How to Raise Rabbits for a Sustainable Meat Source

| 7/7/2016 6:49:35 AM

For beginning homesteaders (or even those more established), raising meat rabbits it the perfect first step to take toward raising your own livestock. As natural herbivores, rabbits eat low on the food chain and pack on the pounds six times faster per pound of food than cows do. In fact, within a year, two does and one buck are capable of producing 200 pounds of meat!

And nothing goes to waste, because rabbit droppings are great for the garden and can be sown directly in. Raising rabbits is a positive step towards a more natural, sustainable lifestyle, and they are cheap and easy to take care of.

cage outdoors

Easy to raise just about anywhere, rabbits are a healthy, low-fat meat source that require minimal special equipment. And at 6 to 8 pounds at butchering weight, they are a great size for a single meal!

When my husband and I moved to our Appalachian homestead last year, we knew we wanted to have livestock. Chickens were the obvious choice, but we knew we wanted something else. We settled on getting our own meat rabbits because we wanted easy to care for livestock that would provide food for two people.

Though we've gotten quite a bit of backlash from people that are offended by the idea that we would be willing to eat these cute critters, we are confident that we've made the right choice for our situation.

7/13/2016 2:05:53 PM

I raised meat rabbits for five years with our family of six was young and found it to be extremely rewarding. The rabbits were good to raise, ecomonicaly prolific and had very good, low fat meat. However, a few things in this article bothered me. The first illustration shows a poorly constructed cage for a rabbit. All wood should be outside the wire due to a rabbit's chewing ability. Rabbits should have a constant source of a piece of fruitwood to chew on to help control the constant growth of front incisors. The nesting box should be better constructed than the one shown, which could easily loose kits. There are a lot of plans for good nesting boxes, or commercial boxes may be purchased. I killed by first calming the rabbit, knocking it hard on the back of the head and then bleeding it out. Unless you have a lot of experience, bludgening a rabbit seldom kills it outright. Butchering is more tricky than described. A person must cut around the anal opening quite carefully and not cut into the intestines or bladder, which will contaminate the meat. Other than that, skinning a rabbit is much faster and easier than plucking a chicken. It would be good to have a rabbit-experienced editor check out rabbit writers and article illustrations in the future.

7/13/2016 12:19:51 AM

If we wanted to breed more rabbits, is it ok to breed one or two babies with the Buck? I know in most animals you never breed the young with the father. Or should I just buy 3 or 4 does to begin with? Also if I have 3 or 4 does should I have an additional Buck? Thank you very much for your help. I've had a lot of chickens in the past (though I don't have any right now), but I have never raised rabbits.

7/11/2016 7:27:58 AM

Great post. We just processed our first batch of meat rabbits on friday. and I made Rabbit braised in Belgian ale on Saturday night. Im not a huge meat eater, but my family is, and meat rabbits are so similar to chicken taste wise. I was very surprised. they were easy to raise, and very cost efficient. we ended up with 18lbs of meat, at about $1.90 a lb we figure is what it cost us to feed them to 8 weeks. you for sure get some strange comments from people once in a while when they ask why you have so many pet rabbits.. but iv come to just really embrace the "to each their own" stance when it comes to my homesteading. if others dont like it, tough. ;) we enjoy providing our family with our own fresh food.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me