Rabbits are quiet, undemanding livestock with their own personalities. I, leaning more on the introverted side of the spectrum, feel quite a connected with these little creatures. They don’t like abrupt change. They don’t mind company, but grow tired of them if they stay too long. They communicate, for the most part, without words.
As I’ve entered the permaculture scene in the last few years, a worldview that attempts to encourage the naturalness of each creature and let them thrive, I’ve wondered at rabbits. The best the literature has done to encourage the rabbitiness of rabbits to thrive is through – quite literally – stacking functions. You have chickens on the ground, a worm farm slightly above, and rabbits, separate, in cages above them.
This is decent enough. The reasoning is pretty sound: keep them separate to reduce fighting, to manage the disease vector, cleanliness, and breeding programs. But I wonder if we neglect their rabbitiness.
Rabbits are social creatures. They enjoy cleaning each other, and cuddly sleeping piles. They like playing, and digging. Yes, if you have too many bucks in a tight space, fights happen. Fights even happen between does sometimes.
But what if, instead of taking disease resiliency out of the breeding program by keeping them in separate, sterile environments, we bred for disease resistance?
What if, instead of keeping fights from happening by keeping every bunny separate, we bred for friendly rabbits?
What if we could find more stacking functions of rabbits by allowing them to live a relatively free life, like free ranging chickens, or pastured cattle?
This led me to play around with raising rabbits colony style.