“Meat” the Rabbits

I was going to do a post titled “Meet the chickens and guineas” cause that’s what we got this week, but then I realized I should introduce the rabbits first.  We have been raising rabbits for meat for almost a year now.  It sounds crazy to a lot of people, I know.  Rabbits are cute, they are pets, and who eats rabbit anyway?  Why meat rabbits… lots of reasons, but here they are:

  1. We want to know where our meat comes from, what is really in it, and how the animal lived.  We are very much anti-concentrated-animal-feed-operation (anti-CAFO).  That’s where meat that we buy at a grocery store comes from – places where animals who have needs and feel pain are treated like objects.  I don’t think I have to tell anyone what that means. Not only does it mean the animal had an awful life, but it also means that it wasn’t a healthy animal.  There are many food-borne illnesses that are caused by animals being raised in terrible conditions and being fed diets that are not-species appropriate.  In addition to that, there are all kinds of dyes, preservatives, etc added to conventional CAFO-raised meat.  Sure, you can buy “organic” or “free-range” whatever, but when the system is SO corrupt, it’s hard to trust that buying $6.99/lb chicken rather than $2.99/lb chicken really is making a difference, which brings me to #2…
  2. PRICE.  Since our family (specifically HS) cannot eat meat that has been dyed or had crap added to it, we have to choose between the expensive “organic” meat or no meat at all.  Personally I have been a vegetarian in the past for ethical reasons and I have since decided that my body does need meat and I want to eat meat, as long as it is humanely raised.  (Yes we do eat junk meat occasionally, we’re not super strict about it.)  Raising meat rabbits costs considerably less than buying organic chicken or beef.
  3. So why rabbit?  Because we could.  When we were living within city limits with a small backyard, chickens, cows, pigs, fish, and whatever other “conventional” meats most people eat were completely out of the question.  We couldn’t legally or logistically raise anything else.  Rabbits are easy to raise, easy to process, and taste just like chicken (plus healthier).  We raise Crème D’Argent rabbits which are a heritage breed.  They grow a little more slowly than commercial New Zealand Whites, but I really like the idea of preserving the heritage breeds.  They have really nice coats and docile personalities as well.

So we’ve been raising meat rabbits on a small scale for almost a year.  It’s not been our only meat source by any means, but it was a good start to growing our own meat which we are planning to do a lot more of here.

Temporary rabbit housing - the barn needs some work before we can move them in.

Temporary rabbit housing – the barn needs some work before we can move them in.

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LD

2 thoughts on ““Meat” the Rabbits

  1. Loving the blog, just caught up tonight. Great start on the farm and documenting the humor and effort entailed. I’m interested to know if you will be making rabbit bone broth as well as offering the liver, kidney, heart etc. Also what is the name for rabbit fat? Schmaltz, Lard, Tallow I know but for rabbits? I’m assuming the organ meats will be beneficial or do you think the caged aspect of raising rabbit meat might lower the benefit? I’m a proponent of beef, lamb, and chicken bone broth but am always looking to diversify. Fish broth is good but the bones are so tiny and I hate to waste meat if it dries out while on a ‘low and slow’ so I haven’t investigated. As far as SFNC, your pre-barn rabbit habitats are impressive. Love the pics! TBT(uesday), I adopted an angora from a friend while living in Boston as her kids (unfortunately) didn’t really groove on it after the novelty wore off. Looking back I don’t know what I was thinking except that at the time I thought the furry creature would ground me a bit. This bunny had suffered from snuffles as a baby (bunny vertigo) and as a result had one ear vertical most of the time. The mohawk look reminded me of a favorite 80’s TV show, The A Team, so I affectionately renamed her Lil T. She was eventually adopted by a family in NH who had small children and planned to keep her, and other rabbits, as pets in a free range-ish set up. Sadly, during one of these jaunts the rabbit ate a poisonous mushroom. He now rests in peace in The Granite State. That’s life. You try to do ‘the right thing’ by freeing a rabbit from city life and she meets her maker more rapidly. I hope Little T will forgive me. I think she would be proud to know that my family is raising her brethren kindly and for a higher purpose of health, kindness and preservation. So, let’s raise a glass to you and all the rabbit lore to come. Proud of you both LD and TD.

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  2. I don’t know if there is a specific name for rabbit fat. I do make broth from marrow bones and the remains of roasted chicken and rabbit. I use the broths for cooking but have heard about the benefits of consuming broth frequently – just haven’t really gotten to it yet 🙂 Rabbits are very lean. Most of what fat they do have is in strips down their sides and I tend to discard it. I do render beef and chicken fat and usually have more than I can use, but I will probably save the rabbit fat next time since I need to stock up again. I have tried rabbit liver and wasn’t a huge fan, but I’ve been saving the organs in the freezer to use as pet food. I want to switch the cats and dog over to raw meat diet as soon as we are raising more of our own meat. We have the breeding rabbits in cages but the babies we use for meat will be in tractors from the time of weaning til butchering. The rabbits do have a very natural diet even in the cages since I forage weeds for them from our property and feed local orchard hay. I do hope to set up rabbit colonies at some point for the breeding rabbits. They would be secured “rooms” or stalls in the barn where small groups of rabbits can live together and be able to dig and run as rabbits should. I’m sorry about Lil T:-(

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