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Protein Choices: Rabbits

October 25, 2012

Rabbits have been a source of protein for thousands of years in areas where hunting has maintained a popularity in the culture. Domesticated rabbits are raised in hutches and are prolific reproducers, enabling a cost effective source of meat.

Sold in meat markets throughout Europe, rabbit meat has been available in the United States but never at the level of overseas marketing. Several Wild Ramp market producers raise rabbit and when one provided some in the market a few weeks ago, it sold out rapidly.

Photo taken in the market in Paris’ 7th arrondisement by Beth Rankin in 2009-Direct from the Producer!!

California and New Zealand White rabbits are the most popular breeds for a meat operation. They generally have all the traits needed for a successful meat operation, such as high milk production, frequent breedings, and large litter size .

New Zealand Red

American Chinchilla

Satin

Blanc d’Hotot

Champagne D’Argent

Heritage breeds include the American Chinchilla, New Zealand Red, Silver Fox, Champagne D’Argents, Blanc d’Hotot, and Satin rabbits.  Many of these are near extinction or on the critical watch list and heritage breeders are helping increase the population and genetic diversification again.

Nutritional information about rabbit meat.

  • Rabbit meat is all white meat.
  • Rabbit has 795 calories per pound. Compare: chicken at 810, veal at 840, turkey at 1190, lamb at 1420, beef at 1440 and pork at 2050.Graph
  • Rabbit has the highest percentage of protein.
  • Rabbit has a lower percentage of fat than chicken, turkey, beef, or pork with unsaturated fatty acids at 63% of the total fatty acids.
  • The cholesterol level in rabbit meat is much lower than chicken, turkey, beef, pork.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stated that domestic rabbit meat is the most nutritious meat known to man.
  • Research shows that rabbit meat has been recommended for special diets such as for heart disease patients, diets for the elderly, low sodium diets, and weight reduction diets.
  • Because it is easily digested, it has been recommended by doctors for patients who have trouble eating other meats.
  • Rabbit meat compares very favorably to veal.
  • Rabbit meat is well tolerated by dogs and other pets with digestive issues.

There are several health issues associated with the use of rabbits for meat.  One is tularemia or rabbit fever which  is spread by ticks and infection to humans can occur although more typically with handling wild rabbits.  Another is rabbit starvation,  which results if the human diet is not balanced with a healthy level of fat and other nutritional sources.

We cooked our rabbit in the crock pot. After several hours I deboned the meat and added it back to the slow cooker with the veggies. We had a marvelous stew that night for supper. And yes, it does taste like chicken.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Brooke Nissim-Sabat permalink
    October 25, 2012 2:51 pm

    Ha! Love the last line. I’d been wondering the whole time.

    • October 25, 2012 3:30 pm

      Very mild. The major concern is that the meat is VERY lean and cooking it needs a recipe that will add moisture…but it sure was good and disappeared easily in this family. *G*

  2. October 25, 2012 4:07 pm

    Nice price on the French rabbit meat – about $7 USD/lb…three years ago. I’ve had rabbit a few times, wild and farmed – always in stew. I liked the gamey flavour of the wild – without it, I agree, it has a mouth feel like chicken.

  3. October 27, 2012 12:58 am

    Unfortunately, the majority of rabbits pictured are house rabbits…ergo, PETS!

  4. October 27, 2012 1:00 am

    Joe, this is the same post as what was shown on the WVFarm2u blog a few months ago…they are all heritage breeds that are meat animals.

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