18. January 2013 · Comments Off on Rabbit harvest · Categories: Farm, Food · Tags: , , , ,

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog before, but it’s time to ‘fess up about our first venture into the keeping of meat animals.

Last spring we bought a breeding pair of rabbits.  They are of an old Swedish breed, bred for being kept outdoors in the Swedish climate, and they used to be kept both for meat and pelts.

In the summer, we got our first litter: three sweet, fuzzy little baby bunnies.  I won’t post pictures of their sweet fuzziness, because this is what became of them.

Three good family meals. We ate one for Christmas dinner.

And a batch of liver pate. This was seriously delicious. Rabbits have bizarrely large livers, in comparison to the size of the animal. Hooray for that!

I hope no-one finds this disturbing.  Yes, they are cute little bunnies.  Insanely cute.  But I think chickens are cute too, and no-body thinks twice about eating those.  Or lambs.  Rabbits are very well suited to small-scale self-sufficiency type farming.  In the summer they are in outdoor runs and feed themselves on grass – so they’re really cheap to keep.  If you’re only keeping your breeding pair through the winter, then they just need hay, water, and some pellets, so they’re still cheap to keep.  If we can rearrange their living quarters a bit we can bring down the daily maintenance time a lot – that’s something I have plans for this year.  In terms of converting feed & water to meat, a rabbit is 6 times more efficient than a cow.  They’re also much easier to handle – we took care of them from birth to the dinner table, handling all the slaughter etc ourselves.  It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.

I’d much rather eat a cute fuzzy little bunny that had a fun time hopping about in the grass all summer, than a factory-raised chicken that lived for 6 short weeks in a crowded barn eating unnatural food and was finally so abnormally large that standing up caused its legs to break.  Since there is only one brand of chicken here that I will buy, and it’s freaking expensive, the rabbits are our white meat source until we can get breeding some chooks.