Raising Rabbits for meat

Its taken me quite a while to sit down and write this post. One of the reasons is that I wasn’t sure how people would react when they see that we will be eating our rabbits.
I have Lindsey from Northwest Backyard Veggies to thank for giving me the nudge in the right direction. Lindsey raises her own chickens and rabbits for meat and reading her blog has been inspirational (chickens for food are on my list for next year, at the moment it’s just eggs)

My husband use to have many rabbits which he breed mostly for the pet trade. At the time we never considered eating our rabbits and when someone mentioned it we just laughed it off. Little did we realise that nearly 2 years later we would be back in the breeding game, but this time for food. We are starting off small, just one pair of breeders to supply our own family. Maybe at a later stage we might get another female or 2 and sell to family and friends. Perhaps a future business venture for my eldest son?

We have weighed the pros and cons and we have decided that it is a step in the right direction
Here is my reasoning:

  • Our rabbits will be well looked after and have a happy home
  • They will not be confined in tiny cages where they can’t even take one hop
  • They will be fed good food, have access to lots of hay and fresh water, and be fed fresh produce from my garden.
  • When the time comes, they will be slaughtered in the most humane way possible and we will be grateful that they gave our family a meal.
  • Because we live in the city, we cannot raise cows or sheep, but rabbits are small and quiet and easy to care for. It just makes frugal sense.

Just watching this video gives us all the reasons we need to raise our own rabbits

After the decision was made, our first step was to buy some rabbit meat from a butcher and see if we actually liked the stuff. So we called a few specialty butchers and eventually found one who stocked rabbit. You won’t go finding rabbit in any old retail shop here in Durban. So off hubby went to the butcher to buy the rabbit, when he got there he phoned me to tell me how much it cost and whether he should still get it. R200 (about US$22) for a rabbit that was under 2 kg!! I told him to get it as we were going to consider this an investment, if we liked it we would never have to pay these prices again and our meat would be fresh and organic.

That afternoon we had roast rabbit and with the leftovers we had a lovely stew. The meat was tasty, a bit gamey, but still very good.

Our next step was to get our breeding pair. We decided on New Zealand rabbits, which are the most popular for food and got ourselves quite a young pair.

So let me introduce you to our pair of white New Zealands, they do not have names yet, and I am not sure if we will name them at all.

Getting both to stand still at the same time is not easy

So comfortable with me (even in his cage) he is nearly falling asleep

Their large area to hop around as they feel, and a shelter from the elements

They still have not breed as of yet, but we are expecting their first litter in the next couple of months.

My last appeal to those who think it might not be right of us to eat our own animals is that, if you eat meat, an animal is going to die. So why not know that that animal was brought up and slaughtered in the best possible way to provide your family with a healthy and nutritious meal. Do you know where your meat comes from and how those animals were treated before reaching your table?

One Comment

  1. I applaud your decision. Native peoples used to revere and thank their animals for their nutrition. A well-cared for animal with a good healthy happy life (and only one bad day) is the most humane way to go. Honestly, don't we all hope for that kind of life? Looking forward to more posts on your rabbit project.

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