Knowing that I will never buy eggs again feels AMAZING.  To my very core, I feel empowered.  I CAN do this.  I CAN raise my own food and be self-sufficient.

It also fuels the fire to do more.

So I think I’m going to get some rabbits!  From what I’ve read – rabbits seem awesome.  I can try and grow all of their food and they have a quick turnaround date for when they can be butchered.  They’re also small and can easily be contained without the need for more fencing.

Step 1:
Where are they going to live?

From what I’ve read there are pretty much two main types of rabbit living situations: Colony and Hutches.

Colony Pros and Cons

Pros:
more natural way of life- they’re living outside and together like they would in nature
can graze

Cons:
don’t have a breeding schedule
can dig out
less protected from the pack of coyotes that lurks around at night

Hutch Pros and Cons

Pros:
more protected from predators
no escaping
defined breeding schedule

Cons:
I hate the thought of being cooped up all day

I think I’m going to build hutches.  (Ok Farm Fiancé and my dad will build hutches)  They will have an indoor component and then down a ramp to grass.  The bottom will have wire that the grass can fit through but that the rabbit can’t dig out.  The hutches will also need to either be light enough or on wheels so I can move it to fresh grass if needed.  If I’m home and can watch them, I think I’ll let them all play in one of those outdoor pens for dogs for a bit.

 

 

rabbit-hutch

Step 2:
What are they eating?

In lieu of trying to make this as sustainable as possible – I want to grow as much of their food as I can or let them browse as much as possible.

I’m hoping to leave some areas that grass can get through in the bottom of the pens as well as find leaves and random plants for them to snack on.  One of our outbuildings also has electricity so we may be able to set up a small growing operation to start an herb garden for us and a fodder system for them.  Obviously the cost of the electricity is a factor so I don’t want to blow the roof off with that while thinking I’m saving money on food.

It may be time to branch out and talk to some local farmers about getting older or bruised fruits and veggies as well.

Step 3:
Breeding schedule

It has been recommended to me to get one buck and 3 does to feed our family.

For starters:

Month 1: Breed  doe #1
Month 2: Doe #1 kits and doe #2 gets bred
Month 3: Doe #2 kits and doe #3 gets bred
Month 4: Doe #3 kits and doe #1’s kits are weaned
Month 4.5: Doe #1 kits butchered
Month 5: Doe #2 kits are weaned

I’m going to stop there before you get too bored and I get out of control.  Obviously this all has to work out at step one before I’m going to want to proceed with a schedule.  More on this when the time comes!

Step 4:
Finding the perfect rabbits

A local farmer raises Silver Foxes and it is said that they are good meat rabbits and have strong mothering abilities.  This is important to me as I obviously can’t be “mom” for the bulk of every day.  They also come in a variety of colors and farm fiancé is really interested in the furs.

 

I want to really sit down this weekend and start scrounging for supplies and get this process going!

 

I’ll keep you posted!

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