Yesterday I mentioned that I had plans for the lumber I picked up on a jobsite,and that I would explain later. Well.....it's later, so here goes.
With the rising cost of food, the concern over growth hormones and other chemicals in our food, and other various reasons, I have been considering raising some form of meat animal for quite some time. I've looked into chickens, ducks, and a few others, and with only an acre to deal with, we are limited on room for animals. I have looked over what animal does not need a lot of space, upkeep, initial cost, feed costs, etc, and finally made a decision. That decision is rabbits.
I grew up hunting since I was old enough to walk, and our main hunting animal was rabbit, so I am no stranger to them. While raising rabbits is a lot different than hunting them, a rabbit is a rabbit. A few years ago, we had 3 inside that were rescues from the humane society, and had no problems caring for them. At that time, we found inexpensive feed, hay, and grew greens specifically for them, and there is no reason I can't do the same for meat production.
Now before anyone reads this and wonders "why the hell rabbits?", let me toss out some rabbit meat facts:
1-The office of home economics, state relations of the U S Department of Agriculture has made extensive test and have stated that domestic rabbit meat is the most nutritious meat known to man.
2-Rabbit meat is seasonal any month of the year and is especially recommended during the hot summer months, as it does not contain the heating properties of most all other meats.
3-Rabbit has 795 calories per pound. Chicken 810, Veal 840, Turkey 1190, Lamb 1420, Beef 1440, Pork 2050. ( U S D A circular # 549 )
4-A doe rabbit that weighs 10 pounds can produce 320 pounds of meat in a year. This is more than a cow and it takes 2 acres of land to raise a cow.
5-Rabbits will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water as a cow will produce 1 pound of meat on the same feed and water.
6-Baby rabbits feed of mothers milk so rich that they can double their weight in 6 short days as compared to a pig at 14 days, calves 47 days, and humans 160 days.
7-Rabbit meat is all white meat.
8-Rabbits are known to be used for meat as far back as 1500BC ,The first recorded rabbitry husbandry was in early Roman times, Where rabbits were kept in walled rabbit gardens for food. This saved waste over bigger animals because the rabbit was all eaten. there was no refrigeration.Sailing vessels distributed rabbits on islands in various sea lanes to be used as a source of food by sailors.In 1859 a single pair of rabbits was released in Victoria, Australia, and in 30 years gave rise to an estimated 20 million rabbits.
9-Rabbit meat compares very favorably to veal at half the price.
10-France is the world's largest producer and consumer of rabbit meat. In Hungary there are rabbitries with over 10,000 does producing rabbits for export to Italy.
11-As the worlds human population grows there will be less land to raise food. The rabbit will play a more increasing role in this supply.
Thats a lot of information to swallow (no pun intended) about rabbits and rabbit meat. I'm sure that someone reading this will disagree and question my idea, a few may argue with me, I know a vegetarian who is going to be appalled at it...and I'm sure that at least one here at home will refuse to eat any of the meat. It's a moral issue really. It's far easier in todays world to not actually associate an animal with our food. Meat is sold and marketed in stores and resturants under fancy names such as beef, pork, and veal; rather than what it really is, being cow, pig and lamb. People dont want to associate some pretty furry creature with the steaks on the grill, or the bacon frying next to the eggs, and rabbits being the cute furry critter we all see at Easter is one of the worst. We just can't seem anymore able to put a face on what we eat, let alone have the deed of raising and slaughtering for ourselves. Again, the same as with fruits or vegetables, we cant, and dont want, this burden. We leave it up to the farmers, the butchers, and ultimately, the grocers, all of which take a cut of what you pay, leaving the prices growing more and more every year. (and causing unkown amounts of long-haul shipping, plus handling and packaging of the meat over and over)
So.....this is my decision. Partly out of general cost, partly out of not wanting chemical filled/sprayed meat from the stores, and partly knowing that I am doing one more thing for myself and raising yet another finger to the grocery chains and big business.
I will make simple outdor hutches for my rabbits. They'll be above ground for the most part to stay warm and dry, but I do want to make something (yet undesigned) so they can get to the ground to run around and eat some grass. I'll make sure the hutches have roomy nesting boxes, and a good roof to keep them safe and dry. Even though I am raising them for meat production, I want them to have a good life and not just stuck in a wood and wire cage the whole time. I may keep the fur to use or sell, but thats undecided as of now.
I honestly dont know if anyone actually reads this blog, but I will expect a comment or 2, and I'm ready for them, good or bad. I have made a decision for myself, and for us at home. This surely isn't for everyone, and I am well aware of that. But when you read this (whoever you are) please consider the facts before you judge me on what I do. Read what I posted about nutrition, read my previous entries about what we as a society are eating, look up the growth hormones and chemicals that are in nearly every piece of food we put in our mouths. Think about it, just a little, before you call my bunny killer.
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