Original Publish Date 2014-03-04 02:30:43
As always I'm looking for input from other family and friends who have rabbit and chicken raising experiences . your more then welcome to comment on the meat side also , but also keep in mind that the goal to providing a sustainable food source from clean well cared for stock.
Things to note , I AM NOT an "animal rights person", I am an animal WELFARE person. I'm pro-responsible animal care, which includes: feeding a variety of species appropriate high quality foods, not over breeding , allowing all animals enough space for more then significant exercise and play, comfortable safe and climate controlled quarters to rest in, a fast humane death for animals meant to be plated, and not wasting any parts of the bodies afterward.
I do not believe people can fully appreciate food , or nature without being directly involved in the process. I also believe that carefully researched and planned raising of livestock on a small family homestead is the most humane way to do it .
I want to know those animals were taken care of with the best care possible until they are harvested. I can't know that if I continue buying all foods from markets .
I'm starting to go over chicken breeds and rabbit breeds , trying to decide the best to have for meat, eggs and sustainability . This includes using there waste products to fertilize and give back to the earth , as well as what plants to grow to help nourish both our family and so that less is also wasted from our garden .
Because we are on year 0 of our garden I'm mostly making plans for next year which will give me more time to research and ask questions on start to end of life care .
Chickens So far barred Rocks, seems to be the chicken of choice , recommended friendly hens or a starter flock. also picking out foraging shrubs , trees , and plants to keep in the free range area. I have a good sized section of yard picked out , and their are plenty of good articles on setting up sustainable homesteading over on mother earth news . some cool things about chicken, they naturally mix compost, as well as create it . They also eat garden pests so you can carefully fence off parts of the garden to let then pick out snails , and slugs ,and grasshoppers , so there little or no need to use poisons , they also aerate the soil. great chicken article here http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/chicken-manure-fertilizer-zm0z13amzkon.aspx#axzz2R0zQq0as
Rabbits I think I'm going to look deeper into the American Chinchilla rabbits for meat rabbits , this is a endangered agriculture breed so having a line would be beneficial in keeping it going. I figure this would also save on dog food , since rabbit meat is very very lean and would be a good supplemental source of proteins . things to consider.. http://world.time.com/2012/12/14/how-rabbits-can-save-the-world-it-aint-pretty/also Rabbits produce fertilizer that is considered "cold" which means it can be placed directly into the garden. So right now I'm researching the best designs for hutches that will both be easy to clean, keep the bunnies safe from predators ,and allow the most space for exercise and comfort. I have a few designs in mind. but will be working on those . I've already decided to do at least twice the recommended sized runs with a separate covered part with solid bottom and nesting materials for nesting/shelter .
It seems the trickiest part is finding the correct gauge wire to ensure that feet are comfortable. Although I have a few ideas on engineering a run and to let me use solid bottoms while still allowing waste to be easily evacuated so bunnies do not run in there own waste which is a huge concern with many solid bottom runs . I've considered doing grass runs , that open to a yard area, but I've seen first hand that this creates many medical issues since rabbits or highly susceptible to pathogens found in the dirt . this is why I'm starting asking questions a year early , so as to get feed back from all sides on what is the best way to keep and manage a few rabbits .
also , just to put a few more things in perspective : "Broccoli no more aspires to sizzling in a stir-fry than pigs dream of becoming ham." Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-community/how-plants-defend-themselves-zm0z13amzcom.aspx#ixzz2R6HTSmD1
I'm serious here, It annoyed me that the same people who preach we need to "get back to nature" are the same ones who deny their own nature. It IS completely normal for animals to eat other animals. In MOST cases , humans NEED animals proteins and derived animal by product to reach a balanced nutritional intake . It's silly to deny that . Just like it is silly to deny that nature can sometimes seem a Cruel mistress all for the purpose of balance just because it doesn't fit into a "Disney" view of the world . If she didn't allow for animals to eat other animals nature would destroy herself in a generation or two, do to over breeding and land devastation. a healthy balance, and sustainability is the answer here.