This being our first year on the farm we have lots of plans and ideas.  We have read about many interesting projects and ways of farming from other farms around the world and are excited to see if we can do such things too.  As we live above the Arctic Circle we have to make adjustments and do lots of experimenting to be able to do the things a sustainable farmer does these days.  Not everything will work or will be feasible here in Northern Norway but it doesn’t hurt to try, so… let the experimenting being!

We have had our hearts set on raising pasture fed animals.  This is a great challenge in Norway for two reasons.  Most farms are normally small, especially sheep farms, as the sheep stay in the barn in Winter and go to the mountains during Summer.  So it isn’t necessary to have a farm over 10 acres.  The second challenge is keeping sheep on the farm in Summer to feed in the fields.  This is not practiced in Norway (and some farmers would think us crazy) so we have to keep our herd small to not drain our farms natural resources.  It also means we have to have a tight production of raising and grazing animals.

The first animals that arrived to the farm were our chickens.  They roam free eating what they like.  Chickens are always eager to scavenge for their grub (pun intended) so no training or special considerations were needed.

Rabbits on the other hand, need a bit of encouragement.  Rabbits these days in Norway are only bred as pets and given pellets for food.  Some do get to graze on lawns and back yards but I have never heard of (yet) a pasture fed rabbit in Norway.  But there is always a first!  We weren’t sure how either of our breeds of rabbit would handle being put out to pasture.  The Desserts (Rex-mix rabbits named Chocolate and Caramel) were raised in a small indoor rabbitry and the Trønder were used to roaming on dirt with caged chickens.  One by one we put the rabbits in special movable cages out in the pasture.  Last week we put out our first litter of kits.

All rabbits have taken very well to their new surroundings and eating habits.  They have long high cages so they can run and jump.  They have wooden hutches and high places as well as a fenced roof (in case of hawks).  The rabbits love to sun themselves so much so that our Trønder Bam-ah-lam is getting some sun bleached fur.  They get moved once a week for fresh grass and they love to eat the weeds!  Their droppings fertilize the field and the chickens love to scratch through it eating the bugs.

Unfortunately this scenario can’t happen in the Winter.  We must take all small animals inside the barn for warmth as we get at least two meters of snow over Winter.  But we have saved five bails of pasture hay for the rabbits to continue their grass fed diet.

This experiment has been very successful and we look forward to going full-on next year with pasture fed rabbits. 

You may also like to read...

Related posts: