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An overview of Canada’s rabbit sector

An overview of Canada’s rabbit sector

2023 is the year of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

When members of the Chinese community celebrate the Chinese New Year on Jan. 22, the Chinese zodiac calendar will be in the year of the rabbit.

With that at top of mind, here’s a brief look at rabbit production (cuniculture) in Canada.

The number of rabbit farms in Canada has decreased since 2011.

That year, Canada had, 2,792 rabbit farms, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) data says.

In 2016, the number of farms increased to 2,838. But in 2021, the number of rabbit farms in Canada sat at 1,486. This represents a decrease of about 47 per cent.

The number of head of rabbits also went down during that time.

In 2011, Canada had 184,935 head of rabbit. That number dropped to 172,489 in 2016 and to 154,873 in 2021.

Ontario has the most rabbit farms in the country, but even that number has fallen.

In 2011, Ontario had 1,021 rabbit farms. That number fell to 950 in 2016 and to 471 in 2021, AAFC says.

In Western Canada, Alberta has the highest number of rabbit farms with 284 recorded in 2021. That’s down from 470 in 2016.

Saskatchewan had 121 farms in 2021, down from 235 in 2016. And Manitoba had 96 rabbit farms in 2021, down from 140 in 2016.

Rabbit consumption has also dropped in recent years.

Per capita consumption of rabbit in Canada was 18.4 grams in 2019, AAFC says. That number decreased to 12.2 grams in 2020 and to 11.6 grams per capita in 2021.

Rabbit exports have experienced ups and downs over the last few years.

In 2019, Canada exported 131,444 kg of rabbit, worth $531,321.

One year later, rabbit export volumes increased to 145,759kg. But the value decreased to $411,953.

In 2021, export numbers increased again to 234,564kg of rabbit. And the value of those exports increased as well, to $622,931, AAFC says.

Much of Chinese New Year is rooted in agriculture.

“Farmers started the holiday in China to mark the end of winter and beginning of spring,” reads an excerpt from Chinese New Year (Holidays and Festivals), by Alice Flanagan and Svetlana Zhurkina. “As soon as winter was over, farmers worked hard to get the land ready for spring planting. They cleaned up the fields and planted new seeds.

“Chinese farmers thought of spring as the start of a new year. They cleaned their homes and held a feast to celebrate a new beginning. Then they rested until they had to work in the fields again.”

In the Chinese zodiac, people born in a year of the rabbit are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded and ingenious.

Other years of the rabbit include 2011,1999,1987,1975,1963 and 1951.

Famous people born in years of the rabbit include Albert Einstein, Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Lionel Messi.

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