Rabbits beat chickens in the backyard farm race
Raising rabbits is often proposed as a way of providing meat in the event of a post-SHTF world. When supermarkets are no longer the source for food, feeding one’s family will entail changing how one “shops”. There will be basically two choices: hunt for food or raise it, or some combination of these two.
If you are thinking about raising your own meat animals, two that are most often discussed for the small backyard farmer are chickens and rabbits. When comparing cost, efficiency and productivity of the two meat-producers, many prefer rabbits over chickens for the following reasons:
All About Rabbits
- A female rabbit (doe) can produce a food to body weight ratio of 1000%
- Chickens need room to roam, while raising rabbits in confinement is best
- Chickens require light to reproduce, which rabbits can reproduce anytime
- Raising rabbit food is easier than raising chicken feed
- Predators are less of a threat to confined rabbits
- In the same length of time you can raise one chicken for the table you will have 5 rabbits ready to butcher
- Rabbit fur can be used for clothing, for bandages and for barter
- Rabbit poo is a great fertilizer for the garden
- Live rabbits can be useful as barter items
If you are considering raising rabbits for food, then there are a few other rabbit facts that you might want to consider:
- Being small, rabbits can be butchered on an as needed basis, which can be helpful in the event of a lack of refrigeration
- Rabbits are quiet and won’t attract attention in the event you desire a low profile
- By 6-8 weeks old a rabbit is “fryer size”, which means if you butcher them as soon are they are weaned, you’ll only be feeding the breeding adults.
- Rabbits require very little effort to care for; daily - basically a few minutes every morning and evening to feed, water and do a quick wellness check; then monthly a hour or so to clean the cages as well as keeping breeding records
- Rabbit meat is very lean and considered by many to taste like chicken
- Butchering rabbits is much easier than chickens as you don’t have the feathers to deal with.
There are also some problems that are common with rabbits that you should be aware of if you are thinking of raising rabbits. For the most part by keeping a good eye on the rabbits and ensuring they have a clean cage you can prevent many of the problems. However, there are still things to look out for:
- Ear mites are quite common, showing up as a scaly growth on the inside of both ears. You can buy a medicine from the vet to clear up the mites. You can also employ a do-it-yourself cure by covering the affected ear by a thin layer of mineral oil. This smothers the mites, killing them. Make sure you take care of the problem as soon as it’s spotted otherwise the rabbit will begin scratching which could lead to cuts and infections.
- Sore hocks are caused when the rabbit’s foot gets raw, often caused by standing on a wire floor. Giving them something clean and dry to stand on will allow them to heal.
- Cannibalism is when the doe eats her young. Give her two chances and if it continues put her in the stew pot.
- All too often rabbits get the sniffles and soon die. The cost of vet bills can be cost prohibitive, so it is often the best policy to just kill the sick rabbit before it infects the others. Make sure you disinfect the cage and all cage accessories before using the cage for another rabbit.