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The Rabbit Farming Renaissance

Pastured meat rabbits at Polyface Farm in Virg...

Pastured meat rabbits at Polyface Farm in Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not since WWII have so many Americans turned to rabbits as a viable, environmental friendly food source.  And, why not?  The nutritional attributes of rabbit meat far surpass all of the usual suspects– which include beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, and veal.  The environmental footprint of raising rabbits is minuscule compared to the rest of the pack as well.

For contemporary consumers, the moral implications of eating meat show that it is easier to provide a rabbit with a good and dignified life compared to any other systems such as the feed nightmares that you hear of many other animals enduring.  Let’s look at some facts about rabbits.

The Nutritional Value of Rabbit Meat

Nutritionally, rabbits win that race every time when compared to other meats. One ounce of rabbit meat contains less calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates.  On the big ticket item of protein, rabbit weighs in at a whopping 9 grams per ounce, while its closest competitor, chicken, posts 7 grams per ounce.  Rabbit has a couple of other uniquely appealing tricks up its nutritional sleeve in the way of minerals with an abundance of B-3, B-12, selenium, and phosphorus.

The most impressive statistics in contrast to all other meats is it is known as the cleanest meat for two reasons.  To begin with, rabbits may be harvested when they are just three months old, and the younger the animal, the more nutritious and tender the meat.  Two, rabbits are the only meat animal that is rarely given medicated foods and are never supplemented with hormones in their diet.

Environmental Benefits of Raising Meat Rabbits

Environmentally, the rabbit is the winner again.  Rabbit poop is sought out by gourmet gardeners for its properties.  Unlike horse, cow, or chicken manure that needs to compost or age for months, it is considered a ‘cold’ fertilizer which can be applied to a garden immediately.  Many people who raise rabbits cultivate an earthworm garden directly under their hutches, where the poop collects.

This can become an additional business of selling worms or the worms can be transmitted to gardens for additional enrichment of the soil.  If necessary, rabbits do not have to eat grain.  Instead they can be fed greens off various vegetables in the garden. One does not require acres of land that must be watered and maintained such as most other meat animals. In just 1/70 of an acre, 1,000 lbs. of rabbit meat can be produced in a year.

Additional Considerations

One might think that because rabbits are so small, how could much meat come from such a little creature.  Believe the old adage, ‘breed like rabbits’, because it is true. One ten pound bunny can produce 300 lbs. of meat a year, and one mature male and female rabbit can feed a family of four two meals a week for a year.

Rabbit milk is so rich that in just the first six days of life, a baby rabbit’s body weight doubles.  Compare this to pigs, 14 days, or calves, 47 days.  These statistics make rabbits the most efficient and low cost animal to raise.

Besides the meat industry, the fur of rabbits may be harvested and used, sold or bartered. Rabbit wool is lighter and warmer than any other animal wool.  From start to finish, it is worth giving the art of rabbitry a consideration as a sustainable, comprehensive and low cost meat source.     

 

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