A Jersey rabbit – a rare breed of a cuddly, docile bunny that has been bred for its meat and fur since the Middle Ages.
This is a far cry from the wild rabbits that were once used as substitute food supplies during the hard winter months.
According to historical records from as early as the 12th century, peoples from Britain and France would “breed rabbits of a large size” for their meat during long winters.
Later on, it was common to keep a rabbit or hare population stocked on larger estates for hunting purposes in medieval times.
The animals were often kept on a high-protein diet of peas and beans to make them plump.
Jersey Rabbit Characteristics
Today’s Jersey rabbits continue to look plump and cuddly because breeders have stayed true to the traditional goal of fur production while also making them suitable for meat.
In fact, these bunnies are one of the smallest breeds that can be used for a meal, weighing in at around 3.5-6.5 lbs (1.6-3 kg).
They are docile, playful, and even like to be cuddled with their owners – not the traits one would expect from an animal bred for dinner, but then again, people didn’t use to breed animals that way either!
Rabbit’s eyes should be open and alert and surrounded by the black pigment (the colour of their fur). The eye colour can vary from a ruby red to a deep brown, depending on the breed.
The nose should be straight and in proportion with the rest of the face.
Rabbit’s ears must be upright, neither too high nor too low on the skull nor lying flat or drooping. The ears should be well furred inside. With practice, you will also learn to identify pregnancy through touch; it is impossible to accurately sex a rabbit.
The tail of Jersey rabbits
The tail of jersey rabbits is less than 5 cm long and quite thin, tapering towards the tip. This breed is generally white with red eyes, although other colours are accepted on the show table – beige with dark eyes or deep brown, for example.
The preferred colors are broken, beige, and blue. White with red or dark eyes is acceptable, with preference given to white.
Origins of jersey rabbit
The Jersey breed takes its name from the island of Jersey in the English Channel, which is famous for its dairy production.
The rabbit was probably first bred on this island in the early 19th century, although it could well have been developed much earlier – perhaps even hundreds of years before that!
Jersey rabbits are great pets for young children if they know how to handle them.
Uses of jersey rabbit
Uses of jersey rabbits include fur, as show animals, and for meat.
It is one of the smallest breeds used for the latter purpose (the other two are the Lionhead and Mini Lop rabbits, which are also small enough to make good pets).
Farming Benefits of jersey rabbit
Jersey rabbits are ready for butchering after 4 months. They produce lean, white meat that is low in fat and cholesterol.
The fur is also of high quality due to the breed’s heritage as a fur animal – it is dense with thick underwool which protects the rabbit from the cold water when farming.
1. Jersey rabbits are smooth
Rabbit breeds with less wool require molting once or twice a year. This takes place gradually, and the rabbit is not completely protected during molting season.
2. Jersey rabbits are stocky
3. Jersey rabbits do not need much space
This healthy breed adapts well to narrow cages or even plastic bins on farms. The cages can be stacked on top of each other without jeopardizing the welfare of the animals, so they are perfect for commercial farming.
4. Jersey rabbits love their food
5. Jersey rabbits are tolerant
Jersey rabbits have a calm temperament, making them easy to handle on farms, including when transferred to the butcher’s block. They are docile and do not require specific handling or housing conditions compared with other breeds.
The benefits of farming with jersey rabbits are numerous. In addition to being a sustainable and humane alternative to other animal livestock, they produce high-
quality meat that is leaner than beef or pork while also providing an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.
They’re hardy enough to thrive in harsh climates like the Canadian prairies, making them perfect for commercial operations overseas.
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