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Do you raise rabbits for meat? Let’s hear your rabbit-raising tips!

Some farming friends of ours recently built new rabbit hutches and gave us their old ones. They need… work, but I think I can make them serviceable. I’ve been reading and watching everything I can about rabbits, but I was curious if anyone in our community raises rabbits for meat and could offer some lesser-known pointers?

A few things everyone should know about rabbits:

  • They’re a great source of meat. They breed like… well, rabbits, they’re easy to slaughter and easy to process.
  • However, you can starve to death eating only rabbit meat, called rabbit starvation. It needs to be combined with a starch like potatoes.
  • They don’t make much noise and they don’t take up much space.
  • Never put a buck (male rabbit) in a doe’s cage. She will attack and might bite off his bunny maker. Always put the doe in the buck’s cage.

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  • Comments (10)

    • 4

      I had a rabbit growing up that we named Monty. It was an albino white one with red eyes that looked exactly like the one from Monty Python.

      qBRrc4R_d

      And it was just as evil as the one in the movie too. It did not like being held or pet. You had to wear thick leather gloves to handle it in it’s cage.

      That thing liked run and since it was in a small cage most of the day, when we let it out it would run around like crazy and do flips and high kicks from so much energy. It also would go run and hide and was almost impossible to remove from places like under the porch. We would have to get out the garden hose and spray it out from under there. wow… looking back at what I wrote it makes it look like we were bad rabbit owners.

      We let it run free in our house sometimes so it could get exercise and not run away. It liked to go under my dad’s clothes in his closet and make a nest in there. It literally would just sit in there and shed and shed and then bundle up all that fur to make a nest. We kept cleaning out these nests but it would keep doing it. 

      All of our kitchen scraps like lettuce, strawberry tops, garden clippings went to the bunny. 

      It stayed outside during the winter. It had a nice roof over it’s raised off the ground cage, similar to the ones  you have there Josh, and we had a nice heat lamp in there to keep it warm. We put boards around the outside to act as a windbreak during the winter. It seemed happy in there and would make a nest of fur if it needed more warmth.

      My sister now has a rabbit in her adult years and she loves it. It plays with their dog and cat and cuddles with her. Much nicer than Monty was. She has a hutch with an exposed bottom that she pulls around to different areas of the yard so it always has fresh grass to eat.

      So that’s my experience with rabbits. If I was going to raise these for meat, I would look into how many calories these produce and if it’s worth all the time, hassle, and money to raise them. You also have to consider your family getting attached to them as they are very cute and fuzzy. That’s their evolutionary defense mechanism. Be too cute to eat and people won’t eat you. haha

      • 2

        Robert, 

        Great rabbit story – Monty could have been your guard rabbit! We had them on the farm. They came over from my one uncle’s farm and nested in our alfalfa bales. There was about a 100 of them. Some could be patted, but mostly they just hung out in bales and yard. Our collie gave up trying to herd them.

        Good point about the ROI calorie/nutrition. I also just posted a link for Josh re diseases. There is a nasty hemorraghic virus they can have that can be contracted by humans.

        I think after Covid-19, that is something that all of us as preppers should factor for livestock. Do the animals carry diseases that can be dangerous to humans? There are viruses jumping between species and it’s worthwhile to know the risk.

    • 3

      Hi Josh,

      An issue you may want to research before undertaking rabbits as a source of meat is diseases that humans can easily contract from, handling them (blood) or ingesting even a bit of undercooked meat. Tularemia is more commonly known, but there is also Rabbit Hemmoraghic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2). I have included the link to a Missouri website that explains these conditions very well and also the risks.

      https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/rabbit/rabbit-safety-health

      Another point about rabbits as meat, is that they are not quiet. If they are frightened they can emit a very piercing high pitched scream, and that includes picking them up to pat them. I don’t know if you have ever had to slaughter an animal but hogs and rabbits are tough. I have done chickens and turkeys on the farm, but you couldn’t get me near a kill day for hogs or rabbits.

      It is one thing to hunt and clean shoot an animal, dress it and wrap it. It is a whole other ball game to slaughter a live creature up close and personal. It’s best for you to consider this very carefully first before undertaking the animals. If you are going to farm an animal for meat, it is a good idea to participate in a kill day first to ensure that you will able to proceed with your plans.

      Whatever you decide upon, I wish you well with it. Just be safe if you pursue the rabbit idea.

      • 2

        I’ve slaughtered a few chickens at this point and I’m not bothered by it. Rabbits might be more difficult because they’re cuter, but we’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it.

      • 4

        Killing one of our animals would be hard on my wife. I bet she could do it if we really needed to, but it would take a huge emotional toll on her. Maybe even nightmares here and there for months.

        Do you think your wife or kids could do it if needs be?

      • 2

        I dunno if they physically could, but they’re not especially bothered by it. My wife helps me slaughter and process the chickens and my son usually wants to watch. I’m actually working on making that easier to do and I’ll have more to say on that soon.

        The guy who gave me the hutches has a hook on a wall he uses to slaughter the rabbits. He puts their head in to hold it in place and then yanks their feet to break the neck. You can even slaughter them with a broom handle on the neck. Rabbits are about the most fragile critter on the planet. I think the only reason they still exist is because they breed like rabbits.

        Here’s the way I look at it: either I slaughter the animal for meat, it gets killed by a predator (horrible way to go), or it dies of natural causes, in which case it’s only good for compost. Plus, some animals, like roosters, can hurt the other animals or people, and sometimes they need to go for the greater good.

    • 3

      rabbits_NCRETREAT (1)

      The wife and I process about 1.5 tons of dressedrabbit meat per year.  We sell it to resturants in 20 lb cases, about 6, sometimes 7 bunnies.

      Rabbits very good for preppers.  They eat stuff we can’t (same as goats) so don’t complete on the homestead for grains.  Very easy to raise, easy to process, much easier than chickens.  Best feed to weight ratio of any farmed animal, about 4:1.

      Any questions, let me know, going out to cut about a dozen right now.