How to Pasture Meat Rabbits


When most Americans lived on the land instead of in cities, rabbit was a regular part of their diet. Whether shot or snared in the wild, or raised in hutches on the farm, rabbit was a convenient source of high-quality protein. Today food lovers are rediscovering rabbit, appreciating its leanness and flavor. Like free-range chickens, pastured rabbits are especially sought after. Raising your own rabbits on pasture requires much less work than most other kinds of livestock.

Things You'll Need

  • Lumber
  • Chicken wire
  • Hammer and nails
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Select a breed of meat rabbits, such as Californian, New Zealand, Palomino, Cinnamon or the American Chinchilla. All are capable of reaching mature weights in the 10 to 12 pound range, and the American Chinchilla can reach 16 pounds.

  • Allow your rabbit kits to remain in the hutches with their mothers until they have reached six or seven weeks of age, at which time they are less susceptible to diseases such as coccidiosis.

  • Construct a sturdy wooden frame. Pens four feet wide and eight feet long are a convenient size, holding a litter of seven to 10 rabbits conveniently. Cover the sides with chicken wire, securing it well with staples.

  • Build a removable or hinged lid for the rabbits' enclosure, so the animals can be added or removed easily.

  • Prevent the rabbits from digging out by flooring the mobile pen with chicken wire or wooden slats. Some growers provide only a partial floor at the edges of the pen, which discourages the animals digging but allows them maximum access to the grass under their feet.

  • Nail handles to the enclosure, to make it easier to move. Some pen designs also put wheels on the rear corners, to improve mobility.

  • Move the pens one to three times each day, depending on the number of rabbits and the quality of the pasture. The lusher the grass and the fewer the rabbits, the less they'll need to be moved.

  • Avoid pasturing rabbits on the same section of grass more than once in any given year. This will minimize the risk of illness or parasites.

  • Harvest and butcher the animals after six weeks of pasturing, by which time they will have reached market weight as fryers.

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