John Parker, chief information officer for Texas Farm Credit, who is also a pastor at New Beginnings Fellowship in Sinton, started raising rabbits as a hobby in Papalote five years ago.
“I grew up on a farm in the Rio Grande Valley, and I had animals of all sorts when I was growing up," he said. "I raised rabbits among them and I was in 4-H and FFA, and even back then, I provided rabbits for 4-H and FFA. So I just wanted to pass on that experience to my son, who is now 14, and it is a great experience for us to have together.”
Five years later that hobby evolved into selling the rabbits to FFA and 4-H organizations, and the start of Silver Creek Rabbitry.
“This is the time of year we should be having rabbits born here in the next couple of weeks for Nueces and San Patricio County, and just looking forward to hopefully a successful breeding season and pray that God can bless that, and it would be a good outcome,” said Parker.
Parker will be the first to tell you that it takes work to breed rabbits. Rabbits don't tolerate heat well; they are a seasonal product in which the demand doesn't always sync with the supply.
“For us, we tried for two to three years; we have tried to breed rabbits -- and having them outside, and they were in the shade, but it was just really hot obviously in South Texas," he said . "And it’s really hard to come into the breeding season especially, for Nueces and San Patricio County, to get those bred.”
So the next logical step for John Parker was to build a barn with air conditioning.
“We made a pretty significant investment for our little business to build this barn, to have it insulated," he said. "We have an air conditioner in here, and so we have a place where, year-round, these rabbits can be comfortable and productive."
The rabbitry primarily breeds Californian rabbits and New Zealand rabbits.
“We strive to have good breeders, good conformation, good muscling, good profiling, good fur, and so that’s our goal," he said. "We are always trying to get better.”
When it comes to raising a blue-ribbon rabbit, there is no secret.
“The key to raising a blue-ribbon rabbit in its most basic form is just providing fresh food -- good quality food -- and fresh and clean water. A lot of people think they have other tricks of the trade, but in its most basic form, that’s really what you got to do,” said Parker.
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