"Farming is the profession of hope." – Brian Brett
My passion for rabbits began in 2008. I was immediately drawn to the Rex breed for their amazingly plush, gorgeous, colourful coats. Rabbits are a extremely satisfying hobby for animal enthusiasts. I love all aspects of management and tracking data on my rabbits to see the improvements in the breed from generation to generation. The awe-inspiring reproductive efficiency and short gestation time allows for observable changes in heritable characteristics. I am fascinated by all aspects from colour genetics to reproduction to nutrition. Safe to say, I am a hardcore animal nerd.
We have a very small scale rabbitry striving to produce exhibition quality rabbits with correct conformation, thick, plush coats, longevity, health and excellent temperaments. We breed with careful consideration and an end goal for each and every animal we produce. We feel responsible for any animal we brought into this world and will provide care for them if their owners situation ever changes.
I had not had much exposure to rabbits aside from the occasional pet throughout childhood. As a farmer and a mother I was drawn to them as a great family project for the homestead. They are a smaller, gentler and safer option for the youngest family members to help with. As an Animal Science nerd I found them quite interesting in terms of breeding and management. They are the ultimate “instant gratification” project for anyone keen to learn more about breeding and genetics. I think it is an excellent way for new producers to get their “feet wet” learning to care for a herd, perfect their management, fine tune their record keeping and experience the joys of breeding decision making.
Not many backyard livestock can boast the same resume as a rabbit: easy to manage, prolific, healthy protein producers, come in a wide variety of varieties to suit any fancy, able to be trained, shown, snuggled or harvested, they produce cool manure that can go straight onto the garden or luxurious pelts. Rabbits do it all!
I believe that when choosing YOUR breed of any type of livestock for the homestead there are two components to your decision making. The first comes from researching breeds and determining which best suits your needs. The second is listening to your gut and choosing the breed that appeals to you. There is no sense in raising a breed that you don’t thoroughly enjoy. When I first ventured into rabbit keeping I went with the logical choice for meat production – NZ x Californian cross. The problem was that I wasn’t drawn to them and I didn’t enjoy it much. I eventually replaced those with pedigreed standard Rex and never looked back. I loved the variety of coat colours, how each litter was like a box of Smarties. I loved the luxurious plushness of their coats, their inquisitive natures and their easy-to-manage temperaments. Some will argue that Rex aren’t a suitable choice for a dual purpose homestead rabbit but we have never found that to be the case. We were always sold out of rabbit when we operated our butcher shop. Its also encouraging to find research out there that indicates that Rex carcass qualities are on par with breeds traditionally seen as meat producers with excellent meat:bone ratio. In fact, their carcass quality was found to be the most tender in this study. Effect of Breed and Sex on Rabbit Carcass and Yield and Meat Quality.
Our rabbits are raised in a clean and safe environment with plenty of enrichment. Does and litters are housed in 30”x 36” cages while in the nest box to ensure careful monitoring (aka my super micromanaging) and sanitary environment. When the kits leave the nest box we move the family to a larger grow out cage (again, wire to reduce cocci risk) that is 3’ x 8’ to allow for proper muscular development. We make use of 4’ x 8’ tractors to allow growing rabbits and adults room to stretch, dig and enjoy grass. Every bunny enjoys toys, social interaction and adequate nutrition provided via excellent quality Timothy hay, complete pellets, sprouted grain fodder, black oil sunflower seeds and calf manna. We provide treats in the form of homegrown carrots (tops attached), raspberries and their leaves, fresh fruits and dandelion. We were fortunate that this year my father baled an entire field of willow bushes so our livestock can nibble on the leaves and branches throughout the year.
We monitor the health of our rabbits daily to quickly discover any changes in appetite, behaviour and physical well being. We select breeding stock that exhibit strong immune systems and the ability to reproduce and grow above the herd average. I keep careful data on all offspring and select our keepers from those “ahead of the curve”. I cull heavily for undesirable traits as I feel this is the only way to make progress in a breeding program. Regular maintenance includes routine nail trimming, monitoring foot pad health, eye/ear/vent care, cleaning of scent glands and fecal testing to determine if parasite control is necessary.
We take our commitment to raising animals humanely very seriously. We follow the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Rabbitsreleased by the National Farm Animal Care Council in 2018. These requirements ensure that the needs of all rabbits are met throughout their lifetime including humane euthanasia practices at end of life. It is the very least we can do for animals that give us so very much.
Purchasing from Ravenwood
While we are producing primarily for show/breeding community we do occasionally adopt out pet quality rabbits that don’t meet show standards (ie. unrecognized colour, retired breeding stock). These animals have the same careful breeding and health standards as our show rabbits. Pet homes must be pre-approved for adoption to ensure they are *excellent* homes prepared to offer an enriched and enjoyable home for the duration of the rabbit’s life. Again, we ask that the rabbit is returned if the owner’s situation ever changes. Please visit our SALES page to view available animals and feel free to contact us at any time to see if we have a rabbit to meet your needs.
Thank you for visiting our rabbitry page and we welcome inquiries about our rabbits or any management questions you may have.
*We Support 4-H*
We are happy to sponsor our future farmers by supplying 4-H members with one free project animal per year.