Raising Meat Rabbits
Between the economy and all of the food recalls lately, lots of people are thinking about ways to provide food for their families through their own efforts. Some have planted gardens, some are raising a few chickens to provide eggs and some have turned to raising meat rabbits. Why meat rabbits? There are lots of great reasons for raising rabbits for meat to help feed your family.
Rabbits can be kept in a small part of the backyard or garage. They are quiet and are low maintenance compared to many other types of livestock. Rabbits breed easily and raise their babies just fine without help. It is only four weeks from breeding to birth, so there is not a long time commitment for each litter. If it doesn't work out one time, you can easily re-breed the next month.
Rabbits are efficient. They convert most of their feed to protein. They grow quickly. Fryers can be processed a mere 8 to 12 weeks after birth. When it comes time for processing, there are several easy methods to use when dispatching rabbits. Rabbits are also an easy animal to dress out. Once you are familiar with the process, it is easy to do several per hour.
When you compare raising meat rabbits to other backyard livestock, like chickens, for example, you can see why rabbits are the superior choice. Not only are they quieter, they are cheaper to raise and they are more efficient.
A single doe can produce up to 1000% of her own body weight in food in a year. While both can be confined, raising meat rabbits takes up much less space than raising chickens, who need room to scratch the ground. It is easier to protect your rabbits from predators. They can be kept indoors or in sturdy outdoor cages. Even beginners can process rabbits faster than they can process chickens.
Domestic rabbit meat is all white meat. It has a mild, savory flavor that doesn't have a hint of gaminess. Rabbit meat is very lean and low in cholesterol. It is often recommended for people with heart problems on special diets because it is easy to digest. It is higher in protein than other meats yet lower in fat and calories.
As for flavor, rabbit is mild like chicken, so you can do a lot of different recipes with it. Since rabbit is so low in fat, it is important to use moisture when you cook it. After processing, it is important to let the rabbits sit for a day or two in the refrigerator before you freeze them. This lets the carcass relax. Your meat will be tender after letting it age for a day or two.
Rabbit is good in stews, soups, fricassees and many other dishes. Go ahead and experiment a little. Fryers are pretty good on the barbecue. Rabbit takes on the flavors of other ingredients in the recipe well. You'll find that raising meat rabbits will give your family safe, wholesome meat to eat while letting everyone connect with their food source.
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