Thursday, July 21, 2011

the other other white meat

Rabbits are the cosmic joke of this farm. They were never supposed to be a large part of it, but no matter how many times I sell them, swear off them, or say this will only be a sheep and egg farm: they keep showing up.

I can't shake them. They simply make sense. In a small space they can produce high quality meat and fiber, are inexpensive to keep, and reproduce quickly. They grow to a finishing weight fast, and are the easiest of all backyard livestock to slaughter. Since the first 2011 litter was born a few weeks ago I have raised nearly 50 pounds of rabbit for the freezer. They will be filling the crock pot all winter, in white wine sauces and thick ragus. It is hands down, my favorite white meat.

They are now a sizable operation here and they've grown on me. It's a satisfying business, mostly because of how fast you get to enjoy your labors. You might buy a pig or two and spend the better part of the year harvesting that pork, (and spending a lot of money to do it). But a trio of rabbits can breed and start getting meat on the table in 8 weeks.

In a few weeks there will be a Meat Rabbit 101 workshop here. It's on August 7th, starting at 10AM. I'm excited to show folks the rabbitry, and will have some stock for sale as well. If you are interested in signing up for this, or the fall workshop (people coming in from all over America!): please let me know!

For more information on this workshop, click here!

photo by Tim Bronson


Blogger Unknown said...

My dad raised them when I was an early teen and would send me out to the cage to harvest one for a meal. They sure were tender and delicious.

July 21, 2011 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger coley said...

Its a funny thing about rabbits. We are in the process of obtaining some to use for the table. When I was a teenager I raised them and did the slaughtering as well. Now if I mention anything about rabbits for dinner people freak out. In one of my rabbit books I have they talk about how Disney ruined the concept of having "Thumper" for dinner. Most people respond "Oh you are not going to eat the cute little bunnies or Bambis". It is a hard thing for people to except which is sad considering they fill out faster and produce some of the healthiest meat out there. All done in a considerate, responsible, humane, and sustainable way that is of course.

July 21, 2011 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Sue Steeves said...

Jenna, have you heard about Altex rabbits? If you want super fast growth for the table you might want to look into one for a sire. I raise Californians and am trying to arrange getting one myself. Fascinating stuff. Plus with raising rabbits you always have a bunch of cuteness around with the kits.....nothhing cuter than a baby rabbit....well maybe a baby goat ;)

July 21, 2011 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

Unfortunately, I am taking a road trip to Georgia that weekend for a family wedding, otherwise I would definitely attend. My goal in the near future is to include all of the following on my "farm": chickens for eggs and meat, rabbits for meat, and goats for milk. Will you be offering another rabbit 101 workshop?

July 21, 2011 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

How much does the workshop cost and will rabbit be served for lunch?

The down side (for me anyway) in raising rabbits instead of pigs or chicken, is the concept that chickens and pigs are multi-purpose animals. They both will eat just about anything you put in front of them, they both are great at re-conditioning soil, and they both are great at taking neglected areas of a pasture and making they productive again.

Having said that, I'm always interested in learning something new.

July 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

How much do you charge for the workshop? I'm really interested in going, but I'm not sure I can handle any more animals that I have to kill. Maybe the workshop will help me decide!

July 21, 2011 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Tracy P said...

My dad started raising rabbits for meat, so we trade rabbits for eggs :) However, I'm not sure of the best way to prepare them. I was going to try one in the crockpot tomorrow- do you have any tips? Thanks!

July 21, 2011 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger JeanineH said...

Substitute rabbit for any chicken recipe you have, and enjoy. It's very versatile and the ones you raise yourself will be nice and tender :)

July 21, 2011 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

The rabbit day is catered, from 10Am-3Pm, and is a donation of 125 to the farm.

July 21, 2011 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I've been interested in meat rabbits for a while now. But it will have to wait until at least the summer of next year before I tackle it. This year the chickens and garden are taking first priority. Having said that, if you have the workshop again next year I would definitely be interested. Will there be any rabbit mini-workshops during the Backyard Farming workshop in October? I'm really looking forward to it!

July 21, 2011 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

In response to CJ- check out what Nature's Harmony Farm in Georgia is doing with rabbits for their farm. They are raising them in "rabbitats" in an orchard setting that will eventually include geese, turkeys and u-pick. They DEFINITELY contribute to the soil.
Jenna- are you raising all Rex's?? I'm getting my first rabbits next week- a californian, a rex and a little mixed breed. I'm so excited! They will probably start out as pets but my eventual goal is meat! :) Wish I could come to your workshop!

July 21, 2011 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I'm sure well worth the donation but unfortunately more than I can afford - I really put the poor in poor farmer.

I'll be interested to read about it after the fact however.

July 21, 2011 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

I wish, wish, wish we liked rabbit. Husby detests the taste. I am indifferent.

July 21, 2011 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

If I ever do meat animals, it would have to be rabbits. They seem like the best urban meat animal, and I don't really have room for anything else in LA!

At least I can console my husband that I didn't bring home any more chickens...

July 21, 2011 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Maybe rabbits will be your niche Jenna. Life is funny like that. The thing you keep pushing away, ignoring and moving from keeps nipping at your heels. You could really get a good business going with them....

July 22, 2011 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hey Jenna- is that a tan?

July 22, 2011 at 11:51 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

That's a rex! I have a rex, palomino, ChinX, and Silver Fox doe and a Silver Fox buck named Gotcha (bred by Jennifer, AKA doglady who breeds amazing Silver Foxes) and 11 kits right now.

July 23, 2011 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Violet said...

I just got a pair of standard rex rabbits to breed for meat and to dabble in learning how to tan hide.

I look forward to any rabbit recipes you post! I wish I were closer so I could come to your field day.

Take care!

July 25, 2011 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger said...

I too have recently run into a number of rabbits... You say they are the easiest backyard creature to slaughter. Is clubbing still the preferred method of dispatch? I'd love to come to the seminar, but the commute from Boone, NC is a bit much. Thanks!

July 27, 2011 at 11:16 AM  

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