Rabbits provide a quality product for a fraction of the price of more traditional meats. The meat is an easily prepared food that is high in protein and low in calories and fat. Rabbits require little space to live, reproduce rapidly and grow quickly, allowing the possibility of a continual, healthy supply of meat.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Male rabbit (buck)
- Female rabbit (doe)
- Nesting box
- Rabbit food
- Rabbit cage
Choose your breed of rabbit. All breeds provide different reproduction rates and varying yields of meat. According to My Bunny Farm, New Zealand rabbits range from 4.08 to 5.44 Kilogram, and have litters of eight to 10 bunnies. The Champagne d'Argent is the traditional breed for meat, weighing 10 to6.8 Kilogram each, and has large litters consisting of eight to 10 bunnies. Both breeds are excellent rabbits for meat.
Set up housing. According to the Humane Society, the rabbit habitat should be five times larger than the rabbit, have a solid floor and provide shelter and protection from predators. Though wire floored cages are popular, they can cause sores on the rabbit's feet and contribute to lower breeding activity.
Purchase rabbit food. The Farm.org suggests feeding rabbits commercial pellets containing fibre and Timothy/alfalfa hay, because it is a quality food source for meat rabbits. Lower quality rabbit food results in lower quality meat. Provide rabbits with continual access to water. Replace the water daily to keep the rabbits at optimal health.
Purchase and breed rabbits. Small breed rabbit does, such as the Rex or American Sable, can be bred at five months old and bucks at six months old. Medium rabbit does, like the Silver Fox or Satin, can begin breeding at six months old and bucks at seven months old. The California doe is a large breed of rabbit that can begin breeding at eight months old and bucks at nine months old.
Harvest the meat. Rabbits are divided into categories of meat depending on age. According to the USDA, "fryers" are rabbits under 12 weeks old, "roasters" are 12 weeks to six months old and "stewers" are six months and older. Rabbit meat toughens as the rabbit ages, causing most of the rabbits to be harvested at the "fryer" stage.
Tips and warnings
- Ensure the rabbit is healthy for best meat production. An unhealthy rabbit can spread disease to all the others.
- Rabbits can become fat, and have issues breeding if you overfeed them. Underfeeding causes the rabbit to be susceptible to disease and not produce much meat.
- Check rabbits weekly by stroking their backbone, feeling for round bumps. If the bumps are sharp and pointed, feed the rabbits more. If you cannot feel the bumps, then lower the feeding amount.
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