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Hare-o-ponics

Nick Klein feeds fish and rabbits through a unique invention
Photo courtesy of Nick Klein

When Nick Klein moved from a cattle farm in Wisconsin to a small lot in Queen Creek, Arizona, he still had the desire to raise livestock. He bought a few rabbits, which quickly multiplied into many rabbits, and created a business. He markets them as breeding stock, sells cages, and also teaches workshops on raising rabbits as livestock.

Nick wants his operation to be as cost-effective and self-sufficient as possible. He doesn’t buy any bagged feed; he grows all of his own barley for the bunnies with a process called “fodder”.

"Basically what you do is you sprout the seeds for 8-days," says Nick. "Then, it grows and grows, and ends up being about 6-8” tall and so you get a nice root mat because all the roots intertwine together and hold each other. And then all of the sprouts go up so you get grass and roots, the barley seeds and shells are left in there, all of which are consumed by the rabbits."

It’s tough to grow anything in the Arizona desert without irrigation. Not wanting to waste any water, Nick took his operation a step further by growing the barley hydroponically in trays. They rabbits are fed with the water from a 600-gallon tank full of fish. Nick figured out how the barley, the rabbits, and the fish can benefit each other with zero waste. He calls his system, “hare-o-ponics”.

"The rabbit manure goes into a composter that grows black soldier fly larvae, and the black soldier fly larvae are then fed to the fish," says Nick. "The rabbit urine is a high alkalinity, which you mix with the barley because it takes the acid coating off of the barley shell. The urea that was used is diluted and washed off of it before it goes to the rabbits."

Learn more about Nick Klein's rabbit business at www.hostilehare.com

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