In Saint-Quentin-sur-Sioule, in the Puy-de-Dome, Quentin and Sonia Priaulx breed meat rabbits, paying special attention to improving the image of this production.
At the Gaec de la Sagnole in Saint-Quentin-sur-Sioule in Puy-de-Dome, you must show your credentials. “We reject the above-ground qualification for our rabbit breeding as intensive. It puts down roots, attachment to its territory and individual vision, not mass, to raise rabbits in the best conditions and make a quality product.” Romain and Sonia Priolet started breeding rabbits in 2009, taking over the neighboring building. rabbits slaughtered at the Sedivol slaughterhouse, 17 km from the farm, and sold under the brand name “Lapin Gourmand d’Auvergne”, characteristics that enhance the conditions for breeding and animal welfare. “Without all these elements, we would not have gone there,” Sonia assures.
From birth to death
In Gaec de la Sagnole, about fifty Salers cows roam the 85 ha of meadows. Despite the direct sale, this workshop alone would not have been enough to guarantee an income for Romain and Sonya. “Rabbit breeding began with the retirement of a neighbor. We took over the first building in 2009 and the second in 2012 to make it a maternity ward.”
In the last of 500 rabbits, about 10 young rabbits are born alive. Because the slaughterhouse needs regular supplies, Romain and Sonya divide their females into three batches, thus guaranteeing a birth every 15 days. “A female can give birth every six weeks if everything goes well.”
The rabbits stay with their mother until they are completely weaned, and then they are sent to the fattening shop. After 70-80 days of life and a live weight of more than 2.8 kg, they enter the Sedivol slaughterhouse located less than 17 km from the farm headquarters. They will be sliced and sold under the brand name Lapin Gourmand d’Auvergne. “This brand, the position of the slaughterhouse and the organization of the rabbit industry, small but very structured, have motivated us to raise rabbits,” emphasizes Romain Priole. The breeder and his partner (and wife) really consider it a point of honor not to make a standard rabbit.
Animal Welfare Priority
Rabbits Romain and Sonya Priolet initially have a larger area than in the standard breeding, due to brand specifications. “We have 650 cm2 per rabbit versus 500 cm as standard. The height of the cages is also +60 cm per 1/3 of the body. Our cages are equipped with a mezzanine that allows the rabbit to jump and especially “isolate” if necessary. All these measures in favor of the protection of animals are a choice of profession, because in France there is no special law.” The brand’s specifications also call for a 100% non-GMO plant-based diet.
Despite the large number of individuals, breeders use individual monitoring. “Each doe has a checklist that allows us to tailor the whelping pace to her ability. If she seems tired or in trouble, we slow down. This is true, ”explains Sonya. An important personalization for good technical and sanitary breeding management. “We follow the animals from start to finish. We have to master all the stages of their life.”
Lapalliance, small but strong
Despite the fall in rabbit meat consumption, the industry is looking for breeders. “Like the agricultural profession in general, many of our producers will retire. They need to be updated to perpetuate the sector,” explains Romain Priole, also administrator of the Lapalliance regional group, which includes about fifty breeders. A feature of the group is the desire to distinguish their products among the standards through “several brands and labels.”