The English Angora

First of all "Why rabbits?"

     Many people enjoy the benefits of animals as pets. Most of them have not experienced the rewards that come from raising livestock. In today's economic down turn many families are striving to become more self-sufficient. Most such families are doing so by growing some of their own food. Although this is a great start to self-reliance, most people do not realize how practical raising rabbits can be. Raising rabbits is a great way to become self-sufficient because they can aid in the production of fruits and vegetables, meat, and clothing.

     Since rabbits can aid in the production of fruits and vegetables raising bunnies is practical.  Rabbits’ output of manure is highly suitable for any vegetable garden. Additionally, it is also organic and keeps fruits and veggies healthy for human consumption. The manure that rabbits produce also contains high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These elements are essential to a healthy garden as they allow plants to reach full growth potential, transform energy, withstand stress, and fight diseases. Amazingly, a female rabbit, or doe, and her offspring can produce over a ton of fertilizer in a single year. With this rate of fertilizer production it would only take five does and their offspring from one year, to properly prepare soil for enough fruits and vegetables for the average family. If the number of does was increased slightly, rabbits could not only provide enough fertilizer for the average family, but also all the rabbits being raised. Rabbit manure is of the easiest to apply to a garden because of its choppy form. Because of this form, rabbit droppings dry very quickly and are practically odorless. “Bunny berries” do not require composting before they are added to the soil as many other forms of fertilizers do. This makes rabbit manure one of the simplest of all fertilizers to apply to any type of crop.

     Not only can rabbits put fruits and vegetables on the table but they can also be bred to produce meat. People have raised rabbits for meat at least since 1500 BC. A female rabbit that weighs around 10 pounds can produce 320 pounds of meat in a year. This is more meat than would come from a whole cow that would take several years to raise. This doe, a male called a “buck,” and their 320 pounds of offspring from each year could easily be raised in just 12 square feet of space since each full grown rabbit only requires 4 square feet of space and cages can be stackable. A cow would require at least two acres (87,120 square feet) of quality grazing land. Meat from rabbits is significantly lower in cholesterol than chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, and beef. The percentage of fat in rabbit meat is also notably less than other forms of meat, and it has the highest percentage of protein.

     Additionally, raising rabbits is a great way to become self-sufficient because they can aid in the production of clothing. Certain breeds of rabbits produce usable wool. Some of these breeds would be the English, French, German, satin, or giant angora and the Jersey wooly. Rabbits as a source of wool are the most space efficient source of spin-able fiber. Angoras can produce anywhere from half a pound to two pounds of fiber each year. This depends on the breed of angora and gender. The wool from angora rabbits is seven times as warm as sheep’s wool. The wool from angora rabbits is extremely soft and luxurious, and can be spun into yarn on a spinning wheel. Later these handspun fibers can be knit or crocheted into comfortable clothing. Additionally, the hides of rabbit which are not angora can be used to produce different types of garments.

     Raising rabbits is an excellent way to become self-sufficient because it provides for all the basic needs of a family which are the production of fruits and vegetables, meat, and clothing. They can be especially useful to modern homesteaders. Raising animals like rabbits can help reduce some expenses in the present economy. Rabbits can be more than just a pet; they can, and may someday be, our means of survival.

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