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Meet the Meat Mamas

November 27, 2012

As some know and have tasted, and others have shown interest in, we have meat rabbits available for sale in our farm shares and packages. Today we’ll take a bit of a look at some of the rabbits that will be providing those meals, although our herd is growing and will be much more so when we get moved to Kentucky!

The first is SMF SnowLady – she’s a beautiful white doe that does not meet the standard for her breed. She is Giant Chinchilla, but is a “ghost”. In short, there is a gene in the chinchilla color that is recessive and if met with that recessive on both sides it produces a white. Horse folks might call it a “cropout” – in the chinchilla world we call it a ghost. In many herds she would have been culled at birth to give the rest of the litter a little more milk and resources. Here, because we have a market expanding for meat, she is saved to produce some dandy meat rabbits for customers next year! We also have two chinchilla colored sisters that will contribute to the show herd.

Then there’s a crossbred doe – she’s Champagne X Silver Fox, and the color displayed is a bit different. She’ll add to the herd, but it’s expected she’ll throw off colored kits, which then will be raised for food.

We’ve had questions about what our animals are fed, and that’s a fair question. Some say they pasture or graze their animals, and we’ll have some doing that but it won’t be exclusively pasture. It’s said wild rabbits do that and indeed they do. But there’s a huge difference.

Just hay or forage starves large breeds of meat rabbits, in my experience. Every time if I want to drop weight on a too fat animal, give just hay. Maintaining on just hay doesn’t give the rabbit all she needs. There’s about a 10 pound difference between these ladies and wild rabbits! Wild rabbits breed in rapid fashion, wean at 2-3 weeks because mama is rebred and there’s a large death loss. We also don’t expect wild rabbits to be six pounds of tasty, solid meat in 3 months or a little better!

Over the weekend we added an early present – a chipper shredder to process small amounts of hay, which makes it easier to feed in the feeders. We’ll have to adapt it, but are aiming for less waste and a haylage type dry hay that is easier to use. The rabbits do benefit from hay as a fiber source, but need the nutrition of other ingredients in the ration. Right now we’re feeding pellets, but working on some alternatives.  There are bagged commercial hays available for horses, but these often are coated with molasses or soybean oil, both which we’d rather avoid with rabbits. Our straight grass hay does well, but as we grow we’re aiming towards a better quality hay! Stay tuned! 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at some of the rabbits on tap for producing good meat for our customers. And the does are just half of the equation. Bucks with plenty of width and power are needed for those fast growing fryers. We have those too! Here’s a look at two of them:

Looking forward to a good 2013!

(left SMF Storm Cat).

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