Friday, December 28, 2012

Rabbit Time


As we all know good, clean, healthy, sustainable food is hard to come by these days. Raising as much of my own food as I can is a priority in my life. As a matter of fact dealing with food, the cleaning of coops and cages, feeding, watering, reading about and the cooking of food is pretty much where my time goes each day. I like knowing what my food was fed, that it had a good life, and how it was killed.
It's important!

After spending the summer getting my laying flock together the next logical step seemed to be rabbits. As with chickens they are a sustainable source of compost for the garden. I say compost but really I've been taking the hay and straw mixed with rabbit poo and putting it on the beds as a winter mulch. My grandmother kept meat rabbits, used the poo on her garden, her tomatoes were out of the world!

The little ones in the pic are about 6 weeks old. Two females and a male. I have an older female, she just turned 6 mo. old. Just as soon as the young buck gets old enough I will breed them. I got wire to make cages, instructions abound on line. The wire is not cheap by any means but cheaper than buying cages, and it's not at all difficult to do. I've made one, have wire for another, and need wire for two more. 

I've turned what use to be my studio into a barn. I can heat that in the winter so breeding year round should not be a problem. My husband built a frame out of 2x4 for the cages to sit on. It only takes a few minutes a day to take care of them. Before winter hit us I was putting the older one outside in a make-shift enclosure each day. The trouble with that, of course, was keeping an eye on her to make sure she didn't escape. I will have to figure out how to make that work for all of them this spring as I hate for them to be cooped up all the time.

They are fed pellet food free-choice, regular hay and right not alfalfa hay. They also get dandelions, parsley, carrot tops, pear and apple wood to keep their teeth in shape. I will add to the greens they get this spring, right now there is snow on the ground and green is not a plentiful color.

I like the fact that rabbits can be scaled up or down according to your needs. I also like the sustainability of them, I'll never have to buy another one. Push come to shove, as with chickens, they could be raised on natural food alone, although you would not get quick growth. The meat has great flavor and is very versatile. Easy to kill, skin and clean, I don't know this from personal experience but both my husband and son are hunters and have shot and processed a number of rabbits.
All in all I'm happy to add rabbits to my food supply. If you raise rabbits or are even thinking of it I'd love to hear from ya!

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