Rabbit farming was a major industry back in the early 60’s, though operations have died down considerably since then. But would it be worthwhile to make the switch?
On the one hand, rabbit farming is a low-cost system, as they do not require anywhere near the levels of feed that larger animals do and as well as that, it has a quicker finishing system. Rabbits can give birth every one month, with litters up to an average of 7 bunnies. This means farmers could turnover an average in excess of 70 rabbits, per doe, per year.
The only thing is that there is not a major market for rabbit meat in the country anymore, though this could change, who knows. Rabbit meat would be more sought after across waters, meaning export markets may be an option.
Rabbit farming is perhaps one of the most productive forms of farming, with rabbits able to produce up to 6 pounds of meat from the same feed equivalent a cow would produce up to one pound of meat for.
So what about the meat? What nutritional values does it have? Well, there are many benefits to eating rabbit meat, which you can read in the below list.
- The meat is easily digestible and contains a large number of digestible proteins.
- It has the lowest fat content than other meats available on the market.
- Rabbit meat is almost virtually cholesterol free, meaning it is the perfect choice for those with heart problems.
- It contains less calories than other meats.
- It contains many nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus, much more than other meats
- It has a lower sodium content than other meats.
- It has a strong flavour, not too dissimilar to chicken, some say.
- It is a valuable source of Iron, Vitamin B-6 and Magnesium.
- It contains massive amounts of Vitamin B-12.
- It has a high meat to bone ratio, meaning there is more meat to eat.
Rabbits are actually very easy to look after. They eat as much vegetables and fruits as possible, whilst also requiring fresh water and hay everyday. They should also have access to dry rabbit food, such as nuts. The more protein, the better, though too much will result in constipation or even diarrhea, which is very dangerous.
They will be fine, once left to their own devices. Though, they do have issues with their teeth on a regular basis. This is because a rabbits teeth, especially its front teeth, will grow constantly from the day of birth. They, in fact, grow a number of mms per day. When teeth become overgrown, or they cannot pear their teeth down, they become overgrown and protrude out of the mouth. This can prevent them from eating, and a rabbit which cannot eat for 24 hours, is in serious danger of dying. Their teeth can be cut down, easily with a snips to prevent this problem.
Male rabbits also tend to have testicular problems, if not neutered. Hygiene is very important when it comes to rabbits. Ensure you house them somewhere, clean, dry and most importantly, warm! Rabbits are susceptible to parasite and fly attacks, therefore it is important they are not lying on dirty straw.
Bedding can consist of straw, hay, newspapers or even sawdust, though it is recommended to clean it out everyday.
Generally, as mentioned above, there is not much looking after when it comes to rabbits, once they have company in other rabbits, warm shelter and access to fodder, fruits and vegetables they will thrive.
Thinking of changing your farming system? Why not make the “hop” into rabbit farming.