Whether you are planning to survive disasters or simply want to be self-sufficient and less dependent on outside resources, raising your own meat animals is a smart choice. That said, raising farm animals can be tough for those who live in urban areas, small homes or apartments, or under the rule of restrictive homeowners associations. If that sounds like you, consider raising meat rabbits. Rabbits make it possible to produce your own meat without raising an eyebrow!
Why rabbits? Meat rabbits are an excellent way to supplement your family food supply. Rabbit meat is tender and mild, plus rabbit meat is one of the healthiest meat sources, even beating chicken for low calories, high protein, and lower cholesterol levels. Not only that, rabbit meat is also far lower in fat and is higher in calcium and phosphorus than other meats.
Perhaps one of the better reasons for raising rabbits for meat is that they can be raised just about anywhere. If you have a garage, a basement, a porch, a backyard or even a small corner of a living room, you can raise meat rabbits and produce quite a bit of meat for you and your family. Sound interesting? Here are some tips that will help you get started raising rabbits.
Raising Meat Rabbits in Small Spaces
Rabbits are an excellent choice no matter where you live. Meat rabbits are easy to breed and raise. They require very little space. Best of all, since they do not fall under the typical livestock category, they are not subject to zoning laws and restrictions like other types of livestock and small farm animals.
Production wise, a small triple stack of cages kept indoors will house a trio of rabbits that can produce between 30 and 60 kits (baby rabbits) per year. Underneath each of the stacked cages is a catch pan to keep the area clean. The required space is about the same size that would be required to fit an average-sized chest of drawers. Although larger areas can be created to house even more rabbits and more elaborate setups, a triple-stack hutch really does quite nicely.
Should rabbits be kept indoors? Yes, when there is room, keeping your rabbits indoors makes the most sense. It is easier to provide a temperature controlled climate year-round and allows you to maximize your breeding schedule.
The cage size most appropriate for medium-sized meat rabbit breeds is 24 x 30 x 56. There are other sizes available as well, but that would be a perfectly good size.
It is also possible to keep rabbits outdoors in a small yard. All it takes is a few feet of space. Instead of a stack of cages, you will need hutches that have a portion enclosed for the rabbits to get out of the elements. There are a wide variety of types and styles of outdoor hutches available as either ready-made or DIY. For do it yourself types, you can find free building plans online.
Hutches create very good accommodations for your rabbits that will keep them happy and healthy outdoors.
Housing your rabbits outside will cut down on the number of litters that can be bred each year. Does (mamma rabbits) will need winters off, and enough heat would not be possible to keep any resulting litters warm enough when first born. On the other hand, using an outdoor space may give you the ability to house a few more rabbits. This allows you to produce the same amount of meet by having extra litters during the warmer months.
While you keep the adults year-round, baby rabbits are usually slaughtered at 8 to 10 weeks. The gestation period is only 28 to 31 days so the turnaround from breeding to dress out is very short.
Where to Get Meat Rabbits
There are rabbit breeders in all states, but they can be hard to find if you’ve never looked for them. The American Rabbit Breeder’s Association is a good place to start…..
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