Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome to our experiment!

My husband and I spontaneously embarked on a project that has lead us off the marked path of 'best practices' or even 'practices described on the internet', and so in the interest of filling the void, we are starting a blog.

The project I'm referring to is raising meat rabbits in our backyard. The thing is, we fundamentally object to using wire cages. We decided that if we were going to try to have a more humane meat source than what is available at the grocery store, we needed to find a better way for the rabbits to live, to honor their instincts and make them happy. Yes, we want our animals to be happy, even if we're going to harvest them for food.

So we built three-sided "condos" on the ground, complete with burrows- one for each rabbit. This was a bit daunting. There's NOTHING on the internet about breeding and raising below-ground rabbits in this manner. We had to design it all, experiment, and learn behavior that wasn't described- or cared about- by industrial rabbit breeders.

Sure, there is reference to 'community barns' where there is a large barn that operates like a warren, with all the rabbits together. However, there appears to be more fighting amongst the rabbits, more stress, and it's much harder to catch them when it's time to harvest. You can't control feed quality to ensure all rabbits get what they need, injuries happen, holes collapse on babies, males are constantly trying to breed with all the females regardless of age-readiness, etc. That didn't sound like a happy situation.

So this blog idea came about as a way to educate other potential backyard rabbit breeders on some slightly kinder, more natural alternatives for animal husbandry. Inspired by Joel Salatin, we sought to learn and honor the Essence of Rabbit in our design and treatment, and look to build a larger, sustainable ecosystem for our little urban farmette.

I hope you enjoy the content as we post it, and contribute your thoughts, resources, and knowledge on any and all topics. My hope is that we can host the information, but not be possessive about ownership. We want this to be a community space, a forum for ideas.

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