Business is really hopping: Rabbits are more than just a hobbyfor Marathon County breeder 

posted Sept. 10, 2018 9:53 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Ashley Heil | Correspondent

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    An 8-week-old Tri Holland Lop baby is pictured at Buddy Rabbitry. This is the legal age at which a rabbit can first leave its owner’s home.

STRATFORD — Unlike many other college students, Jenna Heil, owner of Buddy Rabbitry, couldn’t bear to give up her rabbit business when she went off to college to pursue a degree in the agriculture industry.

Instead, she chose to expand her operation throughout college and continues to offer educational training for new rabbitry/​rabbit owners. Over the past 15 years, Heil has spent more than 12,000 hours in the rabbit industry and has mentored hundreds of people through educational tours/​classes. She continues to help develop and improve specialty breeds and colors.

“Having worked in the rabbit industry for 15 years, I have done everything from showing rabbits to teaching 4-H rabbit youth classes to providing educational tours for new rabbit owners,” Heil said. “I feel it is vital for people to know what they are getting into when choosing to add a bunny to their family or developing a rabbitry.”

Buddy Rabbitry, which has 140 rabbits from show and meat stock to junior stock waiting for their forever homes, specializes in bringing rare breeds and colors of rabbits back into the public eye, along with developing the highest show stock available. Among the breeds in which Buddy Rabbitry specializes are Champagne d’Argent, Crème d’Argent, Netherland Dwarfs and Holland Lops.

Both the Crème d’Argent and Champagne d’Argent have been around for more than 200 years. The breeds were originally raised for meat and fur purposes. However, fewer people are eating rabbit meat or wearing rabbit fur, causing the breed to decrease in popularity and be replaced with small breeds that are easier to handle for pet purposes.

“Because of this, it is important that rabbitries continue to focus on bringing these breeds back into the public eye, which will help ensure all the remaining animals are not related and that the breed’s legacy remains,” she said.

The Argent ancestry is unique because the babies are born one color and change over time. A prime example is the Champagne d’Argent — when they are babies, they are born pure black, and as they age, they turn silver in color.

Heil also specializes in unique Netherland Dwarfs colors including orange and tort, along with Holland Lop in tri, harlequin and chocolate colors.

Heil graduated from North Central Technical College in May with an associate’s degree in agricultural business and dairy science. In addition to seeking a full-time herdsperson job, she plans to expand her own operation to offer both rabbits and beef cattle in the future.

For more information about Buddy Rabbitry, find them on Facebook or call or send a text message to 715-383-9202.

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