Rabbit farm proposals switch to free-range

Plans for a series of large-scale rabbit farms, in response to the increasing demand for rabbit meat, have been altered due to public pressure.

Lincolnshire based T&S Nurseries had plans for up to six rabbit farms using a form of cage system for rearing them.

But now, following pressure from both local residents and animal rights campaigners, the company has decided to change to a free-range system of rearing.

T&S Nurseries spokesman Phillip Kerry commented: “We are a national chain and we had proposals for some rabbit farms, but because of media pressure, we have abandoned the cage system in favour of more free-range style and we are working with Southampton University to try and design an outdoor system.

“There is a huge demand for rabbit meat, because it is a very healthy meat, it is tasty and ticks all the boxes. Wild rabbit is too fit and healthy and the meat has too much sinew. We could have rabbits, poultry, or a combination,” he added.

Kerry explained that the company was growing 65% of the food needed for the rabbits at the sites, using a hydroponic system.

“What we are doing is very new and we have to watch our costs. But because we can grow so much of our own feed, we believe it will be economic.”

A number of the T&S Nurseries sites have already been approved for caged rabbit farming, but these will now change to the free-range system.

The latest proposal under consideration by local authority planners is for a combined free-range rabbit and chicken-rearing unit at the former Tas Valley Vineyard near Long Stratton in Norfolk.

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