We have a rabbit living in our basement. You see, my son was in 4-H a few years ago, and got the rabbit so he could show it in the county fair.
I always found the rabbit showing events a little strange. The children usually were beginners at livestock shows, and the rabbit was their first animal. Most treated the rabbit as a pet, more than “livestock.”
So the judge would explain to the kids how one breed was a “meat” breed and another was a “fur” breed. Judging of the rabbits was usually based almost exclusively on the genetics of a particular rabbit, and how it met the breed standards.
But for most kids, the rabbit was a pet, not something to be butchered. And the genetics of the rabbit was the one thing they could not control.
I know that 4-H is an agricultural organization, but I would suggest that the style of judging the rabbits is really at odds with how they should be judging them. The metrics are at odds with the goals of the audience (the children who raise the rabbits).
Which brings me to another subject. I recently had occasion to read parts of the Yellow River Forest Management Plan–a document that describes the management of public land in the state of Iowa.
The plan is written by the forestry branch of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and it talks in depth about how the trees in the forest are to be managed, with lumber being the ultimate result.
I would suggest that for most Iowans who enjoy the outdoors the management metrics are wrong. I think most would like to see the area managed for biological diversity and to maintain an intact ecosystem. We don’t want to butcher or skin our forests.
So how do we change the paradigm?