Tag Archives: meat rabbits

Our “MicroFarm” is a MacroDeal

Mad Hatter Microfarm LogoOne thing you’ll notice in the future is that we’re expanding our horizons from simply “Mad Hatter Rabbits” to “Mad Hatter MicroFarm.” We admit it, the rabbits were our gateway animal! They got us into this happy homesteading lifestyle and we will always be grateful for this!

Part of our commitment when we first started in rabbits in 2012 was that we would be on the lookout for additional sustainable living options that we could do on our urban property. Over the years that has expanded as we’ve taken one small step at a time toward a more wholesome lifestyle.

Rabbits were our beginning. Lots of research, lots of practice, and we felt like we were getting the hang of it. Four years ago we started with our gardening projects, and the last two years have really ramped it up where we can actually supplement our family’s diet with what we grow. Last spring we ended up with both quail and chickens, and this spring we are expanding our efforts with a dairy goat.

At the root of all of these changes is a desire to be as close to our food processes as possible. We aren’t certified organic anything… but we do our best to be as close to organic as possible. I like to think of it as attempting to copy the way our grandparents lived life, when a full-service WalMart wasn’t within a 20 mile radius of practically everywhere and our meat didn’t come on styrofoam trays!

Our movements toward this lifestyle have been gradual, but our blog will now reflect the various aspects of learning and exploring we do to create this high-altitude homesteading, microfarming experience at 7,000 ft. Hopefully by bringing all of the various aspects of our life underneath one blog you’ll see more frequent posts and find yourself exploring ideas and learning for your own self-sufficient dreams!

You’ll still find this site when you search for “Mad Hatter Rabbits,” but over time we’ll be using Mad Hatter Microfarm more and more. Don’t get confused! It’s still us!

Blanc de Hotot Breeders

Hotot logoOne of the things we have committed to in our rabbitry is raising rare breeds in as quality a manner as possible. That means not only breeding them, but also culling hard toward the breed standard and promoting them whenever possible.

One of our breeds is the Blanc de Hotot. It is ranked #1 on the Rare Breed list and adds a certain challenge to the breeder because it is a marked breed – the Standard of Perfection calls for evenly marked black eye bands — “spectacles— round dark eyes on a perfectly white rabbit. Additionally, the fur has a frosty appearance due to longer guard hairs.

In our litters we often have show marked rabbits, as well as “sports,” those rabbits who aren’t completely white and have black markings on them in random spots. We see our spots most often in between the ears or along the spine. Unless a sport has incredible body type, we cull them out of our program, and are working toward having exclusively show marked rabbits. But it’s a long process!

One thing that often confuses people is that there is a difference between a Dwarf Hotot and a Blanc de Hotot. The Blanc de Hotot is what we raise, and it is a commercial breed rabbit… BIG! It’s comparable to a Champagne d’Argent, Satin, Silver Fox, Californian, or New Zealand. The Dwarf Hotot is also white with black eye bands but it’s a little thing, more along the lines of a Netherland Dwarf. It’s much more common to see Dwarf Hotot around, we have often gotten comments from people who are shocked at the size of the Blanc de Hotot because they’ve never seen them in real life!

Since the Blanc de Hotot are a rare breed rabbit, it’s often difficult to figure out where other breeders are located. There is a facebook group called Blanc de Hotot rabbit breeders that has been very helpful to us as we have gotten more involved with the breed. We recently came up with a breeder listing and now have a map to generally see where people are located:

We're a small but mighty group! Would you like to join us in preserving this rare breed?!

We’re a small but mighty group! Would you like to join us in preserving this rare breed?!

Doesn’t Arizona look lonely?! It’s just our single little dot on the map! We’d sure love to see other Blanc de Hotot breeders come forward and work with us to preserve this breed! They’re funny rabbits, solid for meat production, curious in temperament, and in need of people to work on improving their type and competitiveness!

The Fight of the Easter Bunny

thea0211 / stock.xchng

thea0211 / stock.xchng

Once upon a time it was the season of eggs and pastels, spring was right around the corner. Parents began to wonder if little Susie would like a bunny for Easter and rabbit breeders far and wide began to bicker.

The Fight of the Easter Bunny divides into two large camps with a scattered few opinions in between. One one side you have the people who appreciate the pet rabbit buyers. On the other side are those who take the high ground that pet bunnies are the next thing to evil, mix breed rabbits are best used for meat, and anyone who sells to anyone other than a reputable breeder is hypocritical.

And the scattered few in between scratch their heads and wonder out loud, “Can’t we all just get along?!”

Both camps have valid arguments. Anyone who cares about the sanctity of any life recognizes that an animal purchased on a whim then left unattended in a cage that fills with feces is not acceptable. Rabbits have a 7-10 year life span and require the same sense of commitment and care that a dog or a cat need. If veterinary care is needed there’s a large price tag that comes with the professional; letting a rabbit loose in an empty field or dropping it off at a shelter is a sure-fire way to prove you’re a pretty low human being yourself.

On the other side, many, many people fall in love with their rabbit companions and treat them with love and affection! Most rabbit breeders begin their love of the animal with a mixed breed bun they picked up at the pet or feed store for a few bucks. It is unfair to assume there is no purpose for a pet rabbit in this world.

At Mad Hatter Rabbits we’ve decided to straddle the fence between these two camps (and I’m sure we’ll get a splinter or two on occasion). We will never breed more rabbits than we can personally provide excellent, loving, and humane care for. We also provide a blanket guarantee to accept any rabbit we have bred back if their new owner can no longer adequately meet their rabbits needs. Each animal that leaves our rabbitry goes with a booklet with recommendations of how to care for your bunny at the bare minimum requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and recommendations for how to go beyond the bare minimum into to a truly enriching relationship with a furry friend.

We don’t see the Fight of the Easter Bunny as black and white. Our primary reason for beginning to breed rabbits was to provide a healthy, organic meat source free of antibiotics and such things for our family. This is a rabbit’s natural role in the life cycle – at the bottom of the food chain as a meal for larger predators. But in our rabbit journey, we found we really enjoy rabbit shows – and it takes the same amount of feed to raise a show rabbit as it does a less type-y rabbit so we may as well work toward having excellent show rabbits with sweet dispositions, fun personalities, and great pedigrees! Finally, for those rabbits that aren’t quite up to snuff on a show table for one reason or another, their attitudes make them a reasonable option for a person who wants a companion.

If we don’t limit human beings to only one point and purpose of life – if we can comprehend a life where there is a capability to wear multiple hats – then there’s space in this world for our livestock to fulfill a multitude of purposes as well!

Anyone want to join us on the middle ground?

High Protein, Low Calorie Rabbit

Though rabbits does not have the popularity of, say, chicken, it is a wonderful meat to add to your dinner table.

Rabbit is easy to digest.Remember that when feeding children, senior citizens, or those with weak stomachs or digestive problems. Those on bland, soft-food diets take well to the tender texture and mild flavor of domestic rabbit.

Recent studies have also shown that rabbit compares favorably to chicken in its low cholesterol content. Anyone concerned about heart disease should consider the merits of rabbit meat.

Consider the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistical breakdown of several meats and then decide to give rabbit meat a try:

USDA findings, as quotes in Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits, 2009.

Excerpted from Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits by Bob Bennet, 2009.

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