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9 Reasons Rabbits Are Better Than Chickens, Pigs & Cows For Homestead Meat

9 Reasons Rabbits Are Better Than Chickens, Pigs & Cows For Homestead Meat

Image source: Pixabay.com

Sure, rabbits are cute, but don’t let that put you off! Rabbits are also an excellent meat source. Still on the fence? Here are our top nine reasons to raise meat rabbits:

1. Clean(ish) as a whistle

Though rabbits, like most livestock, are prolific poopers, they generally choose one spot to eliminate waste in consistently. Clean-up is relatively simple, since their waste is in pellets. When kept in a wire cage 1-2 feet off the ground, urine drains away into the soil below and the pellets can be raked up and removed. Compare the mess of a rabbit to the mess of chickens, and you’ll find the rabbit looks downright fastidious.

2. Ready-to-go garden compost

Unlike chicken poop and other kinds of manure, rabbit waste is the perfect pH for the garden without the need for composting before application. If you’d prefer, you can put it in your compost, as well. It also makes a great base for compost tea!

3. Perfect for small spaces

Because of their small size, rabbits don’t require a lot of space, making them a great choice for the urban or suburban homesteader. In addition to needing very little place, rabbits very rarely make noise. Occasionally they will squeal, but that is under extreme circumstances. Typically, they are very quiet, which means the neighbors will hardly know they’re there.

4. Easy to feed

Whichever way you choose to do it, rabbits are easy to feed. The simplest method is store-bought alfalfa pellets. They can be fed yard clippings such as cut grass, weeds and even surplus veggies from the garden to supplement pellets and cut down on feeding costs. Some rabbit raisers will grow fodder, such as wheat or alfalfa grass indoors under a grow light, which can ultimately replace pellets when done properly.

The simplest way to feed rabbits is to place them in rabbit tractors, an open-bottomed cage placed directly on the ground. Let your rabbits munch to their heart’s content, and then simply move the cage when they’ve had their fill, (and trimmed the lawn!) so they have a fresh batch of grass on which to snack. You may find your growth rate will increase if you supplement with pellets, but overall rabbits do just fine dining on the go.

5. Prolific and fast-growing

The age-old joke about “breeding like rabbits” is funny for a reason. Rabbits can have anywhere from 4 to 14 babies per litter, though the more typical range is between 8-10. Gestation is a mere 28-32 days, and, depending on the breed and your particular rabbits, can be ready for the freezer between 8-10 weeks old.

6. Cleaner to process

9 Reasons Rabbits Are Better Than Chickens, Pigs & Cows For Homestead Meat

Image source: Pixabay.com

No feathers. No flimsy skin. No dunking in boiling water. While most homesteaders will admit it takes about a half hour to process a chicken, with some practice, a rabbit can be processed from start to finish in around five minutes. Think “taking-off-a-sock” simple. Get a nearby homesteader to show you how it’s done, and pretty soon you’ll be able to take care of business in record time.

7. Inexpensive

Though start-up costs aren’t necessarily small, if you take the time to hunt for deals, setting up your rabbitry doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Scour Craigslist and check local homesteading groups for materials or cages. Once you’ve got your housing set up, your cost is mostly in food, which (as we discussed above) is easy to bring down by adding in grass and other plants you already have growing in your yard to their diet.

8. Healthy meals

Rabbit meat is a very lean, high protein meat. It also is very low in fat and cholesterol, making it a healthy meat option. Although it’s a heart-healthy meat, it does require some adjustment in cooking methods. Because of the low-fat content, it needs to be cooked on low heat for a longer time in order to avoid becoming dry or rubber. While it doesn’t cook the same as chicken, it has a very similar taste and can be used in almost any recipe that originally calls for chicken or even pork. A slow cooker or pressure cooker is perfect for cooking rabbit!

9. Steady supply of fur

Certainly plenty of homesteaders believe in taking advantages of all the resources a particular animal has to offer. Well, not only do rabbits provide a steady supply of meat, but a steady supply of fur, as well. Rabbit skins can be tanned and then used for small projects individually or sewn together for larger projects. Don’t have time to tan the hides right away? Stick them in the freezer until you’re ready.

What advice would you add on raising rabbit? Share it in the section below:

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10 comments

  1. Many sources make reference to “rabbit starvation” or ” protein poisoning” because one can’t live on rabbit rich diet if the diet is not supplemented with fat to offset the rabbit leanness if other foods are themselves not a source of fat.

    Can anyone explain why rabbit fat is simply not added back into the dish and why other fats are? It seems counter intuitive not to .

    Is rabbit fat toxic or just awful tasting? Any information would be appreciated

    • We used to raise rabbits,and there was no fat,so to answer your question,you need to get your fat from another source,it’s the same with squirrels and chickens when raised properly.Store bought chicken is full of fat because of the way they are raised.Even our cows have little fat because they are on pasture with very little grain in the winter to help against our very cold winters

      • Thanks Ladybugrules and John.

        Is the blubber under the skin not edible? Or does it need to be winter time for them to develop any excess fat reserves?

        • You can raise rabbits with some fat “under the skin” but this fat percentage to overall body mass is too small to fulfill your bodies requirements. The fat (if present) is edible just not in sufficient quantity to support proper nutrition. Most meat proteins have significant fats “marbled” into the meat but rabbit (and chicken) has almost none. Supplement with other sources of fat like eggs, milk/cheese, and nuts/seeds to prevent “protein starvation” if rabbit is your main source of protein.

    • Rabbit starvation is not limited to rabbit. Lean chicken parts, 93/7 ground beef, etc if consumed to the exclusion of all else can lead to similar results. The fats that most people consume these days come from oils not animal fats (eg lard/tallow). Rabbit consumed as part of a typical modern diet is not an issue.

  2. Rabbits don’t produce fat the way chickens or other rodents do. They are naturally lean meat.

  3. If you over feed them, they will develop more fat. But if fed properly, they are very lean and you save on feed. We feed them grass or Timothy or alfalfa hay and pellets. Does seem to have a littl more fat. We take advantage of the summer grass to feed both the rabbits and goats. Some sites will tell you not to feed rabbits cut grass, but that is nonsense. I collect mowed grass through the spring and summer in feed bags and have lots of hay on hand . Just let it dry out properly so it won’t mold. Just my two cents worth!

  4. I tried posting already but it didn’t go through so I apologize if this is a repeat. In our experience, if you over feed them on pellets, they will develop more fat. But if fed properly, they are very lean. The does seem to carry a little more fat than the bucks. We feed pellets from our local feed store. Feed store prices are a lot cheaper than even places like tractor supply. We feed them grass and hay also. Some sites say not to feed them cut grass but that is nonsense. I collect mowed grass in the spring and summer in feed bags and it gives me lots of hay. Just lay it out and let it dry properly. I let it set in the yard in the sun for a couple days and turn it over several times. Be sure it’s dry before storing in the bags or it will mold. Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s free. I feed them fresh grass also. Agree on the ease of butchering as compared to chickens! As far as to if the fat is good or bad, I can’t say. There isn’t much there, so we leave it on unless it looks odd. But that usually doesn’ happen.

  5. Most people are not getting enough healthy fats to begin with. I take a high quality Omega 3 supplement to help prevent against disease. If you feel that the fat is the only issue holding you back, you can offset it in other ways. Nuts have healthy fats (Omega 3’s). They also have Omega 6 as well, but its a balanced ratio. The Standard American Diet is loaded with Omega 6 fatty acids which are pro inflammatory and is implicated in causing lots of diseases. Coconut oil is another source of quality fatty acids and has lots of health benefits. I see rabbits as being just an addition to whole picture. I myself couldn’t just stick to eating rabbit meat unless it was apocalyptic reasons.

  6. Rabbit tractors are done all the time with rabbit. But that tractor better have a slatted floor. Rabbits are consummate burrowers.

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