Meat Rabbits of Spellcast Farm
The addition of meat rabbits to Spellcast Farm in 2011 effectively closed the circle making the farm completely self sustaining. At one time we were bringing in rabbit manure for the garden, now we make our own.
Rabbits are an extremely sustainable meat for small farms and even city dwellers. According to Slow Food USA, "Rabbit can produce six pounds of meat on the same amount of feed and water it takes a cow to produce just one pound." Rabbits eat forage that is not useful to humans and even other grazing animals. They eat the weeds from your garden and in turn produce extremely beneficial manure to be used for fertilizer for your garden.
For the same reasons why we do not raise the conventional meat chicken (the so-called Cornish Cross) we do not raise the common white meat rabbit with pink eyes (the New Zealand or Californian). Instead, we chose the Silver Fox, a rare, heritage breed. The Silver Fox is a beautiful breed that dresses out at 65 percent of its live weight. It is considered dual purpose: useful for both for their pelts and their meat. The Silver Fox as "threatened" with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. In addition, the Silver Fox is listed with the Slow Food Arc of Taste for having exceptional flavor.
If you've never tried rabbit meat, I suggest that you try it! It has a wonderful, delicate flavor and it's a very healthy meat.
At one time, we kept our rabbits in open bottomed cages directly on the grass moving them around daily. After trying this method for over a year, we switched to the deep bedded, stationary pen method. We were losing too many rabbits with them directly on pasture. We breed our does less than four times a year and leave the does with their babies until they are approximately eight weeks old. We feel this is a much more humane and healthy existence for the rabbits. There is a tremendous amount of management involved in raising rabbits in this manner and it's a lot more work for the farmers, but the rabbits live happier lives. Rabbits are extremely social and playful creatures.
Here is a video courtesy of David O. Brown Photography and Organic Gardening featuring the Silver Fox Rabbits of Spellcast Farm. It was right after this video was done that we removed our rabbits from pasture.
We sell a few of our Silver Fox as breeding animals or pets, but we are very selective about whom sell them to. We do sell processed rabbit either whole or cut-up. Our products are available on the farm by appointment. We also make several deliveries to Hickory and Lincolnton throughout the week.