Grit Blogs > Terra Dei Farm - A Life of Stewardship

Ready for Rabbits

 3 Week old New Zealand x California Rabbit Kits

We have a new litter of rabbits due this week.  We are relatively new to the meat rabbit world, as we just bought our first about six months ago.  But rabbits have come by their prolific reproductive reputation honestly, so that has been plenty of time to make it through our first breeding/gestation/growing/slaughtering/butchering/eating process.  Whirlwind. 

However, we are finding that rabbits are a very low-maintenance and affordable way to feed a (human) family.  With a little money, minimal patience, and a strong stomach once every few months we are able to keep our freezer stocked with an additional variety of healthy and delicious meat.  Can't really ask for more than that!

One thing we have found in our short venture is that photographic documentation of rabbits' habits and life cycle are often harder to come by than comparable learning tools for more common farm animals.  For example, we knew that a few days before kindling (giving birth in rabbit terms) the mother would add some of her own fur to the nest box bedding.  We didn't overly anticipate coming out to the barn one morning to a nest box overflowing with fluff.  Seriously, I'm talking a year's worth of dryer lint trap collectings!  

It has been a fun learning journey - it amazes me that something that starts out looking like this:
3 Day Old Rabbit Kits

A mere 3 weeks later, will look like this:

3 week old Rabbit Kit

And within another month or so will be ready to process...maybe I'll have the guts to show the pictures from that "day on the farm" a different time...

On a lighter rabbit-related note - one of the rabbits we bought in January was a young female who, "would be ready to breed around May."  We brought her home, our 5 year old named her Mary, and she grew like crazy. 

As you know, May recently transpired and during said month we decided it was time to breed her.  We placed her in with the buck, Roger Rabbit, and watched.  And waited.  For a few moments...nothing.  Then, slowly, some sniffing.  A hint of hissing.  More sniffing.  Suddenly, Mary started chasing Roger around his cage.  And, a few moments later, we realized that Mary was NOT female. 

I fear that Roger is still nursing the physical and psychological wounds of his assault.  

juanene johnson
10/12/2012 5:15:29 PM

Having raised and shown rabbits for many years I find the sexing of rabbits to be very easy and if you are shown want to look for you too will find the same thing. Ask a local 4-H extension office and they will have a leader there that can help you. A female rabbit will jump/mount a male rabbit. I have seen this many times. Please make sure you are not assuming that Mary is not a Mary before getting rid of her.


nebraska dave
6/7/2012 2:05:51 PM

Alexandra, you made me belly laugh out loud with the rabbit story. It certainly is difficult to tell the female rabbits from the male rabbits, isn't it? I have only been part of one rabbit processing and that was practically 40 years ago when I was married to my first wife. Her sister Dorthy was some what of a back woods kind of person that lived in Missouri. They had about 30 rabbits to process. I must say that it's an emotional thing to actually have to euthanise a cute little fuzzy bunny. It's not something for the weak of heart. Because I had been raised on a farm and knew about the circle of life that stage one job fell to me because Dorthy's husband just couldn't do it. If the little buggers were out in the woods and he had a rifle, then he wouldn't have had a problem but being up close and personal is just something a lot of folks can't do especially when care was given to them for some weeks. Life on the homestead can be a little emotional at times. Rabbit does have a great taste and as you have stated they really grow fast. The rabbit pellets are one of the best garden fertilizers. Have a great rabbit raising day.