The bigger the farm gets, the more demands are placed on our time. I’ve (Erica) decided to cut back, but not eliminate, my French Angoras and to buy on some lower maintenance Silver Fox.
I’m generally pretty bored with white animals. The industry loves them because white fiber/hair dyes well but I need some COLOR. I also wanted a heritage breed. Promoting and preserving regionally appropriate heritage breeds is one of the primary missions of Emancipation Acres. We feel that the industry’s reliance on huge, grain guzzling animals is going to became more and more difficult to support as oil prices, drought, global warming and other changes effect our planet and our way of life.
Rabbit’s are the most fecund species on our farm. Their meat is low in cholesterol and fat and is considered one of the most healthy meats. Increasing demand from our customers for rabbit meat, as well as our own desire to have more meat for our family, and as a component in our homemade dog food got me looking at different breeds.
Most people that raise rabbits for meat raise New Zealands or Californians. Californians are white, as are most New Zealands (some colors are available) and neither is considered a heritage breed; so I knew I wasn’t interested in them. I was initially interested in American Chinchillas (Julie Engle had them when her meat rabbits lived on my farm and I liked the look of them) but I could not find any breeders near me (I’m willing to drive almost anywhere for good stock if I can get there and back in a day) with anything for sale. I remembered another Dane County farmer I knew that had recently gotten into Silver Fox so I decided to look into them. I found several breeders in WI.
The more I read about Silver Fox the more I loved them. They are a large(but not giant) breed of rabbit. Does can get up to 12 lbs, and bucks can get up to 11lbs. Their meat is delicious, and their pelts are very soft and beautiful. The breed was developed in the 1920s and was the third breed of rabbit developed in the United States. Silver Fox dress out at 65% of their live weight which is quite impressive.
The only ARBA recognized color is black, but breeders are working at getting blue and chocolate varieties accepted into the standard. Most importantly, Silver Fox are known for their easy going and docile temperaments. I hope that this will make their transition to colony living a smooth one.
Right now the Silver Fox are in quarantine but I will be transitioning them into their own colony in the next few weeks.
Here are some pictures! Again, the does will transition to a colony after their quarantine time is up. The bucks will live in the colony, like the angora bucks do but they will be caged to control reproduction and fighting between the males. They will have nose to nose contact with the does.
This is Hoppy who I re-named Angelica, she looks a bit like a deer in the head lights here but she is the friendliest of the six. Whenever I open the door she is eagerly there waiting for some affection. What a sweetie! I hope she passes her friendliness and her docility on to her offspring.
Here is are little buck. Not sure if he was given an official name. Ideas? He is also pretty friendly. When I pour the food into his dish he lifts his paws and tried to pull the dish closer to himself. He is a chocolate carrier. Bred to a chocolate or a chocolate carrier he could produce chocolates.
My older buck.
My last little doe.
Some of the bunnies have not told me their names yet, but they will. Got any good ideas?
I’m getting a doe or two more and another buck from another breeder. I enjoy being able to get animals from several breeders as I feel this gives me a better idea of the breed as a whole rather than just what a particular breeder may be focusing on.
I am excited for faster growing, more efficient meat producers as well as pelts. Yay, Silver Fox!