Pastured Rabbit Integrated Farming Project

Project Overview

FS13-264
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Michelle Bernard
Spellcast Farm

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Animals: rabbits

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Crop Production: cover crops

    Summary:

    I am so incredibly thrilled with the progress I have made on this project.  Now I have the “problem” of having too many rabbits available and need to cut back on my breeding program which means we now get to eat more rabbit.  I am currently exploring the pet food market as a means to sell older rabbits and starting to market boneless rabbit and rabbit sausage.  Using rabbits as a part of an integrated farming system is a perfect means for many farmers to convert to full-circle farming and become more sustainable.

    Introduction

    When I wrote the grant for this project, I stated that this was not a pastured rabbit project, but an integrated farming model.  After having raised meat rabbits for over two years now I firmly believe that our methods are solid and can be utilized by any farmer wanting to raise both meat (or fiber) rabbits along side market vegetables.  I do not think there is much future in truly pastured rabbits; they can be pasture fed, but not kept grazing on grass.  Really, the only way that this can be done is if you have many, many acres of completely flat land.  Harvesting pasture (weeds, spent vegetables, etc.) and feeding them to the rabbits is perfectly viable.

    Project objectives:

    Since the onset of this project, I have more than doubled my breeding program.  I am able to keep up with the demand for our rabbits.  Our customers remain very satisfied with the product.  I was not able to cut down on the grow-out period for our rabbits.  They are not fed any commercial rabbit pellets.  Instead they consume locally-grown whole grains, hay and harvested pasture grass, weeds and spent vegetables.  This enables me to market my rabbits as corn, soy and to our knowledge, GMO-free.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.