I will freely tell you that this isn’t an easy topic, but it is a necessary one. When you raise animals as livestock, breeding and/or show animals culling is a necessary part of the equation. I breed rabbits (love the hobby) and have learned the importance of this vital task.
What does Culling Mean?
Culling means that you are reducing the animals in your herd. You do this for a variety of reasons: Perhaps you need a meal for your table or your pets, you have a sick animal, you have too many animals, or just need to cut back. Life choices affect the animals under your care. This refers to when you are raising animals with an intended purpose in mind, not animals you have as pets. Rabbits, like many other animals can serve both as livestock and as pets. Using the correct terminology for how they used is important.
Methods to Cull
There are two proper methods to cull.
- Sell the animal. In my opinion only animals that you believe to be healthy should be sold. This means good temperament, no genetic defects and no health problems. Unloading sick animals on someone else should never be done.
- Kill the animal. You do this by the quickest, most painless method possible. I am not going to discuss those methods here. Always have a backup method. Sometimes your primary method won’t work and causing unnecessary pain to an animal under care is wrong.
Improper method is to
- Let an animal under your care slowly die because you aren’t caring for it properly…. whether that be from disease or lack of care
- Releasing it into the wild alive.
Desire to save from Death
One of the things I run into on rabbit forums is this desire to save every animal from death. I don’t where it comes from. I sorta understand it, because honestly rabbits are cute. They are! Rabbits make excellent pets or livestock. They are great as companion animals, show animals, working animals, and food animals. Regardless of their purpose they are cute, easy to handle (usually), and are just lovely beasties.
But.. They aren’t always. Sometimes they get illnesses that never go away. You can make the illness hide, but not cure it (pasturella), or have Genetic defects (malocclusion). Sometimes they injure themselves badly (broken back, teeth). Other times they get an illness that is too expensive to treat, or even with treatment leads to an animal with a compromised immune system (enteritis). Occasionally you get a rabbit with a nasty temper. I am currently dealing with that right now. This doe wants to bite and attack me, and she regularly nips her kits for no readily apparent reason. Temperamentally, not the kind of rabbit to pet out or to continue to work with lest she cement that character flaw in my herd.
Never to be Sold
These animals should NEVER be sold.. in my opinion. Why? Well part of my opinion is that I used to work in rescue. I know what happens with rabbits with poor health in the hands of pet people. I do. It’s not a good picture. Rabbits slowly starving because their bad teeth are clipped once a month. Rabbits developing complications from hidden illness. Bunnies with eyes perpetually running and developing skin lesions or going blind as a result.
A secondary reason to not sell unhealthy animals, particularly those with an illness that hides. If you watch ads on any site that allows the selling of animals you will find numerous rabbits, many of them coming out of pet homes. People will often breed their pet rabbits together without knowing you shouldn’t breed weepy eye bunny to snot nosed bunny. The end result? Young rabbits with a compromised immune system. That’s not good for rabbits long term. Just isn’t.
If you breed rabbits DO NOT sell unhealthy animals. Not to the pet public and not to your fellow breeders. Just don’t.
What animals to Sell
Animals that are healthy with good temperament, can be sold for a variety of reasons. These rabbits can be sold as pets, breeders, companion animals, food, and more.
It helps other rabbits. If rabbits with health issues are dispatched humanely, you keep that rabbit out of the genetic pool. A rabbit with strong genetics will hardly ever get ill. Strong immune systems and genetics are what we need in rabbits. Not coddling of ill animals, with their potential to pass on their poor genetics.
Kill the Animal
Humanely culling an animal that is not in peak condition is the best thing you can do for that animal and any future rabbits you may have. Killing an animal when you have need for it is fulfilling it’s purpose. Rabbits are prey animals, and treating them as such is not a bad thing.
You need to cull humanely and calmly. Always having a back up method at hand. Being able to cull means you can also quickly end suffering, because sometimes injuries happen, or illnesses strike hard. Do you want an animal you care for to suffer?
Culling an animal doesn’t mean it is a waste. Raptor rescues, snake owners, raw feeders of cats, dogs and other animals, zoos and animal sanctuaries will gladly take your animals. You can eat them yourself or feed them to your own pets. if you can’t find an outlet you can bury them deep (letting them return to the soil) or bring them to a forest for wild animals to enjoy. No waste, just a well cared for rabbit right to the very end.
Sorrows and Joys
I have had the misfortune of having to cull babies when momma over cleaned them taking off a foot or when a baby is born wrong (it happens, you just don’t rebreed the parents). I’ve had rabbits do a crazy kamikaze leap out of my arms and break their back. Windstorms come creating lots of noise and fright and sometimes rabbits don’t cope well with that. You need to end that pain and suffering as quickly as you can.
I have also had the joy of sending a rabbit off to a new home, owners grinning with delight. Experienced the expressed gratitude of a large snake owner when he finds me saying “wow.. now I can feed my big girl properly”. The joy of seeing my son’s cat do better on an all protein diet. The pleasure in helping the family budget with a home-raised meal. These are all good things.
Cull your animals well. It’s an important part of raising rabbits.
Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.
- Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
- Christine @ Life’s Special Necessities
- Kimberly @ Vintage Blue Suitcase
- Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag
- Wendy @ Life On Chickadee Lane
- Yvonne @ The Life We Build
- Jennifer @ A Peace Of Mind
- Kristen @ A Mom’s Quest To Teach
- Kirsten @ DoodleMom Homeschool