Friday, July 5, 2013

Raising Meat Rabbits

If you follow me on instagram, or we're friends on Facebook (or in real life) you'll know that we have had a few new additions to our family.

This is Chester, our Buck.
 And Rosemary and Pepper, our Does. (Yes, rabbits are called Bucks and Does.)
These guys are a New Zealand White crossed with Flemish Giants.  This mix is a very popular cross to breed for meat rabbits. 

With our income being cut pretty much in half in the past year, since my decision to stay home more for the kids, we have been looking for ways to become more sustainable.  We've talked about raising chickens (and may still talk some more) but Steve is not keen on the idea.  (Plus, raising chickens for meat is really not that cost effective.) We have no room for cows, pigs, or lambs.  So rabbits was the answer.

I grew up eating rabbit meat, as our next door neighbour raised rabbits.  We would have rabbit at least twice a year, usually on Christmas and Easter (we used to make jokes about eating the Easter Bunny, and thought we were very clever!) Rabbit are one of the cheapest and easiest meats to raise.  Not only that, but rabbit meat is incredibly good for you. It's low in cholersterol, low in calories, low in saturated fats, high in protein, low in sodium, all white meat, and has 100% of the RDA for B12.

We made the decision rather quickly, found some rabbits, and boom, we're raising rabbits!

We've built one "rabbit tractor," which is a portable cage that moves around the backyard, fertilizing the ground and the soil that I plan to till up and turn into more veggie gardens next spring.  Steve will be building a second one for Chester this weekend, and we'll need to build one more for when the does are pregnant so we can separate them and they can have their litters in their own cage.  We'll also likely need a few more cages for growing out the litters in, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  We plan to breed the rabbits in about a month, when they're 4 months old.

The woman that I got the rabbits from has a pretty decent sized operation that keeps their family in rabbit meat all year round.  She also does the butchering herself, and I'll be heading over there to watch her slaughter and clean a round of them the next time she does it, so we can learn how to do it on our own.  I'm also excited about having a whole slew of rabbit pelts, and am reading up on how to tan them.  We'll also use the bones to make stock, likely replacing our usual chicken stock with rabbit stock from here on in.

Aside from the sustainability aspect, knowing where our meat comes from is important to us as well.  Knowing that these rabbits will have a good life, be respected and treated well, and then killed in a humane way, and every last bit of them put to good use.  A lot of people have problems with eating rabbit meat, but I find that it's only because they're so damn cute.  You can imagine eating a massive cow, or a slippery smelly pig, but somehow rabbits make people squeamish. Not me though!  (And not the kids either, they're very much on board!)

We're excited about this little venture, and hope it will be a fun and prosperous little endeavor!


  1. I like your mobile cages. When Dad started raising rabbits for fur in the 80's we had a barn full of up to 200 rabbits. I don't think I had chicken for 6 or 7 years. We actually sold the poop!
    Dad would skin them in the basement - he would stretch the skins on a variation of a coat-hanger-kind-of thing, and the skins would just hang there for a while to dry. Creepy moment: running down to get something out of the freezer and walking face-first into a wet inside-out skin.
    Good luck guys - hey where do they go in the winter?


  2. Yum. Love rabbit meat. Only hate all the bones.