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Friday, November 9, 2012

Meat Rabbits

The number one question people ask when they find out I have more rabbits than your average pet person is "Do ya eat 'em?" usually accompanied by a leer.  The smirk is quickly wiped off their face when I reply "Sometimes."

For some reason, it seems to be the hobby of some folks, old men especially, to ask that question as if it's outrageous or upsetting- and to some people yes, it is upsetting to think about eating Fluffy Nugget.  I don't understand the slightly sadistic desire to try to upset someone, but whatever.

Rabbits are, first and foremost, livestock.  Yes, they make wonderful pets and companions.  Yes, we show them.  Ultimately, they are livestock and any rabbit, no matter how big or how small can be utilized for meat.  Rabbits can be raised inexpensively and in small areas where you aren't able to keep a flock of chickens or a steer.  They grow quickly and can be prolific.  Rabbit meat is a good, lean meat that can be substituted for chicken in any regular recipe.

Any rabbit can be used as a meat rabbit.  Some are more suited for it- for instance, Californians and New Zealands (or a crossbreed of the two) are some of the most popular and common meat rabbits.  Florida Whites are an excellent choice for those that want a high yield of meat, larger litters and a quick grow rate, but don't have a lot of space for the bigger breeds.   My own Jersey Woolies, though a small "fancy" breed, can be used as meat, though they have a less efficient grow out rate and they are significantly smaller than a "meat breed".

So why talk about rabbits and their dual purpose?

I often get asked why I don't just find pet homes for any rabbit that isn't show or brood quality.   Jersey Woolies require a little more upkeep than your average pet, because of their beautiful wool.  That makes it harder to find suitable homes and good pet homes are already scarce as it is.

A second consideration is- what should I do with rabbits that won't make good pets?  Should I pretend they are sweet and non aggressive? Should I sell a nasty rabbit to a small child, knowing it will bite them, scratch them and make them miserable?  Is that fair to the rabbit or to the new family?  No.   Should I dump "my problem" in the pound every single time I get an unacceptable rabbit? No

The simplest answer is one I've already mentioned.  Rabbits a good, healthy meat.  It tastes delicious and it is an excellent way to homestead.  I know that every rabbit I process is treated well, fed, loved and kept in clean conditions until it is utilized.

-Kristen

1 comment:

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