In case y’all didn’t know, the Hickman County fair begins this Thursday, September 20th at 6:00pm. I have the privilege of helping set up the Petting Farm and I’m getting really excited about it. Nate and I are bringing a couple of goats and a few rabbits. So this morning I started thinking about the many benefits of raising rabbits and I thought I would share some of them here on our Arts & Ag blog.
- Low Cost
- Great Manure
- Minimal space requirement
- Easy to breed
- Taste GREAT!
If you ask me rabbits are second only to chickens in terms of the best livestock to raise. They are small and quiet and very inexpensive to house and feed. They only eat a ¼ cup of food each day. Another bonus is that rabbit manure is what you call “cold” which means it’s ready to go right into the garden with no composting time required. It’ll really boost the nitrogen level in your soil too without burning your plants.
Rabbits are relatively easy to breed. You will want to house your does separate from your buck. When you’re ready for them to breed, you just put a doe in with the buck and let them do their thing. Don’t put him into her cage though because does are territorial and she might try to attack. When the buck is finished breeding, he’ll squeal and fall off of the doe’s back.
After breeding, if all goes well, your doe will kindle in 5 weeks. Four days before she’s due, put some bedding in her nest box. She should begin to nest and you’ll know the kits are on the way when she pulls out the fur on her belly for them. This makes the nest nice and soft and makes it easy for the kits to find their momma’s milk.
Rabbits are a great source of lean protein. They should be prepared at about 5-6 weeks old. At this age you can expect them to weigh somewhere around 3 lbs, maybe more depending on the breed. Rabbit tastes wonderful when cooked in the crock pot, stewed with homegrown veggies or pan fried with a mustard wine sauce. Here’s one of my all time favorite rabbit recipes:
1 medium sized Rabbit (about 2 lbs) cut into pieces
1 tb Olive oil
1 tb Butter
1 md Onion, quartered
Salt and pepper to taste
Wine of your choosing (I used my husband’s homemade blackberry wine)
4 tb Whipping cream (I used soft goat cheese thinned with fresh goat milk)
1/2 tb Grainy coarse Dijon Mustard
Wipe meat pieces and trim off any fat. Heat olive oil and butter or margarine in large skillet until bubbly. Add meat pieces and saute on all sides until browned. While browning, add onion chunks to skillet in between meat pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Generously ‘slosh’ wine over top (at least 1/2 cup). Cover. Cook over medium to low heat about 30 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Remove meat pieces from pan and keep warm. Discard onion chunks. Increase heat to medium high. Add cream and mustard; cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Return meat to pan and coat on all sides with sauce. Serve at once.
I made this dish for my aunt’s birthday party. We served it with her homemade potato salad, hummus, green beans from the garden, sliced heirloom tomatoes topped with fresh goat cheese, olive oil and basil, and Champagne. Best meal of the summer so far!