Students from Hettinger County learn about the business of rabbits

On March 15, 2017, the NDSU Hettinger County Extension Office and Juanita Achtenberg, a private rabbitry owner in New Leipzig, ND, conducted Ag in the Classroom presentations in the Mott/Regent elementary and the New England elementary schools with students age kindergarten through sixth grade.

Juanita Achtenberg holds a six-day old rabbit for students. Achtenberg talked to students of Mott-Regent and New England about rabbitry. (Courtesy Photo)

By CHRISTINA HANSEN
Hettinger County Extension

On March 15, 2017, the NDSU Hettinger County Extension Office and Juanita Achtenberg, a private rabbitry owner in New Leipzig, ND, conducted Ag in the Classroom presentations in the Mott/Regent elementary and the New England elementary schools with students age kindergarten through sixth grade. There were 249 students, 14 teachers, several para-professionals and school administrators, who had the opportunity to learn about rabbits, and how they are a part of agricultural production in the United States, and around the globe.

It was explained to the students the important role that rabbits play in their everyday lives. They learned the differences in rabbit breeds, and potentially how many rabbits can be born to one female in one calendar year. The students learned about the housing and equipment needed to raise rabbits for profit. They learned about the daily needs and chores associated in running such a business and what various breeds are raised for.

Mrs. Achtenberg educated the students about how to maximize one’s profit in this business by utilizing each aspect of the rabbit, such as selling wool, to make various types of clothing. Selling the manure as fertilizer, selling market rabbits for meat. Selling wounded rabbits to zoos as feed for larger animals such as lions and bears. Some rabbits sell as test subjects to medical laboratories, to aid in medical breakthroughs. Some sell to laboratories, to test cosmetics, prior to production.

She discussed the importance of cleanliness of the cages in this business, because vaccinations are not available for rabbits, like for dogs, sheep or other pets or livestock. Antibiotics have not been effective on rabbits either should they get sick or come down with a cold, better known as “snuffles”; which will wipe out an entire rabbitry, so keeping the areas in which the rabbits are kept and live needs to be clean and sanitized regularly.

At the end of the presentation, the students had the opportunity to feel the textures of two different breeds of rabbit. One was the Mini Rex and the other was the Champagne. The students also had the opportunity to see up close a six-day-old rabbit whose eyes were not even open yet. This was by far the biggest hit of the day for most of the students, their facial expression alone said more than any words cab on paper.

The NDSU Hettinger County Extension office was able to make up grab bags for the students that included information on rabbit production, a coloring packet, a bunny word find puzzle, a bunny word search, and a real rabbit’s foot keychain. The following businesses helped make those goodies available. The Farm Service Agency of Mott, the Commercial Bank of Mott, and the NDSU Hettinger County Extension Service.

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