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

Weird Things to Grow and Market on the Homestead by Bonnie Lavigne

Beet Kvass: The Miracle of Russia by Micah Janzen

Bioponics for the Homestead by Jerry Bauer

What's So Convenient About Convenience Foods? by John Wilson

Against the Grain: The Paleolithic Diet by Bonnie Lavigne

Edible Flowers: A Rose by Any Other Name Just Might be Lunch by Adrianne Masters

Grandma’s Pantry: Lost Recipes of My Childhood by Jeanette Leadingham

Making Mead: A Celebration of Our Unified Past by John Wilson

The Devil We Know - Keeping Sugar Off the Table by Barbara Bamberger Scott

Go Nuts: Squirrel Away These Savory Snacks by Doug Smith


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. 

After choosing a breed, the next step will be your choice of housing and care items for your family’s new meat production project.  A lot will depend on your climate and the area where you plan to keep the rabbits.  Rabbits can be kept inside or outside depending upon your type of cage.  It is also an important fact to remember that rabbits do better in the cold than in the heat.  This means if you live in a climate that gets very hot in summer make sure to provide plenty of shade, water, and cooling for your rabbits.  If you plan to have cages outside in the weather the best type cage is usually referred to as a hutch.  This is a wooden cage with wire sides and bottom, with a solid roof.  If you have an indoor area such as a barn or shed that will offer protection from the inclement weather then you will only require a wire cage.  



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