When I set out to raise meat rabbits last year I wasn’t worried about how I would afford to feed them. I simply thought, eh how expensive can they be? Granted they are quite small, but if you plan to pellet feed it will add up, and quick.
Rabbits will fatten on grass or just about anything green they can get their mouths on so feeding them cheaply is easily done.
I keep alfalfa pellets around for emergencies and winter months. But from February-March and on through September-October I can feed our rabbitry for free.
Be patient folks I can be long winded and tend to side track… Like right now…
If you’re a returning reader then you know that my family and I rent 5 acres. Fortunately a little more than 75% of the property is irrigated with hand lines, unfortunately as of now we don’t possess the proper attachments for our tractor to mow and re-seed the field.
What does this all mean you may ask? It means we have a real weed problem. Gallons of water covering the field whilst grass and weeds duke it out for dominance of the pasture… You see if a pasture isn’t maintained properly then weeds will encroach and fight the grass out for ground space and sun exposure.
^^^ See how the grass is barely making a play for space under the dandelion and other weeds?
In many a folks eye this would be seen as a huge problem. Unjustly weed killer would be coating our property, that would be the end of weeds for good, and that’s ok for them.
But me? I wanted to put my new found permaculture knowledge to the test. And I certainly don’t want weed killer all over the soil that feeds my family and my animals. Isn’t there anyway I can turn this problem into a solution?
And yes there was. There always is.
End side track…
Hey Q wanna feed your rabbits for free and supplement the flocks diet with some fresh greens? Heck yes I do!
So I just simply note where large patches of weeds are growing in the pasture and around the house or gardens. Usually twice a day the farm kids and I head outside to ‘pick weeds for the rabbits’ as miss Ireland refers to it. In about 5-10 minutes the rabbits have all they’ll need for day and I’ll even gather enough to please the homestead flock. I’ll do this again in the evening when I check water bottles and bedding.
I make a point to grab variety for the rabbits so they have a little bit more of a natural choice. After all, they deserve it.
Of course I always have hay on hand for their bedding and general munching needs.
It may seem a little crazy to be out in the field twice a day pulling weeds for bunnies eh? But this time of year Im already outside filling water bottles for them twice a day as it is. So for me it doesn’t feel like a whole lot of extra work.
I simply give them enough weeds based on my personal observations of the rabbits individually.(if there’s no greens left the rabbit could still be hungry, if its wilting and going to waste then I could be feeding the rabbit too much) I also determine their rations according to size and whethe or not the doe is pregnant and/or nursing.
When I do have a doe in one of these stages I will provide her with pellet food once a day while pregnant then free choice once nursing and weaning. The babies are fed both with mom from the time they can jump from the nestbox at will. This way they can be placed into rabbit tractors to fatten on the thicker parts of the pasture until butchering time.
And since I’m weeding a little everyday it doesn’t feel like annoying labor. I enjoy getting something out of these “useless plants” and so do the farm animals.
I’ve now exhausted all the weeds around the house and have moved to more distant zones. I love how much more aware of the ground we live on I am becoming. I’m getting to know it better everyday. Walking, looking for more weeds to feed the cavies, noticing the grass regrowth, the wildflowers, even the holes dug by the puppies, ahem.
I don’t hate the weeds like I used to. I’m finding purpose in them now. The animal are getting nourished by them. Little by little the grass is retaking the pasture and backyard. We’re saving more money with the animals then ever before.
Sunday lazy dayin’ around these parts. Peace and love y’all