What Is The Easiest Animal To Raise For Meat?

Dear Granny –
You do some animal raising and I’m sure you know quite a bit more than myself. My question is, what is the easiest edible animal to raise? The best starter animal that is, both in price and in headaches. When I get my own farm going, I hope to not have to do a lot of vet trips so ones I either don’t have to worry about medically too much, or ones that are sturdy or plentiful enough that I don’t have to worry about them dying off.
Lee in IL

Lee –
Without a doubt rabbits are the easiest and most cost-effective animal when it comes to putting meat on the table.
Going by today’s prices (2012) $185 would probably set you up with cages, water bottles, feed pans and grade breeding stock if you bought carefully.
That would be 2 does and a buck – each with their own cage and equipment.

Not all rabbits are suitable for meat production.
Stick with the California, New Zealand and Creme D’Argent breeds.

Rabbits are very intolerant of extreme heat so you need to keep that in mind.
In so far as having a vet call for a sick rabbit – that’s probably not going to happen.
The vet call will cost you more than the rabbit.
A sick rabbit is a dead rabbit.

Rabbits are historically and traditionally the cottagers and homesteaders animal.
They don’t take up a lot a space and pay back in a big way. Rabbits were one of the reasons people in the Netherlands managed to survive WW II. Rabbits are very easy to keep in cities and in towns and rabbits work in perfect tandem with vegetable gardens.

Rabbit manure can be applied directly to plants in the garden. It won’t burn plants and does not have to be composted or aged.
Basically, you feed the rabbits from the garden and then re-cycle what you fed them back into the garden.

Rabbits are much easier to dress out than chicken.
They are more efficient in turning grain, vegetables or kitchen waste into food for humans.
Rabbit meat is high protein and very low in fat – much lower in fat than chicken.

The hardest thing about raising rabbits for meat is killing them.
It can be hard to kill a helpless furry, cute animal.

The best way  to kill a domestic rabbit (chickens too) is by cervical dislocation. Not everyone is up for killing rabbits or chickens with their bare hands or a broomstick.
A helpful tool for killing rabbits is the Rabbit Wringer.  It’s very fast, doesn’t take a lot of strength, bloodless, and if done correctly really is the most humane method I know of.

For some reason rabbit meat fell out of favor in this country sometime after the 1920′s. It is hardly ever seen in the grocery store these days and when you do find it, it can be expensive.
And that’s a shame.
Rabbit stew with potatoes, parsnips and carrots makes a wonderful nutritious supper and is one of life’s joys.
Rabbit are good for home canning and canned rabbit can be used exactly like canned chicken.
Good Luck!