We don’t always think about having rabbit meat in our plates, and yet it has many nutritional and culinary assets. As any other meat, it contains at least 20% of proteins that contribute to maintaining our muscle mass. It’s lean white meat (low in calories) but well-endowed with vitamins and minerals. This type of meat also brings quality lipids, such as omega-3, whose content might vary a lot according to the way rabbits were fed.
More flax and alfalfa for rabbits
The rabbits’ breeders can offer to their animals a varied diet that includes proteins (around 20%), fibers (around 15%) and lipids (around 5%). These nutritional elements can be brought by a combination of cereals, seeds, and vegetables fodder. According to the nature of the chosen plants, some differences might appear on rabbits’ health and on the final composition of meat. The use of alfalfa and flax turns out to be particularly interesting to bring omega-3 to rabbits. Clinical tests offering feed with more flax and alfalfa for female rabbits, show they engender more births with less mortality before the young rabbits’ weaning. This is certainly due to omega-3, more present in rabbits’ milk, which contributes to improve the immune and inflammatory status of the young rabbits. It should be noted that an increase of 1% of omega-3 in rabbits’ feed generates the presence of +1.3% of omega-3 in rabbit meat.
Where are the omega-3 in rabbit’s meat?
Omega-3 are lipids that are essential and indispensable to the life of any animal organism. Like other lipids, they form each cell’s membrane and can also be stored in areas where fat is accumulating. In rabbits, the area with the more fat is the saddle (the dorsal part) and lipids also tend to lodge themselves in forelimbs and shoulders. As for the leg, it is the leanest part and thus the lowest in omega-3. In Bleu-Blanc-Coeur labelled farms, rabbits must be fed with at least 0.5% of omega-3, so 2 to 3 times more omega-3 can be found in their meat, vs a conventional rabbit. Bleu-Blanc-Coeur rabbits represent about 20% of the French national production.
A production closely studied by researchers
Besides, theASFC, French branch of the WRSA (World Rabbit Science Association) collaborated with the INRAE (France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment) to organize the 12th World Rabbit Congress, which took place from 3rd to 5th November, 2021, in France. And rabbits’ nutrition and its consequences on their health were key themes of the congress. In this matter, a new trans-Mediterranean project “OMEGA RABBIT”, coordinated by the University of Milan, and the involvement of Bleu-Blanc-Coeur, is underway. This research project plans to activate the feed lever, by incorporating sources of omega-3 in rabbits’ rations such as flaxseed, and to measure the performance metrics’ improvement of reproduction, growth, health of rabbits, as well as the nutritional quality of the meat. The research work will last 3 years. To be continued…
Discover a recipe:
Curry Rabbit with Coconut Milk
Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 1h30min
🔸 1 rabbit cut into pieces
🔸 50cl of coconut milk
🔸 3 tablespoons curry powder
🔸 2 onions
🔸 Salt, pepper
- Preheat the oven at 200°C
- Peel the onions and cut them in small pieces
- In an oven dish, mix the coconut milk, the onions, the curry powder, the salt, and the pepper
- Put the rabbit in the dish and baste with the mixing
- Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil
- Put in the hoven for 1h30 at 200°C
Serve this dish with a mix of white and brown rice or few steamed potatoes.
- Bleu-Blanc-Coeur rabbit guidelines: Production and processing of rabbit (last update: January 2021).
- Benoît Teillet, Michel Colin, Anne Yvonne Prigent (2013). Influence of the feed linolenic acid level on the Omega 3 contend and the hedonic characteristics of the rabbit meat. A Review. OCL 20 (1) 55-60 (2013).
- Lebas François. (2007). Omega 3 fatty acids in rabbit meat. Feed effects. Cuniculture Magazine. 34. 15-20.
- Mathieu Guillevic, Axel Minetto, Anne Yvonne Prigent, Michel Colin (2021). Effects of the increase of the feed alpha-linolenic acid level on the performances of reproduction of the rabbit does. Oral communication, 12e World Rabbit Congress.
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