Letter Re: Raising Meat Rabbits

HJL,

This is just a note to let you know that three years ago, based on information obtained on SurvivalBlog, my daughter stopped using commercial pellets to feed her pedigreed silver fox rabbits. I gave her an article about all the things you can eat from your yard. Two hours later, she had found most of them in our yard and decided to feed her rabbits that way. Since then, she harvests clover, wild strawberry, dandelion, mulberry, sorel, wild violet, and much more from about six yards in the neighborhood that use no chemicals. She supplements in winter with bales of alfalfa and BOSS, so the rabbits are fed 100% natural food, about 80% locally grown. Her rabbitry is small, with one litter at a time, and no more than two dozen total mouths to feed. – M.E.

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Letter Re: Raising Meat Rabbits

Dear Editor:
Pam N. wrote an excellent addition to the blog that was posted on December 24th. Their is a couple of points I’d like to add.

Be careful keeping rabbits in an area without a lot of ventilation. Rabbit urine puts off an ammonia type smell that evidently can damage their health. We regularly get freezing weather in the winter and then as high as 110 in the summer and our rabbits stay outside all year round.

While it’s made very clear on the package not to use it on anything other than cattle, Ivomectrin is very helpful in treating rabbits. We have used it on dogs and rabbits for over a decade. The VetRX rabbit product should be in the vet kit as well.

Rabbits do require protein for good growth as Pam pointed out. However they will eat most any of your vegetable and fruit scraps, cut grass from your yard (non-weed sprayed of course), most whole grains and many deciduous (smaller) branches. Ours love fruit tree branches so at pruning time the trimmings are put right into a wheel barrow and go right to the rabbits. Whole green corn stalks are pulled apart and given to the rabbits after corn is harvested off of them, they love the green corn husks also. Our rabbit pellets go into 55 gallon drums that are kept outside near the rabbits. Usually they are rotated within a year’s time.

We separate the young from the mother at around 6-to-8 weeks. Most folks say to butcher then but their really isn’t much meat on them at that time. We put them into a separate larger cage that my son called “the playground cage” since the rabbits seemed to always be playing around in there. Usually they are kept another four weeks or so before they are butchered.

Their are several advantages and disadvantages to rabbits for the survivalist-

Advantages:

  • Small animal that can be eaten during one meal, thereby circumventing the need for refrigeration.
  • Small animal that could be taken with you during a vehicle bug out. Put 2-to-3 rabbits in one cage to conserve space. [JWR Adds: Sibling males that have been raised in the same cage together generally get along, but introducing a new male into a cage is almost certain to cause a fight, possibly a fight to the death. Also, does should always be taken to the buck’s cage for breeding, rather than vice versa! And if a buck is rejected by the doe, he should be removed from the cage immediately. Breeding age does should generally be caged by themselves, although if need be, their own offspring can often be left in the same cage with their mother until they are close to butcher size.]
  • They are normally quiet as compared to chickens, goats, etc.
  • Meat, fur and fertilizer, guts get put in the fish traps or given to the dogs.
  • Can withstand cold weather pretty well. [But very high temperatures can be a problem.]
  • Very little veterinary care required as compared to cows, pigs, etc.
  • Low initial costs compared to larger animals.

Disadvantages:

  • Cannot forage for themselves while in cages
  • Require regular care versus a flock of chickens allowed to free range that may only require a little bit of supplemental feed.
  • Not a lot of fat on the carcass. Domestic rabbit will have some fat on it but nothing like beef or pork. This is good for health now but may be a disadvantage if the SHTF.

Merry Christmas! – Robert (from HomesteadingAndSurvival.com)

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