Backyard Meat: Raising Rabbits

Tastes like chicken

When I was a young bride, my hunter father-in-law used to occasionally give me rabbits that he had shot and cleaned. I would cut these up and fry them like chicken to make a tasty meal. While we had to be careful of any remaining shotgun pellets (“Don’t break your teeth on the birdshot!”), the meat was a welcome supplement to our meager grocery budget.

Later in life, we had neighbours that raised rabbits for food in the backyard of their summer cottage. Because they were absent a lot during the week, my girls often got the job of caring for the bunnies. They always enjoyed this and, thankfully, were never overly sentimental about their charges, understanding that they were destined for the dinner table.

No crowing!

Rabbits are relatively easy to care for. While they are messy, as the book says “Everyone Poops,” they have several advantages over their fowl counterparts, backyard chickens. If you are planning to raise your own meat in the backyard, the most important advantage of rabbits might be that they are relatively noiseless. If you have neighbours, this is an important consideration. You do not want a visit from your local bylaw officer telling you that your meat producers have to go. Rabbits are also more good natured, and definitely cuddlier than their feathered and beaked cousins. There is also the obvious advantage that they breed like, um… rabbits.

You do need to make sure your rabbits are well protected in a sturdy hutch. As well as being great eating for humans, they make delicious midnight snacks for stray dogs, foxes, etc.

Rabbit meat is lean and skinless, and can be prepared in a variety of ways, from battered and fried to stewed to perfection in the slowcooker. If you are working toward self-sufficiency in providing your own food, rabbits can be a smart addition to your backyard garden.

Chicken-fried Rabbit

Cut your cleaned and prepared rabbit into pieces, as you would a chicken. Dip in beaten egg, then in a seasoned flour mixture. Fry in a quarter inch of oil in the frying pan until well-cooked and tender. You can use any chicken recipe for rabbit. Shake and Bake Bunny anyone?

The New Self-Sufficient Gardener

This is the most comprehensive book that I know of on producing your own food. I have the original 1978 version. John Seymour is knowledgable and thorough and, yes, he does include a section on raising rabbits in your backyard. This is the one book I would recommend to anyone who is serious about home-grown food production. As a delightful bonus, the illustrations are so beautiful you will want to frame them! Click the book photo and have a look for yourself!

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