We have rabbits!
Processing our own chicken has been so nice that we have added some rabbits to the mix. In the past, when I was younger, we raised Netherland dwarf rabbits to sell as pet rabbits. Now, we are raising them for meat.
Dad traded some chickens for a California doe and her four babies that were about four weeks old at the time. Later, he got a few at an animal swap for pretty cheap, but they have now been dispatched. The last purchase was a pair of New Zealand rabbits. The buck is white, and the doe is red and white. The doe is beautiful, and we knew when we got her she was bred.
Yesterday Dad went to check on the rabbits and make sure they had enough water, and the red and white doe had kindled earlier than we thought! She had never pulled any hair or anything. The babies had fallen through the wire, but fell in the wheel barrel we have under the cage to catch poop (for easy transport to composting), so they were fine. We put a nest box in there, and the babies are now all safe and wiggly. They are all red, so if there is a nice doe, we may keep it for our third breeder.
The four babies from the California doe are about ready for processing. I would like to have three does, and vary out their breedings so we process every…three weeks or so.
A friend who processes chickens and rabbits says you get more meat off a rabbit that would weighs the same as a chicken bc the bones are smaller. Another benefit is that the momma rabbit feeds the kits for the first few weeks of their lives, so by the time they are weaned, they are halfway to harvest. Chicks have to be fed from day one, and they have to be fed the expensive chick starter feed.
It is a little more difficult with rabbits than with chickens. Rabbits are way cuter and softer. My brother, who lives next door to my parents, is very excited about the new addition. He told Dad he would be happy to come help dress it and cook it, but he just couldn’t “help kill the cute furry things.” He has helped on butcher day with the chickens. 🙂
However, meat is expensive, and I like what I hear on the news about food less and less each day. My main thing for any project is how cost effective it is, and it appears rabbits may be inexpensive. We shall see.
The plan is I will can the rabbit. I am going to put everything in crockpots and large stock pots and boil it until the meat falls off the bone, then stuff jars with meat and broth and process. Then we have rabbit for tacos and sandwiches and lots of other delicious things.
Meet the herd