This is the first part of an ongoing series allowing readers to ask questions about the rabbit hobby. There are no rules or guidelines. Have a question? Ask away! Post your question as a comment on our blog or email email@example.com.
Readers are encouraged to share their own ideas or opinions in the comments below.
How do you deal with people, with poor breeding habits (un-typey Hollands) wanting to purchase your rabbits?
I think the underlying question here is: Do you sell your rabbits to them?
It depends on the situation. Is it a newer, less experienced breeder seeking better stock? It it someone who indiscriminently breeds masses of rabbits of questionable quality for pet purposes?
One of my goals aside from raising healthy, typey animals is educating others about how to do the same. Sometimes a breeder is working with lesser quality animals because they simply haven’t learned what to look for yet. Others may not have the money to invest in top quality rabbits right off the bat. I’ll absolutely work with those people. Their decision to come to me, or another reputable breeder, is one in an effort to improve their herd.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people pick up rabbits with the intention of breeding them to make pets, regardless of quality. Let’s just say that if I get this vibe from you, I’ll likely (and suddenly) have a lot less for sale.
What are your thoughts on making the utilization of rabbit as a humane source of homegrown meat more politically correct?
I wish it already were.
Half the battle with those against any animal as meat is overcoming the, “Oh my gosh, they’re so cute! How could you KILL them?” I admit that this was me, at one point in my life. My original misconception was that these people must be heartless, careless individuals with no soul. How else could they? But over the years, I’ve come to know the people who raise commercial animals personally.
I was wrong.
Those who raise their own animals care deeply for them. The whole life cycle of each animal is in their hands, and they spend the animal’s lifetime ensuring that they’re properly cared for. When the time comes to harvest, those animals don’t see death. The only thing and the last thing they experience is the love that a small, backyard farmer had for them. Only we know what happens after that.
Humans are omnivores, and most of us don’t think twice about a burger at a steak house. How do you know where that meat came from? How do you know that it was treated with proper care? It’s okay to order a burger – I’m not criminalizing anyone for that.
I guess what I’m saying is that we’ve become too comfortable with not knowing and letting someone else do the dirty work for us. I’m guilty of that too, and it will take a long time before I’m able to process my own animals (if ever). But we should be celebrating the individuals who do.
How to make that happen? I don’t know. But my message to small, hobby farmers is to keep doing what you’re doing. Keep advocating proper care and offer your friends clean, processed meat. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn about any aspect of animal hobbies is that you can’t change the world on your own. But if you can earn the understanding of a handful of people, you’ve made a difference for your animals. Those little differences made by each rabbit fancier add up.
How many breeds can someone do, and still be able to do each breed well (IYO)? And In your opinion, how many holes do you need to do a breed well?
This is a difficult one, and I know a hundred people who would passionately push for multiple breeds. Rather than unraveling a novel of my own thoughts, I’ll leave it at this:
Look at the top breeders in the nation. The people who are winning Best of Breeds and Best in Shows on the national level. How many breeds do they have?
One or two.
I do feel as though one individual can raise a handful of breeds and still be producing nice quality animals. But I don’t see those people producing exceptional quality animals.
The more breeds a person has, the less seriously they’ll be taken in the rabbit community as a whole, too. When I come across a website featuring a number of different breeds, I tend to think it’s a pet owner or hobbyist just playing with bunnies and selling them as pets. I’ll admit that I often leave the website before evening looking around.
On the other hand, a person who works with just one breed comes across as more dedicated, more focused, and more serious about raising high quality animals. They come across as an authority on their breed and often progress at a quicker pace than those sharing their cage space in many different directions.
I think the “breaking point” is two breeds. If that second breed on a website is just as typey, successful, and focused as the first, I’d still consider that individual to be a reputable name in the rabbit community. If both breeds are average or poor quality, the rabbitry is already teetering on the edge of reputable. And three or more breeds raised by one individual is, more often than not, “too much.” An exception may be in the case of meat or fiber animals, where multiple breeds can be beneficial.
As far as cage space goes, I would say you need at least 10 holes to be competitive in a single breed. About 25 is probably ideal, in my opinion.