The Beginning Of Our Homestead Rabbit Journey

| 12/22/2014 9:19:00 AM

Tags: Amy Fewell, Virginia, raising rabbits,


Raising rabbits on our homestead has been such a joy for me, personally. It is a livestock that can be inexpensively taken care of, and is easily handled, processed and cooked. Not to mention, rabbit meat is making quite the comeback in modern cuisine in the United States and Europe. Rabbit is, in fact, one of the most common meals that our ancestors ate, and thousands of groups of people all across the world still thrive off of rabbit meat as their main source of protein.

I'll be honest, though -- raising rabbits wasn't always a joy for me. I wasn't really keen on the idea of raising rabbits when my husband first mentioned it. To think that I would have these tiny little bunnies one day, and dinner in the freezer the next, didn't quite appeal to me as a woman who loved cuddly things. But the more my husband talked about it, the more I became intrigued.

Here's Why:

• Rabbits are high in protein and in most cases, can replace chicken in your diet. They are completely all white meat, with little to no dark meat. Many times, you can replace chicken with rabbit in almost every chicken recipe.
• Rabbits are 90 percent more effective to process. It takes 5 to 10 minutes to process a rabbit, where it can take 30 or more minutes to process a chicken -- depending on your methods.
• Rabbits are more cost efficient than chicken and other "livestock". They are much easier to raise and very independent. When put on pasture, there is little cost in feed. However, if you live on a property without pasture available, that's ok too - feed cost is still quite low for the production that you'll need. Their diet primarily consists of hay (orchard grass and timothy hay) and feed (pellets or organic mixes). As well as other all natural treats (carrots, greens).
• Rabbits aren't considered "livestock" in most cases. This means they are a great option if you live in a subdivision or have a small backyard or an apartment with outdoor space. We live on a half acre (currently looking for more acreage) and know others that live on less than a 1/4 acre and raise their own rabbits for meat.
• One to two does (female) can produce offspring that can bring in up to 300 pounds or more of meat per year, depending on the breed and care they receive.
• Most does are amazing mothers and raise their own kits (babies) — no incubator or brooder necessary. Rabbits are also very easy to breed, only taking 30 minutes per breed.
• Rabbits do not need an abundance of land to roam on. They are happy in "play areas" and in their cages when interacted with regularly. Most of your breeding rabbits will become like pets.

These were just a few reasons the thought of raising meat rabbits lured me in.

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