Are you interested in FOOD?  Then you might find one of these Homestead.org articles handy:

Soup's On! by Laurie Holcomb

Homemade Applesauce: Accept No Substitutions by Barbara Bamberger Scott

Hooked on Sugar: Kicking the Habit by Megan Kutchman

Dutch-oven Cooking by Catherine Lugo

Vegetable Gardening: Your Next Step to Self-Sufficiency by Doug Smith

Fermented Food: Beneficial Bacteria for the Health-conscious Homesteader by Karyn Sweet

The Humble Spud – From Inca to Ireland to Idaho by Barbara Bamberger Scott

The Homestead Cookbook

Making Cheese is Fun  by Allena Jackson

Manna From On High: High-altitude Homesteader Bakes by Gin Getz

Understanding the Blues: A Guide to Gorgonzola by Dustin Eirdosh

 

 

 

Raising Rabbits

Like Pulling Food Out of a Hat

by Regina Anneler

Everyone has a few memories of Elmer Fudd out hunting “wabbits” during rabbit season.  If you raise your own rabbits you never need to worry about when that season is.  Many of us dream and work toward a more self sufficient lifestyle, preferring to raise our own food and provide a healthier, more natural diet for our families.  Raising rabbits can also be a true family project, as they are small and so easy to care for that they can even be maintained by young children.  If you’re interested in providing a healthier meat source for your family than you can normally get at your local grocer, then this article will definitely be of interest to you.  Rabbit is one of the meats highest in protein content; it is delicious and nutritious and it is also one of the easiest and least expensive types of livestock to raise and process.  

The first fact that many people look at when considering raising their own rabbits for meat is what kind of return they will get for their efforts.  Basically, it’s rather simple—the average, everyday corner grocers do not normally carry rabbit on their meat counters.  If, by chance, they do, then you will find it to be much more expensive than the other meat cuts that are regularly available.  Purchasing rabbit meat commercially is so expensive because it’s not as readily obtainable as most other commercial meats in the U.S.  When considering today’s health-conscious consumer, rabbit meat is also leaps and bounds above the average hamburger.  For example, rabbit meat is very high in protein at about 20%; it’s very lean with only about 10% fat compared to the average chicken meat at 11%.  The calorie value in rabbit is approximately 795 calories where chicken has about 810 calories.  To top it all off rabbit is all white meat and low in cholesterol to boot.  This type of nutritional information is one of the main reasons that many people are checking into the why and how of raising rabbits. 

Now that you have an idea of why rabbit meat is gaining in popularity on the family table, the next question is how you will go about raising them to butcher.  The first step when deciding to raise your own rabbits for meat is to pick a breed type. It is important to choose a breed that is bred for meat and not a hobby or pet type rabbit.  The most common breeds chosen for meat production are the New Zealand White and the Californian. Also used for meat production by some include Champagne D'Argent, New Zealand Red, Rex, American Chinchilla.  Flemish Giants can be used but because of the amount of bone they are more often used to crossbreed with the New Zealand White and the Californian. 

The average meat production rabbit matures at around 10 -12 pounds, of course Flemish Giant crosses might be just a little heavier.  Keep this in mind when selecting the rabbits you use as your breeders, so as to be careful not purchase a mini type breed by mistake. 

My personal choice for a meat rabbit is the New Zealand White, however, we also raise Californians and a couple of Flemish Giant Cross.  The reason I prefer the New Zealand is the skin of this breed will more easily separate from the meat than other breeds.  This makes for a faster and easier butcher which counts for a lot if butchering several rabbits in a single day. 

  Continued on page 2   >

 

 

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