Raising Rabbits for Meat

All about raising rabbits for meat: choosing breeds, the hutch, feeding, diseases, breeding, butchering.

| May/June 1972

At last! For the first time since the HAVE-MORE Plan was published way back in the 1940's, a fellow named Richard W. Langer has come up with a 365-page book that really introduces a to small-scale farming. Wanna raise your own fruit, nuts, berries, vegetables, grain, chickens, pigs, ducks, geese and honeybees? GROW IT! tells you how to get started and we like it. AND HERE'S A MOTHER EXCLUSIVE! Seems that, somehow, two chapters of the original GROW IT! manuscript were cut from the printed book. Can't say why . . . maybe breeding rabbits and earthworms was just too risque for Saturday Review Press. Doubt it, though . . . probably was a matter of space. At any rate, we've got 'em. Yep. Here they are. Both the chapters that were "too hot" for GROW IT! to handle. If you like 'em, we may even arrange to reprint all the chapters that did make it into the book. Whether we do or not, though, we do recommend GROW IT! to any and everyone interested in small-scale farming. 

Rabbits can be a valuable addition to the family homestead. Domestic rabbit meat—while not a staple of the supermarket — is nourishing, sweet, all white and tasty. It doesn't have the gamy flavor of a jack rabbit (which I still prefer) but you don't have to worry about cracking your teeth on stray bird shot when eating the home-grown variety, either.

Where chickens give you feathers for your pillows, comforters and quilts, rabbits produce fur for capes, mittens, rugs and other soft and warm items. A rabbitry is also an excellent source of manure (always a valuable commodity on a small farm).

You'll find it easy to reap this harvest of meat, fur and fertilizer on your own homestead because rabbits are not at all difficult to care for. An adult doe breeds — well, like a rabbit — and produces a litter of six or more three to four times a year. It's no problem to keep a larder well-stocked at that rate.

Breeds of Rabbit

A good meat rabbit is well filled out and firm around the hindquarters and saddle. But it should be neither too stocky nor too long. The former because a very stocky rabbit will tend to have compressed reproductive organs and be unable to bear. The latter because it means more legs, ears and tail — which aren't useful to anybody, including the rabbit, at least in its domesticated state — than in a well-proportioned rabbit.

Several breeds are available, almost all of them good meat producers. If you're thinking of tanning and selling the fur, white usually brings the best price. On the other hand — for your own use — a variety of fur colors adds choice to the design of clothing, throws and rugs.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!