Raising rabbits on pasture
If you raise rabbits, put them out on pasture so they can have all the fresh greens they want. Keep them in a wire cage on the ground, and move it at least once a day. They’ll eat just about anything, but alfalfa is high in protein.
Diane Schivera is an organic livestock specialist with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. She says rabbits raised on pasture in a rotational grazing system produce quality meat that’s higher in Omega 3 fatty acids. Another benefit is the savings in feed costs. But it also depends on your objectives and how fast you want them to grow.
"If you’re trying to do things with the least amount of cost possible, they can get a fair amount of their diet from just feeding them the pasture in the summertime," says Schivera. "But if you want them to grow faster and you want to spend more money, you would feed them pellets, too. If you’re trying to raise an animal that’s more on vegetables and pasture, then they’re not going to grow as fast."
One thing that all rabbits do quickly is dig holes. To keep them from becoming wild hares, Schivera says you can put a floor in the cage. But, it has to be constructed so the bunnies can still nibble the grass the way they prefer.
"Joel Salatin, who’s a big proponent of pasture-raised animals in general, his son came up with a structure that’s got strips of wood in it that go the length of the house, so that when you pull it, it doesn’t scrunch down all the grass", says Schivera. "Rabbits like to eat the grass from the tip down. So when it’s all bent over, they don’t seem to like it as much."
Have electric fencing around the cages to discourage any predators looking for a rabbit dinner.
Learn more about raising rabbits on pasture
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