Today I bought two rabbits to raise and breed for meat. One is 3 weeks old and the other is about 4 1/2 weeks old. They are both females, which I know isn't the most biologically dependable formula for breeding, but the reason I bought two females is that if I had a male and a female, I would have had to keep them in separate cages to prevent them from breeding too early. But I didn't want to have just one rabbit because I believe the health and well-being of animals benefit from sociality just as humans do. And while I do plan to kill and eat these rabbits in the future, I also believe quality humane treatment of animals during their lives is the right thing to do not only morally but also to improve the quality of the finished product. So the minimum for me was two rabbits, but I didn't want to have to buy a second cage and equipment. The plan at this point is to let these two does grow, and when breeding age draws closer, I will invest in the cage and a male rabbit. That way I can spread out my initial investment while gaining knowledge and experience in keeping rabbits.
At Tractor Supply today, a couple guys who were in line behind me saw Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits in my cart and asked me, "Are you raising rabbits?" I replied, "Not yet, but I will be soon. I just bought my first two rabbits today." We continued the conversation and one of the guys told me that he and his wife started with two and now have over 30. They were at TSC to buy hardware cloth to use to build pens so they could get them out of the house and into the back yard! I was thinking how glad I was to know that I would have a lot of rabbits to eat soon, but I was also thinking how glad I was that I was starting outside and would never have to deal with a rabbit overpopulation problem in my living room!
Tonight I had a talk with my four-year-old daughter. She and her siblings are all very excited about the new bunnies, which of course they were all smitten by. They are very small, furry, and cute, which is right up Toddler Alley. But I felt it would be better for her in the long run if I got her used to the idea from the start that we are going to kill and eat these rabbits. The look on her face was one of slightly hurt feelings and disappointment, but I assured her it would be a long time in the future and that we would have other rabbits to replace them. It actually went pretty well, I think.
Judging by the pictures and videos we got today, we may have a slightly harder time getting the kids to be okay with me killing rabbits when the time comes. We shall see.