BREAK THE FAT HABIT - SWITCH TO RABBIT!
The movement in the United States and elsewhere around the world is toward seeking lower fat, lower, cholesterol, lower calorie foods which are still a good source of protein and yet actually taste good. Sounds impossible, right? Not if you consider one of the oldest sources of meat on the planet - the rabbit! 20 million coyotes can't be wrong.... Seriously, it will not be long in coming before health insurance providers require people to watch their weight and cholesterol levels or suffer a raise in insurance rates. You don't have to suffer soy burgers to accomplish this - rabbit is a fine grained, tasty, mild flavored all white meat which can be fried, grilled, braised, stewed, or roasted and is lower in fat, cholesterol and calories, and higher in protein than any other meat including chicken.
RABBIT MEAT - Heart healthy alternative
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), after a good deal of research, has stated that rabbit is "the most nutritious meat available". Rabbit has 164mg of Cholesterol compared to Chicken at 220mg, Beef and Pork at 230mg. USDA circular #549 further states that rabbit has the highest percentage of protein and a lower percentage of fat and calories when compared to Veal, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Beef, and Pork. The percentages from this circular are presented in the table below.
Where can you get Chigger Ridge Rabbit?
Due to our USDA processor being unavailable, we were not able to offer rabbit meat to the public for almost a year. However we are thrilled to have just found another processor and will be able to resume rabbit meat sales at the beginning of 2013!
How to Cook Rabbit?
Rabbit meat can be prepared in any of the ways that chicken can - fried, grilled, braised, roasted, stewed, or barbequed. Practically all of the rabbit is white meat and takes up flavors of marinades or sauces very well.
You do NOT have to treat our rabbits like a cottontail or wild rabbit when cooking. No long marinading to tenderize or parboiling is necessary. Our favorite way is simply to thaw and throw it on the grill. One of our absolutely favorite heart healthy gourmet meals is barbecued rabbit paired with grilled pineapples - YUM!.
The above gourmet dish is all obtained from the Farmer's Market: grilled corn, fresh asparagus, our lamb kidney, and BBQ rabbit loin.... Delicious!
How are Chigger Ridge Rabbits raised?
Rabbits raised commercially are housed up off of the ground in hutches and provided with an automatic watering system. They are thus one of the cleanest animals raised today. We feed our rabbits commercial rabbit food comprised of alfalfa and a mixture of other plants (without any antibiotics, hormones, or animal byproducts). We also feed hay to provide them with a more natural food and to give them occupation. Since rabbits are playful we provide them with sticks to chew and other toys if needed. Babies are kept in groups to allow for social interaction. Adults tend to be territorial so are usually housed separately, but all have close contact with their neighbors. They hate heat so we keep them in shaded barns and provide fans for them in summer.
Why is Chigger Ridge Rabbit better than other rabbit?
Our experience with raising sheep molded our approach to raising rabbits. In rabbits, the New Zealand White is considered an optimal maternal breed of rabbit as they produce large litters, lots of milk, and have excellent maternal instincts. Many rabbit ranchers would stop there, but we searched until we found a commercial sire breed of rabbit called Altex, that was genetically selected for over 15 generations at the University of Alabama and University of Texas (A & M) to produce meatier rabbits at a younger age. We mix these two breeds to produce a superior meat rabbit.
Is it safe?
Our rabbits are packaged in a USDA inspected facility by knowledgeable and professional meat processors. They are a smaller family operation we can work with closely, with years of experience in rabbit processing. They have a brand new state of the art facility and were praised by their USDA inspector in writing when we contacted him for references. We have a State of TN. license for retail meat sales - including rabbit. Our storage operations are overseen and inspected by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Rabbit raising is sustainable agriculture!
Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology and an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that will last over the long term. It is designed to provide for human food needs while making efficient use of non-renewable resources and integrate natural biological cycles into the farm operation. As world populations rise and there is less land to raise quality food the rabbit will play an increasing role in our food supply. They can be raised by "backyard breeders" or larger commercial farm enterprises. One rabbit can produce over 300 pounds of meat in a year and are 6 times more efficient than a cow in turning feed into meat. They breed - well like rabbits! With proper nutrition and management a single rabbit can produce 6-7 litters a year with 6-10 bunnies per litter. At Chigger Ridge, we feel the rabbit may just be among the perfect "farm" animals - whether or not you own a farm.. The manure from rabbits can be recycled back to gardens and fields as the perfect organic fertilizer as it will not burn plants.
A Chigger Ridge Example of utilizing rabbits in sustainable agriculture: We utilize rabbit manure on fields we have planted in sunflowers, the sunflowers profide excellent feed for the rabbits and sheep and pollen and nectar for our honey bees, the bees increase the harvest of sunflowers while providing us with honey. The sunflowers are turned into rabbit and lamb meat, while those animals are making more manure to put back on the sunflower fields.