Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Buck In The Hutch!

I got a hold of a nice Giant Chinchilla Buck today from Livingston Brook Farm and he will be the other breeding half of this farm's rabbit concern. He was settled in today and already serviced his first doe here and the calendar is marked to set a nesting box in her brand new hutch on April 27th.  If all goes as planned there should be a nice litter of kits here by Beltane. That would be a very appropriate event for an ancient Fertility Festival!

I don't know why more people don't raise meat rabbits. They are the quietest, easiest, and most affordable way to produce good food at home in such a small space. Even if you build a large enclosure to be a colony it could be the size of a walk in closet for a doe and buck and still produce so much meat you'll be giving away what you can't sell. Do any of you out there raise meat rabbits? If so, what breeds?! Recipes to share?!

21 Comments:

Blogger Jackie said...

oh you must have watched Edwardian Farm a million times along with us!
A rabbit concern! (A poultry concern, a strawberry concern) I love it!
Hope it all goes well.

April 1, 2015 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger Dana "Aurora" Johnson said...

Rabbits will be my first farm animal once I'm able to start my homesteading venture. I'm SO looking forward to it! They are easy to keep, easy to breed, relatively easy to clean and skin, and they're delicious. What's not to like? :D

Not yet sure on breeds. I was thinking New Zealand so I don't have to worry about getting hung up on killing a particularly "cute" rabbit. I'm a sucker for patterns and interesting colors. I would consider Silver Fox or Chins though, especially if I want to get into doing things with hides like I used to.

April 1, 2015 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger Coureton said...

I raise American Blue and Creme D'Argent rabbits for meat, and have for a few years now. It has worked out very well for us. Even last year when we had a major breeding problem, and short litters we ended up with enough meat to be trading for other things, and bringing gifts for social occasions. They are also very easy to keep ethically as long as you give them the space and attention they need. I like the "heritage" breeds because while they produce smaller litters, and grow a little more slowly, given our location and set up they are calmer and more friendly. The lack of problems from shocks and fear has been invaluable to us, including one of our does breaking the arm of a raccoon that tried to get at her before I could get at it!

April 1, 2015 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Jackie, yes! I have adopted that word and use it all the time!

April 1, 2015 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Dana they are wonderful, and cooked correctly, are my favorite meat!

April 1, 2015 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Coureton, how large do they Cremes and Blues get at harvest?

April 1, 2015 at 7:27 PM  
OpenID quietowlfarm said...

Does your new buck have a name yet?

I recently acquired three American Chinchillas and believe (*fingers crossed*) that I have the first pregnant doe on my hands due in 13 days. Both does and the buck are very sweet and people-friendly and I cannot say enough good things about the breed. I don't have any good recipes to recommend yet, but I do very much love to cook and I can't wait to experiment!

I also am loving the rabbit experiment in my tiny backyard farm. They are quiet, easy and total goofballs. And I think my garden is going to appreciate all that lovely manure too :)

April 1, 2015 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Su Ba said...

Rabbits are the number one homestead animal in my book. Easy to house. Easy to feed. Quiet. Not escape artists. Not usually aggressive enough to do one much harm. Easy to kill and butcher. Easy to cook and eat. Plus they give good manure for the garden. I've never tried tanning the hides, but they could be a source of soft furs too.

I have 17 breeders at the moment. 80-90% of their feed is homegrown or foraged, so they don't eat me out of house & home. They produce plenty of meat for my family, plus enough to use for bartering. I also sell a few. My rabbits are grades that are mainly New Zealand and Californian. There might be some other breeds mixed in the way back before I bought my original bunnies from a meat producer, but I don't know. I keep the best as replacement breeders so it doesn't really matter at this point what the original breeds were.

April 1, 2015 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger janamama said...

We have New Zealand/California X. The meat to bone ratio is amazing and they are pretty hardy and even tempered.

April 1, 2015 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Sam Sheehan said...

I was wondering if you have any recipes to share Jenna?
I've never really eaten rabbit, and I'd love to start raising them but I'm kinda hung up on the "what if I don't like them?" fear... I haven't really met a meat yet that I don't care for, so I'm not sure why I'm worried, but it is really hard to get bunny around here to experiment with.

April 2, 2015 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger faegood said...

We have American blues, and after a few rounds of inept breeding (not THEIR fault, mind you) our first two littlers were born 12 days ago. It's magic, and the kits are so damn cute!

There's a description of our travails here, if you're interested:

http://speciesconfusion.com/2015/02/24/schroedingers-bunnies/

Fae Goodman

April 2, 2015 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

My favourite rabbit recipe is Jamie Oliver's rabbit stew with dumplings. http://52weeksofjamie.blogspot.ca/2013/06/week-20-rabbit-stew-with-dumplings.html

April 2, 2015 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Coureton said...

Jenna: At 12 weeks I'm harvesting the Blues at ~5.5 - 6 Lbs, the Cremes are more around 4.5 - 5.5. There's obviously some variation, and this past year I've been bad about keeping the detailed grow out logs that I did early on. In that aspect particularly like the very beneficial meat to bone ratio of the medium meat breeds. Them being on the rare breeds registry does have some influence as well to be fair.

April 2, 2015 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

When I lived in NW France, all the locals raised meat rabbits in their gardens. Rabbits seemed more popular than chickens. They used the droppings to fertilise their gardens too.

April 2, 2015 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger faegood said...

The Blues are beautiful, and so friendly. Much easier to handle than the NZ rabbits my family raised when I was a child.

April 2, 2015 at 10:58 AM  
OpenID rawketstarling said...

You know what's interesting--I think I got the idea to start raising meat rabbits from you! A few years ago, I believe, but I made it a reality six months ago. I bought a breeding trio in October, but they were still young, and I ended up having so much trouble with breakouts from their rabbit tractor, and my decidedly non-LGD dog! I decided to give them a large enclosure, as opposed to traditional cages, because I didn't want to feel like a factory farmer.
I finally have a doe and buck of age, and this first-time mama is doing OUTSTANDING. It only took two...."goes"....but she was pregnant after one encounter, perfectly birthed 6 kits, and now they're getting so cute it's impossible. They've started getting out of their nest box and hoping around the enclosed part of the tractor.
Right now I've only got Californians, but a breeder near Houston sells American Blues and I'd like to get into that sometime next year. They look beautiful, and they're supposed to do well with the Texas heat.
I haven't had a kill party yet, but I know I'm not really looking forward to it. I've butchered a rabbit, but I haven't actually killed one yet, so we'll see what my fortitude looks like come June!

April 2, 2015 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

I raised rabbit meat once. I currently only raise chicken meat because of the following: 1. the rabbit meat was harder for me to cook with because I wasn't as familiar with it. Yes delicious, but seemed more fussy than chicken meat, like more skin to peel off or something that I found difficult. Plus in my typical suburban american life I have just had more exposure to chicken therefore easier for me to think about cooking 2. I got attached to the rabbits, yes all 15 of them, and had to have someone else come in and do the killing though I did the butchering. Maybe if I had continued with the rabbits I would have eventually gotten over this as I have with the chickens. 3. keeping the male offspring separate from the females while they reached butcher weight, I really needed more hutch space, whereas my chicken sexes just co-mingle until butcher time. 4. the amount of "usable" meat on my chickens seems higher for what felt to me was less effort. 5. Rabbit escapes (yes, I learn the hard way, took three times for me to finally remember to shut the hutch even if i'm only walking over to the feed bin for a second!), they were SO MUCH harder to re-capture than an escaped chicken :-)

That was my limited experience just curious what you all think about it.

April 2, 2015 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger jules said...

We raise our own mixed breed of Underground Rabbits along with Champagne d'Argents. We usually harvest at around 12 weeks and/or ~5.5 lbs. The cute factor is always a concern, but as I tell them, "I'm gonna miss you, but you're gonna taste so good."

Sam Sheehan: they taste nothing like chicken, contrary to popular opinion. The meat is more delicate and very tasty. We roast ours and pick the meat for use in many different dishes ie. tacos, nachos, rabbit and gravy, rabbit and dumplings, all very yum. Fried rabbit liver and gravy with biscuits...oh my! Our next investment is a meat grinder so we can make ground bunny or sausage, and then sloppy hoppys and other ground dishes.

April 2, 2015 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Sam Sheehan said...

lol sloppy hoppys! too funny!

April 2, 2015 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

We raised meat rabbits for years. We quit last year because of 1) the price of food got to be so expensive that it became too prohibitive. I worked for a while with home grown foods but the rabbits didn't grow out well. The food:meat ratio was very poor. 2) We have 3 teen aged boys who could eat 1-2 rabbits a piece at a meal. Between these factors, we opted for a couple of calves. (We have the pasture.) Maybe we will go back to raising meat rabbits when it's just my husband and myself at home. :)

April 2, 2015 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger The Weekend Homesteader said...

I have American Chinchilla and some crosses (meat mutts) as breeders. Currently I have two litters of 9 and 8 and another litter due any day. She looks like she is about to pop.

April 5, 2015 at 6:33 PM  

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