Rabbits from start to finish

by The Mid-west Mrs

I had rabbits when I was young but only as pets. Our children had rabbits growing up, again only as pets. We now have rabbits but they are for food. You have most likely a basic understanding of rabbits so this article focuses on how we manage our rabbit husbandry. We maintain 3 does and two bucks.

Getting your rabbits

It is not so much where to look but what to look for. Uncrowded caging, clean fur, no drainage from eyes or noses. No smeared loose looking poo in the cage bottoms and clean food/water bowls.

Check the fur for parasites, look in the ears to make sure they are clean. And no rabbits sneezing allowed!

Check for the sex. It is not too hard once you know how. Here is a link.

We found our rabbits on Craig list. The young boy wanted $6.00 for each and since everything looked good I was happy to hand him the money. We brought home one white buck and one brown brindle doe at about 10 weeks of age.

Transport them in a cardboard box or small dog kennel. Place hay in the container if possible because they will pee and poo even on the shortest drive. Do not use newspaper. They may eat it and cause blockage. Take note of the weather and road conditions too, you don’t want to transport them in the back of your pick up if it is freezing outside or you have a 4×4 road to drive on.

Plan on quarantining any new rabbits you bring in from your current stock of bunnies for at least 10-14 days. Keep them as far away as possible during this time.

Here is some info on breeds http://www.arba.net/breeds.htm Maybe you will want Angoras for spinning their wool? Be careful, they require lots of grooming too!

Housing your rabbits

Colony or protected caging? I have never utilized colony style housing of rabbits so I will only discuss protected caging.

Your rabbits need to stay dry, cool and safe from predators. A portion of their cage needs to be covered or needs to be under a lean-to, in a building or such. It needs to be high enough to stay out of reach of raccoons and coyotes. Could you imagine every night being visited by a beast that is trying to get you?

We think we have a pretty good solution. Our rabbits are housed in a “dog trot” shed. This is a long rectangular outbuilding with solid doors on each end. On the entry door end DH also put a screen door on the inside made of poultry wire and wood frame. On the other end it can open up into a fully enclosed chain link fence area. (Think dog kennel). Since the fencing butts up against the shed the 4th wall of fencing was put to use as the top. A prop pole sits in the middle underneath for support for when it snow or rains as we have it covered. We have strong white tarps on the top, north and east sides. It is open on the south while the building is on the west. We can close the door between the shed and the “yard” when we want but rarely do.

This yard serves several purposes. The bunnies do get to run in it but mostly it is so we can pick grass and food for them in bad weather without getting wet and to have a cooler spot for them in a hot weather spell.

While we do employ frozen bottles for them when necessary in a grid down time we plan to just turn the cages over on the door side with the door open and the rabbits will be able to dig down in the ground to get cool. I have seen some amazing excavation work done by them. You do need to be careful in not letting them dig too close to the edge of the fencing.

The cages are one per bunny and are set up on rail shelves attached to the walls of the shed. On these rails are triangle-shaped sticks with the cages sitting on top of them. This gives the cages support and yet leaves almost no area for urine or droppings to collect. Round rails would be best also for the same reason. We have regular board rails and I do have to clear them from time to time. Some folks prefer to hang their cages instead. I don’t because I do not like the idea of them swinging as I work around them.

Do plan on scrubbing cages at least quarterly because rabbit urine has a lot of calcium in it that builds up on the wire and when mixed with shedding fur can make for some crud accumulating on the wire.

Make sure your cages allow for your bunnies to stretch out, take a hop or two and to stand up on their hind feet. The floor must allow the droppings to pass through and it should be at least ½” grid. ¼”grid is too small for most meat rabbits. Doors should be big enough to allow nest boxes through.

You can buy your cages or make your cages. We have done both and have lots of different sizes and configurations.

We find we clean out from under the cages about every 2 weeks and since the floor of this building is wood (wish it was dirt) we use straw or dried grass to help soak up moisture from the urine. In never gets too smelly and generally does not have any fly problems.

By the way, we keep our bucks caged across the shed from the does. When we had them side by side it seemed we had less breeding success and smaller litters. Now that there is distance between them we have better results. Maybe this has something to do with the does being induced ovulators.

Feeding your rabbits In order for rabbits to help sustain you in a SHTF situation you would want to feed them as cheap and as easily as possible. We have chosen to go as natural as possible. We feed a lot of grass, weeds, garden leavings, brambles, herbs, tree twigs and sometimes a little fruit or dried bread (treats!) and grains. We still feed some pellet food regularly but very little.

Grains are chicken scratch (unmedicated) , grass seed heads, corn, sunflowers and other kinds of seed. These are fed sparingly, only about a tablespoon a day in the winter to all and only to lactating does and growing kits otherwise. . Check out this link. Grain will put fat on your rabbits . You will see it when you butcher. Too much fat can make it hard on your breeding program though

I think this year we will use the gutter gardening technique we learned from the Wolf Pack. We will install the gutters on the chain link and therefore have even more available food growing space for the bunnies close at hand. You gotta just love being able to pick fresh food in the rain and not get wet!

If you use green food introduce it slowly over a two-week period to your bunnies. You need to give their gut time to develop the correct bacteria for digesting new foods. In doing so I have never ended up having any trouble with diarrhea . If you do then back off the forage for a day and give a saltine cracker or a small piece of dry bread. Keeping them on both bagged food and green food can help out in case one or the other food source gives out. You need to make sure you feed both types at least every other day to keep them used to it.

I look for food and water bowls at thrift shops and garage sales. This saves a lot of money because you will want at least 3 times the number of bowls you think you need. I will not pay $5.00 per bowl at a pet store or farm outlet! The soup bowls that look like a coffee cup are great. They are squat, heavy and don’t tip easy. We prefer crocks or bowls because rabbits spray urine and it is a pain to disassemble the hook on feed bins to clean them.

In the winter fill the water bowls only half way full. This saves room in the crock for another filling later and less switching out of the frozen bowls. Do the watering first and while the bunnies are tanking up go about your other hutch chores. Re-check the water levels just before leaving. This has worked out so well in the winter for us. Bring full frozen bowls back to the warmth of the house to thaw out in a bucket.

Breeding your rabbits

We breed only in the spring and fall. Some of this is in consideration of food availability, rest for the does, and heat tolerance in the summer.

I sometimes breed does back to back litters depending on how many kits they had. Every doe we have had has been a great first time mother. I do believe that tendency can be genetic and also on making sure your does are between 8 and 11 months old for the first breeding (meat rabbits). Any earlier or later the physiological and mental states of the rabbit may inhibit success. This is my own findings, not scientific in basis. It seems to work for me so I go with it.

I also breed the does about one week apart from each other so I am not overwhelmed at birthing time or butchering time.

I let the buck have 2 successful attempts in the morning of the day of breeding and then again about 4 hours later. This can take as little as a couple of minutes. I have found that the doe seems “entranced” immediately after the act and that this is an easy time to get the doe picked up and back to her cage. Wait too long and she will be up and running again. Here is another link for detailed information.

For replacement stock I choose from our spring litters. This give good grow out feeding on natural foods readily available at that time. We also have “baby savers” this is a miniature fence wall we put around the opening of the nest box to catch baby bunnies if they catch a ride out of the nest box on Mom before they are old enough to come out. This keeps them from crawling to the side of the cage and out between the wires to fall on the floor.

Butchering your rabbits

Ok, so you know the whole purpose of this is to be able to raise rabbits for food. This does mean you have to end their life by killing them.

I do not handle our rabbits a lot unless I am picking replacements for breeding stock. I do not give them names. Everyone in the family knows they are raised for food.

On the chosen morning I offer prayers for the rabbits. I ask that I be swift, deliberate and gentle all at the same time. I do not take this action lightly. They have not eaten since last night and I do not remove them from their mother.

I choose to break their neck/skull by stepping on the head and pulling (a good swift yank) upwards with the back legs. This is similar to the broomstick method but only requires one person. They will twitch and quiver for a few moments but they are already gone. I take them back to the kitchen sink and cut the throat for blood drainage and proceed to skin, gut and process the meat.

More links this is all words, scroll down towards the bottom of the page.

This is a video yes, graphic content.

One last note…it is a little unnerving to sometimes see a heart on the kitchen counter still with a heartbeat but that just proves that the saying “it’s just nerves” is true.

Cooking your rabbits

Rabbits have been a Godsend to me. I am allergic to chicken but with rabbit and rabbit broth I can still have a lot of Chicken type dishes. Rabbit can even masquerade as burger and sausage. Hoppy Joes anyone? The DH makes a great Hoppy Joe. A little Worcestershire sauce and beef bouillon cubes mixed with browned ground rabbit in the basic tomato paste sauce with some spices and there you go!

He also makes a chili dog sauce and we make Italian sausage for pizza too. One of the best rabbit dishes though is an adapted recipe for General Tsao’s Chicken. Just substitute rabbit and enjoy! Here’s the link.

I can rabbit both with the bones and without, I make broth too. We make and freeze sausage. We save the ribcages for making soups/broth. The rest can easily be used for almost any dish.

Now most of our rabbit we pre cook in the pressure cooker, even for fried rabbit. The exceptions would be for ground rabbit recipes and sausage. The DH doesn’t get to eat much chicken anymore because of me and pressure cooking it seems to bring the texture closer to what he thinks store-bought chicken is like. It’s the least I can do for him.

So here it all is. I’m sure I have left a thing or two out but if any body has questions just ask . Hopefully this will give those who want to try to raise rabbits some needed information and please remember to take these ideas and adapt them to your own situations, whether it is back yard suburbia, farm or apartment.

Note: M.D. recommends – Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits, 4th Edition.

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Comments

  1. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Good article, can you go a little more in depth on the “whys” of keeping new ones seperated from your stock for the 2 week quarintine is needed?

    • Illness
      Rabbits as well as any new animal can harbor illness with out showing symptoms at the beginning of being sick and transmit it. This is an insurance to keeping your other stock healthy while making sure your new stock still is 2 week later.

      • Mid-west Mrs explanation is right on target. I just want to stress that this is true of any kind of livestock. And if you can keep them quarantined a little longer, it’s not going to hurt anything. You need to make sure you dont cross contaminate as you care for them. It’s easy to transfer a pathogen on your hands, feet, or clothes.

        • Matt in Oklahoma says:

          Thanks, thats what I thought, it’s just a general quarintine but I wanted to make sure

  2. Great article. I fix my rabbit by parboiling it instead of pressure cooking it and then frying it. Nothing better than fried rabbit, gravy made from flour browned in the remaining cooking grease and milk, mashed potatoes, and/or homemade biscuits. Rabbits can be fixed in hundreds of ways and better for you than chicken, turkey, beef or pork. Rabbit roasted over an open fire and basted in olive oil really makes a camping trip special.

  3. Hi MW Mrs –
    Really nice, well-documented and thorough article. A few summers ago, when I was looking into getting a permit to house chickens, which I was dismayed to discover are not allowed in my district, I noticed that conveniently my town does not require a permit to house rabbits, nor are there restrictions on their numbers! So when my prepper friends (really family, though not related) and I got together last summer to make plans on our future support of each other with what resources we currently have available, I was relegated the task of raising rabbits (for both food and warm fur), while one family raises chickens (eggs & meat) and the other will raise both chickens and goats (hair for yarn, meat, as well as loads of milk for cheese and drinking). We have a fourth family who has a working farm where sheep, cows, horses, hay, corn, and apples are already in full production. Add in all of our very varied gardens and the manpower supplied by our children (19 in all!), we have the potential to be mostly self-sufficient in the event of a very bad event.
    The only down side to all of this planning and execution is that I haven’t yet had the time/energy/resources to look into the work involved in setting up my yard for rabbits!
    You have done the hard work of research admirably for me, and I will now put some serious thought into how I can make it work for my limited space.
    Thank you so much for such a well written piece!

  4. My real name? says:

    I watched the video. Please tell me the method you use to terminate them results in less post demise twitching. I’m affraid I will become a vegetarian before I have to butcher anything that moves so much after death.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Wait 30 minutes after dispatching the animal before skinning and butchering. Hunters use up more than that amount of time carrying game out of the woods in their hunting coat and some wait until they get home before ‘dressing’ the animal.

      • If the twitching bothers you, then yes, you can wait but the faster the time between the kill and the skinning, the easier to get the whole pelt off in one lovely motion if you want to do any tanning of it -IMHO

    • I am afraid that there will always be an amount of twitching. The method I use I have found to be the quickest way that I, all by myself, without needing any other appliance to acomplish the task and what my strength will suffice to compleat the deed.
      I will not risk a misplaced shot or club strike, a richochet, I want to be responsable for the care I give these animals and so in thier death. My way there is not as much as the video, maybe because I am still holding the back legs the whole time and I break the neck as well as the skull.

      • My real name? says:

        By the way, my bunnies got extra treats & hugs last night and this morning. Of course they are fiber bunnies not meat. My honey said that he’d take care of the dispatching when the time comes but we will have to get ugly meat rabbits.

        • I agree it is hard to look at cute little bunnies at 8 weeks of age and then go to butcher them. I understand. I still find it hard to do. I still get an uneasy stomach on that morning. This is why I do not get to know them. They do not get names. I do not handle them any more than I have to and most importantly I say prayers for them.

          • El Duderino says:

            I’m relieved to hear someone else feels the same way. I love to fish and usually catch and release, but on the occasions that I keep ’em, I take no pleasure in the actual killing of the them – and those are slimy fish, not cuddly bunnies. Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t too many creatures I won’t eat it’s just that I prefer someone else do the dirty work. What has been presented here is so much more ethical and honest, if I may use those terms. Like most Americans, I have become comfortable being separated from my food supply.

  5. My cousins owned quite a number of them at one time and I am definitely interested in getting in to them.

    Id caution those new at it though. Try a few first before you start planning to grow for food. Its a particular taste and CAN be fairly game-y, one my wife and kids despise.

    • I have only ever had domestic rabbit, never wild rabbit. I have never found domestic breeds to be gamey however every one does have different tastes and should try the flavor before investing alot of money in cages etc.

  6. SingleGirlPrepper says:

    I am new to prepping and have been working in the past couple of months to start working on food storage and water storage among other things. My question is this…does anyone have any thoughts on a single girl prepping? I know my chances arent great going it alone if anything should happen but I dont have many friends here as I have just moved in and the friends I do have…well lets just say I wouldnt be inviting them over if things went south. My family is several thousand miles away and when I mentioned what I was doing made fun of me. Anyway, I have started taking gun saftey classes and am working out like crazy (I coach basketball so I do that anyway!). I just wondered if anyone had some tips on how to get in touch with other preppers in my area or what to do. Thank you very much for any help!!

    • SingleGirlPrepper,
      It of course depends at least in part on where you live, as in area of the country, urban, suburban, or rural, etc. A general mention of the area here might put you in contact with other LMI in your area.
      Taking firearms classes is a good start along with your fitness routine.
      You might also check local service organization bulletins (Elks, Moose, Rotary) Churches and conservative tea party groups, the Local Y or county EMA for mention of seminars or training on preparedness, including first aid and CPR. If you find something, simply show up for the session and watch. You might be surprised how many of us are now out there, but you should still be careful and maintain your OPSEC. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m still cautious when approaching or approached by folks I don’t know well.

      • SingleGirlPrepper says:

        Thanks for the info, I think thats a great start for me. I am very cautious of any information I give out at all, not just prepping so keeping a tight lip comes easy for me. I have a lot of skills in emergency medicine and construction so I feel like I would be a good addition to a group and, of course, can bring my own preps. I just have this very uneasy feeling that I need a group around me and its just hard to figure out how to find the right people.

        • Since you say you have experience in medicine in particular then it would be well worth your while to join a group. You might find they would want you to build your survival supplies in that area and not worry so much about food storage and such. (even though it won’t hurt to do that also).
          Having someone experienced in emergency medicine is a highly valued component of any group.

        • SingleGirlPrepper,
          Again, depending on the setting you live in, there may be some opportunities to use your emergency medicine skills as a volunteer. In large cities this may not be as prevalent, but in rural and suburban communities you might find opportunities with the local Y, volunteer fire and EMS department, your county Emergency Management Agency, or even your local Sheriff’s department. Since these are all agencies that deal with large sectors of the public, working with them, getting additional training, and keeping your ears and eyes open could be a good way to find the people or groups you’re looking for.
          With your construction skills, you might be able to do the same thing with a local church, service organization, or a group like Habitat for Humanity.
          With your firearms training, a local gun club might also offer similar opportunities.
          Keep your chin up; keep prepping, and good luck.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      SingleGirlPrepper,

      First, don’t tell ANYONE that you are prepping. Search the archives on this blog for OPSEC (Operational Security). Decide what it means to you, then decide who, if ANYONE, you want to know about your supply and tool list.

      • SingleGirlPrepper says:

        I think thats what Im finding hard. I dont have a problem keeping quiet, but at the same time I am not sure how to go about finding like minded people that will help me should something happen. Anyone who comes in my house would think that I have no supplies in the house except a bag of dog food and leftovers from eating out. I have a good idea of how to keep things under the radar and out of view, but I feel a little worried about not having a good support if things go bad.

    • I am betting there will be a quite a few opinions on this. There are contact pages in various prepping sites you can try, but my encounter experiences with other preppers have resembled two wolverines circling each other trying to figure out if the other one is legit. I think that it is mostly due to the paranoia and distrust among preppers regarding the general populace as a whole reinforced by the negative media attention given to the topic and lifestyle. The feds labeling many of the activities we engage in to prep for a disaster as possible terrorist activities hasn’t helped matters any.

      Depending on where you live and its political leanings, survival training courses, self-defense classes, or food prep courses may be offered. I’d look there first since your odds of finding like minded people are fairly high. Gun shows, farmer’s market, and (a big maybe) trade shows centered on outdoors and camping are all good places to potentially find other preppers living in your area. Some would say Boy Scouts, but very few I meet actually prepare for any type of disaster. On an outside chance, another group of people that you probably could go asking around on the topic of disaster preparedness would be Oath Keepers.

      If you go to a gun show for example, I would not blurt out that you are a prepper. You will more than likely draw the wrong type of attention. If you see stalls selling disaster preparedness and prepping materials and supplies, it probably is a safe bet that they or someone they know is a prepper.

      I know some preppers like to wear JWR’s 76 American flag patch on a cap, jacket, or t-shirt or a t-shirt with his web address on it to let other fellow preppers know that they are one as well. Next time I visit a gun show, I will have a t-shirt made up for the occasion with MD Creekmore – The Survivalist Blog – plastered on the back to see what sort of reaction I get. MD, I will let you know if there is a potential market for a MD Creekmore clothing line. lol (in the voice of Jeff Foxworthy – Next strutting down the cat walk is MD, sporting a camouflage, evening gown with subdued, bead embroidering. Look how the bottom of that gown sways to and fro when he walks covering up his tracks… Your wife will love it, I swear. Ok, even I’m mentally scarred with that one.)

      Much like your parent’s reaction, most people just don’t get it. So there is no real point in preaching to them the virtues of being prepared much less the prepping lifestyle. They won’t start paying attention until it is already too late. At that point, they will remember your face, remember you as the prepper, and if they can find you, try to take your stuff.

      My advice to any prepper is keep a low profile. Patience is a virtue. Take your time finding and feeling out other preppers. Get to know them first before you make any decision about bringing up the idea of group prepping with them. We are a varied lot with a wide range of views and beliefs. If something rubs you wrong with that prepper, do not hesitate to move on. This is about your survival, so you have the right to be picky. You don’t go to the store to buy any pair of shoes… You go to the store to buy the pair that fits you. I see this as being no different. Just don’t give up.

      • Cain
        Sounds like a plan let me know how it turns out…

      • SingleGirlPrepper says:

        Thank you so much for the info! Those suggestions will be helpful. I am trying not to get discouraged. I feel like if I get down a little bit that could be very damaging to my future so Im pretty driven. I just need that last piece of the puzzel in finding a group to work with. Thank you again for the encouragement!

        • SingleGirlPrepper,
          If you are in what is called the Ark-La-Tex area, get in touch. I am currently mentoring just over 2 dozen folks (setting myself up as a target in some ways) through my church. Almost half are single women, mostly widowed, ranging in age from 33 to 74. We would be glad to have you visit us. Even though I’ve been teaching disastor preparedness since Katrina, I don’t know it all and learn something new every week (as I’m sure almost everyone on this blog does).

          Till Next Time,
          Rex

        • Single girl prepper. Just keep visiting this site and keep reading to see what works for you.Being a single girl you must be extra careful.Medical training is a A plus plus in my book. I would recomend a 22 rifle as a first gun.A ruger 10/22 or a Marlin 60 or a bolt action 22 would be good.Get what you like don`t let someone push you in a certian gun.Don`t be pushed into something that you do not like,if you don`t like it you won`t like it.You won`t learn everything in a hour so be patient.

      • I’ve been thinking along a similar line with perhaps a pin with a stylized wolf on it. Big enough to see if you’re looking, but inconspicuous enough to not attract any undue attention.

    • Hi SGP-
      Sounds like you are about where I was 15 years ago. I have been blessed with a handful of friends whom have become more dear to me than my blood family. We all sort of grew into preppers together – none of us started that way, though we all had some of the skills learned during the course of our lives that helped us get a head start.
      Take it slowly with friends… feel them out, talk about current (alarming!) trends in the economy, politics, the environment, share with them what you think is coming down the line (even if you have to pad it a bit… don’t scare them right away!). If their responses indicate they see similar things coming your way, it might be safe to broach the subject of superficial preps that would help in a limited way and cost little (water storage, spare flashlights, crank radio, some canned foods and a camp stove…). If they don’t think the same way you do, pull back and resolve to try again at a later date, like right after an ice storm or hurricane.
      We actually started prepping because it was practical. We were all stay-at-home moms with little kids, and we took turns helping each other weed our gardens while the kids played. Then, during harvest, we’d share ways to handle the excess of produce (canning, freezing, dehydrating). Also, because we were all families living on one income, we helped each other figure out how to make our limited resources stretch…
      And so on.
      Don’t rush it. You’ll find good people to work with, and you will all benefit from the support, and your friendships will grow stronger because you share a common goal.

    • robert in mid michigan says:

      ok differant take here. first of all being a single prepper is a problem but not an insurmountable one. opsec is everything and if the shtf before you have anyone else you want to become a mouse never scene never heard. lie low and when things start to soart themselves out do what you can to work your way in.

      as far as your friends not being the type you want around if the shtf may i ask why they are around now? cull the dead wood and start making friends you can trust, then if the shtf you can say to them you have supplies blah blah. suround yourself with people you can trust and count on only the rest can just move on.

      i dont know where you are at but the morman church may be a possible place to meet people. most will talk to you about it with out having to become a member. not sure if this is a good route or not as i have never tried it but may be worth looking into.

  7. Thanks for the article. This is something we are looking into once we are moved out of town.

  8. I am also curious about different breeds. Looking at the local Craigslist ads, I see rabbits from $8 all the way up to $60 for Flemish Giants.
    Does anyone have an opinion on whether it is worthwhile to buy purebred rabbits?

    • Hi Jim

      I have only raised meat rabbits, so I can’t speak to show rabbits or mini’s etc. I have stayed with the three main meat rabbits avaialable locally, I have done the reading and talked to flemish giant breeders locally and I don’t feel that the extra feed was worth it for me to grow out the bigger frame, this might make sense if I had a larger family but I am only feed two at the dinner table.

      So I have bought purebred bred does for 25 to 30 locally, and paid up to a 30 for bucks, and have felt that it was well worth it, I was buying proven producing lines and because I also work with the hides, I wanted a good quality pelt if I choose to grow out a few select ones for that purpose.

      I have often mixed the breeds up and held back does of mixed breed and been very happy with them, but when I buy new does, I always go back to purebreds from breeders that keep good breeding records and can answer my questions and ideally show me mothers, grandmothers, litter sisters etc

      So for me, the answer is yes, I would raither pay a little more to get the purebreds from a good breeder. I will be interested in hearing what others think of this?

    • This link found earilier in the artical gives info on breeds
      http://www.arba.net/breeds.htm
      (You might have to copy and paste this into your browser)
      Purebreds are great if you have specific purpose in mind such as meat, fur production or as in the case of angoras-wool
      Crossbreds between 2 type like rabbits can also be good,ie 2 meat breeds of aprox same wieght/build give what they call hybid vigour. The wieghts and builds should be similar so there is less chance of birthing problems

    • robert in mid michigan says:

      the book encyclopdia of country living goes into depth on this pretty well and give you some good starting knowledge on raising rabbits and just about everything else. i highly recomend the book but she does not feal the giant breeds are good for meat as they require far more food than the meat rabbits per pound of meat you get. i know we are looking at a local meat rabbit but wife wants me to hold off for a bit longer( her mother raises them and she is two miles away so i can get them quickly)

  9. Josh,
    When I started with rabbits anything that showed up in the for sale ads were of interest. Later contact with someone who raised them professionally was an eye opener. Long story short: get New Zeland White rabbits. They are used in medical tests so all the information that you find in books identifies any illness you will encounter. They are fast growing. From birth to weaning is 28 days, feed them for another 28 days and you have a 2# fryer with mild taste.

  10. Josh,
    I had rabbits from the mid 70’s to mid 80’s and chose New Zealand Whites (presonal prefference). In this area it seems to be a choice of NZW or California for meat. My family quit eating wild rabbit in the late ’50’s after my grandfather almost died from what was called “Rabbit Fever” and my father and I begin noticeing things wrong with some of the rabbits we got in the field.
    However, in 1980 my dog brought me a wild rabbit (what we call a swamper, a little bigger than a cottontail) alive and unharmed. I had an empty hutch and put him in it. After about 3 months I was able to handle him some and decided to put one of the NZW does in with him. The mix ended up being some of the best tasting rabbit I’ve ever eaten (personal opinion).
    Just some food for thought,
    Till Next Time,
    Rex

  11. This article I will keep for my “someday.” Thanks.

  12. Uncle Charlie says:

    Here’s something for skinning quickly in the field.
    rabbitclean.wmv

  13. very informative article. however, bunnies are too much like a pet to me and the only rabbit I think I could eat would be made from chocolate.

  14. I raised rabbits back during WW II meat rationing. Our hutches were somewhat different. They had solid floors, on which we put down a layer of sawdust. We got bags of that from a sawmill. At least twice a week I took a hoe, with a sawed-off handle, and scraped out the hutches. We never had any problems with that arrangement. The hutches were inside an unheated shed. In winter the water in t heir water dishes would freeze, but the cold never seemed to bother the rabbits. I gave them fresh water twice a day.

    As for dispatching them, my procedure was to grab the hind legs in my left hand, put my right-hand fingers under the neck and my thumb behind the ears, and stretch for all I was worth while bending the head backwards. This always stunned them. I then took a hammer-handle and whacked them between the shoulders and ears. That usually broke their neck. I immediately hung them on a hook that went between the tendon and the bone in their left hind leg. (I suppose the right leg would have done as well.) They were suspended over a big bucket. Then I slit their throats and cut off their heads, which went into the bucket. I cut the pelt around their hind legs and cut off their forepaws. At that point I could pull the pelt down, turning it inside out, and stretch it on a wire stretcher. I then cut from the tail down to the throat and dumped the internal organs into the bucket. At that point I cut off the hind feet and turned the carcass over to my mother for final butchering.

    • Thank you Joe,
      It’s interesting how much we’ve forgotten over the years. Our fore bearers seam to have been much more resilient and willing to fend for themselves than we are. Can you by chance tell us if you tanned the skins and how you did it, if not what did you do with them?

  15. I have been interested in raising rabbits. When I was a kid we hunted rabbits and had it fairly often. I don’t recall the flavor. Here’s my problem; I don’t like fish, and I don’t like chicken, I know that we should have something other than beef and pork. I would hate to slaughter a rabbit just to find out that it tastes like chicken.

  16. Uncle Charlie says:

    A lot of people say it tastes like chicken but really it tastes like rabbit. It’s dark meat and I love it, but like everything else, it’s a matter of individual taste. I always order rabbit when I go to German restaurants but the last time I went I was told it was not in season. I didn’t realize they had a season. I was so disappointed.

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