Table of contents
- What is a Meat Rabbit?
- Meat Rabbit Breeds
- TAMUK New Zealand Meat Rabbits
- What are the Benefits of Raising Rabbits for Meat?
- How Long Does it Take to Raise a Rabbit for Meat?
- Meat Rabbit Cages
- Is Rabbit Meat Healthy?
- Butchering Rabbits
What is a Meat Rabbit?
Very simply, meat rabbits are larger and raised for their meat production. Because they are larger, you can process in excess of 5 pounds of meat from each one. This depends on how long you let them grow before harvesting. In this article, we’ll discuss all aspects of raising meat rabbits. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment box. I promise to answer personally.
Because we are living in such uncertain times right now, I believe that all of us should be making preparations to grow our own food. Think about the fact that fires have ravaged the western part of the country and floods have done the same in the midwest. Folks, this is where much of our food is grown. Where is our food going to come from?
Even if you live in a neighborhood with restrictions, you can usually grow a garden in your backyard. I’m aware of restrictions against animals – but you can have pets. How about some pet rabbits in that backyard? They are quiet and no one would even know they are there unless you tell them.
Rabbits multiply rapidly and if you have just a couple of does and one buck, your family could have a good source of protein in case food isn’t available at the store.
I have to say that this topic isn’t my favorite, and I don’t even like to think about butchering a rabbit. They are so cute and cuddly, and your kids will have a problem with your harvesting them as well. But, the fact remains that if we get into a survival situation, they could save our lives. It really isn’t any different than raising and harvesting chickens, but we Americans just aren’t accustomed to eating rabbit as much as people are in other countries.
Meat Rabbit Breeds
There are quite a few meat rabbit breeds. One of my favorites is the Californian shown above because of their markings. They are very sweet rabbits with good mothering instincts. A few other meat rabbit breeds are:
- Silver Fox
- Flemish Giants
TAMUK New Zealand Meat Rabbits
TAMUK New Zealands were developed by Texas A&M University to survive in their extreme heat. These awesome rabbits come in a wide variety of colors and are excellent meat producers.
What are the Benefits of Raising Rabbits for Meat?
The best thing about rabbit meat is that is renewable – at a fast pace. Rabbits are easy to grow and almost every part is usable. Rabbit pelts can be made into wearable items, the meat has more protein than chicken – and even the rabbit poop will fertilize your garden when you can’t go to the store and buy fertilizer.
Another great benefit – it’s money-saving. Take a look at what I found at the grocery store…
How Long Does it Take to Raise a Rabbit for Meat?
The gestation period is roughly 30 days. Then they are ready to harvest within 6-8 weeks. If you have one buck and two does, you can alternate the breeding to have a steady supply of protein.
The litters are usually 6-10 kits, and the females can get pregnant right after giving birth. So, you could have a third doe – or have another buck with two more does if you need more meat production.
You’ll need a nesting box when they are ready to give birth. These can be purchased in either metal or wood, but I prefer to build my own as part of the cage. I’ll post a picture here soon, but you simply cut out a space in the floor of the cage approximately 8×12. Then build a nesting box out of baby saver wire that is about 12″x16″x8″ high. Position this under your 8×12″ cut out. This leaves enough room for the mama rabbit to get down inside to give birth and care for her little ones. Be sure to file off any sharp edges so they don’t cut themselves. Secure it with your J-clips and it’s there to stay. You can put a cardboard box down inside to help keep the kits warm.
A couple of days before giving birth, mama will want some nesting material to build her nest. If you build it, she will only make it over to suit her needs. So, just put the materials in and let her go to work. Straw is good for this purpose. She will also pull her fur to make a cozy nest, so don’t be alarmed if it’s your first litter. Raising rabbits for meat is easy and fun for the entire family.
Meat Rabbit Cages
You can make cages from just about anything from wood to wire to shelving. I’ve tried several different ways, but then found a video of a lady that makes slanted front cages, and now I’m going to re-model my cages. Because they are easier for short people to use. LOL
Here’s video #1 of how she builds these cages. After watching, you can click on over to watch the second part.
You’ll need to plan for several grow-out cages for when the litter is weaned, or you need room for another rabbit to use the nesting box.
Is Rabbit Meat Healthy?
Absolutely! Actually, it has more protein and iron than chicken, plus an abundance of potassium and other minerals. Raising rabbits for meat is a great way to add nutrition to your diet.
What does it Taste like?
Rabbit Meat has a good flavor but is more dense than chicken.
How do you Prepare Rabbit?
You can do an internet search for dozens of rabbit recipes, but it’s cooked very much like you would use chicken.
Because it’s denser, I usually either cook it in the slow cooker or can it. But it can be fried, roasted, or grilled. You can make Rabbit & Dumplings, Rabbit Sausage, Jerky, etc.
If it’s a crisis situation, you can even feed rabbit meat to your dogs.
Again, this is a tough subject for me. But, might be necessary to feed a hungry family. You can find many ways of dispatching a rabbit, but the easiest and most humane way I’ve found is this hopper popper. Take a look at it, and if you want one, let me know and I’ll make sure you get it asap.
*Tip – When you are butchering a rabbit, take care to remove and discard the little bile sac. It’s easy to find, but if you accidentally puncture it, it will result in a bad taste to your meat. Just pinch it off, cut, and throw it in the trash.
Once the rabbit is dispatched, we put the carcass in a bucket of salted ice water and continue to do the same until the whole litter is processed. After a few hours in the ice water, you can cut up the pieces for cooking, freezing, or canning.
I hope your questions have been answered, but please let me know about any questions or ideas that you have that would benefit all of us. And don’t forget to sign up for my updates, and I’ll send you a notice when new articles are posted.
Related: ISO – Superchicks