Aug 18, 2013

Why You Should Raise Rabbits for Meat

Rabbit meat
(Image: Tran's World Productions)
I can almost feel the heat from here. "Raise rabbits for meat?" you say. "What a ghastly idea."

If the thought of raising, processing, and eating rabbits is absolutely unbearable to you, then stop reading this post. It's not for you.

But if the idea intrigues you, read on. If you're interested in providing your kids with healthy, environment-friendly meat, read on. If you want your kids to feel totally at home with the menu of French restaurants, read on. 

Here's why you ought to consider raising rabbits for your family's dinner table:

1. Rabbits are environment-friendly livestock. Unlike large livestock such as cows, rabbits don't release an indecent amount of greenhouse gases into the air. They don't pollute the air as much as beef-producers do. Not by a long shot.

Compared to cows or pigs or even goats, rabbits have a very small carbon footprint. They graze sparingly. They need very little water. And given exactly the same amount of food and water, rabbits can produce six times more meat than cows.

What's more, you could use their poop as organic fertilizer without any sort of processing required whatsoever. They can go straight from rabbit to plant, and they won't burn plant roots at all.

You could hardly have a more environment-friendly protein source than rabbit meat, unless you plan to start getting your protein from plants or insects.

2. Rabbits are also neighbor-friendly livestock. If you live in the city, you can't possibly raise chicken. Even if you're somehow able to keep poultry from stinking, you can't keep them from clucking. Roosters, in particular, can be noisy creatures, especially during mating time. Your night-shift working neighbors will hate you.

Rabbits, on the other hand, are quiet. That's why they're not part of the Old McDonald Had a Farm song: very few people have really heard a rabbit make any sound at all. If you've got good opaque fences, you could be raising rabbits for ten years and your neighbors wouldn't suspect a thing.

How about the smell? Well, rabbits are as clean as cats. You never have to bathe them, and they will still smell better than your dog. Rabbit poop is completely odorless. As for rabbit pee, if it lands on soil and not on concrete, it can be odorless too. (I know; we raise rabbits right beside our bedroom window, and you can't smell a thing.)

3. Rabbit meat is healthier than pork, beef, or even chicken. Rabbit meat is as low-fat as chicken meat (and tastes pretty much like it too). The difference is, with chicken, you've still got to deal with the fat that sticks to the chicken's skin. But with rabbits, you don't ever serve the skin as food, so you have even less fat to deal with.

One 3-oz serving of rabbit meat contains less cholesterol than pork or beef. In fact, doctors in developed countries recommend rabbit meat to their patients who need to lower their cholesterol.

At the same time, rabbit meat provides almost 50% of your daily protein needs and over a 100% of an adult's vitamin B12 RDA. 

4. Rabbits provide ethical and sustainable meat. They're definitely not endangered. (Rabbit meat is far more ethical than yellowfin tuna or shark's fin, I'll tell you that.) 

They're easy to raise and easy to propagate. In one year, you can easily go from two rabbits to 20. 

And rabbits don't compete with humans for food. Some people think rabbits released in a carrot garden would be competing with humans for the carrots, but the truth is, if a rabbit ate a whole carrot in one day, it would likely get diarrhea and die.

The rabbit's real diet is grass: carabao grass, Bermuda grass, peanut grass – all those grasses that humans can't eat, the rabbit takes them and turns them into nutritious meat that humans can eat.

5. Rabbits are cheap to raise. If you live in a place with grass, you've got free rabbit food right there. 

You can also give your rabbits non-animal kitchen scraps, just make sure you don't give them too much of just one thing. They love the non-talbos part of camote vines, kangkong, the green part of lettuce, leftover apples (no seeds!), overripe fruits (but no tomatoes please), and leaves of the mango or guava tree.

If you're a suburbs dweller, you can give your rabbits pellets, which are cheaper than dog food or chicken feed. (The pellets we buy cost P25 per kilo on retail. It costs me P100 a week to feed 13 rabbits.)

But rabbits are pets!

If you want to keep rabbits as pets, that's on your conscience. Personally, I would never recommend rabbits to be kept as pets in a house with small children. Rabbits are far too easy to frighten, and a frightened rabbit can bite. They're also easy to injure. A child can easily kill a rabbit from handling that wouldn't hurt a dog.

Still, if you insist on having a pet rabbit, that's your business. Certainly, you should not eat your pets.

But just because you want to make rabbits pets does not give you the right to insist that we keep our rabbits as pets too. 

Rabbits were food animals before humans ever decided to turn them into pets. In Europe, they are still regular parts of the menu. In the wild, every carnivore that can catch rabbits eats them. In the food chain, these creatures are just one square higher than grass. 

You know what's sad? It's a rabbit that dies of disease or old age, because rabbits were designed by Nature to be eaten, and a rabbit that dies a natural death is a rabbit that did not fulfill its natural purpose.

Would you like more information about raising your own healthy, sustainable meat for your family? Ask your questions and I will answer them as best I can.

The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

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