Meat rabbits have been part of our farm family for nine years. When my children were young, we asked each of them to pick a “business” on the farm that they could manage independently. They were responsible for the whole project from daily animal care to recording revenue and expenses. We provided them with “seed” money and supervised their project. Katey picked rabbits to raise. We brought her to visit Charlie at Rabbit Tracks farm in Davenport and she chose two meat breeds: a New Zealand buck and three California Red does. Charlie showed her how to keep records for breeding, kindling and general care. We bought Raising Rabbits the Modern Way by Bob Bennett. Katey and Tom built rabbit hutches and bought feeders and water bottles.
|Katey nine years old with her first breeding doe|
|Doe gathering hay for her nest|
|The Nest box with newborn kits in a nest of fur, hay, shavings|
|One day old kit|
|5 week old kits hopping in and out of their nest box|
By six weeks, the doe is rebred and the kits are put in rabbit cages that move on pasture.
The cages are dragged on pasture twice a day. The growing kits have ample room to run and bounce.
|The Rabbit Cage Fleet|
|Doe and her 5 week kits in pastured rabbit cage on the farm|
|Tom slaughtering a rabbit|
3 - 4 lbs rabbit
6 potatoes, quartered
8 carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup beef consomme
3/4 cup beef broth
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon basil
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 Cut rabbit into pieces. Layer onion, potatoes, and carrots in bottom of a crock pot. 2 Add spices to the pot. 3 Add rabbit, salt, pepper, consommé, and about 3/4 cup beef broth. 4 Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Thicken gravy as desired. Serve with sweet potato biscuits.
Young rabbits or fryers are sautéed with garlic and butter and fresh chives or parsley. This is my favorite recipe that we serve mid summer at Fable using almost ripe pears from our neighbor’s pear trees.
Braised Rabbit with Pears Recipe
2 young rabbits, each cut into 6 to 8 pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cups dry red wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 firm, slightly not-quite-ripe pears; skin removed, cored and halved
3 tablespoons chilled butter
Season rabbit pieces and dust lightly with flour. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3 - 4 minutes. Add rabbit pieces and brown each evenly. Add wine, broth, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, rosemary and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add pears to the pan, cover and simmer for 30 minutes more. Remove rabbit and pears and arrange on plates. Remove bay leaves and rosemary from pan. Whisk in butter until melted and spoon sauce over rabbit.
Tom makes a great rabbit linked sausage with rabbit, pork, apple, salt, garlic and spices. We sell it in our farm store and at the farmers markets.
Tom recently gave a rabbit slaughtering presentation at the Callicoon market to a large group of people who are raising or thinking of raising rabbits for food. We held a rabbit workshop last summer and will repeat it this year if folks are interested. A description of the workshop:
Rabbit to Roaster
Rabbits are caged raised during kindling and transferred to pasture cages at weaning. See the rabbitry and pastured rabbit cages. Learn how to raise rabbits on pasture. Learn how to slaughter rabbits and break down the rabbits into parts used for stewing, braising, sautéing and grilling. A rabbit meat inspired lunch will be served. In Fable, the farm’s restaurant, participants will work together to prepare dinner using all parts of the rabbit (including the liver and kidneys) Dinner will be accompanied by the seasonal dairy and produce raised and harvested on the farm.
|Farmer selling live rabbits at Bayeux Market in Normandy France|