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The Ultimate Guide to Raising Meat Rabbits
Have you ever considered raising meat rabbits? They are an excellent, nearly self-sustaining meat source, perfect for any small homestead. Before you totally dismiss it, thinking rabbits are too cute to even think about eating, just take a few things into consideration.
Benefits of raising meat rabbits
- Have a great feed to meat conversion
- Are Quiet
- Can be kept in relatively small areas
- Don’t smell bad if managed properly
- Produce lots of manure, which is garden gold
- Have valuable pelts that can be tanned and sold
- Produce excellent, healthy meat
- Have a short growing period so you can harvest sooner than most animals
- Have a short (30-day gestation)
- Start breeding in as little as 6 months
- Breed “like rabbits”
Meat rabbit basics
Rabbits aren’t picky and do well in many different environments. They do amazingly well in the cold but can overheat in the summer. You can raise them in hutches or colonies. Which makes them a perfect addition if you are limited on space.
Meat rabbits thrive on commercial pellets. You can add hay to their diet if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. The commercial pellets give them everything that they need. This means they are relatively inexpensive to feed. And their feed-to-meat conversion is excellent. You can, as a treat, give them vegetables or even weeds from the garden. Fodder is great to give them as well. Just introduce a little new food at a time to avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.
Rabbits can be raised in wire cages or colonies. I prefer to raise mine in colonies. It just seems to mimic nature a little more than having them in small cages. Plus we aren’t exactly limited on space, so it just works. Just make sure that however you have them contained, make sure they don’t get out. We have lost quite a few baby rabbits to our very own cat, when the babies got out of the colony.
My biggest advice is to not name your rabbits, except maybe your main breeders. It’s just a mindset thing, but I have found that the animals around here that get names, tend to be harder to butcher.
If you would like to learn more, check out this post.