There is an elephant at the Permaculture Homestead, in my opinion…and it’s something that not many folks I’ve encountered like to even talk about. If you’ve read our posts, you’re aware by now that we are passionate about animals and their welfare. Many of my neighbors, fellow homesteaders, and Permaculturists want to raise meat animals. They do care about the quality of the animal's life and want to provide a good home and diet for their animals.
|Photo Credit: http://olddominionrabbitry.yolasite.com/my-rabbitry.php|
|Photo Credit: http://dollyrockfarm.blogspot.com|
Joel Salatin (Yes, I have to bring him up in every meat-animal related article I write) says to honor the cowness of the cow, the pigness of the pig…and the rabbitiness of the rabbit! Tell me what rabbitiness is expressed from the 24 inch square of a suspended wire cage? Not a whole lot. Rabbits are ground animals, not only that but they are burrow creatures. Getting their paws into the soil is an ecstatic fulfillment of purpose for them (seriously). If you’ve ever watched rabbits dig, you know what I’m talking about.
We are currently in the process of improving our rabbitry, and in the coming months, I will write a piece dedicated to showing it to you. In a word, though, I’d say it’s paradise. Paradise for rabbits, and I don’t think any of our animals deserve anything less. It didn’t take too much work, it’s not difficult to maintain, and it encourages the widest range of behavior in our animals which is what we strive for in every environment we create. I still get rich compost, it’s super convenient for feeding, and our rabbits have fresh grass and an extensive tunnel system they built. By incorporating the habitat into our greenhouse, they get protection from weather and predators plus I get to throw them whatever treats happen to be growing in there.
Our system isn’t for everyone, but it works for our homestead. I encourage everyone considering raising meat rabbits to avoid wire cages at all costs and put some time into designing a habitat that is rich for both you and your animals. Farmers aiming to nurture life, add vibrancy, and create a sense of whimsical magic will benefit from self-designing their habitats within their practical design. That goes for every animal on the farm, always think habitat…not stall or coup or field or shed, and certainly not cage. It's not Permaculture until all of the aspects of the farm function like an ecosystem.