Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rabbit Breeding Experiment

When we started acquiring stock for the Rabbitry we bought two Flemish Giant does to use in a cross experiment. Although they get very large, Flemish Giants put most of their energy into bone structure before putting much flesh on. This makes them a less than optimal choice for meat production. I hypothesized that by breeding a standard buck to a Giant doe I might be able to achieve a happy medium between size and feed conversion. The first litter of crosses is 18 days old and represented by the grey kit on the left. The brown kit on the right is 20 days old, from the same sire but a standard mom. As you can see although not marked, there is a size difference in the kits. The Flemish mom kindled 7, 2 were dead at or shortly after birth, a third runt died the next day and we were left with 2 nice sized kits (the grey being one of them) and 2 extreme runts which have miraculously survived. The second Flemish doe kindled 14 nice sized kits on the cage floor without having pulled any fur, all were dead by the time we found them. This being the case between the strange assortment of sizes in the first doe and the second does dead litter we have little data so far. The plan is to keep litter size and weaned weigh info on these litters and evaluate the results.

What "out of the box" experiments have you run on your farm?

Here are some great rabbit recipes from Larson Rabbitry

Barbecued Marinated Rabbit
Entertaining on a busy schedule? Prepare this recipe the night before - the longer it sits, the better it tastes! Preparation time, 15 minutes; Marinating time, 3 to 4 hours or overnight; Cooking time, 1.5 to 2 hours. Makes eight servings.
                 heavy duty aluminum foil
                         cooking oil
2                   medium carrots, diced                  2
2                   medium onions, diced                  2
2                   small tomatoes, diced                  2
2                  cloves garlic, crushed                    2
2               whole rabbits (1.25 kg each)           2
                less heart, liver and kidneys
2                   whole cinnamon sticks                 2
125 mL                   dry sherry                             1/2 cup
10 mL                   dried parsley                          2 tsp
5 mL              dried oregano or rosemary        1 tsp
5 mL                        salt                                        1 tsp
                    freshly ground pepper
Prepare foil pouch, big enough to enclose the rabbits, by joining two large sheets of foil together, forming seam. Brush foil with oil. Place prepared vegetables and garlic on foil. Arrange rabbits over vegetables and place cinnamon stick in empty cavity of each rabbit.
In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and pour over rabbits. Close foil pouch tightly to completely seal in marinade, removing most of the air. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
Place foil pouch on 180°C (350°F) barbecue grill, on the top shelf, or bake in 180°C (350°) oven, for 1 to 1.5 hours (flip over after 45 minutes), or until rabbit is almost cooked. Carefully open foil and lift rabbits onto lightly oiled barbecue grill or oven broiling rack. Brush rabbits lightly on both sides with oil. Cook, turning frequently until evenly grilled or broiled on both sides (about 10 to 15 minutes each side). Remove from grill or oven; discard cinnamon sticks and serve.
*** A store bought marinade can replace spices to make things easier! ***  If using marinade sauce, brush extra sauce onto rabbit after removing from foil to glaze the meat.

 Braised Rabbit with Strawberry Mint Sauce
A refreshing sauce of strawberries and mint provides a delincious contrast to the mild flavor of tender brazed rabbit.  Preparation time, 10 - 20 minutes; Cooking time, 40 minutes. Makes four servings.
25 mL                      butter                    2 tbsp
5 mL                  red wine vinegar                1 tsp
2 mL                   ground cinnamon              1/2 tsp
1 mL                    ground cloves               1/4 tsp
4              legs of rabbit, 2 front, 2 back            4
125 mL                  rabbit stock                1/2 cup
                      or chicken stock
125 mL          dry white wine or apple juice       1/2 cup
500 mL               strawberries, fresh             2 cups
                      or thawed frozen
3 to 4           sprigs of fresh peppermint          3 or 4
                 or 10 mL dried mint (2 tsp)
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt butter.  Stir in vinegar, cinnamon and cloves.  Add rabbit pieces and brown lightly on either side, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add stock and wine or apple juice.  Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook rabbit 30 minutes or until tender.
In blender or food processor fitted with metal blade, process strawberries and mint until smooth.  Remove rabbit from skillet and transfer to serving platter; keep warm.  Drain cooking liquid from skillet and add strawberry puree.  Heat sauce over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes stirring continuously until warm (do not boil.)  Pour sauce over rabbit.  Garnish with strawberry slices and mint. 

Saddle of rabbit in mustard sauce
You will need:
1/2 pound fileted saddle of rabbit
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
Dredge the meats lightly in a little flour. Saute until browned. Heat cream, mustard, pepper, and garlic in saute pan until boiling. Add the browned rabbit, cook until the rabbit is cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 4 or 5 minutes. Serves two. 

 Boneless Rabbit Stew
1 whole rabbit
ground black pepper
slow cooker or casserole dish
vegetables to taste (celery is good!)

Cut the rabbit into three sections, then cut off all easily removed meat with a knife and then cut this into small (1/2 inch) cubes. Dredge cubes in flour with black pepper and garamasala to taste. Put remaining bones and meat into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Put boiled bones through sieve, keeping the stock. Let bones cool. Saute cubes in small amount of vegetable oil until browned. Remove remainder of meat from cooled bones by hand. Put all ingredients (except bones!) into casserole or slow cooker, bring to the boil and then simmer until cooked.

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