By Megan Derois
When one thinks of a farm, they think of being self-sufficient, although, you don’t have to be a farmer in order to raise rabbits to provide food for your family. “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” Genesis 9:3. God gave us the animals to feed us. With this in mind, raising rabbits for meat is part of God’s design for us.
Raising Meat Rabbits is a Good Choice
- The reason rabbits are a good choice is because they are small and require little space. You can live in an apartment building and raise your own rabbits. A giant rabbit, weighing around 20 pounds, only needs about three feet of space to be happy. Medium and miniature rabbits need much less.
- They are also very easy to clean up after.
- All of the rabbit can be used. The rabbit meat can be eaten, the rabbit pelts can be sold, and rabbits’ feet can be sold for key chains. Even their manure can benefit you. Unlike other types of manure, rabbit pellets can be put directly onto plants without burning them.
- Free range organic rabbit meat is best. Raising meat rabbits is important because you know what your meat is made up of. If you buy any meat from the store, chances are the meat is filled with chemicals. If you buy organically, though, it is very expensive. Raising the meat yourself allows you to know exactly what’s in your meat. If you feed your rabbit vegetables and all organic pellets, then the quality of the meat will be very high. You have the ability to monitor what your rabbit consumes.
Why Rabbit Meat is Healthy
Rabbit meat is extremely lean and high in protein. In fact, of all the animals written about on Molly Green, rabbits provide some of the leanest meat. It has a much higher amount of protein than chickens, cows, etc. Here’s a little comparison for you. Rabbit is 20.8 percent protein with only 4.5 percent fat; beef is only 16.3 percent protein; chicken is around 20 percent protein; and veal is 19.1 percent protein, but it is far down on the charts since its percentage of fat is almost 12 percent. Rabbit is a choice meat for those on diets as well, being so high in protein and low in fat.
Breeding Meat Rabbits
Female rabbits make wonderful mothers and they don’t need any assistance in the birthing process. They usually have their babies at night. They clean the babies and feed them before the sun rises the next day. Rabbits are easy breeders. Put a male and female together and they’ll be bred before the hour is out. The smaller the area they are breeding in, the sooner they’ll mate. We have all heard about how fast rabbits multiply. There is a lot of truth in that statement.
Rabbits, unlike almost every other animal, don’t go into heat. This means the females can be bred at any time of the year. This is another benefit to raising rabbits for meat. You can simply breed them whenever you want, allowing you access to fresh meat all year long. The average female rabbit can be bred with successful litters up to four years old. While the average male rabbit can breed until he drops dead. If you begin breeding your female at six months old up until she turns four, with a litter of ten babies each time; you could literally end up with 200 rabbits in your freezer! That’s a lot of meat from just one pair of breeding rabbits.
One thing that separates rabbit from all other meats is how quickly they reproduce. This means it’s low cost to raise meat rabbits. To raise meat chickens, it takes a minimum of ten weeks. In that time, they are gross, smelly, and gorge themselves so much you have to monitor them in order to prevent them from having heart attacks. Goat, cattle, and other types of animals take many months and, in many cases, at least a year before the animal is mature. The birth production of large animals is also a downside. The most they have is twins, and their pregnancy period lasts many months. Rabbits, can have between four and eighteen babies at a time. The babies only take eight weeks before they are mature, and the mother rabbit’s pregnancy lasts only thirty-two days.
Best Meat Rabbit Breeds
As far as the types of rabbits that are best for breeding, here is my personal opinion. I raise a variety of different breeds including:
- Flemish Giant
- New Zealand Meat Rabbits
- Californian Rabbits
Flemish Giants are the largest breed, however, they seem to have a harder time keeping meat on their bones, unlike the other types I’ve mentioned. The others are smaller, but the meat is easily put on. I’ve found that when I mix the breeds together—for instance, a Giant Flemish with a New Zealand—they tend to be big, as well as meaty. Consequently, I don’t raise many purebred meat rabbits, but it seems to produce the biggest and meatiest rabbits, which is what you want if you’re using them strictly for meat.
So, now that you have a better understanding about raising rabbits for meat, you can go raise your own. Rabbits are very easy and extremely low maintenance. All the rabbits need is to be checked once a day to make sure they have food and water. With this in mind, literally, anyone can raise rabbits for meat.
Megan Derois is sixteen years old and has been homeschooled since the second grade. She loves God with all of her heart, writing, and animals. She’s been raising rabbits for a few years now.