Rabbit Meat – the Other White Meat?
Eating rabbits is not a new concept, in fact people have been eating this meat for centuries. As far back as when food source was from hunting only, rabbits were always available. It was during the Depression that rabbit meat became the option that kept many from starving. Believe it or not, rabbits are a great meat producer for homesteaders and even businesses. Raising rabbits for meat is coming back, because they are discovering so many benefits to the meat and the ease at which it is to produce.
In many countries rabbit is considered a gourmet dish, even though you don’t see it on the menus of restaurants in the United States. But eating rabbit is not new to Americans, in fact it didn’t really go out of vogue until after the Depression. One of the reasons believed that Americans turned off to rabbit meat as a staple in their diets is because it reminds them of time when food was in short supply. It became the poor man’s way of life.
Although rabbit meat is not found in the supermarkets, it doesn’t mean it isn’t still served in the States. Homesteaders are starting to understand and appreciate this fact and are turning to rabbits as a meat source for their own farms.
Benefits to Rabbit Meat
Rabbit meat has less fat, lower in calories, higher in protein, less sodium and a heart-healthy meat. Compared to most meats, rabbit meat is high in protein. Research shows that rabbit meat has a higher percentage of digestible proteins for the human diet. They have less fat, because they are higher in muscle mass in comparison to body weight. It is also higher in calcium than most other meats. Therefore eating rabbit is actually healthier than other readily available meats in the market.
It DOES Taste Like Chicken
Rabbit meat doesn’t have a very strong flavor much like chicken. Tenderness of the meat varies with age, younger rabbits are going to be tender, but flavor comes with age. The flavor of rabbit slaughtered older in age will have more flavor due to the higher quantity of internal fat in the muscle.
Rabbits Raised for Meat
If you are considering raising rabbits for food, the housing and diet need to be taken into consideration. Rabbits raised in rabbitries have a higher portion of white muscle fiber giving the meat a lighter color. They modify the diets for higher yield and better meat quality. Diets with too much roughage will overdevelop the digestive tract and decrease the meat yield at slaughter.
Rabbits with a higher growth rate who receive a balanced feed are the best to raise for meat production. The Giant breeds are very popular for meat production. The meat yield on rabbits is actually higher than that of chickens, due to the higher meat to bone ratio of the rabbit. There is more edible meat on a rabbit which is why it is actually a better producer than chickens for meat.
One of the major benefits to raising rabbits over chickens is they are great breeders. “Doing it like rabbits” didn’t become slang for nothing. Rabbits are great breeders and easier to maintain than other meat animals.
Rabbit might become the other white meat on your kitchen table one day. It is coming back into popularity and more widely accepted than in previous years. If you are considering starting your own farm, consider raising rabbits. They have many uses and the demand is growing in the market.
Additional Resources on Rabbit Meat Production
- New Zealand White Rabbit Domestic Use Information (via Wikipedia)
- The Guide to Raising and Breeding Rabbits for Meat by Mother Earth News
- Modern Farmer asks Are Rabbits the New Super Meat?
For a more detailed look at the health benefits of New Zealand White rabbit meat, you can also visit our nutritional information page.
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