Under Attack!!!

Well the other night a few of our 3 week old bunnies got out of there pen (how is still a mystery).  But my sons went out to check the rabbits in the morning and they came in screaming that the bunnies got out, so my wife went out and sure enough there they were on the ground.  After further inspection she found two were missing she located the one and it had its head chewed off and the other one was gone..  So when I got home I was out looking and there are three holes in the barn at the floor and it looks like the work of a rat, but I am starting to think that it could be a weasel or maybe a mink since our barn is with in 50ft of the creek.  So I set a few rat traps two days ago and the first day nothing, but this morning both traps were set off but no animal hmmm?  So I reset the traps and also put out one of my larger live traps.  Now I pride myself on being a pretty good trapper and hunter so now after a miss last night this is WAR!!!!!  I wonder how many others deal with predators in there rabbit barns but I know this is the first time for us.  I am interested to see what it is that is making visits to my rabbit pens at night.  I will keep you informed if I catch the bugger no wait WHEN I CATCH IT I will post its funeral pictures.  But other ten that we are awaiting our first set of winter bunnies I am hoping that they beat the winter weather so we don’t lose any to cold weather.  I hope all of you are enjoying the posts and I appreciate the follows and comments thank you for reading and Happy Homesteading.

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Very Busy

Sorry to everyone that I have not blogged for a little while last week my wife was away for the week for job training and being full time mister mom was a lot of work.  But I am back we here at the Holden Homestead are preparing for winter, getting fire wood fattening pigs and getting ready to process our fall litter of rabbits.  As well as putting up last of the season fruits and veggies.  But I am ready for winter and trapping and hunting season.  I also will hopefully be back to work soon and no longer unemployed but at least it was at the busiest time of year I have been able to be home and get a lot of stuff done.  So I will do my best from here on to make sure that I blog at least 2 times a week and please drop me a comment on some of the things you would like to hear about any topic related to homesteading or food production are welcome.  I hope to do a documentary on processing rabbits, pigs, and wild game this winter so that is something you maybe interested in.

Happy Homesteading.

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Did you know? Facts about meat rabbits.

There is a lot of information out there on the web some excellent and some well lets just say not so excellent.  But I was doing some searching and found out some pretty cool facts about meat rabbits and the industry.

  • Did you know? One doe (female) rabbit can produce up to 5 litters a year. Equaling 25-50 live rabbits.
  • Did you know? One doe(female) can produce 125 to 250lb of meat in one year.
  • Did you know? There are three main weight groups for slaughter rabbits 3-4lb, 9-12lb and 14-16lb
  • Did you know? A litter of rabbits is called a “kit”.
  • Did you know? When a doe is having her “kit” it is called “kindling”.
  • Did you know? The New Zealand breed is the most popular meat breed across the world.
  • Did you know? According to the 2002 Ag Census there were 4,300 farms selling 890,000 rabbits nationally.
  • Did you know? According to the 2002 Ag Census Pennsylvania was the top producer selling more than 112,000 rabbits.
  • Did you know? A typical part-time enterprise consist of 50-100 rabbits.
  • Did you know? A typical full-time enterprise consists of at least 600 females and 60 males
  • Did you know? One buck (male) can service as many as 10 does but should not breed more then two a day.
  • Did you know? A baby rabbit is ready to be weaned at 4 weeks old.
  • Did you know? A rabbit is usually at butcher size 4 months old.
  • Did you know? The largest breed of rabbit is a Flemish Giant which will reach over 13lbs.

There are many more neat facts but we will leave you with those to ponder if you know some or find some that would be neat to share please feel free to share them with me.  Happy Homesteading.

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Food and Feeding

A lot of people wonder what can I feed what should I feed.  Rabbits are 100% herbivore they need plant protein and a good source of roughage.  Now that being said there is a lot of ways to feed your rabbits I will let you know what we feed and our opinions on feed’s now that being said I am a animal nutritionist but not a rabbit nutritionist so I am not going to say that what we do is flawless but it works good for us and helps keep out costs down.  Our diet consist of primarily a 18% complete pellet we have found that our does look better and seem to have larger litters and are able to feed those litters to weaning without sacrificing any body condition.  Most of the commercially available pellets consist of a large amount of alfalfa meal to obtain the protein needed in the diet, now corn and wheat along with a vitamin and trace mineral pack are in those pellets as well.  I have seen a 16% pellet work well for animals that are not working like a buck that isn’t breeding or a doe that isn’t being breed for some reason or another.  But for growing out young rabbits to obtain maximum growth the 18% cant be beat now you could feed a higher protein feed but unless you are going to a show it really isn’t necessary and it will also eat your profit if you are selling meat rabbits and will effect your savings if you are putting them in your freezer.  (Spoiler alert we will be talking about cost / vs. in the next day or two.)  We have also taken notice that at least where we buy our feed the difference in cost of the 16% to the 18% is very minimal.  Ok on to the next part of the diet now here is where people like to get creative I like to use this to help me save money and to help get a little better flavor.  (Now that being said there is no scientific proof that you can alter the flavor buy doing what we are but who needs science for that we all have tongues and taste buds.)  As I was saying this is where a lot of people get creative a lot of people are into the growing fodder for their rabbits this is sprouting barley wheat etc.. and feeding the seeds roots and shoots to the rabbits I have not had much luck with this and I haven’t found anyway to justify the work. (you are suppose to get 150lbs of fodder for 50lb of seeds.)  But the one thing I like about this is that you can offer greens to your rabbits year round if you don’t mind sprouting in your house or have room to do that.  Other people go and buy those bags of alfalfa and timothy hay at your local animal supply stores the problem with that is what you are paying for that you could buy 2 full bales of hay, we grow our own hay on the farm so we have access to all we need but we don’t feed a lot of it.  So after that here is what we use and then we will get to the things to feed to enhance the flavor, we feed grass clippings garden weeds a lot of plantain and we also feed a lot of our garden waste/overage we plant swiss chard and after harvesting it twice for use we harvest the rest for the rabbits until frost and it stops growing.  Now earlier I said I like the idea about feeding greens all winter well this is what we use we go out and pick a bunch of plantain and chard and dandelion then we bring it in the house put it in freezer bags and freeze it, then as winter presses on we can take a bag a week out and offer fresh greens to our rabbits.  Unlike the fodder we don’t have to buy anything other then freezer bags and you can reuse them next time.   During the winter we will feed more dry hay since we don’t have the access to the abundance of free food we do in spring summer and fall.  Now the flavor question I got this is what we have found helps make the flavor and carcass quality better, dandelion, alfalfa and apples.  All of these things have the ability to help clean the rabbit of “toxins” it is been proven that dandelion greens have been used for as long as man can remember to help clean the blood people around where we live eat it at Easter to help clean your blood after along winter but it is truthfully an antioxidant.  Alfalfa has been used in all ruminant livestock as a fed source for years and it has a great ability to help increase the flavor of meat.  Now apples have been used to help remove bad flavor from cows milk and the reason it does is it also helps the immune system and a animal that is healthy is always as better animal to eat.  A lot of this information was derived from friends and personal experience’s as well as being an avid rabbit hunter and beagle trainer and observing wild rabbit habits.  So I hope you all will find this helpful and interesting if you have any other questions please feel free to post them and I will try to answer them.  Bye for now and Happy Homesteading.

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Intro to the series on Rabbits.

I have decided instead of trying to pack all information on a topic all at one I am going to do some series with the occasional break to let you know what is going on here at our homestead.  But I decided to start with a series on rabbits a lot of people that are trying to raise some of the own meat, try a lot of different types of animals but pound for pound you cant raise as much meat as economically and lowest impact on property then rabbits.  So in this series we will go over everything from what you will need to get started to what you need to put your meat in the freezer.  In the US we don’t use rabbit as much as we should it is a very high quality meat and is actually better for you then chicken.  So as we go through this series we will do our best to show all the benefits that these relatively easy animals to own are not just good for us but can really make enough meat that you can cut down your consumption of factory farm raised chicken and replace it with good wholesome home grown rabbit.  Not to take anything away from chickens we have raised them as well but we have found that like I said in the beginning rabbits pound for pound will make more meat for less expense and fit in most municipalities in the US.  I have included in this intro a chart I found to show the Nutrient Breakdown of most common meats consumed in the US verses rabbit meat.  I hope that by the end of this series we will help you think about ether raising rabbit or at least giving it a try for dinner.  Happy Homesteading.  This chart is from the Journal of Animal Production Advances written and researched by; Nistor E., Bampidis V.A., Pacala N., Tozer J., and Prundeau H.

Table 1: Comparative nutritional composition of different   meats.
                                             Rabbit                                     Chicken Beef                                       Pork
Moisture (g/100 g) 68.5 ± 1.05 68.1 ± 1.19 53.2 ± 1.21 43.7 ± 2.13
Protein (g/100 g) 21.2 ± 0.79 20.1 ± 0.27 26.3 ± 0.16 27.3 ± 0.22
Fat (g/100 g) 9.2 ± 0.38 10.8 ± 0.08 19.6 ± 0.09 28.2 ± 0.13
Ash (g/100 g) 1.1 ± 0.08 1.0 ± 0.05 0.9 ± 0.07 0.8 ± 0.11
Calcium (mg/100 g) 21.4 ± 0.09 12.1 ± 0.04 10.9 ± 0.38 9.3 ± 0.47
Phosphorus (mg/100 g) 347 ± 0.26 252 ± 0.06 179 ± 3.62 176.4 ± 3.36
Sodium (mg/100 g) 40.5 ± 0.89 71.4 ± 0.92 63 ± 0.90 67.3 ± 0.91
Cholesterol (mg/100 g) 56.4 ± 0.92 68.3 ± 2.14 114.5 ± 11.68 108.4 ± 10.31
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Welcome

I hope all of you who follow this blog will enjoy it.  I plan on this blog to be informational and fun we will cover everything from growing your own meat and veggies to cooking them in many different ways.  We will also discus where to find safe and traceable food for you and your family.  My family and I have worked toward being self sufficient in our own food production for years and we want to share with you the things we do and what we have found worked for us.  I have spent my whole life in Agriculture and farming I invite you to follow us through our year and what is going on hear at our homestead, as well as discussion on best practices for homesteaders and self sufficient families and individuals.  Again I thank you for you interest and I invite you to ask questions and I will do my best to answer everyone.  We will share fun times, failures, faith and our families welcome.  Happy Homesteading!

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