Thursday, July 15, 2010

In the News!

We're in the news :) . . . that is our local newspaper, the Tahlequah Daily Press. I received a call the other day from Josh at the Daily Press asking some questions and permission to reference our rabbitry and website in the article they were doing on raising rabbits. Here it is . . . I think he did a pretty good job on the article!

Rabbit raising hops ahead


Rabbits are growing in popularity as both pets and meals at the dinner table.

TAHLEQUAH — Tara Parker knew she loved rabbits when she first saw one of the creatures at age 2.

Her love of the animal grew as she, too, grew up, and her first few rabbits eventually became a collection of nearly 100.

Now a senior in high school, Parker and her family travel nearly every weekend all across the country, participating in American Rabbit Breeders Association shows. She’s dedicated to her furry friends, so much that she - or, technically, her rabbits - has won some major awards.

During a show in Jefferson, Wis., in April, she became No. 1 in the nation as a breeder of Californian rabbits.

“That was with a baby I’d raised since it was 4-1/2 weeks old,” said Parker.

Thursday, July 15, kicks off the annual National Rabbit Week celebration. While many people consider rabbits a pet-friendly animal, they’ve also been historically known as a nutritious source of meat.

“That’s the kind I raise - meat rabbits,” said Parker. “In fact, I just sold 12 yesterday. They’re known for having some of the healthiest meat.”

For some reason, Parker said, she’s never had rabbit as a meal. Perhaps it would change the way she feels about raising those 100 creatures with soft, fluffy-white fur. She’s not too sure the exact reason.

“But they are really growing in popularity as a meat,” said Parker.

Domestic rabbit meat is mildly flavored, tender, and pearly-white, said Eleshea Martin, co-owner of Martin’s Bunnies, a rabbit-breeding business in the Keys area. She and her husband, Thomas, continue to expand on their business of offering rabbits for sale (as both pets or meat rabbits), and also offering tips on choosing the right bunny, caring for it, or even finding the right rabbit recipes.

“All breeds of domestic rabbits can be used for meat,” said Martin. “However, many meat producers prefer breeds such as the New Zealand White and the Californian. These rabbits have good body shape and conformation. Their dress-out percentage - the amount of meat they will provide - is also good. Short-bodied, heavy-muscled rabbits usually yield more meat than a long-bodied, lean rabbit.”

Rabbit meat is known to be high in protein content and low in fat content, with low amounts of cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fatty acids. It is often substituted in place of chicken in recipes.

Martin said because rabbits grow and reproduce quickly, does can produce many times their own body weight through their litters of bunnies.

“It only takes about three months from the time a doe mates until her litter is ready for the table,” said Martin.

For those who’d rather have a rabbit for a pet than for dinner, local breeders are also available with various shapes and sizes of hares.

Qadoshyah Fish owns a small rabbitry north of Tahlequah, in the Moodys area. Hoppin’ Herd of Hares focuses on raising, breeding and showing quality mini lops. She says they are “the best breed,” a conclusion she came to after trying several different breeds at her rabbitry.

“Mini lops are a very easy breed,” said Fish. “They have no birth problems, have medium to large litters, come in a variety of colors, are very friendly, very adorable, have huge heads and a compact body - just a lovable little bunny. Whenever we walk in the barn all the bunnies are running back and forth in their cages, staring at us, and appear to be waiting for somebody to come and say hi to them.”

Starting a rabbit collection may be fun at first, but they do require special care and attention, said Parker.

“They’re a very easy pet to raise and very easy to house break to a litter pan,” said Parker.

But the more rabbits a person has, the more expense and time will be required.

“I feed my [100] rabbits 60 pounds of feed a day,” said Parker. “It takes me two hours every day - one hour to feed, one hour to water. And that’s not counting the time to groom.”

Rabbits drink a lot of water. Parker said her bunnies can consume a 32-ounce bottle of water a day, maybe more during the hot summer months.

Showing expenses can be costly too, but it all depends on how involved the person wants to be, and how far they want to travel.

“Our only month off from travel is July,” said Parker. “We go all year round. I’ll take 20-30 rabbits at a time, and it will cost $3 per rabbit in each show. There are usually two shows each time.”

Of course, selling prized rabbits can also help offset those costs. Parker has seen some hares go for several hundred dollars a piece.

As for a life span, Parker said most of her rabbits live an average of 6-8 years, though she’s had some make it as long as 12 years. Rabbits also multiply quickly if not separated. The gestation period for a rabbit is only about a month long, and rabbits can start breeding as early as 3-4 months of age. They can birth as many as 10 babies, known as kits, each pregnancy.

Parker keeps her bucks and does separate to controll the litters, but with 100 bunnies now and college life about a year away, she and her family are left trying to figure out just what to do with the furry creatures.

She’s going to need a very spacious dorm room.
Check it out

For more information on Martin’s Bunnies, go online to or call (918) 457-9579. For more information on Hoppin’ Herd of Hares, log on to or call (918) 598-4007. For more information on the American Rabbit Breeders Association, check out

Rabbit recipe

Baked rabbit with potatoes and onions:

1 fryer cut up

4 potatoes (quartered)

4 large onions (sliced)

Large can Italian tomatoes

Olive oil




Salt and pepper

Cover bottom of pan with oil, add chicken, potatoes, onions. Cover with tomatoes and season. Drizzle with oil. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour or until tender. Broil last five minutes on each side of rabbit to brown.

(Courtesy of

(Yes, I have quite a bit to update on with the rabbits, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow, Lord willing).