Heritage Breed Rabbits

AMERICAN RABBIT BREEDERS ASSOCIATION Rabbitry number: D462

 Please email us at thedancingfarmer (at) yahoo (dot) com to be on our “contact list” for our heritage breed rabbits. Thanks!

Sorry we no longer raise American Chinchillas. Great rabbits but we needed more space for our Silver Fox.

We are in the process of expanding our herds of heritage breed Silver Fox* to include not only nice black but also good quality blue and chocolate rabbits.  We enjoy raising this breed of rabbits to help save an interesting and unique looking heritage breed. All our rabbits are meant to be “multi purpose”  — useful as breeding stock,  showing and to keep for table use.  In addition to the off site links, please see our breed specific pages above for pictures and a bit more information about our specific animals.

Our goal is to have enough genetic diversity to offer a couple of possibilities for unrelated stock to others. And though all our rabbits come from pedigreed stock, not all will be registered. Pedigreed yes, registered no. We do not, and are not interested in, showing at this time. We will however have them registered if a sanctioned show is close enough to us that the drive will be worth it. Please check individual rabbits on our Silver Fox page for those that are registered.  Even so, we will always choose our breeding stock based upon the standards for each breed for those who would like to show these wonderful animals. That does not mean that we will not consider other important criteria such as animals that achieve good gains with less input or maintenance and weaned litter weights. Farmers, and farms, after all need livestock that work for them not the other way around. Beauty does not always equate with productivity but a productive animal can also be beautiful :-)  That is the ultimate goal to strive for we feel.

*When we sell our rabbits as breeding stock they will come with a 3 generation pedigree and a tattoo to identify them. We will be culling our stock you can be assured. We have no interest in selling inferior stock since our main goal for raising rabbits is to supply ourselves with humanely and nutritionally fed food for our family. MMM….tastes like chicken :-)

The reason we originally chose to breed heritage breed rabbits is because of our preference to pasture raise our rabbits in open bottom pens as much as we can and to reduce our feed consumption by offering fresh grasses, weeds and hay every day, all year. Even when we can not run our rabbits in open bottom pens, these breeds do well in cages too. However, we personally believe in offering “natural” food to our livestock and so even when in cages our rabbits receive at least 50% of their diets each day from grasses/weeds/leftovers. Heritage breeds, based on what we have gleaned from our own research, and more so, through others research (the few that we can find), generally put on weight better without the added supplementation.  This makes them ideal for pasture raising/grass feeding. And though heritage breeds can grow a bit slower than the more commonly raised commercial meat rabbits, it does not really matter in the end because pasture based feeding is basically free.  Some of this slower growth has to do with genetics but most of it has to do with feeding. Historically rabbits were fed, and still are in some countries, green grasses, plants and weeds along with some grains. In hard times rabbits can, do and will be fine, on diets of cooked eggs, breads and other foods we normally would not consider for our rabbits.

With the advent of perfectly proportioned bagged feed that required nothing more than a scoop, rapid speed of growth became possible.  This is the same concept that occurred with poultry, cows and other commercially raised animals that we regularly see available for consumption. Unfortunately this form of bagged feed leaves us completely reliant on others to care for our animals while the price consistently goes up up up. By feeding in pastured pens, where the rabbits can harvest most of their own food, or in pens with feed gathered and stored by ourselves from our property, we are no longer reliant upon a company to feed the animals that supply us with our food or livelihoods. Self sufficiency at its best. It also gives you a better flavored end product whether it’s rabbits, chickens, pork or beef.

Though we will not achieve our goal of no longer needing to purchase commercial feed by the end of fall 2011, we have stored some of our own grasses away as hay and are trying some garden grown items too. We have put in a few patches of garden areas specific to our rabbits needs including some alfalfa to cut and dry along with nutritious “weeds”, small grains and roots. Since rabbits are smaller overall we do not need the acres of space for hay/winter feed that is needed for larger livestock to make it through a winter. We have raised a number of different species over the years to supply our family not only with food but also products useful to us like wool and milk. The rabbit however seems to be the easiest “livestock” that has the ability to be completely and totally supplied from the smaller homestead or farm with no input from outside sources. You could also do this with poultry if you raise more than one variety of grain and/or worms or black soldier larvae for them to be supplemented with. Rabbits need just green food–very easy for most of us to grow and understand and a tad easier for those that get “yucked out” by bugs and worms. I will be blogging about this through out the year as I work towards building a supply of winter food source to carry my breeding stock through winter 2011/2012.  You can see a few pictures of our rabbits below. The picture is our pen for soon to be moms and younger bunnies. The younger bunnies and their mom in this cage will soon move out—they are already almost 5 weeks old in this picture –while soon to be mom(s) will stay. This cage is just one example — we will post pictures of them made of other materials as we have time and expand. You can contact me at thedancingfarmer (at) g mail (dot) com for more information concerning our rabbits or to purchase breeding stock.

Want to find other heritage rabbits? Check out these sites:

Rudolph’s rabbit ranch
ARBA.net
Rabbitbreeders.us

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