Rabbits are a great source of low-fat protein. A 3 oz. serving of rabbit meat contains 28 grams of protein, 4 mg of iron, 204 mg of phosphorous, and 292 mg of potassium. Rabbit meat is higher in protein than beef or chicken, and lower in fat.
The younger rabbits or “fryers”, weigh anywhere from 1.5 lbs to 3.5 lbs and are approximately 3 months old. This meat is often prepared much like chicken in recipes and is virtually indistinguishable from chicken in most casseroles. The latter being a great way to serve it at family functions and “sneak it by” those relatives who are apprehensive to trying new types of foods.
Mature rabbits weigh more than 4 lbs., often reaching 10 or 11 lbs., at the age of 8 months or more. The meat from older rabbits is usually tougher than that of the fryers and can take longer to cook. It is sometimes used in recipes in place of beef, though it’s more comparable to duck meat. The meat from older rabbits is often stronger in flavor as well. For some, the “wilder” taste of mature rabbit meat can be unpleasant.
For that reason, this meat is better to put into recipes with other strong flavors such as chili and other spices. Rabbits are quick to harvest, as well; you can harvest them in as little as 3 months. A Doe rabbit’s gestational period is roughly 32 days and a 10 lb. Doe can produce 320 pounds of meat per year. Rabbits eat very little and require much less space than almost any other meat animal.
Zoning laws will allow you to raise rabbits in most backyards even when other meat animals have been banned, such as chicken, goats, and cows. For that reason, you’re not required to buy farmland to raise your own rabbit meat.
Before proceeding, you should be aware of “Fluffy Bunny” syndrome. Many people do not have the stomach to handle killing rabbits, and it can be easy to become attached to the rabbits that you’re raising. Children are the most susceptible to this and it can become a major issue for them. While rabbits are usually quiet, you’ll want to be wary of neighbors, as they and PETA can make life difficult for you.