So¦ I think before we consider the breed of rabbit which you we could keep. We could look at a little shared quite a bit of history with this wonderful little creature.
It is believed Phoenicians exported rabbits to Spain in 1100 B.C, and termed the Iberian Peninsula ˜i-shephan-im™ ( ˜the land of the rabbit™) which the Romans later translated to the Latin word Hispania.
The Romans kept rabbits in fenced off areas and posts guards to keep them in as they kept burrowing and escaping. With their ease to transport and breed to produce a fast quality protein they became the animal of choice for many. The Roman army can be attributed to much of the spread of rabbits throughout Europe at the time. And this is how the humble rabbit arrived on our shores, along with many other excellent Roman imports. Rabbits were kept in the same way in these ˜corrals™ the Romans called ˜leporaria™.
French monks began to refine the husbandry, in and around the 5th century and produced a rabbit we know today as the Champagne De Argent (De Argent means silver) we can attribute this breed as the father of most domestic rabbit strains we know today.
The Britons and Normans named the rabbit ˜Coney™s™ and that name stuck until quite reticently¦ ever wonder how Coney Island got it™s name? An Anglicization of the Dutch word for rabbit (circa 1690™s) as the island housed many types of rabbit and hunting was abundant. And the name rabbit is what they called the baby ˜Coney™s™, this has since stuck.
Rabbits rapidly proved to be an economic asset and husbandry began to up scale and soon an alternative housing was needed. They began to be kept in walled or ˜moated™ enclosures " some quite vast and these were called ˜warrens™.
By the changes in agriculture and farmland being laid to field end hedge row which were introduced by the 1700™s any escapee rabbit found the surrounding environment perfect habitat and population soon rocketed.
WWII and rationing prompted the ˜Dig for Victory™ and government encouraged people to grow home produce it was estimated that we imported 55 million tons of food a year!! Lord Woolton was minister for food at the time and a lovely piece of legislation was Section 12 of the Allotment Act 1950 abolished contract-restraints on keeping hens and rabbits on allotment gardens for personal consumption. You must keep them safe and clean and well cared for, and
not cause a nuisance, but you do not need permission to keep them and any
restrictions made are not binding.
It wasn™t until the 1950™s did the reality of the damage being caused by the wild population really hit home when it was estimated that an approximate £50,000,000 of damage to arable land was caused each year!! Myxomatosis was ˜accidently™ introduced by a French farmer and quickly spread throughout Europe and by 1953 it arrive in Britain and within 2 years or so decimated approx 99% of the British population of rabbits!!
The stigma has stuck and the popularity of rabbit meat, regardless of flavour and nutritional values people are reluctant to eat rabbit in their modern diet, choosing not to be reminded of harder times of war and post war years but also the idea of diseased animals and infected food.
Of recent years resurgence to traditional values, healthy living and avoidance of a fast food diet has caused people to re evaluate what they are eating and rabbit is fast finding new status and a popular choice of healthy low fat, low cholesterol and high quality protein. Michelin restaurants have it high on the menus in the appearance of another French breed the ˜Rex du Poitou™.
The classification of the rabbit is as follows " Order = Lagomorpa. Family = Leporidae.
World wide there are approx 25 different wild strains of rabbit. By 1995 there were 61 domesticated rabbit breeds and 531 varieties recognized in the United Kingdom alone!!All of which have been derived from the same species of European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
TA... i have contacted local agricultural college who came up blank?? DEFRA and the humain slaughter society who run courses so i hope someone will come up with the answers.
Not sure that there's too much info there.. but being Welsh i love to have a good chat
I will finnish of and give the named meat breeds later and such.
MOS yeah Darwin has a lot to answer for in diversity of species eh lol
The only course I have heard of is in Sweden and that was according to my Swedish friend. Hope you find something soon. Thanks for the info, very useful. Never thought of digging moats around the wee beasts to keep them in. Wouldn't want to see them free around here, I think they would make a right mess of our ski hill, the pigs do a good enough job on that score and wouldn't want something else digging it up. Must admit to being really surprised that there seems to be no wild rabbits here, hares yes but rabbits no.
Much appreciated too
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