One of the hardest supplies to prep in large quantities is meat. Although canned meats can go a long way in a disaster, your supply is pretty much limited to what you can prepare now before disaster strikes; but what would you do in a long-term disaster? Your supplies are only going to last so long until you’re going to need to replenish them. There are various options for raising your own meats of course. Cows, chickens, pigs, there’s even a large group of people out there now that are raising quail in their suburban garages. However, for the money, space and time, you’ll be hard pressed to beat breeding meat rabbits.
Benefits of raising meat rabbits
The main reason rabbits are on the top of my list (as far as a sustainable meat supply) is the sheer volume that you can produce in a small space for relatively little investment. Each one of your does can produce anywhere from 5-8 litters every single year. Depending on the breed of rabbit, you could get around a dozen rabbits per litter. That’s nearly 100 rabbits every single year starting off with only 2 rabbits in a small hutch.
Although there is definitely a cost that goes into raising rabbits, there are also several additional benefits as well outside of meat production. If you’re raising rabbits then you’re most likely doing your fair share of gardening. Rabbit droppings are extremely beneficial to soil. Additionally, after harvesting a lot of rabbits, you’re going to have a good amount of pelts which could either be used or sold online to offset the costs of raising the rabbits.
What you’ll need to raise meat rabbits
- Rabbit hutch – This is just a small, basic storage shelter for the rabbits. You can buy these premade from numerous vendors or you could even repurpose an old TV stand to make your hutch.
- Rabbits! – There are dozens of breeds of rabbits that you can pick from. Your best option though is to look for a breed that is indigenous to your area. Some rabbits handle certain climates better than others. Having one that’s bred for your area can be beneficial for getting them through a hot summer or cold winter.
- Food – Rabbit food can get pricey depending on how many you have. The best option here to keep costs down is to actually grow your own rabbit food. Grains, and wild greens like Dandelions and Plantain are great feed for rabbits that can be grown for next to nothing.
How long does it take to raise rabbits for meat?
The process for breeding rabbits is fairly straight forward. A female rabbit (Doe) will be ready to conceive at 5 to 8 months and males (Bucks) will be ready anywhere from 6 to 9 months. It’s important to keep your does and your bucks separated until you want them to breed. To initiate the mating process, move your doe to your buck’s cage (not the other way around) and let nature take its course. About 2 weeks after the mating process, gently press your fingers on the does abdomen, if you feel a few small bumps, congratulations! Your first litter of bunnies is on the way. During the next couple weeks, prepare a small box lined with hay for the Doe to nest in.
Deciding when to harvest your rabbits is kind of a balancing act. Commercial rabbit producers typically harvest at about 5 weeks old. This is a little young in my opinion; I would rather get into the 6-7 week range just to get a little more meat out of them. This is a balancing act because you have to harvest the animal before it gets too old because the meat will be much tougher. That’s ok if you’re going to be making rabbit stew, but for most preparations, you’re going to want a tender rabbit, which is going to be right around the 6-7 week range.
If you have any specific questions about raising meat rabbits, please leave a comment below and we will respond right away!
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