Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pet or Livestock?

As I was waiting to register rabbits at the Turlock show, I overheard a family talking with the show secretary.  Apparently, this was their first rabbit show and they were considering getting started in rabbits.  They wanted to know where to begin.  And the show secretary gave what I considered to be an excellent answer.

"The first decision you have to make is this a pet or livestock?"  And the family was on their way.

There is nothing wrong with choosing one or the other.  However, for most people, it's a question that should be pondered carefully, because they haven't put a lot of thought into it yet.  For others, it's a no-brainer because it will be a clear reflection of their lifestyle.  Those living in an apartment or a small house, on an urban lot, or even in many suburbs, are going to be more likely to be choose a pet.
On the other hand, those more interested in sustainable living, homesteading, and/or natural choices are more likely to choose livestock.  And that may be a determining factor in the breed you select. 

There are several other factors to consider.  Pets don't get bred nearly as often as livestock do.  Their offspring generally don't sell for as much. In fact, you can often find them for free or very low prices at rabbit shows.  And this is generally because they have poor body types, poor coloring, or some other factor that disqualifies them from being shown.  The genetics are just undesirable.

Livestock are bred more often.  The breeder is trying to develop desirable traits, so breeders generally have higher quality rabbits.  They breed more often.  Their rabbits sell for higher prices, but at the same time they have to deal with the culls.  Livestock get culled.  What doesn't sell gets eaten, by them or by somebody else.

Snowball, Lydia's first rabbit

Ninja, Snowball's litter mate, Charlotte's second rabbit.  Her first died of a suspected heart ailment about six months after she bought him.

My girls are somewhere between the two.  They like to breed.  They enjoy all the animals, assessing bodies and wool, meeting people, and learning from others.   They love our somewhat rural lifestyle, snuggling bunnies, crafting with the fiber, gardening (well, I do), and raising clean food for the family.  But they do not eat rabbits, and thus far have not sold or given away any for meat. Truth be told, if they had to eat rabbits or go vegetarian, they'd go vegetarian.  Meat's not a big deal to them.  They have the great advantage of being able to sell as fiber bunnies any rabbits that do not have good bodies or showable colors or shouldn't be bred for whatever other reasons.

All that being said, I somewhat suspect their first bunnies will always be "pets," even though Snowball has produced over twenty kits and Ninja has sired almost as many.  I can't imagine either of the girls ever selling these two, come what may.  Yes, they're attached to the other bunnies, but these are their first true loves.

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