My Rabbits Are on Grass


The Domestication of Cattle CaitYou see it all over the supermarket — pastured beef, pastured poultry, free range eggs — well ... what about rabbit? Of course, it’s not like you see rabbit meat at the supermarket anyways. That’d be cruel and disturbing, right? To see a shrink wrapped, gutted and skinned bunny rabbit? Yeah, whatever.

Anyways, raising rabbits out-of-doors, semi-free-range, is not easy. As a matter-of-fact, it’s a downright pain in the tuckus, but it IS doable. If I remember correctly, Joel Salatin’s son raised rabbits and finished them out in rabbit tractors. There’s several issues that I’ve run across trying to raise bunnies in the yard, but they are all fixable for the most part. If you’re interested in raising your rabbits the all natural, granola way, you need to be prepared for the worst.

First off, rabbits like to leave. And when they leave, they do not return. I’m blessed with a wonderful dog that has the hunting instincts of a Beagle and the herding instincts of an Australian Cattle Dog. This is probably because his mother was a Beagle and his father was an Australian Cattle Dog. If we have a rabbit loose, all I have to do is point Gus in the general direction of the escapee and say, “Gus! Get ‘im!” Then Gus goes and gets ‘im. He flushes them out and then runs them right into my fishing net, easy peasy. Of course, the ideal situation would be not having any escapees at all, am I right? I learned this the hard way, obviously. Initially I just tossed some does into a retired chicken tractor and a few of them promptly dug out and had to be caught with a net. Lesson learned — some sort of wire flooring must be installed before stocking the outdoor rabbit pens. Here's an example of what I use: a chicken tractor. When my parents take an order of pastured chickens to slaughter, I immediately fill a tractor with rabbits.

rabbit tractor

Another situation that I came across was that outdoor rabbits like to chase each other, and if you don’t make sure that they all get along perfectly, your favorite rabbit will end up breaking her leg and then you’ll have to eat her and you will be very sad over the entire ordeal because she was very, very pretty. If there’s any sort of aggressiveness beyond typical pecking order shenanigans, I recommend removing the aggressor or the rabbit that the others all hate. They might be jealous if she’s especially pretty, which I’m pretty sure is the reason that the does all ganged up on poor Penelope and broke her leg. It’s hard being beautiful. Pictured is the victim, Penelope (on the left) and her frenemy, Phoebe. I'm sorry, it's blurry, I know.

the victim and her frenemy

8/18/2015 6:09:13 PM

I never heard of a "chicken tractor" or a "rabbit tractor" before. When I was growing up, they were called drag cages. They didn't have a bottom and there was a door on the top of either end. There was also a pile of rocks on the top. Every day or two, you moved the cage sideways one width and pressed your toe around the entire perimeter of the cage. Any low spot and a rock or six was put there to block the hole. There were anywhere from 4-8 cages at any time. I found out fast that you leave the sides open (just the 1/4' wire) or they would go crazy if they couldn't see out. You could always tell where the cages had been, the grass was a lot higher, thicker and deeper green. One bit of advice. At butchering time, NEVER put their name on the wrapper. It destroys the taste when you know your eating Floppy.

8/31/2013 6:05:03 AM

Very pretty rabbits. I enjoy reading about your obvious passion for your way of life. Someday when the capital is there I intend to live that way myself. Keep up the shenanigans and I'll keep reading. -Urban Topher

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