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Eating grass will grow meat, and the reproductive ability is amazing

Rabbit farming on a large scale is very risky

By adalberto alejandrinaPublished 4 months ago 7 min read
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When I was a child, I lived in the countryside. At that time, I would raise one or two rabbits from house to house. What impressed me the most was that every once in a while, someone would come to collect the rabbit hair. The rabbits whose hair was plucked looked very weak.

However, with the passage of time, rabbit farming seems to be getting more and more indifferent, it is not farmed on a large scale like other livestock, so it is difficult for us to buy rabbit meat in the vegetable market.

I checked some information. From the actual domestication of rabbits to the promotion of breeding several times in the future, the situation is basically the same. They are all in a period when the economy is relatively poor and the supply of meat is seriously insufficient. People can eat grass to grow. Meat livestock is farmed as an alternative meat.

Although, as all over the world, rabbits were one of the main targets of hunters in ancient times, rabbits were not really domesticated by humans for a long time.

It is now widely believed that hares were first domesticated by French monks around 600 AD as a substitute for meat during Lent.

Then, during the Second World War, the breeding of rabbits was vigorously promoted in Europe, which was also caused by food shortages, and rabbit meat was used as a substitute for the protein intake of ordinary people.

Because of this, rabbit meat has been labelled as "the meat for the poor" in Europe until today, and it is not particularly popular.

In China, the situation is similar. Rabbits are most commonly bred in rural areas at a time when food is scarce.

Then the question arises. Rabbit meat can be used as a substitute for other meats. Why has no one raised rabbits on a large scale and pushed rabbit meat as the mainstream meat?

The amazing reproductive capacity of rabbits

If rabbits are given a high-quality living condition, they are absolutely capable of doing amazing damage, because their reproduction rate is so amazing.

As we all know, there is a serious "rabbit problem" in Australia, and even today it is illegal for ordinary residents in some areas to breed rabbits, unless you are a magician.

And it all started with a wealthy immigrant, Thomas Austin, who was an avid hunter, but there wasn't much suitable game in Australia at the time.

So, in 1859, he let his nephew bring a few rabbits from Europe and released them in the wild, hoping that these released domestic rabbits would breed in the wild in Australia.

But since these rabbits are from different breeds, their hybrid offspring are very adapted to Australia's climate and environment and so grow like crazy.

Within 10 years of Austin's release, Australia's rabbits had become an ecological disaster, causing a series of economic losses and the extinction of the local species.

Although local residents hunt 2 million rabbits every year, this completely fails to control the rabbit population, which is believed to have peaked at 10 billion in 1920.

Australia has had to take more extreme measures - administering myxoma virus, a virus with an extremely high fatality rate in rabbits, to control the rabbit population.

But even so, the number of rabbits has not been completely controlled, and a large part of the reason is that rabbits have evolved to have a super reproductive ability.

For domestic rabbits, they usually become adults and have reproductive ability after 5-6 months. The average gestation period is only 31 days, and 1-12 young rabbits can be produced at a time.

And, most interestingly, they can re-pregnancy within a few hours of giving birth, and when this one is weaned, the next one is born, and they can reproduce all year round without wasting any time.

On average, a female rabbit can produce 60 young rabbits a year, and their reproductive capacity lasts about 4 years.

Since rabbits grow fast and have strong reproductive ability, they can be flooded in the wild, so why no one breeds them on a large scale?

Rabbits are not suitable for domestication

Rabbits must have been brought to the table much earlier than expected. During the period of human hunting and gathering, rabbits may have been one of the main hunting objects.

But as we said before, they have not been domesticated for a long time. In fact, the reason is very simple. Rabbits are not particularly suitable for domestication.

First, rabbits are very active and easily startled.

Since rabbits are prey to many carnivores, they become very active and have to eat for a while and then in another place, always ready to run away.

Many animals are not domesticated by us because of this frightening trait, because they have difficulty adapting to our society.

Foxes are too startled if they are not domesticated. Source: Gunill

Second, rabbits are also picky eaters.

While rabbits can eat many different grasses, even hay, they don't eat our by-products.

For example, pigs and dogs were originally domesticated because they are not very picky eaters. We can give them what we eat, but rabbits will not eat what we eat.

Third, the requirements for rabbit breeding places are also high.

Rabbits can't be kept in a cage that can only hold one seat like laying hens, and they can't be kept in a unified way like cows, sheep, or ducks. They will run away, and even if they are fenced, they can't be raised. Because they also dig holes.

These problems may be gradually improved with the passage of domestication, but it is only more than 1,000 years old, and rabbits are obviously not suitable for large-scale farming.

In fact, even if rabbits are completely domesticated and suitable for large-scale breeding, the economic benefits of breeding rabbits will not be very high.

Rabbits are less economical

All rabbits excrete two different types of feces, one is harder and the other is soft. After the soft one is excreted, the rabbit will eat it again and absorb nutrients twice.

The reason why they do this is actually very simple. Grass has very limited nutrients and is difficult to digest, which is why herbivores need to keep eating grass.

But this will cause trouble for farmers. It is fine to raise one or two. If there are too many, the supply of grass may become a problem, especially rabbits are really difficult to stock.

In addition, you will find that most of the large animals on land are herbivores, and one of the reasons is that the food of herbivores is not nutritious, and they need to increase their size to reduce their metabolism.

Rabbits are relatively small, so they have very fast metabolisms, and because they are designed to be hyperactive to avoid predators, their energy expenditure is enormous.

With the same kilogram of pasture, cattle and sheep can actually convert a lot more meat than rabbits, so raising rabbits is really not particularly economical if they are just for meat.

This is still the best way for domestic pigs. They eat everything and sleep when they are full. The food has become fat, how wonderful!

In fact, not only is the economic benefit of breeding poor, but rabbits are also particularly vulnerable!

When rabbits deal with various survival pressures, they only have one ultimate trick - increase their reproductive efforts. As long as they reproduce more and faster, they don't have to worry about their genes not being able to continue, so they are not designed to have very Strong disease resistance.

There are many diseases that are fatal to rabbits. Sometimes they may starve to death if they are frightened. Therefore, if they are farmed on a large scale, the risk will be very high, and they may end up in one litter if they are not careful.

at last

Obviously, a livestock with high risk and poor economic benefits is difficult to be recognized by farmers and unlikely to be genetically improved.

Because of this, it's hard for rabbit meat to become a mainstream meat unless it's really popular one day.

Science
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About the Creator

adalberto alejandrina

scientific exploration

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