Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TBF 087 :: Guinea Fowl & Rabbits on the Farm, Grain Bins, and a Hard Lesson Learned

**As I transition to I am quickly realizing I'm not as web savvy as I had hoped! In the meantime I will be posting here as well for those of you subscribed through RSS ... and hopefully will have that fixed soon.**

This past week I posted a "fall farm" picture to the Crooked Gap Farm Facebook page and there was a great question about the style of our pasture pens for the rabbits. Of course this had me thinking about the best way to describe them (video of course ... maybe you have heard about a coming Kickstarter project), but beyond that it got me thinking about the role of the meat rabbits and guinea fowl on the farm. Right now they both are important pieces because the rabbits are they way our son gets involved in the business and the guinea fowl provide sales of course, but there is also the fact that they do a great job eating ticks and bugs! As I thought about it though, if I was starting my small scale farm with the focus of building a sustainable business that does more than just support a hobby I don't think either of those animals would be ones that I would start with. Of course if you are wanting to get a start in town the rabbits would be perfect, and if a family homestead was your goal then you might enjoy the guinea fowl (if they don't annoy you too much).

The facts are that with both the guinea fowl and the rabbits there is a huge benefit because your starting costs are rather low, your time to return (as in when you sell the meat) is fairly short, and the learning curve is less steep than cattle. It is also true that in many locations rabbit and guinea fowl meat is probably an untapped market. That can be both a blessing and point of concern. Not that you can't market them, but there will be more work in educating customers on the benefits, cooking methods, and great flavor. As a point of comparison ... even if you are raising pasture based poultry or pork there will always be people willing to take a chance on a whole chicken, bacon, or pork chops.

What I'm trying to say is that they have a place on the farm, but if I was starting my farm from scratch again they would be in the long range plans rather than year one or two. Of course all of that being said, if I would have started with meat rabbits in town instead of egg laying chickens the police never would have called asking me to remove my chickens! With that in mind maybe rabbits are the perfect thing to start with if your beginning farmer journey begins in town!

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I would love to hear your questions, show ideas, or comments about the show. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail! As always you can follow along with "The Beginning Farmer" and Crooked Gap Farm by checking out these links ...

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