Raising Rabbits for Meat
With today's economy and the issues plaguing many commercially produced foods, more people are turning to raising rabbits for meat to produce at least some of their own food. Many people can grow a small garden, but what about meat? With all the bad press given to factory farms, people are beginning to look for healthier alternatives.
Rabbits are becoming a way for people to raise their own meat.
You don't need a lot of space to raise a few litters of rabbits per year to help feed the family.
Some people are raising rabbits for meat in their backyards, while others keep them in a basement or garage.
Rabbits are easy to keep. They reproduce quickly and often produce large litters.
A single doe can produce up to 1000% of her body weight in meat per year. That can be several meals per month. Since rabbits can be raised in cages, they are much easier to handle than chickens. This method of husbandry will also reduce your losses to local predators like dogs, cats and wildlife.
Rabbit meat is all white meat and is easily digestible. It is naturally low in fat, yet high in protein. They are easy to dress out and prepare. If you don't think you can handle it yourself, you may be able to find a local butcher shop that is able to do rabbits or you may be able to find a hunter or 4H teen who would be willing to butcher in exchange for some of the meat. Rabbit meat is often suggested to people with medical conditions that require special diets.
All you really need are a few cages. Each rabbit should have its own cage. Does are brought to the buck's cage for breeding. If you look away, you may miss it. Don't ever put the buck into the doe's cage; the doe may get aggressive and attack him. A month later, you need to supply the doe with a nest box and some bedding. She will make a nest and deliver her litter.
Baby rabbits can be weaned between 6 to 8 weeks of age. They should be moved to a large grow out cage to finish growing. Rabbits can be butchered between 10 and 12 weeks of age. A good meat breed should reach 3 to 5 pounds by that age, making a good sized fryer.
Replacement breeding stock should be allowed to mature to at least 6 months of age before breeding. Sometimes a breeding will miss, just try again the next month. As you get more experienced, you may be able to palpate a doe halfway through her pregnancy to see if she is indeed pregnant or not. Just feel her belly region behind her ribs. The kits will feel like grapes inside the doe's body.
Most litters range between 4 and 10 kits. With good meat rabbit breeding stock, you can even get larger litters. With very little stock for raising rabbits for meat, you can easily add a nice amount of safe, quality meat to your family's menu.
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