meeting with Jean-Louis Chevalier, rabbit breeder

scandals related to Farming by Industrial Methods encourage consumers to turn to other sources of supply, respecting animal welfare. how New agriculturewhich Jean-Louis Chevalier practices in his rabbit breeding.

The New Farming: Testimony of a Maine-et-Loire Rabbit Breeder wanted to ask him a few questions about his breeding methods, differences with organic, and consumer and animal interest. – How is your breeding structure?

Jean-Louis Chevalier

Jean-Louis Chevalier : we have 450 nests, that is about 500 females. They are inseminated in order to carry out genetic selection and so that they have fewer diseases … So, less medicine should be given! They give birth every two months. We are preparing a nest of shavings in which the female will mix her hairs in en make a cozy little cocoon.

We have about 3500 young rabbits who stay with their mother in a small park for a month and week about. lhis mother then moved in L’another baFalse put again. We never move babies so as not to strain them: only mom changes the cage. Toddlers who are independent pupils in brothers and sisters for a month and a half.

After the departure of the babies, the building is cleaned, disinfected, and the mothers are returned there to give birth. lFemales are inseminated 11 days after farrowing. even if in nature, they can be fertilized again from the day they are born.

Indeed, rabbits do not have an ovulation cycle, unlike most other animals. This explains why they are so prolific, which corresponds to a very high mortality rate, about 80% in nature: the rabbit is fragile animalwhich is very afraid of moisture and often shrinks respiratory diseases. We have been able to significantly improve this problem. Our breeding is linked to the Genetic Disease Research Laboratory, which has made significant progress in breeding and prevention. – New agriculture… what is it?

Jean-Louis Chevalier : this method of production (for both animals and plants) is designed to be more conserving of natural resources and in terms of breeding, animal care. This takes the form of stringent criteria that must be met in terms of both food and the environment and living conditions. This produce better to eat better.

To obtain labelfarmers and breeders unite in cooperatives group led Terrena. IThey are committed to limit their environmental impactprefer natural alternatives to chemicals to promote innovation.

In terms of breeding, this approach already brings together about forty rabbit producers, but also pigs and chickens. Rabbits are fed according to the instructions. Blue White A heartwith cereals, alfalfa, wheat bran, flaxseed, exclusively from sustainable agricultureguaranteed without GMOalso fortified with omega 3 and 6.

The animals are cared for without antibiotics, raised in rooms that are cooled in summer and heated in winter. Regular inspections carried out by an independent body authorized Terrenaallow you to check compliance with these specifications.

rabbit breeding

© Darina Andriyanova – What’s different from organic?

Jean-Louis Chevalier : in terms of animal husbandry, organic criteria put the animal, raised on the ground, on the straw. But it is very difficult to raise rabbits this way: they have been shown to get much less sick when raised on a slatted floor than in straw cages, as in the past.

Similarfree range breeding very difficult: in nature, the rabbit likes to be in cover and avoids contact with the ground. He likes, for example, to settle on a pile of logs, from where he returns to the perch as soon as he finds food for himself. In order for him to be able to walk outside, he needs a very large covered area. We’ve done a few trials on the group, but the mortality rate is very high once we release them. Thus, at the moment it is almost impossible to produce organic products stamped for rabbits. But we go almost as far as organic when it comes to food and even more when it comes to animal welfare.

Find out the data on the production of rabbits in France on the planetoscope

organic criteria primarily concern food, ours is wider. For example, we have an application that allows you to immediately find outeyewhen entering their premises, the degree of comfort of the rabbits: depending on how they stand and behave, the application analyzes whether they are well settled, too hot, too cold, and we can act instantly.

Our development plan aims to improve farming practices within five years, mainly in relation to animal welfare. Tomorrow, our approach may still develop towards new practices. Why not imagine, for example, buildings that have more natural light or “fun” spaces for rabbits to have fun?

See also: Creuse breeders want to build a slaughterhouse that respects animal welfare – How did you transition to this new method?

Jean-Louis Chevalier : I was looking for “middle term” between traditional breeding and organic. I started with approach demedicalization , by replacing antibiotics on essential oilsas a preventative… Then I tried to improve the conditions of my rabbits.

About thirty rabbit breeders from the Central West of France (Rabbits Terrena Productions) we gathered in a cooperative. In particular, we have committed ourselves to gradually replacing cells with breeding in parks, specially developed by our cooperative with animal welfare in mind, and for this we received an honorary award from the CIWF (Compassion in Global Agriculture) during the Golden Rabbits ceremony. When the rabbits are happy this is recognizable: they are much more resistant, less dependent on drugs.

It was this new way of practicing reproduction, anticipation, that interested me most in New agriculture. This is a motivating challenge. The New Agriculture program should make it possible in the future to completely eliminate drugs in animal husbandry, as it will eliminate pesticides in agriculture: we act upstream, not by force or coercion, but through education, encouragement. . It’s more beneficial for everyone… and it’s much faster! All stakeholders are involved in the process. We use training tools and support systems.

rabbit breeding

© Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova So the new farming is better for the animals, better for the consumer… and for the producer, what’s the point?

Jean-Louis Chevalier A: First of all, make the product more famous, be better valued with this approach: because the rabbit is not part of what we spontaneously put on the shopping list, like, for example, chicken. New agriculture allows you to rediscover this meat through respectful local production, offering animals that are fed as healthy as possible, in the healthiest possible environment.

Improve farming practicesis to improve animal welfare…but it also helps keep people healthy. And it also promotes better nutrition: as a result, our rabbits better keepyears plate… Meat is less dry, less stringy, more palatable in the mouth. I want to produce a product that I like to eat and not be afraid to show how I work!

Banner illustration: Rabbit in nature – © Cora Mueller

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