Deciding to raise your own animals for food is exciting. If you’re a prepper, it’s also a great way to prepare for a disaster that affects the local food supply. Raising meat is a great way to use your backyard for good—plus, you’ll know where your protein is coming from.
Most people start by raising chickens, but there are some other small meat options to consider as well. Rabbits are a common choice and, as you’ll see, they come with plenty of benefits. Here are five reasons preppers should raise rabbits for meat.
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1. Limited Space Needed
While chickens and ducks need quite a bit of outdoor run space, rabbits only need a small amount of square footage. Many homesteaders use large cages to house their rabbits together in one area of the property. Most cages can be stacked on top of each other, and you can raise a lot of animals in a limited amount of space.
While some homesteaders keep their rabbits in these cages, it is good for them to have some access to a larger outdoor area. However, you can easily create one outdoor space for 1-2 rabbits and switch them in and out of the area for outdoor breaks. If your homestead has little outdoor space right now, it would be best to start raising rabbits due to their limited space needs.
2. They Breed Quickly
When raising rabbits for meat, it is important to have a steady supply of animals to raise. Rabbits breed very quickly and can have kits about 30 days after breeding.
It is essential to breed rabbits together that are the same breed but not related to reduce the chance of breeding issues. Most rabbits breed pretty easily, and a doe can have many litters throughout the year.
3. The Meat Is Healthy
Most homesteaders prefer to slaughter rabbits anywhere from 2-6 months old depending on the breed and size. Choosing larger breeds, such as Rex or New Zealand White, that will finish at around 8-10 pounds is best for roasting. These breeds offer a lot of meat in a relatively short amount of time and are easy to raise given their docile mannerisms.
Rabbit meat is also very healthy in terms of the protein that it provides. It has the highest percentage of protein ounce per ounce than other common meats and is low in fat. Rabbit meat can be used in many of your favorite dishes and tastes a lot like chicken.
4. They’re Very Quiet
If your homestead is within a county or city ordinance, there may be some limitations to the noise level that your animals can make. Rabbits are very quiet and usually don’t make much noise at all.
A male rabbit will thump their legs during breeding or to show emotion, but that is about all of the noise that you’ll hear from a rabbit hutch. Raising rabbits for meat is a great option for those smaller homesteads where noise levels could be an issue.
5. They’re Efficient Feeders
Compared to other homestead animals, rabbits are very efficient in the amount of feed they require. Four pounds of food will put one pound of meat on a rabbit.
In contrast, it takes seven pounds of food to put one pound of meat on a cow. This means that rabbits are much more efficient in how quickly they grow, and their feed doesn’t cost much. Rabbits also will eat fruit and vegetable table scraps, which can cut down on the feed bill as well.
Common Meat Rabbit Breeds
While there are over 300 breeds of rabbits, there are different sizes and kinds that make good meat rabbits for the homestead.
Stay away from any mini-sized rabbits that only mature at about 5 pounds since their dressed weight will be much lower. Giant options that grow at around 20 pounds are also available, but they are less commonly used for meat rabbits given their size.
New Zealand Whites
As the most commonly used rabbit for meat, New Zealand Whites have proven their ability to grow well. Their mature size is usually between 9-12 pounds, and their meat is commonly used across the country in most rabbit dishes.
If you’re looking for a multi-purpose rabbit for both meat and pelts, Rex rabbits are an excellent way to go. Not only do these rabbits offer a lot of meat, but they also have plush fur. This makes Rex rabbits a good option for selling the kits to others or saving the hides to make other items.
Known for their beautiful satin colored fur, Satins are both pretty and efficient in their meat production. Satins usually end up around 10 pounds at maturity and have an attractive coat that can be used for many purposes. They also come in a variety of colors, making them an excellent option to sell to others.
This great meat rabbit was first bred to include their beautiful coat that highly resembles that of a chinchilla. It is a great multi-purpose breed that also offers a high bone to meat ratio. American Chinchillas mature around 9-12 pounds and are known for their docile temperaments and super soft feel.
This tried and true meat rabbit is a mixed breed from New Zealand Whites and American Chinchilla. They are easy to spot, given their mostly white fur with black spots. Californians finish out around 8-12 pounds and are known for their solid meat.
There are many reasons preppers should consider raising rabbits for meat. Not only is a great way to supply your family with protein, but rabbits take up little space and are pretty docile. They don’t require much and are good starter animals.
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