Did you know that there are more to rabbits than just cute, furry little pets? Rabbits can actually be a great addition to a homestead! Not only are they versatile, but rabbits are also a great educational tool for your homeschool.
Don’t get me wrong, rabbits can make excellent pets! But there is so much more that you can do with them. For example, did you know that pet bunny could be used as a 4-H project? They can learn all about how to properly raise, feed and even breed rabbits, and get credit for it!
Talk about a hands-on science curriculum!
In addition, they can learn how to show rabbits for competition. It is amazing how much a young child can learn about what to look for in a good “show quality” rabbit – size, structure, fur quality; and also what qualities to try to avoid. There are opportunities to learn and grow in the show arena through 4-H and ARBA open shows all across the country!
As they breed their rabbits they can learn how to improve their herd and breed for desirable characteristics. They can also earn money by selling their extra bunnies as pets to others.
Now we’ve added economics and business to the curriculum as well!
On the homestead, there are other purposes rabbits can serve. If you’ve ever planted a garden, I’ll bet you’ve had wild rabbits come in and feast upon your produce. When raising rabbits, you can feed them a lot of your garden scraps. They love the leafy greens that we tend to throw away, and they won’t care if you give them an ugly looking carrot over a pretty one. Just use caution, as rabbits can’t eat everything out of your garden, but they can certainly help cut down on the garden waste! Here is a good list of safe fruits and vegetables for your rabbits.
If you don’t have a lot of garden scraps to feed your rabbits, you can also feed them grass clippings or hay. They really are a low-maintenance animal. They tolerate winter well, so long as you shield them from the wind. In the summertime they need a lot of shade, and if it gets too hot, you can place frozen water bottles in with them to cool them down.
We’ve still mostly talked about the cute side of rabbits. On a homestead, one of the main keys to sustainability is food. Rabbit meat is very healthy, easy to digest, and quite economical – especially if you are raising them with scraps you already have! Rabbit meat is one of the lowest-fat, highest protein meat available. You can check out more of the rabbit meat nutrition details here. Rabbit stew is great on a cool fall night!
It only takes 8-11 weeks to raise a rabbit to butcher weight, so you get a really fast turnaround. A large meat breed rabbit can have anywhere from 6-10 babies per litter, and you can breed a few times each year. There’s a reason you’ve heard the expression “breed like rabbits!”
In addition to the wonderful meat they provide, rabbits also have beautiful fur pelts that you can sell, trade, or have tanned to use in making your own goods.
We had a few chickens, and when we added a cute little bunny, Max, we had no idea that our homesteading adventure had actually begun! Not only has it been an amazing educational opportunity for our children, teaching them responsibility as they go, it has also provided fun, and food, for our family for several years now.
I’d love to hear from you!! Do you have rabbits on your homestead, or are you thinking about adding some?