Rabbits have a higher feed-to-flesh conversion ratio than any other livestock. They are quiet, gentle animals that can be raised almost anywhere. They are well known for their ability to reproduce and provide mild, lean meat that tastes a lot like poultry. Perhaps you are wondering why, if you’re going to raise an animal that tastes like poultry, you wouldn’t just raise chickens instead. The reason is that rabbits are more efficient and productive than chickens. A female rabbit (doe) can produce up to one thousand times her body weight in food in a single year. You can process (skin and butcher) five rabbits in the same time it takes to process one chicken. Rabbits naturally live in dens and holes, so they can be raised in closer quarters than chickens. Also, rabbit fur is an additional commodity, besides the meat.
A diet of mixed grains like oat, soft wheats, and grain sorghums is a rabbit favorite. You need to supplement that with protein from good legume hay like alfalfa or timothy. Besides grain and hay, a plentiful supply of fresh water is essential for healthy rabbits.
You can raise rabbits in hutches or cages, or create rabbit runs with an outdoor fenced-in area. Letting your rabbits “run” decreases stress, increases their fur density, and gives you better meat because of the exercise. Whatever you decide, be sure that your housing is protected from predators, because that is the greatest danger to your rabbits.
One baby rabbit is called a kit; there are six to ten “kittens” in a litter. A rabbit’s gestational period is one month. When they are two months old, kittens should be weaned from their mothers. You can breed the female again once her litter has been weaned. A doe potentially can give birth to forty kittens in a year’s time.