Raising Meat Rabbits
Rabbits are fun to raise when you are properly prepared. However, ways of making sure rabbits remain comfortable and safe can be a challenge during the winter given the cold temperatures and predators. There are different reasons why rabbits are raised, fun, education, for showing, meat, fur, and even for laboratory use. As a commercial enterprise, many have found it that it is not very profitable. The market for human consumption in the US is low, but many have found raising rabbits can be very meaningful for reducing personal meat consumption and when your business is dog breeding.
I don’t currently nor do I plan on breeding dogs, but I do have an interest in having rabbits for meat. I know many people don’t look at rabbits as food. And after all, they are extremely cute, but who decided that only ugly animals should be eaten? I personally have eaten rabbit before and find it very tasty. As a matter of fact, rabbit meat is more healthy on a number of levels when compared to other meat. Rabbit is lower in cholesterol and higher in protein. If your objective is a more sustainable lifestyle, then rabbits are probably the best animal to choose. For example; a rabbit can produce 6 pounds of meat on the same amount of food and water it would take for a cow to produce one. This number is staggering. I might not suggest going at it today if you have never eaten rabbits before or are very skittish about slaughtering animals. Though if your desire might be to preserve control of or some level of food security, I would suggest finding a restaurant that serves rabbit and at least trying it out. That would be a good way to determine if it might even make sense for you to start.
The amount of meat one can get from a small area of raising rabbits is tremendous compared to sheep, goats, or cows. People who investigated this will say that pound for pound they are unmatched in part because they have large litters. They also have the unique ability to get pregnant again in as short as a week after giving birth.
A few items to consider if you go down that road; choosing the right rabbit breed, having the right facilities for them to live in (called a hutch), and knowing what to feed them. The first item is pretty easy, there are numerous meat rabbit breeds. So named because they grow larger and are efficient at putting on weight with less feed. Most people do not realize that rabbits eat grass, and lots of it. Timothy grass is the most common type of grass feed to rabbits. Here in Florida, you can grow alfalfa in the summer and ryegrass in the winter to feed them. The rabbit hutch is very easy to construct and can be made of either metal, wood, or a combination of both. The cost for a few rabbits will run about $120 in material or $300 if you buy it. I believe in a world with a growing population and grazing land that is ever scarcer, meat rabbits make for an excellent solution for providing a cheaper alternative as a healthy protein source.