The Best Way To Keep The Family Fed On Any Budget, by Tennessee Bob

Many of us have already provided the basics for our families within a budget. These should include the basic necessities such as shelter, clothing, location, security, and most importantly a stable food supply.

Family’s Nutritional Needs

I’m sure many of us have already taken the necessary steps to insure our own family’s nutritional needs will be met. Stocking up on the basics, such as rice, beans, wheat, and vegetables in the form of dry goods, is an excellent first step. However, in a long-term grid down WTSHTF situation, you must anticipate disruptions in all forms especially food.

Problems with Livestock

Many of us have livestock or chickens. However, neither of these may represent viable solutions for those of us who may be required to hunker down in suburban America. Both cows and chickens have a long history of theft in America. Rustlers and chicken thieves can decimate a herd or flock in an extremely short time, leaving your loved ones with empty bellies.

Cows May Put You in Harm’s Way

Even a small herd of a few cows can place you in harm’s way, from a security standpoint. Additionally, these large animals represent high risk to high reward ratio. They require large amounts of food and significant security to protect your investment.

Chickens Are Challenge

Chickens are excellent as egg producers. However, they aren’t exactly the most viable source for meat. Chickens take extended periods of time to mature, and the best layers are usually not the best meat producers. They can run afoul of pesky varmits on four legs who are hungry and looking for a chicken dinner. Chickens also tend to be noisy and messy and would be mostly impossible to raise in a suburban setting.

Other Difficult Options

Some other popular options that exist for farms big and small, such as goats, sheep, fowl, and swine (pigs), are even more difficult options in a limited land setting. So where can the prepper turn to supply their loved ones with a sustainable food source?

Obvious Answer- Domestic Venison

The answer is obvious. It’s domestic venison, or better known as rabbit.

Now, before anyone starts whining about killing Peter Cotton Tail, or for us southern people Briar Rabbit, give me just a few more moments of your time. You may find this difficult to accept, but regardless of whether you live on a small lot or a 100-acre farm rabbits may still be the best nutritional source for you and your family and quite possibly your surrounding neighbors and friends alike. So let’s begin.

Rabbits

Rabbits have been a stable food source and source of income throughout not only America’s history but on the world stage as well.

Raised and Distributed In Early Roman Rule

In early Roman rule, Spain raised rabbits and shipped them to Rome as a food source and in turn Rome distributed them to Italy, France, and England, where large fences known as paddocks were erected. These enclosures allowed the rabbits to run free and reproduce at will. This allowed for a population explosion. In smaller areas rabbits were caged individually and bred on an established schedule to maximize food production.

Essential Food Source During Both World Wars

During both world wars rabbits were used as essential food sources. In fact during World War II in occupied France, the citizens of Paris built small rabbit cages on apartment building roofs (which were flat) and raised rabbits for food. The French would gather grass from along the roads leading into and out of the city as feed. These practices allowed them to feed their families when food supplies dried up.

In the 1950s

In the 1950’s rabbits again gained popularity as a primary food source during lean times. As anyone can deduce throughout history, rabbits have been and continue to be a highly regarded and valuable food source.

Why Regarded As Valuable Food Source

Here are just a few of the reasons why they are regarded as a valuable food source. Rabbits are one of the highest sources of protein of any animal. In fact most people who consume rabbit will be full after eating a very small portion, usually 1/3 of their normal total meal consumption. Also rabbits, when domestically raised, have a delicious taste and texture. Most people actually prefer rabbit to more familiar meats, such as chicken, beef, or pork. Americans tend to favor white meat; rabbits domestically raised only produce white meat, whereas wild rabbits are all dark meat.

Easiest Digestible Meat and Offer Health Benefits

A fact concerning rabbits is that they are one of the easiest digestible meats on the planet. If the U.S. government would remove certain restrictions on long-term care facilities (nursing homes) and allow rabbit to be served to the residents, we would see some truly remarkable improvements in their overall health. Some benefits might include improved skin integrity, improved cardiac function, and increased regular bowel function, which as always is a lingering problem in the elderly.

Easy To Raise

Another reason why rabbits should be an absolute mainstay in your family’s diet is the ease in which they can be raised. Rabbits are very disease resistant. As long as you provide clean living conditions, sickness is rarely an issue. I prefer small wire cages that are suspended from the ceiling. This mostly guarantees that your tiny herd will remain disease free. Also the suspended cages mean your rabbits are safe from potential predators, such as foxes, hawks, weasels, and raccoons. An additional advantage is that their feces will fall straight through the wire cage floor into a well placed five gallon plastic bucket, making it easy to remove. This rabbit manure is a valuable asset to barter, due to it being highly sought after for vegetable gardens. Rabbits require a minimal amount of food along with daily fresh water.

Desirable Cost To Raise Versus Production

One more excellent reason to begin raising rabbits is their cost to raise verses production. Some great meat rabbits are New Zealand, Californians, and Florida Whites. All three of these are excellent meat producers with small bone structure. They are medium-sized rabbits that efficiently convert food to meat in a very short time.

All three breeds are able to be bred at approximately six months of age. They typically produce a litter of eight to twelve babies at an average rate of eight litters per year. For instance, let’s say you have four female rabbits and one buck. And for arguments sake, you breed each female the maximum amount of eight times in a year, using this formula and allowing for an average litter size of ten babies. This means you would have 320 rabbits to eat each year. But wait, at six months of age, you could begin breeding the female offspring meaning that each litter would additionally produce another 200 rabbits to eat, sell, or barter. So while others might raise one steer per year and need to maintain two cows to breed, you can raise 500 rabbits by the end of your first year. In other words, you would eat well and still have hundreds of rabbits to sell or barter.

Easy to Relocate and Hide From Threats

Finally, if outside threats start to invade your rabbit farm, then you can relocate them into a garage. If you house your rabbits in a shed building, you can secure it similar to a lawn mower. Most importantly, you can hide them from prying eyes and nosy neighbors.

Our Experience Raising 150 Rabbits Each Year

My wife and I raise approximately 150 rabbits each year in a wooden store-bought shed in the middle of a retirement community, and no one has any idea. We have a table in the building that we use to process the meat, and we catch their droppings, which we put to good use on a small vegetable garden. Not only do we get a wonderful source of delicious meet, but we also get big and health vegetables during the growing season.

Rabbits Are Highly Nutritious, Delicious, and Easy To Raise

As anyone can see, rabbits are a highly nutritious source of meat that are very easy to raise in any circumstance. They contribute to increased health of their owners and increased plant growth. Their fur can be tanned and used to make soft, valuable coats and gloves. They can easily be secured and hidden from prying nosy neighbors. Most importantly, rabbits are delicious, whether in stews, as a roast with vegetables, or prepared in my personal favorite manner– fried in a skillet.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




20 Comments

  1. For many years ,Fur Trappers starved to death on a diet of rabbit .Why? Because they threw away the fat (Known as Vell) which is a translucent jelly immediately under the skin. If you only eat the high protein meat of the rabbit then you will die as it takes more to digest than it provides,
    ALWAYS,ALWAYS,ALWAYS FIST OR SHOVE THE VELL AWAY FROM THE SKIN AND INCLUDE IN COOKING.

    Dry rabbit faeces MUST be composted or they are no good as a fertilizer. When you are in rabbit country you will see patches of burnt ground where the rabbits defacate.
    the “Wild” rabbit referred to is what the English know as a Hare ,and yes it is a dark meat.

  2. Rabbits are a good source of protein, BUT one needs to know that there is such as thing that has been known for generations “rabbit starvation”. Also called protein poisoning and potentially dangerous. It occurs when there is a high intake of animal protein and LACK OF CARBOHYDRATES AND FATS in your diet. The medical term is “proteinosis”. Pork, beef, lamb all have fat, but bunnies almost none. So, stockpile enough long dated food with high carbs and fats to achieve the proper balance. Generally, gardening for most of us is beneficial with vitamins and minerals, BUT low in fat and carbs. One can buy Ghee and other sources of fat, and if living in a more tropical area, grow Avocados which are very high in FATS/Oil, and perhaps other such fruits. Someone raising hogs would have a very wonderful item to barter with. Feral hogs are in many of the 48 lower states and spreading, but using a firearm to hunt tells neighbors you are in the woods. If possible, learn archery and become a very good at it. After all, the Native Americans hunted all kinds of game with only bows/arrows and spears!

  3. Rabbits are unclean by Old Testament dietary standards. We now know that it isn’t safe to eat only rabbit because it is so lean. Anytime you eat high protein without adequate saturate fat (the only healthy fat/oil), you will develop a nutrient deficency for fat. It is called Rabbit starvation.

  4. I also raise rabbits, though not as many as TN Bob; I have a dozen breeding stock and breed them 3 times a year, producing about 64 rabbits during each breeding. I let them grow to about 8 pds before harvesting, which yields about 4 to 5 pds of meat, plus the hides which are made into slippers, hats, ear muffs, etc. to sell. Some years I will breed kits for Easter time and barter them for non-GMO animal pellets at the feed store.

    Yes, rabbits have a very lean meat and in a long term scenario additional fats would be needed for good health. I like to grind rabbit with beef or pork and a little extra pork fat and make meatloaf and sausage. Rabbit is also good in soups, stews, tacos and salads. In the spring and fall my back yard is full of chickweed and dead nettle, which the rabbits love. In summer I grow greens in my garden to supplement the protein pellets they are fed. Last night the coyotes came through my property and my Anatolian Shepards, Rottweilers and other outdoor dogs kept them far away protecting the rabbits and chickens.

  5. Your does will live longer and be healthier if you breed them 5 or 6 times a year. Domestic rabbits store their fat on the outside of the meat, so when butchering save the fat. Having Olive Oil and other good fats in your food storage pantry will help prevent Rabbit Starvation.

  6. The “fats” are a separate and different problem. The problem with rabbit meat is that it lacks an essential protein and all the fats in the world won’t give that to you.

    Having said that it is easy to add protein in your diet so unless the only thing you are eating is rabbit this should not be a problem.

    Rabbits are a good choice for getting closer to self-sufficiency I hope the author has a second article up his sleeve.

  7. I’ve considered raising them and had no idea about the problem with too lean. Thanks to every one who has pointed it out. Great article and I hope you expound on it as I’m sure you have more knowledge to share.

  8. Tularemia? No mention of tularemia? I understand that you have to look for this disease when eating wild rabbits. Do you also have to look for this in domesticated rabbits?
    If you eat tularemia in rabbit meat, what does it do to a person?
    I hope that TnBob has a second article on this.

  9. How difficult is hide tanning? Is it be done without harsh chemicals? Yes, could easily “let my fingers do the walking” through the internet but thought I would ask in this forum.

  10. Tularemia is caused by a bacteria, which lives in ticks and deer flies. Animals living in forested areas are more susceptible to these bites, but the infection may found in rabbits, squirrels, cats and dogs that roam local woods or people who hike and camp in wilderness areas. Some of my relatives who camp and hike in Utah and Colorado have been infected from bites of ticks; they were treated on an outpatient basis with standard antibiotics for about 10 days and recovered easily. Everyone now wears caps and long sleeve shirts, sprays with deep woods off repellent or uses essential oil repellents before hiking in the woods.

  11. My wife wanted rabbits just for the manure (bunny berries). They can be put directly in the garden and WILL NOT burn your plants. Also, put some in each hole when transplanting. When one is harvested, if not eaten right away. Keep in cold water in the fridge at least 24 hrs, to get past rigor mortis. It will be much more tender!

  12. Many other blogs have called BS on the rants about dying from Lapine protein poisoning. Look at the thousands of people dying in actuality from cardiac disease from too much fat in their diet.

    So I call BS on all the above commenters who immediately leaped to fear monger. It is not a significant source of death. Rabbits make an excellent source of protein. My poor parents fed me on it the first several years of my life. Based on the results here is a bigger fear for you: children fed on rabbits may reach a height of 6 feet 2 inches and retire as lieutenant colonels who are God fearing Christians that raise responsible children to adulthood. Yep blame rabbit protein poisoning.

    I challenge all the above fear mongers to name even a single person they personally know who has died of rabbit protein poisoning. None? OK now name all the people you know who have been killed by other sources such as stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, gunfire, car wreck.

  13. There is also significant high quality fat around kidneys of domestic rabbits.
    I agree with Wheatly Fisher, and second the BS call.
    Also the author is not advocating rabbits as ones sole food source.
    I notice if an article is not “10 Free Easy Survival Hacks You Can Do Without Leaving Your Sofa”, then the Professors of Can’t descend.

    1. I second your assessment as I too, as well as 4 siblings, 7 aunts and uncles as well as parents and grandparents were raised on rabbits for many years. My family and I are very healthy with grandparents living well into their 90s. Parents are still alive and well. I am not considered young either. Have zero health issues.

  14. You can become intoxicated and in rare cases die from drinking too much perfectly healthy and clean water in too short a time ( hyponatremia ). The author is providing a good alternative protein source with great barter value . A balanced and varied diet is always good policy . I have been researching and saving supplies to try my hand at small scale rabbit raising. Initially I hope to provide for our own use and some barter.
    Thank to Tennessee Bob and keep up the good work. Hope you will provide more articles.

  15. In England in the 1940”s rabbits were recommended as a source of protein (see 1940’s house on PBS).

    However you miss the chicken and egg problem. Which nutrients? Eggs have lots of vitamins and protein, and the egg laying optimized breeds are one a day. You can get tired of omeletts, but nutritionally, they are also very efficient.

    Basically you need livestock that turns grass and insects into protein. Chickens are fairly nasty pieces of work and will debug your garden. Rabbits are pure herbivores, but their foods are generally more available (given the number that I encounter in my tiny and half urban plot of land).

  16. I have a concern about the advice to hang cages that allow all the bunny poop to fall through metal mesh. Domestic rabbits need to eat the cecotropes (one of two types of bunny poop) to prevent malnutrition. It contains beneficial bacteria, fungi, and nutrients needed for proper metabolic functioning. The other kind of bunny poop (fecal pellets) are end waste products and are not needed by the rabbit, but they do make a great addition to the compost pile. Many rabbits will eat their cecotropes as they are ‘exiting’ the rabbit, however some expel them and eat them later. For this reason, I litterbox-trained my rabbits and found it very easy to clean up after them. They quickly learned to do all their business in their litter box (lined with some newspaper and hay). The litter box contents could easily be dumped into the compost pile and the tub then hosed off and replaced in the cage.

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