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Is Raising Rabbits Worth It?

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I know many of you probably already caught a glimpse of one of our most proud homestead moments on Instagram a few weeks ago but if you didn’t here it is again:

That my friends are two beautiful, finger licking rabbits whose lives we had a part in from the moment of their conception (albeit we didn’t do much there), all the way up to our dinner plate. I have to admit, it was absolutely freaking delicious. It was also very sobering. I think anyone who raises their own animals for food will tell you that it is an eye opening and thought provoking experience. In fact it’s taken a few weeks for me to get all my thoughts down about the process to share with you. I have a nice little series worked up for you on some of the details of how we do things around here with them, but first I wanted to address a question that has been irking me for weeks.

I would estimate 70-90% of the time when we mention that we are raising rabbits for meat we get this question:

How Can You Eat Your Pets?

Oh how many times I have been asked that. More often than not the person wrinkles their nose in disgust or shakes their head at what a horrible animal killing person I am when the topic arises. “I could never do that”, they say as they quickly change the topic or listen awkwardly as I attempt to explain our reasoning for choosing to raise rabbits for meat.

But to be really frank, it just plain ticks me off. There I said it.

Now before I get on this rant of mine I should note that I tend to lump people in this area into two categories.

1) The people who are freaked out by the raising of animals and butchering process, but who are informed and WANT a different way even if they haven’t changed anything in their lives.

2) The people who wrinkle their noses at me or label me a “baby bunny killer” who are the very same people eating factory raised meat ALL THE TIME with no regard for the animals lives that they took or the potential problems that have happened to the meat they are consuming.

My take away point:

If you want to turn your nose up at me for humanely raising and butchering my own meat than you had gosh darn better be a vegetarian. (The irony is most of the vegetarian’s I have met actually completely respect and are grateful towards those of us who care about how our food gets on our table.)

You have a responsibility to be educated and educate your children on what you are putting in your mouth day in and day out. Whether you want to admit it or not, animals live’s are taken in order that your life may continue to exist. Living in your mess-free, blood-free, packaged in pretty little foam packaged world does not change that.  In fact it perpetuates the problem.

Do you realize that 80% of our beef is processed in this country by just FOUR companies? That 35 million cattle (that’s 35,000,000 individual cows) are slaughtered in the U.S. annually by only 60 major beef-packing operations!?! 

To put this in perspective that means that each plant is processing and packing:

583, 333 cows per year

48, 611 cows per month

1620 cows per day

Over 1600 cows per day! And you really think that your little package of hamburger was carefully inspected and cared for?

Do you know how many food recalls there are every year?

These places are giant cesspools of bacteria and blood and guts and chemicals. How can they not be? There is no sunshine, there is no wind, there is no rest time between one butchering and the next. It’s not natural.

It is absolutely illogical to expect them to be anything different. No amount of regulations can change the fact that a mass produced piece of meat will always be that, and you can be assured that to keep the infections down and the profit levels high that your food, your innocent little package of hamburger is not guaranteed to be safe or chemical free.

Suddenly me being a “rabbit killer” doesn’t sound so bad does it?

So if you are one of those nose wrinklers (or have been in the past), educate yourself. If you still decide to eat what you eat, at least don’t judge those of us around you who are trying to do something different.

And yes, I understand what it is like to know this stuff and still have to buy meat at the grocery store. Can I afford local grass-fed beef  or locally raised chickens all the time right now? Nope. Every time I put a package of meat in my cart I understand that is the industry that I am supporting.

But we are trying. Trying to make a difference, to live by our convictions and eat the things that support the kind of living and food we believe in. And every rabbit we put in the freezer, every chicken that we process, every package of deer meat that we trade with friends for, or will hunt for…..is precious and a step in the right direction.

So in response to the question, “How can we eat our pets?”. My answer is always this…..they aren’t our pets. We eat animals that we raise for meat. They don’t get names and they don’t get coddled. They get affection yes, a scratch under the chin at feeding time etc. but we don’t bring them in the house or anything like that.

We respect these animals. We try our best to give them a good life and we thank God for their sacrifices as we end that life as humanely as possible.

In summary the answer to my original post title is yes….raising rabbits for our family table is absolutely worth it. We know exactly what they ate, what they have been exposed to, how they were processed and how that meat was cared for. That is worth every penny.

We will continue this discussion about how exactly we have them setup, what we feed them, and all the nitty gritty of how we actually take the idea of raising a meat rabbit all the way to the dinner table.

Is Raising Rabbits Worth It Part 2
5 Gallon Rabbit Watering System
Why We Don’t Pasture Our Rabbits Anymore”
Rabbit Tractor Repairs


By on February 15th, 2013

About Dani Meyer

Hi, I’m Dani! I’m most importantly mama to 3 wild little dudes. I spend my days cooking, photographing and exploring the Pacific Northwest. I'm a full time food blogger and online business coach.

I’m the author of Stress Free Camping, a 120+ page guide on making epic food in the woods. I’m also the founder of Food Blogger Entrepreneurs, the leading online academy and private community for food bloggers. → More About Dani

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27 thoughts on “Is Raising Rabbits Worth It?”

  1. when you think about it, in Europe rabbit has always been a staple. there are still areas of Europe were people live like they did hundred’s of years ago and how they survive can be a great lesson for modern americans who will soon be facing hard times. its low cost to raise ,they make no noise to disturb the neighbors .there easy to handle and small enough to freez .and there waste and by products are great for compost. i can not think of a more cost effective meat protean source during hard times then rabbit.

    Reply
      • When I was a kid way back in the early 1960s my Dad had over 100 doe’s that were in production year round. I don’t remember how many litters they had every year but one of my jobs, when I was in early grade school, was to feed, water and play with bunnies. I am sure that it was more a matter of making sure that they were used to the human touch than it was to be sure that they were “happy”, but that is what I was told. Every Saturday we would be out in the yard butchering bunnies. Some we sold some we ate.
        It’s funny I had no probably eating the rabbits and chickens that we butchered, but if I went fishing I never could eat the fish that I caught. I could eat somebody else’s fish but I couldn’t eat my own. I was a weird kid.
        I went on to have rabbit stock of my own in high school in the ’70s I did my own butchering and marketing and always had some money to spend on the four dates I went on while I was in high school. I commend your spirit!

        Reply
  2. I am in the beginning stages of raising meat rabbits as well. I also have been subjected to rude comments by so-called animal lovers. I usually respond by telling them about my severe allergy to growth hormones, and how virtually all the non-organic meat we purchase is contaminated with hormones. It is also contaminated with antibiotics. Now, at this point in our conversation, some people will exclaim "What's wrong with antibiotics?". Then I explain to them that antibiotics kill all of your good gut flora. Since 70% of your body's immune system depends on that gut flora, perhaps killing it is a bad idea?
    I could continue on and on with this topic, but suffice it to say, thanks for the great article. There's a small army of us out here who completely support you.

    Reply
  3. Thank you! We are in the beginning staged of raising our rabbits. We have had people say these things to us. Very good article and if I may ask for the recipe of the picture? Looks delish!

    Reply
  4. Hubby and I had a discussion about this just a day or two ago. We are very interested in learning more. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Dani I love this!!!! We just started raising our own meat rabbits and I wrote on almost this exact same thing yesterday. It’s a much bigger picture than just eating your pets. Props to you and yours for caring enough to raise your own.

    Reply
    • Hi Shaye!

      Thanks for the comment! I am so excited to hear about others who raise rabbits too…we have so enjoyed our experience with them! What kind of rabbits are you raising?

      Dani

      Reply
  6. Awesome! I didn’t get this whole article read, but I loved what I did read. I’ve said before, that people are too out of touch with their food. If you can’t handle butchering or even handling it raw, I actually know someone like this, then perhaps vegetarian really is the best option for you. If you can then respect the little soul that gave it’s life for your nourishment and don’t be wasteful of it. Good article Dani. I’d keep reading, but currently I’m searching for a link you previously posted. I’ve already gotten side tracked just posting this. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  7. I was happy to see this post! I had meat rabbits for two years and actually stopped telling friends that I had them. I live in So Calif where animal rights activists are trying to have “backyard butchers” charged with animal cruelty. Rabbit meat is healthy, delicious and versatile. We love it marinated and grilled. It is a great addition to any small farm. Attitudes need to be changed!

    Reply
    • Thanks for chimining in Barbara! That’s crazy about California, I had no idea! It’s really crazy to think about the fact that just a few generations ago rabbit meat was a regular on the dinner table for los of families. I hope we can help make a come back with them, they are delicious! I would love to get your marinade recipe if you are willing to share, we haven’t tried them that way!

      Dani

      Reply
  8. I tell them simply I don't eat my pets… but I do enjoy knowing my food has had a happy and healthy life and I even enjoy watching and interacting with them before it is time for them to pass…. It is that simple. I know the meat & eggs I eat has had a good life before it dies. How do I know… I get to see them running about playing etc… does that mean they are my pets? No… It means I believe in giving good care to them. It means they are more important than simply what I dumped out of a container. It means their life meant something. Recently I had a salad with boiled eggs with it… I honestly felt like I was cheating on my hens to even think of eating it. I ate it and then I was totally vowed to only eat my eggs from then on as they had no flavor and gave me absolutely no energy. Miss Thang's eggs give me energy I can feel it even if It is in a pancake or brownie. *working on a paleo brownie right now.*.

    Reply
    • Exactly! I feel that way about store bought eggs too….the yolks are so flavorless in comparison. Hadn’t compared the energy I feel from them though, I will have to pay attention and see if I notice a difference!

      Dani

      Reply
  9. FABULOUS work my dear 😉 VERY well said. It is time that America, home of the free actually wake up and take a look at the freedoms that the industry take with everything. WE have a choice to have life differently, but it will cost us with the freedom to choose a more manual/industry free way of living. As I see it freedom always costs. Their (industry) freedom (to do what ever they want to my food based on who they can pay to look the other way…and don't fool yourself, it happens everyday, or what new regulation they can over word to get it to slide through) will cost me my health. My freedom (and harder work) will give me better health for me and my family and thus a better life.It is America home of the free, but are you willing to pay the price to have it? Hmmmm wonder if we are related in any way?

    Reply
    • Yes, it definitely is a trade off one way or the other. Cheap and painless is what America wants most of the time. I don’t always love how hard things can be to do it yourself but I always love the end result!

      Reply
  10. Wow. I remember when we didn't need to explain we just lived by our own works. Raised all animals for milk, eggs, meat, and gardened free from all pestisides. You go girl. Big hand clap for you. God bless.

    Reply

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