For the longest time I didn’t sell live rabbits. I didn’t want my rabbits, who are able to live a good part of their lives on the ground (i.e. not standing on wire in cages inside a building). A few years ago, I started selling breeding stock but before anyone comes out to buy a rabbit I ask to see pictures of where the rabbits will be housed. I recognize that most people are going to keep them in cages but I want to see that the cages are good sized, hopefully outside where they can enjoy fresh air and sunshine in conventional hutches. I also realize people can be lying and sending me fake pictures.
I recognize this is how rabbits have been kept for centuries, that they are not terribly intelligent, are relatively simple creatures and probably don’t realize that living in 8 x 4 pens (see below) is a good thing. It’s all for my own conscience. It’s simply the way I raise my animals. I try to make it so my rabbits have only one bad day – the day they die – by my hand.
The is the reason why we can’t sell rabbits at farmers markets or to restaurants – because I refuse to haul them 80 miles to a processing plant so someone else can kill them. I won’t stress my rabbits like that – nor am I willing to pay money for someone else to do what I can do just as well. Primarily it’s due to the stress on the rabbit plus on a forage-based diet, my rabbits don’t grow at a consistent rate. Some grow fast, some grow slow and I can’t always gauge that blank rabbits will be ready to process on the particular date I was able to get an appointment with the processor.
Recently, I got an e-mail from a woman who bought rabbits from me a while back. I went back through my e-mails and saw that she sent me a picture of a cage that she had an existing rabbit in and it looked fine. When she wrote recently she said that she was selling rabbit meat at two farmers markets and was looking for breeding-age stock that was chocolate or carrying chocolate, and that sent off warning bells.
I asked to see her housing again and what she shows that she now has three rows of wire cages hung on top of each other. I hate to see that! She has roofing material between the cages to catch the manure and urine but still, the rabbits in the second two rows have rabbits above them shitting and peeing on top of them – granted it may run off the roofing tile but I’ll bet not completely. I know that’s how a lot of people keep their rabbits and I’m sure some of the rabbits I’ve sold have ended up in this type of situation but I refuse to allow that to happen to any rabbit I’ve brought into the world if I can avoid it.
This mindset and my honesty has to some extent prevented me from doing well in farming but I sleep well at night. I know that I’ve sold rabbits to good homes and the people that bought them are happy with them. I am breeding quality Silver Fox rabbits from lines that do well on forage – the perfect homestead rabbit. That’s what I’m doing.
Until later …