Using rabbits as a source of protein — the polite way to refer to eating rabbit meat — is by no means in vogue, but the idea is gaining traction as an easy, economical source of locally produced protein.
Both the concept and how to get started will be discussed in a workshop taught tonight by Pru Beyer at Wilson Banner Ranch.
Beyer raised meat rabbits growing up and returned to the practice three years ago when her daughter was found to be allergic to chicken. Not only was rabbit a meat everyone in the family could eat, but with only one male and two female New Zealand breeding rabbits, the same breed as the Cadbury bunny, they can raise around 240 pounds of meat in a year on next to nothing.
To rabbit-meat newbies, this raises an obvious question: What does rabbit taste like? It’s just what you may have guessed.
“It tastes like white meat chicken,” Beyer said. “If I cook it and shred it, I can pass it off as chicken every time.”
But unlike chickens, meat rabbits generally lack the restrictions applied to chickens within city limits. They are also widely considered to be quieter, easier and cleaner to raise than chickens. Even so, raising rabbits for meat has yet to catch on.
“The big obstacle for people is the idea of eating a cute, fuzzy bunny,” Beyer said.
Having raised meat rabbits as a young adult, it wasn’t as big a hurdle for her as it was her self-described “foodie-boy husband from Seattle.” But their family adapted and maintain an ideology that keeps them focused on the purpose of the rabbits.
“Breeding stock are pets, babies are meat,” Beyer said.
Even though babies are raised as meat, they are treated well, receiving plenty of attention and interaction before slaughter at eight weeks.
“They never know a bad moment in their life,” Beyer said.
The workshop will focus on how to get started in raising meat rabbits, including what kind of setup is needed, how to choose a breed and the basics of raising them. Beyer has found the experience to be easier than she expected.
“It amazes me that more people don’t do it,” Beyer said.
This is one of many workshops and classes offered in the region, including those on writing, watercolor painting and more. To find and promote other local classes, check the calendar at www.inland360.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Rabbits as a Protein Source Workshop
WHEN: 6 tonight
WHERE: Packing shed at Wilson Banner Ranch, off of U.S. Highway 12, eight miles west of Clarkston
COST: $10, registration not required