Jimmy Ward

Ward with his 8lb. rabbit Jackson. Jackson’s dad is almost three times bigger than him. 

Local breeders say they sell out of rabbits quickly during this time of year as the animal becomes popular for Easter. 

Haley Church of Starkville sold out of her rabbits Friday afternoon.

“Sometimes I carry bunnies in my pockets so like sometimes I’ll open up my jacket and there will be a bunny poking their head out,” Church said. 

Church has raised rabbits since she was 16 years old, as a sophomore in high school. 

As a teen she searched for a job but never had luck so her dad brought her rabbits and she began breeding. 

“I’m now known around town as the ‘Bunny Girl.’ I’ve now helped a few other people on their own rabbit breeding adventure and I’ve even started to work on a special type of gene that causes me to have curly haired rabbits instead of my straight haired rabbits,” she said. 

Her 25-30 rabbits have different personalities. 

“Some are super sweet. They’re ones I’d put on a leash and bring to the Co-Op, they like running up to people and rubbing on them,” she said. 

She said others are temperamental since they don’t like other rabbits but will let people pet them. 

Starkville farmer Jimmy Ward said raising rabbits has been an enjoyable hobby for him. 

He’s raised rabbits since he was a kid. Returning from the military he fell back into his roots raising rabbits, hogs and chickens. 

He once kept 40 on hand but now he has a little over 20 rabbits. 

When her rabbits are approximately six weeks old, Church begins to separate them from their mother for a few hours and at eight weeks they’re ready to start an independent life. 

They need the obvious of food and water. Church also said they need to be played with and shown attention. 

“They’re a lot like cats and dogs, like a mixture. So they like to play but they also like their space,” she said. 

Church feeds her rabbits pellets she purchased from the Co-Op, vegetable scraps and fruits. 

“They actually don’t like carrots most of the time. That’s a big myth,” Church said. 

Ward gardens so he has access to plenty of produce such as lettuce, apples, carrots, and potatoes. He uses the carrots as a special treat for them. 

He believes the main concern is having a place to put the rabbits as pets. 

“A lot of folks are raising them in the house now. They are just as easy to house break as a dog now,” he said.

Pads can be put down when training rabbits and once they are trained properly they’ll go to the pad every time. 

“It’s nothing special about raising them, once you get set up you’re not going to run into any problems with them,” Ward said.

It’s common to see Ward at the Co-Op annually around this time. He enjoys seeing families walk up to take pictures with his rabbits and ask questions.  

“I just love to see the spark in their eyes. That’s my pay right there seeing kids be kids,” he said as he watched children walk up to the cages. “I love it. I live for this.”

Those who are thinking about adopting rabbits as pets, Church’s advice is to do research first. 

“Rabbits require a bit more work than most but when you put in the work they make great pets - litter box training them and teaching them what to chew on and what not, that stuff goes a long way with house rabbits,” she said.

Recommended for you