If you are tired of eating store-bought beef or chicken that contains medications, steroids, hormones, or other artificial and potentially harmful ingredients, you may want to raise rabbits. They are the easiest, cleanest, most space-efficient animal for growing your own high-quality organic meat.
If you want to start growing some of your own meat for the dinner table you have several options; cattle, pig, chicken, duck, other poultry, or rabbit. When you look at the amount of work, space requirements, quality of meat produced, and other factors, you can’t go wrong choosing rabbit. They will require less space and less labor and you’ll be rewarded with a higher quality of meat.
Rabbits are well known for their high reproductive rate. One mature 4.5-kilogram doe can produce up to 10 times her body weight each year. With just one male and female breeding pair, you can end up with 45 kg of dressed meat each year. And they will produce it in a space the size of your kitchen table.
Backyard organic chickens will do well if given a little grazing room, but rabbits can be kept in very small areas without the need for grazing. Even if you didn’t have a space you could still raise rabbits in your home or apartment.
When it comes to producing meat you can’t go wrong with rabbits. They require very little labor to maintain. About all you have to do is check their food and water once each day, do a quick visual health inspection, and keep a breeding record so you’ll know if they’re productive or not. In addition, you’ll need to clean their cages regularly.
The mother will provide all of the kits’ meals until they’re weaned at about 6-8 weeks of age. She feeds her babies rich nutritious milk until they have reached the fryer size, so little or no food needs to be provided by you. This makes it especially easy to raise meat rabbits.
Speaking of meat, they provide an all-white-meat that is lower in fat, lower in cholesterol, and easier to digest than chicken, beef, or pork. In addition to being rewarded with large amounts of high quality meat for relatively little labor, they also produce excellent organic fertilizer. Their droppings, unlike other farm animals, will not burn your plants.
Rabbits are very easy to dress out. There is no plucking required, just a simple slide of the hide off the carcass. Once you know what you’re doing a rabbit can be completely dressed out and in your refrigerator in less than 10 or 15 minutes.
New Zealand and Californian rabbits are the most common meat rabbit breeds when raising meat rabbits. New Zealand comes in several different colors, but the most popular for meat purposes is New Zealand White. They can weigh up to 6 kg at full maturity but are usually slaughtered as fryers at about 8 weeks of age in the 1.8-2.2 kg range. The average litter for a doe is about 8-10 kits.
Californians are another good meat rabbit breed. If you want a color selection with this variety you’re out of luck; they only come in white. However, they have black ears, noses, feet, and tails. This breed is a little smaller than the New Zealand rabbit breed, weighing up to 4.5 kg at maturity. The litter size is also a bit smaller at 6-8 kittens or bunnies. Breeders will often crossbreed the New Zealand and Californian because they produce vigorous offspring.