As most of you know we are still learning as we continue to follow our dream and we took a big step last year buying some meat bunnies. Unfortunately because I knew nothing at the time we ended up with three females and no male. Then I went online to search for a male, instead I found a New Zealand rabbit that I was told was pregnant...again I was duped. So after a long 9 hour round trip I traveled to a small backyard farmer who I knew was a breeder and bought three trio's home to start again.
I do not like to leash or cage animals unless absolutely necessary, as I believe they should live as they would in their natural habitat. Although with the amount of predators in our back yard we do how ever fence them in making their surroundings as natural as we can provide. We have hardware cloth below the dirt so our bunnies can not escape and so nothing can dig its way under. We provide the rabbits with a large amount of dirt and use old milk crates with wood attached to the front for nesting boxes. It's great to watch how they dig and build their homes and interact with one another.
We feed our rabbits a mixture of cracked corn, wheat, barley, alfalfa pellets and oats to give them a nice hardy meal during the cold weather, and during the warmer weather supply them with alfalfa pellets and allow them to eat naturally outdoors in their large space. We have found that they love barrels to hide in, old tires to play on and in and we set up umbrellas close to the ground for them to lounge under when outside to hide from that hot sun. On extremely hot days we found that freezing bottles of water and placing them in their home and in their water supply helps them keep cool.
Now that the weather is becoming a bit more Winter like we have decided to take them into the barn, so we covered the cement floor with straw and have bucketed in dirt so they can dig as they would if outdoors. They seem to be very happy and I have to say our new stud is doing his job. We have had two batches of bunnies so far and another on its way!
The children adore taking care of the rabbits and like to spend their free time in their large home letting them hop all over them! A lot of people don't like the fact that the children are so interactive with our animals we raise for meat, although I believe its the best way. They know these animals will feed us, but by interacting they also learn that in order for them to feed us we need to care and attend to them in order to keep them happy and healthy and they gain so much knowledge along the way and get so excited about it.
This winter will be our first time butchering our own rabbits and we look forward to sharing our experience when we do.