We recently had three sets of baby New Zealand rabbits born on the homestead. We have 3 mommas’ now and 2 more “sure to be” mommas’ in the works! If all goes right we can usually expect about 50 babies from those 5 does we have. We raise New Zealand meat rabbits to sale and to butcher. Practicing and living a life as sustainable as possible and as self sufficient as we can, means, we raise our own food, grow our own food, wild forage and possibly even hunt our own food. This will be the first year that we have chosen to add the later way to our list, but it is one that is a necessary thing if we are to continue to improve our way of life off the grid.
One doe rabbit can produce up to 300 lbs of food a year! Isn’t that impressive? With our 5 in full swing we are sure to never go hungry on the homestead. We also raise chickens for both egg production and meat and this year we will be adding 2 pigs to the mix that will be butchered in the fall and stored and eaten throughout winter. Back to the baby bunnies, they are a hand full at about 1 week old. It is then that their fur is all grown in, their eyes are open and they are large enough to jump from the nesting box we provide her when pregnant.
At this time we remove the nest box and place all the nest contents on the cage floor off in a corner out of momma’s way. Usually this matters not because the babies are so rambunctious that there is no keeping them in the nest! During their first 2 weeks die offs are possible and usually not rare. It is normal for a doe to give birth to 10 baby bunnies and 3, or more, die before 2 weeks old. At any rate, rabbits are self sufficient, in that, all you have to do is keep them mated and your food never stops coming in. Rabbits will provide your family with some very good, high quality, non tainted with meat all year long. When we got started we purchased 5 rabbits. We ended up breeding a doe and buck and selling the others to buy food to feed them all.
From that one pair we have never ran out of food and it’s been 4 years off grid now. In about 3 months they will be butcher size. Around fall we butcher some rabbits and put them in a friend’s deep freezer for safe keeping. However, through the rest of the year we just breed and sale what we do not want to keep and eat merrily when we wish. If there is one thing we are sold on it’s just how self sufficient raising meat rabbits is. No matter the prices or how poison store meats are, we will always be eating good on the homestead.