Almost every homestead or farm should consider adding rabbits into the mix of animals they get, but choosing the breed that suits your needs can be difficult.
One of the most popular breeds out there is the Flemish Giant rabbit.
The Flemish Giant rabbit is said to have originated in Belgium and was widely popular throughout Europe. It is thought to be the descendant of several different meat and fur rabbits, although this particular rabbit did not become popular until around 1910 when it was shown at several livestock shows. Rabbit breeders were impressed with its size and the quality of the coat.
Flemish Giants are known as the gentle giants, and are very docile and they love to play. They are also known as the tamest of the rabbit species and do just as well as a homestead animal as they do at shows.
A good quality rabbit feed is recommended, and since they are larger they will tend to eat more than what a normal-sized rabbit would. However, you do not want your rabbit to become too overweight, so be sure you follow the feeding instructions. Free-range hay as well as salt and water should be made available. As with any rabbit, Flemish rabbits love treats. Great treats include pumpkin seeds and grass.
Flemish rabbits are known to be easy-keepers, but you will need a large pen to accommodate them. A rabbit tractor is also an excellent option. Since the rabbits can grow so large, a hutch is not the best choice unless it is custom-made.
Your average breed of rabbit usually weighs in around 6-8 pounds. While this can make a decent meal, it may be hard to feed an entire family, especially a large one, with one single rabbit. A Flemish giant will range in weight from around 20 pounds to 50 pounds, with some out there getting larger than that. This will allow you to have a rabbit that will feed your entire family as well as having enough to freeze, can or dehydrate for future use.
Breeders tend to breed does around the age of 9 months. Some may wait until the doe reaches a year old to ensure that she is mature enough to handle offspring. The male Flemish may take up to a year and half to reach full maturity but should be able to produce offspring at a year or younger in some cases. Breeding should be done carefully, and the male should not be related to the female. The male should not be kept near the pen with the doe and the doe should be given adequate material to make a nest. Adding a nest box will aid her in preparing for her young. Once the young are born, it is best to let the doe raise them and for humans not to touch them. Once they are about a month old, you can begin handling them. Keep in mind that these rabbits will breed quickly, so it is best to have separate pens for the rabbits when they are weaned.
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Flemish giants come in many different colors, including black, brown, orange and white. They can even be spotted, making for beautiful pelts. These pelts can be made into various different craft items and even can be sold.
Rabbit droppings can be used as a quality fertilizer. You will be amazed at how well it benefits your plants. Rabbit droppings are not strong and will not burn or cause any problems. If you want to give your plants an extra boost, you can make what is known as “rabbit poo tea.” You take the rabbit droppings and soak them in water. Then you take the water and rabbit droppings and pour all over your plants. This acts as a quick fertilizer boost. Many farmers have used this to boost up a plant that is rooting poorly or not producing enough. Homesteaders will swear by rabbit poo tea.
On a homestead, it is quite easy to become attached to some of the animals. Since rabbits breed so quickly and giants are such gentle creatures, it is great to make one or two into pets for you and your children. They can live up to 10 years and will make an excellent companion that can be trained.
Adding a Flemish Giant rabbit to your homestead will have many benefits. You will be able to have a good meat source, fertilizer source, pelt source and even a pet if you would like. If you have considered adding a rabbit to your homestead, consider raising Flemish Giant rabbits.
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