10 Reasons to Raise Backyard Meat Rabbits – A Sustainable Meat Source for the Homestead

This post was most recently updated on July 27th, 2021

Are you looking for an ethical, affordable, efficient way of providing your family with meat in your own backyard? Backyard meat rabbits might be your answer. During times of financial difficulty like the previous 2 World Wars and the Great Depression, most families raised both chickens and rabbits in their backyard.

Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

This post contains affiliate links, this means at no extra cost to you, we make a commission from sales. Please read our Disclosure Statement

Is rabbit meat sustainable?

Backyard meat rabbits give a sustainable, clean green option for those wanting to be more self sufficient even if you are living in the city!

Chickens supply eggs, and a little meat at the end of their life while rabbits reproduced prolifically and provided a quick and easy meat supply. 

Rabbits can be raised solely on grass and veggies if they need to be, and can line breed for many generations without issue. They are truly a sustainable, cheap way of raising meat in your backyard.


10 Reasons to Raise Backyard Meat Rabbits

1. Rabbits are Efficient

Rabbits are four times as efficient at converting feed to protein than beef cattle (1). You can raise rabbits on little more than grass and hay if you need to. For optimal growth you will want a higher protein feed, but if times are tight, they will grow on grass.

2. Rabbits are Easy Care

They are small, quiet, easy to keep and easier than chickens to process (NO PLUCKING!!). You can keep rabbits in your backyard even if you live on an urban plot, I have even heard of people raising meat rabbits in their basement!


Want to know all about raising rabbits in a colony?

Check out our very own book here:

Available on Kindle and in paperback or from our store 


3. They are Healthy

Backyard meat rabbits make super lean meat that is very high in protein, and it tastes so much like chicken that most people won’t know the difference. Domestic bunny is a far cry from the gamey, tough/stringy wild bunny you may have tried.

4. They Grow Fast

Meat rabbits reach about 2-2.5kg (4.5-5.5lb) at 8-10 weeks, processing out to about 60-65% actual meat – about 1.5-1.8kg (3-4lb) per rabbit.

RELATED: How to get optimal growth from your rabbits

5. They are Reproductive Miracles

A mama rabbit can have comfortably 5 litters per year and up to 8 if you keep the does and bucks in together! They don’t call it breeding like rabbits for no reason! With an average of 7 kittens per litter you are looking at 35 – 56 kits per doe per year, that could be 52.5- 100.8 Kg (116-222lb) of meat per mama rabbit per year.

Young meat rabbits called ‘fryers’ are processed at 8-14 weeks of age, so their meat is white and tender. And before you go getting all judgy on us eating baby animals, all that delicious chicken you get at the supermarket is usually only 35-49 days old!

meat rabbit versus meat chicken

These two chickens are the same age, the brown one is my 8 week old laying chicken, the white franken-monster at the bottom is a “meat breed” chicken, they literally eat all day, and left to grow to 4-6 months will break their own legs by walking as they get so big so fast their bones can’t keep up.

Aren’t humans lovely, to breed a chicken like that all so we have have cheap meat… Also the commercial chicken you buy spends its 5-8 weeks in a shed like this, yes even in clean green NZ:

factory_meat caged chicken

To avoid the cages and cramped growing conditions, we choose to raise our meat rabbits in colonies. In a colony rabbits are free to run and prance and snuggle and do all the things bunnies love to do.

6. They take up very little space

You can keep rabbits in hutches on the lawn, or have them in stacked hanging cages several high in a carport lean-to.

Have I convinced you to keep meat rabbits on your homestead? If so, read on to see why we recommend raising them in a colony.

RELATED: Colony vs Cages

7. Rabbits don’t cost much to set up

To get started you could even use secondhand cages, or ones you make for free from scrap. They will need to be secure from predators and be protected from cold wind, rain and the heat.

Other than cages they need feed bowls, water bottles, a nesting box and some food.

8. Backyard meat rabbits make manure

They might be for eating, but their waste products are amazing manure for your vegetable garden. Rabbit poop does not need to be composted before it is used in the garden, and many people will pay good money for bags of bunny poop.

9. Butchering doesn’t need anything fancy

You can buy hopper-poppers and rabbit-wringers, captive bolt guns or a pellet gun. OR you can do the old tried-and-true broomstick method, it is quick, easy and quiet and all you need is a bit of re-bar (reinforcing steel, or similar – we use the fire poker!)

RELATED: Processing rabbits

10. You can also sell them as pets

If for any reason you decide that you don’t want to process the kits, you can easily sell them as pets and make a little pocket money on the side.

Housing Meat Rabbits in a Colony

If you like tips on frugal living, self sufficiency and consuming less, sign up to our newsletter below, I would LOVE to have you! if you would like to really learn about keeping meat rabbits, I recommend you check out my book.

Please pin and share!

Want to know all about raising rabbits in a colony?

Check out our very own book here:

Available on Kindle and in paperback or from our store 

Meat rabbits ultimate guide
Colony rabbits do best living in dirt, meat rabbits enjoy being able to live the natural way. Find out the surprising benefits to allowing your rabbits to burrow in the dirt.
8 Top Tips To Keep Rabbits Cool This Summer
Do you have rabbits or are looking at getting them in the future? Are you looking for a more natural way of raising rabbits in your backyard? I have put together the pros and cons of keeping rabbits in cages versus keeping rabbits in a colony. Find out more today! #rabbits #colony #meatrabbits #naturalrabbits
Rabbit First Aid Kit for Raising Meat Rabbits herbal remedies, rabbit health


Do you need more delicious goodness fresh from the farm?


Sign up for our weekly Fresh From the Farm Newsletter

All goodness, no spam.

Get exclusive content, discounts and updates.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a comment