, perhaps a hat, or a cozy throw if I save up enough.  This is something I am going to have to research more.


Snooks said...

What beautiful rabbits. The color of the chinchilla fur is very pretty and looks so soft. What a looker Buck is. I'm betting there will be some really great looking babies. Can't wait to see pictures.

Jewel said...

Thanks Snooks, I'm excited to see these babies and watch them grow and develope. Both of these breeds have unbelievably soft fur.

pensive pumpkin said...

Ohh, wow. So jealous of your rabbits! Maybe next year...

s said...

I'm currently raising Am Chinchillas, but also thought seriously about the D'Argents, and am curious how your Champagne/Chinchilla crosses turned out. Especially in terms of the fur! Have you continued doing these crosses, or are you sticking with purebred rabbits?

s said...

I'm currently raising Am Chinchillas, but also thought seriously about the D'Argents, and am curious how your Champagne/Chinchilla crosses turned out. Especially in terms of the fur! Have you continued doing these crosses, or are you sticking with purebred rabbits?