Here on Seven Bells Fold, we raise a breed of rabbit known as-
New Zealand Whites.
What We Raise & Why:
Although the name would suggest otherwise, the breed was created at the turn of the twentieth century in California. The New Zealand Red was added to the US rabbit registry in 1916 and the New Zealand White was added in 1917. They were created as a superb meaty specimen that was fast growing and easy keeping.
The Red colour remained popular but the White slowly gained popularity because their snow white coat could be easily dyed for commercial tanning uses. Other colours and coat patterns can occur naturally as a result of the composite breeds that were the New Zealand foundation.
Many breeders have crossed the New Zealand breed to other breeds like the Californian or the Flemish Giant, hoping for a larger rabbit. Although the resulting crosses can be larger than a pure New Zealand rabbit, it does not necessarily mean you get more meat at harvest. Larger also means a larger bone and your meat to bone ratio doesn't improve just because you have a larger animal. Our foundation bloodlines came from the US and provide us with a large, meaty animal with a medium frame and a thrifty metabolism that allows us to raise them on an organic green diet instead of feeding processed animal feed. They are the result of careful selection as unfortunately, not all rabbits are capable of digesting the very food that nature intended them to eat.
In the 40's and 50's, it was very common to raise rabbits on small farms and in backyards. They were simple to raise and provided healthy, tasty, economical meat. Unfortunately, along with the changes in rural to urban migration, people stopped raising their own meat. That disconnect allowed big companies to change agriculture to Agri-Business and now we have the very real problem of fearing what is in our food? This has birthed a real shift in our eating habits, with people now searching out healthy, ethically raised animals as an alternative to the force fed, tasteless, additive filled meat in the stores.
We raise our rabbits carefully and slowly with an eye to not only providing a top quality meat animal but also making sure they have a good quality of life.