Here are some excerpts from "Backyard Livestock", in the chapter about rabbits. I have found this book very informative!
"One 10-pound doe can produce in her litters up to 120 pounds of meat per year - a production of over 1,000 percent of her body weight!...
...They do not require a great deal of care, and they are efficient converters of feed to meat. The litters are butchered before weaning, so there
is no need to go the additional time and expense of building more hutches...
....The meat is similar, though...superior to chicken. It is all white and has more delicate flavor. It exceeds the protein content of beef, pork,
lamb, and chicken, but has lower percentage of fat, cholesterol, and ounce for ounce, lower calories."
Now, I've personally entertained the idea of rabbit as a source of food, but I'm leaning more toward growing Tilapia in a few, inexpensive,
above ground pools. Fish, ultimately, are superior to animal meat, in that they contain omega's. They grow quickly, reproduce by the hundreds, are
perfect "portions", and can be kept in conjunction with hydroponic type growing methods in which the plants will LOVE the rich waters that the fish
are producing. Just an idea!
On the other hand, if you were to be super efficient with your rabbit keeping, I would get a multi-purpose breed....Angora, or some other Giant
breed with beautiful, luxurious fur. Sheer the adults you plan to keep, and in the colors you want, and learn the art of spinning your own natural
fibers. It's a lost art to most of American culture, but is quickly making a comeback for obvious reasons, and gaining immense popularity...even
among the male population, believe it or not! More than gold, people will always need clothing and food. Why not provide these yourself? In
addition, rabbit poop makes good fertilizer, and when you butcher them, recycle the skins and learn how to tan your own rabbit hides. Yet another
level of effciency.
Personally, I think a small variation of animals is best. I own chickens, and if they are taken care of properly, they don't stink. All poop
stinks, and yes, chicken poop is not pleasant....it's what you do with it that matters. If the animals are allowed to wallow in in, then yes,
you're gonna have a smelly mess on your hands. BUT....chicken poop is the BEST manure for plant crops, and can be used directly on them without
composting, unlike other manure. Chickens should not be discounted simply due to smell! They are supreme bug hunters, and will aerate your yard if
you let them roam freely. I cannot stress how good they are at gathering bugs! I watch mine fight each other as they chase grasshoppers. Quite
funny animals, they are!
Chickens are fairly cheap to purchase to begin with, not hard to care for, and can provide many levels of usage....eggs, meat, chicks, manure,
and down feathers if you should want to get gung-ho about it. Have you looked at the price of down comforters lately, or feather pillows? They're
NOT cheap! Again, why not do it yourself? If you pick a nice multi-purpose breed, you can let your hens lay and hatch their own eggs without any
added hassle on your end, sell off what you don't want, keep what you do, and keep the process going. Keep two roosters - one for breeding, the
other in case of an accident, and put the rest in the freezer. Ask around where you live, and you'll most likely find a local butcher that will
process your chickens for you at about $1-$2 per bird...this is pretty good if you don't want to do it yourself.
I can't finish this post without mentioning goats. Personally, I want two different breeds....one for milk and the other for fiber, and maybe
even develop my own breed, who knows? Goats come in Angora breeds as well. Nubians, however, are known for their high butter fat content, (but also
low in volume, unfortunately), and therefore make excellent producers of milk for milk products. They are, hands down, the most efficient feeders, in
that no other farm animal can convert low-protein feed into high-protein products the way goats can. Their milk is indistinguishable from cow's
milk, and is easier to digest. More people in the world drink goat's milk than cow's milk. Their meat (called chevon), is also a common dish in
other countries, and tastes like lamb. If you keep two goats and breed them at different times of the year, one will always be producing milk for
In addition, goats make great manure, and if you're inclined to use them for meat as well, their hides also provide another level of usage. I
can hear the animal right's activists now, but we're talking about what the Indians use to do....everything, and I mean EVERYTHING was used, and put
to use. Not for luxury, but out of necessity.
So, to close, I would humbly recommend 8-12 chickens, two giant angora rabbits (or another giant breed with luxury fur), two goats (does) of
good milking quality, and would also recommend looking into small scale fish farming....it's not as hard as you think! With all this, and a small
garden, you can provide your family with almost everything you need! Goat milk makes wonderful soaps, and the fibers from the rabbits and goats can
be used separately or combined to make a beautiful fiber. Butter is extraordinarily easy to make, and there are plenty of books out there to teach
you how to make common cheeses....mozzerella, cream cheese, yogurt, etc. Don't buy into the naysayers who swear that goat's milk is inferior or
that it makes inferior cheese....this is nothing but ignorance at best. You won't be able to tell the difference, unless you screwed up the recipe