Rabbit for home food production
Raising meat rabbits is a good choice for the homesteader. Though rabbit doesn’t really “taste like chicken” it is easily substituted for chicken in many recipes. Rabbit is leaner with the back providing the tasty meaty portion as opposed to the chicken’s breast.
New Zealand White
It follows that the larger breeds supply the most meat so they are the best choice for home food production. The large breeds weigh 9-11 lbs at maturity, with the does (females) often heavier than the bucks (males). This puts a 4 lb fryer on the table at 8 weeks of age.
Another variable when choosing the rabbit breed is the fur. If there is interest in using this part of the animal then the different pelt characteristics should be taken into consideration.
A suggestion for a few breeds suited to home food production include the New Zealand White, the Californian, the Champagne D’Argent, the Palomino and the Florida White.
Another aspect of home food production is the rabbit pellets. This manure is high in phosphorus which is great for flower and fruit formation. It is not considered a “hot” manure so it can be added directly to some plants and certainly put in the compost pile aiding the production of vegetable foods for the home.
The rabbit is an under-utilized protein source, especially in the U.S. where we have our love affair with beef and chicken. Large breeds are available, easy to raise and inexpensive to maintain making them an ideal candidate for home food production. On a cold winter’s eve nothing tastes better than a bowl of hearty hasenpfeffer stew!
This article is modified from a previously published article.
Julie Helms is a hobby farmer raising sheep, chickens and goats. She blogs about living with her animals at WoolyAcres.