[Update November 20, 2012: For more information read my new post Raising and Breeding Rabbits for Meat]
We started raising Champagne D’Argent rabbits the summer of 2009. Many people consider rabbits to be pets, not food, but rabbits can be cheaper and easier to raise than chickens, especially in small spaces (like backyards). Our goal was to breed and raise rabbits for meat, manure and fur, so far we’re achieving two out of three of our goals.
Rabbit meat is very nutritious, lean and mild tasting. Female rabbits, called does, can have 4-5 litters a year with an average of 6-8 kits a litter. Because rabbits are such efficient eaters the fattening period is short and the kits are ready to be butchered at about 10-12 weeks of age. Last year our two does had three successful litters each, a total of 31 kits. We’re hoping to increase the number of litters this year with the addition of our two new does (now we have four does and two bucks).
Over the last year we’ve use rabbit meat as a successful substitute for chicken in many of our favorite dishes. Most people can’t taste the different between rabbit and chicken meat in a meal. Since rabbit isn’t popular in North America, rabbit recipes can be tricky to find. I’ve been slowly compiling some favorites which I will post soon.
Rabbit poop is amazing stuff. It doesn’t need to be matured like chicken poop. You can take it right from the hutch and toss it into the garden as long as it’s not saturated in urine. Our gardens get a healthy dose of manure in the spring and fall. We’ve been giving the extra poop to fellow gardeners and vermicomposters.
This is the one goal we haven’t reached yet. For a while I was keeping and freezing the furs but then I stopped. I don’t know the first thing about tanning furs or where to get the materials to do it.