Raising Rabbits for Meat, Fiber and More

Raising rabbits for meat is a good solution for homesteaders with limited space.

| September 19, 2013

Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs by Wendy Brown (New Society Publishers, 2011) is packed with practical solutions for becoming more self-reliant and transitioning to a lower-energy lifestyle. In this excerpt from Chapter 8 on livestock, Wendy explains how she learned through experience about raising rabbits for meat, and other uses for the urban homesteader.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs.

We have had livestock on our suburban farm almost since we bought our house, when we were given three adult rabbits — two unneutered males and an unspayed female. We did not know it at the time, but two does are actually a better ratio for raising rabbits for meat, but as we found out, one doe can still do a mighty fine job of making babies.

We, admittedly, had no idea what we were doing, and a mere eight months after acquiring our breeding stock, we had 21 rabbits. Yeah, there’s that saying about breeding like rabbits, and our initial experience at being rabbit farmers was a really good reminder that most clichés have their origins in truth.

We learned that a female bunny is fertile almost from the moment she kindles. In fact, some resources I read seemed to indicate that a female can carry two litters at the same time, but this was not our experience. The gestation period for a rabbit is four weeks. Our female gave birth to three litters in about as many months, which tells me that she was fertile immediately after her babies were born, but not while she was pregnant.

Just in case anyone is wondering, no, it is not a good idea to allow a doe to kindle that close together. Having a separate hutch for the does and bucks is important. Now we know, and now we do.

9/20/2013 3:28:38 PM

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