Sustainability was never simpler. Rabbits taste good, require very little upkeep, and they “breed like rabbits.” We have had the rabbits for a few weeks and already have our first kits. I will not offer suggestions at this point on how to start out, as there is plenty of information out there; check youtube, books from the library, etc. I will tell you that the meat really does taste like chicken, they are lower maintenance that chickens, and they are easier to slaughter than chickens. (Think about plucking feathers… Our layer hens will be a once-in-a-blue-moon stew hen when they get old, and plucking won’t seem so bad if it doesn’t happen all the time. For our current needs, it does not pay for us to buy a plucking machine.)
So how does one actually eat something they raised? Hmmm. Do you feel better about eating something that was raised inhumanely, eating who-knows-what? I cannot afford to pay premium prices for ethically raised meat. I have financial goals! If the quality of meat, price, and sustainability is worth it to you, then you are strong enough to program your mind. In most cultures and centuries past, the idea that “you can’t eat your pets!” would have been a silly and irresponsible notion.
Michael and the girls move the rabbits to their new home. The whole endeavor is fun and educational for the whole family.
Newborn rabbits are naked, and warmly bundled in a thick nest of mama rabbit’s fur. In a few days, they will have thick coats themselves. The kits should be handled carefully to help them become tame. Caged animals need a lot of affection. The alternative is to let them run wild, but most likely (in our neck of the woods) fall prey to coyotes and hawks.
My amazing husband Michael built this wonderful rabbit hutch. He adapted plans from youtube, and from our helpful neighbor. I helped with the painting, and have the scrapes to prove it. How does one get hurt painting? Well… I did. No matter.
They did a wonderful job! It looks pretty and is functional. A hutch does not have to be this fancy. You can find the plans online or make your own.
If you have the resources, bigger is better. Give them space to run if you can. Otherwise, give them a lot of love if they have a smaller area. Kits (baby rabbits) get a quality life before they are big enough for slaughter.
Check Craigslist! We found a send hutch for free (to use when the kits are ready to leave their mama)! Google the breed of rabbit for the appropriate sized hutch.
A rabbit needs clean water and food every day. They are messy (they seem to think it is a great joke to poop and pee in their feeding dishes!) so they require daily maintenance. They love apples, carrots, and leaves. Their diet is primarily alfalfa. You can buy bags of feed at the farm supply store, or connect with local farmers for 3rd crop alfalfa and timothy grass.
We have 5 does and 1 buck. We plan to rotate the buck around, giving each doe a 3 month break in between breedings. incest is not an issue for meat rabbits. (Show rabbits are more picky as far as lineage, but we are not worried about that.)
Killing, skinning, and butchering is quick and easy. Here is one of many youtubes on the subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpDmHG_8pwE
Some of your guests will not like to know they are eating rabbit. If they assume it is chicken, it is ok not to say anything. Your picky friends will know better than to ask!
More updates to come.