Raising Meat Rabbits. We started raising meat rabbits long before we owned our homestead. They were our introduction to raising our own sustainable meat, and such a great place to start. When we knew we wanted to be more self sufficient, we were stuck in a subdivision with a little backyard and neighbors who told the HOA about our chickens (that we weren’t supposed to have). It was a frustrating time. However, when we heard about meat rabbits, we found a way to start learning some homestead skills while living in a subdivision.
Raising rabbits for meat has quite the stigma attached to it. I can’t eat a cute fluffy baby bunny! … Well I can say, they aren’t so cute and fluffy when they are butcher age. Just so I’m clear they aren’t any more of a baby than a chicken or a steer.
I highly recommend raising rabbits, and today I am going to explain WHY! They are such a great animal to start with. Rabbits are simple to keep, quiet, easy to butcher, reproduce faster than most other farm animals, and help your garden. The younger kids enjoy getting to help care for them too.
Why We Raise Meat Rabbits
They are simple
With a good set up for easy feeding and an automatic watering system, they are so simple to take care of. You could have a full time job, and still take care of them easily with about 5-10 minutes of your time. Our toddlers could fill up their feeders, hold the hose while the water runs to fill up the buckets, and pick forage in the yard to feed them.
Rabbits are Quiet
They rarely make noise at all with the exception of random scratching. Unlike chickens, they don’t yell for a half an hour to let you know that they have laid an egg. Rabbits have the instinct to stay quite when giving birth as to not attract any predators.
Easy to Butcher
They are much easier to butcher than chickens. No plucking. All you need is a good knife and a rabbit wringer. For reference my husband alone can butcher 8 rabbits in an hour, that is about 20lbs of meat. If you are interested in butchering rabbits and want to see the process, here is a good video. I would also like to mention again, you are not killing a cute little baby bunny any more than you would be killing a baby chick. At prime butcher age, they are nearly full size and have long scratchy nails.
Rabbits Reproduce Fast
Most people who raise chickens for meat either, buy chicks every year, or grow their roosters out and butcher their old hens every year. Neither of those options are very sustainable let alone doable within normal city conditions. Not saying that we never raise meat chickens, we do. I love chicken, but rabbits reproduce so much easier. They will give you a continual supply of meat without having to purchase more, unlike chickens. This also makes them very affordable for the average household.
Rabbits Help the Garden
Rabbit pellets (poop) are one of the best things to add to your garden. Most livestock poop is considered “hot”, due to being high in nitrogen, and can kill your plants when too much is added. Rabbit pellets are NOT hot. You can add them directly to the soil. The way we add the pellets to the garden is by digging a hole, filling it most of the way with pellets, and then layer about an inch of soil back on top. When you bury it in the soil the worms will come in and eat it rather quickly because the rabbit has done most the the digesting, and the finished product is vermi-compost the best thing your plants can eat. With all the extra plant growth, you should have extra that you can feed to your rabbits as a treat.
Have you considered raising meat rabbits?