The personal decision to start raising rabbits for meat was for the health of our children, and ourselves. Meat rabbits are becoming a popular addition to many homesteads due to the minimal space they require, and the high volume of meat they can provide. Rabbits are an extremely healthy, and tasty meat. Rabbit meat has half the fat and almost twice the protein of chicken. Rabbits go from birth to freezer in 10-15 weeks, and a pair of rabbits can provide 6-10 kits on average with each breeding.
We breed our does every 10-14 weeks, and have gotten an average of 7 kits per litter. Next to providing our family with hormone free meat, the most important thing was to provide our rabbits with a healthy, stress free, and comfortable life. Our breeders are in hutches, and our weaned kits, or grown outs, are in lawn tractors. From 6 weeks old, when the kits are weaned, to the moment we butcher them they live in a covered tractor, and have room to run and graze.
We raise Rex rabbits which take 12-15 weeks to reach fryer size, or about 5-6 pounds. There are larger breeds that can be processed a few weeks earlier. We chose the Rex breed, because we also tan the hides, and they are a nice combination for meat and producing beautiful furs.
We have found that rabbits has been our easiest meat so far to process ourselves. Rabbit meat can be ground into sausage, used in the place of beef, stewed, smoked, barbequed, or roasted. We strive to use every part possible so we fully appreciate and respect the life of the animal. We feel good knowing our food was raised, and processed humanly, and we also appreciate knowing that the meat we feed our family is clean, healthy, and free of hormones.
Melissa Souzalives on a 1-acre, organically managed homestead property in rural Washington State where she raises backyard chickens and meat rabbits and grows fruit, a variety of berries, and all the produce her family needs. She loves to inspire other families to save money, be together, and take steps toward self-reliance no matter where they live. Connect with her onFacebook.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.