Updated: Feb 2, 2020
This post is from my 13 year old grandson. He says it well.
In this past century, rabbits have exploded onto the scene of homesteading. Why? They’re easy to raise, easy to butcher and easy to breed (which is actually one of the problems if you read on). They aren’t illegal in the suburbs like the larger animals (or louder) such as cows or chickens. They could be sold easily on more than just Agricultural and Permacultural planes. However, within the rabbit empire, there are certain booby traps and murky waters.
We got our first batch of a heritage breed of rabbit, the Silver Fox, in 2015. Our three rabbits did indeed grow—at first. Our does, Abby and Sweet Pea and our buck Stanley lived in three separate cages. Three rabbits turned into about twenty overall. Frankly, we were excited that our little project had grown so much. We butchered some, we kept some as breeders, and we even sold a few. But the farther we got into this, the more we got to a standstill. The rabbits quit breeding. No matter what we tried, we just could not get them to breed! I mean, come on, they’re rabbits. We should have considered that one of the does had not been bred in over a year. They were so cute and the grandparents wanted cute pets for the grandkids.
Another difficulty we had was the illnesses that swept through. We are careful about any animals on the farm that are weak. These rabbits were weak and just not hearty enough for our farm. The problem with having rabbits living right next to each other was that if one got sick, they all went down. In the end, it was the bane of all of our cute bunnies. We got rid of the Silver Fox, hoping for better results with the conventional breed, the New Zealand Whites. This time, we tried letting them out on the ground to live as one community. They were much happier this way but truthfully, they cost money. They cost more than we were willing to pay. We want animals where we can raise all of their feed. This was just too difficult for rabbits in the winter. For us, rabbits were not what we needed.
Does this mean that we won’t return to Rabbit Empire? Not necessarily. If so, we will keep you posted.