The backyard farmer is accustomed to growing vegetables and, typically, raising chickens, but there’s certainly room on pasture for another type of small, meat-bearing creature. Rabbits can easily be raised on the homestead, make good pets—and even better dinners. We certainly wouldn’t discourage you from raising non-GMO poultry, but there are a lot of great reasons to raise non-GMO rabbits as well.
Inexpensive To Maintain
Rabbits don’t require as much care and diligence as some bigger farm animals. These creatures can live in several different climates, and their enclosures can be cheaply produced with supplies from the local hardware store and don’t take up a great deal of space—perfect for backyard farmers who find themselves in urban areas. For those with much more space available, rabbits also thrive out on pasture.
As far as feed goes, rabbit owners have several options. Non-GMO feed is essential for raising GMO-free and organic rabbits, which of course, are ideal for animals being raised for food. The benefits of non-GMO meat are plentiful and many large organizations and food suppliers are looking to reward this kind of healthy thinking.
In addition to rabbit pellets, the little balls of fluff also enjoy a hefty helping of greens. This can come from the grass in your yard or from the leafy vegetables you grow in your own garden. What could be more affordable than an animal that loves water and the plants that already grow in your yard? Rabbits also produce more meat per pound of feed than a cow does.
Furthermore, rabbit manure makes excellent fertilizer so you can use it to keep your garden happy. They are just the right animal to raise if you are interested in sustainable farming.
Rabbit meat is just like chicken meat; it actually has a little bit more protein, however, and a few less calories with a very similar flavor. Rabbit meat even has just the right amount of beneficial fatty acids that humans need in their diets. High-quality rabbit isn’t always easy to come by, however, and the demand for it in the United States is quite high. Big business farms aren’t able to care for or produce them in an adequate manner, which leaves the door wide open for smaller, family-run operations to take charge of this profitable market.
They Breed Like Rabbits
This common and cliche phrase is especially pertinent because, well, they are rabbits. Young female rabbits reach sexual maturity around six months of age. These does do not have a fertile period like most other creatures—they can conceive a litter at any time. After being separated from her young ones at around six weeks, the doe (female rabbit) can conceive again, and will bear her next litter of five to ten babies after roughly 30 days. This means that she can have several litters a year and the backyard farmer can benefit from a constantly replenished supply of meat-bearing animals when they are bred safely and are well taken care of.
Having a large amount of animals that are inexpensive to care for, breed efficiently, and reach maturity quickly is great for backyard farmers looking for a cost effective way to supply their families with non-GMO, organic, and overall healthy meat. It’s even better for those who might be interested in making a business of it.
New farmers typically start off with chickens, and why wouldn’t you? Lean, non-GMO meat and eggs for the table from animals that aren’t complicated to care for is a great option for those testing the waters. Once the decision has been made to dive in, however, backyard farmers have a lot to gain from raising GMO-free rabbits.