The Basics of Raising Homestead Rabbits


| 1/19/2015 10:29:00 AM


Tags: raising rabbits, Amy Fewell, Virginia,

rabbit

Let's face it, during the beginning process of adding meat rabbits to our homestead, I wasn't the happiest girl in the world. The thought of butchering little animals that I had hand raised as helpless little creatures just didn't appeal to me. But my mountain man husband talked me to into them, and I was immediately sold as we started on this journey. You can read more about the beginning and why we got into raising rabbits by reading The Fewell Homestead Blog. After getting through the various learning obstacles, raising meat rabbits eventually became a joy for me, and now I cannot suggest it enough to those who wish to live a more self-sustainable life.

If you know me personally, then you know that I love to research every single thing before diving headfirst into something. But with meat rabbits, I found that there really wasn't a lot of info out there — and the info that was there was very conflicting. All in all, I discovered that there really wasn't one single way to raise meat rabbits, and that we were just going to have to figure out what worked well for us.

So I've decided to share the basics with you — a post that you can reference very quickly and easily. I wish someone would have put this together for me when I first got started, but alas, here I am almost two years later, pounding it out myself. Please keep in mind that these are the things we have found that work for us. As you get further into your meat rabbit projects, you're going to find things that suit you better. But as a newbie, these were the things I wish I would have known.

Choosing the Breed + Buying Rabbits

On our homestead we raise Standard Rex (above) and Flemish Giant rabbits. We've had our fair share of learning the hard way when it comes to buying rabbits, so I cannot stress enough to do your research on the breed and the previous owner. Typical meat rabbits are New Zealand, Californian, Standard Rex, Silver Fox, American Chinchilla and Flemish Giant. The larger boned breeds, such as the Flemish, should be bred with a different, less boney breed (such as we do with our Rex). Otherwise, you'll have more bone than meat on your processed rabbits. We breed our Flemish giant does to our Rex bucks. This allows for a large meat rabbit, but with less bone and more meat. We also breed purebred Rex rabbits for meat and pelts.

It's easy to get on craigslist and find a rabbit breeder, but just as with any other livestock or product you're buying, you need to make sure that you're getting what you're paying for, and that the animals are healthy./

jon
1/20/2015 8:01:18 AM

This is a great read. I have been raising livestock rabbits for around 15 years, it's great to see the upward trend of families growing their own food in their backyards or supplementing their small farms with this healthy meat. Keep it up!





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