Protein Choices: Rabbits
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.
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 .
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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.
- 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.