Rabbits of One Earth Farm
In our quest for livestock that were a healthy choice for both us and the planet we researched the gamut of domestic livestock species. Almost all modern livestock breeds are unsustainable in that they require a constant and considerable input of energy from sources external to the farm in the way of fossil fuels, supplements, feed, antibiotics, veterinary care, and so forth. Indeed, even most traditional and heritage breeds of livestock are not sustainable. Their environmental footprint, however small, is still too big for our shrinking planet; and the health considerations for our bodies far outweighs the pull these fellow time travelers still have on our hearts.
Enter Oryctolagus cuniculus, the European wild rabbit. This new comer to the process of domestication first appeared on the scene as a bonafide livestock species in the 1600s when controlled breeding of the species was in its infancy and most specimens were kept by monks and lords. Today particularly in those countries famous for their cuisine rabbit is still alive and well as a gourmet meat entre. Rabbit is surpassed only by the ubiquitous broiler chicken in its ability to efficiently convert feed into meat, but unlike the grain dependent broiler, the rabbit does not compete with us humans for food. It actually broadens the available niches from which we humans can glean food.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” - Mahatma Gandhi