NAPPANEE — Stopping to pet the bunnies at the ACT Nappanee-Wakarusa booth at Nappanee’s Friday Fest on June 10 will provide not only a thrill for children but also help hungry families locally and worldwide.
Rabbit breeder Ryan McBride of MC Rabbitry, a resident of Harrison Township near Nappanee, will share his knowledge of these incredible animals. He will have rabbits for children and adults to pet while they learn about the ways rabbits provide food, fur, and fancy for hobby and commercial use.
McBride is a member of the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). As such, he helps newcomers to rabbit husbandry with advice. At the June 10 Friday Fest event in Nappanee, he will offer three short presentations: at 5:30 p.m., “How to Raise a Show Rabbit;” at 6:15 p.m., “Rabbit Showmanship Tips;” and at 7 p.m., “Breed ID: Food, Fur and Fancy.”
“I was introduced to rabbits through my children’s 4-H projects,” said McBride. “Then I got more and more intrigued by this animal. There are 50 different ARBA-recognized breeds and raising them is a great way for kids to learn responsibility.”
Rabbits are efficient converters of feed, grass and hay. A trio of rabbits — one buck and two does — can produce enough progeny in 18 months to result in the meat equivalent in weight to a full-grown steer.
“One important difference between raising rabbits and a steer is that you’ll have meat all along the way with rabbits,” said McBride.
This fact makes rabbits one cornerstone of the program by charity Heifer International to help hungry families in developing countries. In addition to accepting contributions for heifer.org, the ACT Nappanee-Wakarusa booth will also accept contributions on behalf of The Center, a WaNee district charity that provides a food pantry among other services to families experiencing financial stress.
“At our food pantry, demand has increased by 93% in the past two months as gas and grocery prices have increased, and as clients have anticipated the pending decrease of their SNAP benefits by 50%,” said Mark Mikel, executive director of The Center.
McBride’s 5:30 p.m. presentation on June 10, “How to Raise a Show Rabbit,” will emphasize the importance of providing a secure cage for rabbits, balancing diets, checking health frequently, and handling rabbits a lot so they trust you and get used to human contact.
“My best advice for raising your show rabbit: find a mentor who is a reputable rabbit breeder and forget what Bugs Bunny says, carrots are not all that great for rabbits,” said McBride.
McBride recommends that anyone planning to raise show rabbits acquire their stock from a reputable breeder.