Thinking About Meat Rabbits

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by MellonFriend, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. MellonFriend

    MellonFriend Well-Known Member

    We are thinking about adding meat rabbits to our homestead. I was wondering if any of you have meat rabbits and if so what breed do you prefer? Where do you house them? (pictures would be great) How does the meat taste? And any advice or knowledge that you'd like to share would be welcome. ​
    Iluvlilly! likes this.
  2. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you settled on meat rabbits, because those dairy rabbits aren't worth a hill of beans!

  3. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    As to breed, what does your market easily buy? If you send out to a processor, do they have requirments (some only allow Californians and New Zealands, and don't want any others)

    The giants require a lot of feed to get to meat, because they have to grow that skeleton. The Dwarves reach maturity quickly, but it'd take a couple of them (or more) to fill up a family.

    Do you have a market for pelts? Are there colour preferences in that market? Some only want white, because of ease of matching up.

    Do you have a breed you already are attracted to? What breeds can you easily get replacement bucks from?

    All in all, I dunno...
    Iluvlilly! and MellonFriend like this.
  4. lottsagoats1

    lottsagoats1 Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2014
    Middle Maine
    I had them years ago. The meat is mild tasting, and healthy.

    We had New Zealands and Californians, because those were all that was around.

    I kept them inside a barn in large wire cages. I had a platform they could lay/stand on to get off the wire. The cages were hung for ease of cleaning. The does cages were really large.

    Always bring the doe to the buck for breeding, she may kill the buck if he is in her cage.
    Make sure both are in good physical shape and healthy.
    Feed a balanced diet- pellets, fruit and vegetables
    Lots of fresh air/good ventilation, as ammonia can and will kill them. No drafts, as drafts kill.
    Make sure the doe has a nice quiet and private area when she gives birth or she may kill the babies.
    Check the nest and remove any dead babies, but limit handling to just that.
    Don't get attached to the babies, it's easy to do.
  5. Sfgwife

    Sfgwife Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    North Cakalaki
    We have cali and new zealands. You can sub rabbit for anything that calls for chicken in a dish. very little fat. Ours are in a colony with the buck separate. We also separate boys and girls after two months. We handle kits frequently is the only thing we do very differently than lotsagoats. Our does and bucks are handled as well. So the does do not mind our scent in the box. We butcher our own. It is not nearly as hard to butcher a rabbit as a chicken to us at least. Paul does the deed and i do the rest usually. I can pretty much have one done by the time he goes and gets another and brings it back to me now. He does cut off the head and front feet for me though also. We let ours grow oout a bit longer than the 12 weeks most people do. We usually do about 4 months instead. Yes more feed goes into them but a whole rabbit will feed 4-5 adults this way. And. The pelts are much easier for paul to work and not tear at that age as well.

    The meat to bone ratio of cali and new zealands vs flemish giants is a big difference. The cali new zealands are better for this from what we have read over and over. Plus you need more space for flemish and grow out is longer for the amount of meat. Our rabbits usually weigh between 5-7 pounds at 4 months. We free feed and always keep hay available to them. Plus the occasional fruit and veggies. When there is grass growin they get a bucketfull every other day aat least.

    When kits get to the diggin out the feed from the feeder....we have found that a hangin chicken feeder works amazingly well to keep that from happenin. As they get bigger just raise the feeder.
    MellonFriend likes this.
  6. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    Current or recent rabbit breeders/owners, When I bred rabbits (long ago!) salt was important, but not other minerals. Same with goats. Now, we know better about goats. Is a mineral mix important for rabbits, too? Any hints on vital nutrients, ratios, etc?
    Trollmor and MellonFriend like this.
  7. Sfgwife

    Sfgwife Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    North Cakalaki
    We used to keep the mineral wheel a salt wheel and a bit of loose mineral in for ours and they never touched it. Cause when we were researchin the things that we wanted here that is what was supposed to be done. Our buck and does are two and a half now... we have not had kindling problems or low fertility or many deaths and our foundation stock is healthy. The kits grow out great for us. But we also give them a variety of foods to choose from and not just pellet.

    I have one doe that i try really hard to breed three days from another because she throws huge litters... like 11-13 kits usually. She usually will lose a few if my other doe does not kindle very near her simply because she does not have enough nipples. But she is also the doe that will go feed many times a day as well.. so even though she has many she feeds lots... i might lose two out of her litters if i cannot give to my other doe that will accept them. I only have one doe that will accept others so those two are bred together. Also.... you are supposed to breed two or three times... we played a trial and error with this doe and only bred her once the last two times.... she had eight kits and kept them all alive. :). So now we do know a trick to her. Her kits are always huge lil fatties compared to the three other does that we have too. Probably nothin to do with what you were askin ....
    NigerianNewbie likes this.
  8. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    No, but you answered that first.

    This was a really cool bit of evidence that experience, not with the species as a whole, but also with your individual animals, makes a real difference.

    This tells us to be kind and patient with ourselves as we gain that experience..
  9. Sfgwife

    Sfgwife Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    North Cakalaki
    I was just so frustrated that she would lose kits when she feeds so many times a day. But we all know the strongest are the ones who get those nipples most. So i just thought one day as we had her with the buck... why not try. Cause a rabbit only releases eggs when mated... so i thought maybe we are gettin huge litter from her cause we breed her two or three times... and it worked! So if she had not taken the first time we would have lost one big deal. :). I really like havin four does though. They only get bred once spring and once fall for all the meat that we use. Instead of two does and twice each season. In summer bucks usually become heat sterile at 80-85 degree temps. It just gives the does less work and we like that. :).

    But yes that last sentence it truly does!
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  10. Sfgwife

    Sfgwife Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    North Cakalaki
    And i kinda got off the salt amd mineral topic for the op @MellonFriend too. For a few things that work well for us.
    mariarose likes this.
  11. MellonFriend

    MellonFriend Well-Known Member

    Thank you guys for all your input. We really are only in the extreme beginning of our research and we haven't really made any decisions yet. Those of you who have the New Zealands and the Californians why do you have both breeds? And if you had to choose which would you prefer?
    So you mean the bucks are sterile above a certain temperature?
    Iluvlilly! likes this.
  12. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    Yes, their little squigglies don't squiggle.
    But when the Summer cools it's jets, they start squiggling again.
    Sfgwife likes this.
  13. MellonFriend

    MellonFriend Well-Known Member

    Too bad it's not that way with lots of goats. :rolleyes:
    Iluvlilly!, Trollmor and Sfgwife like this.
  14. Trollmor

    Trollmor Well-Known Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Goatless in Sweden
    All correct; they just don't sit still on the milk stand! The milk is very fat, though! ;)

    Are you going to sell or will you feed your family? I can think of few meat kinds that are more environment-friendly than rabbit meat, and the taste is close to chicken.

    As for breeds, have you checked old sturdy breeds, and / or hair producers - angora? (Just to complicate things a bit!)
    Or do, then the meat will taste you better! :)
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
    healthyishappy and Iluvlilly! like this.
  15. Dwarf Dad

    Dwarf Dad Well-Known Member

    Still easier than dairy almonds. lol
  16. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    I only had Californians, and I prefer the looks of the Californians to the New Zealands, probably because the only ones available to me were all white, no exceptions. But there were many breeds that I dreamed of having one day. I like lots of variety and the sameness of the New Zealands and the Californians (a big reason processors like them) wasn't a great attraction to me. But they were meaty and easy to care for. And easy to find replacement bucks for as they were all around.

    I love Lops, with those ears!
    Trollmor, Sfgwife and MellonFriend like this.
  17. Sfgwife

    Sfgwife Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    North Cakalaki
    I had a hard time finding a buck and at least a pair of does of the same breed to start with. The calis to me are more pretty but in the end that really does not matter to us. Both breeds Have close to the same qualities in them. Our buck, and two does are nz, one doe a mix and one all cali. We get that pretty coloring on some of the kits. The two can bred together for their closeness in size and you do not have worry so much about overly huge kits. Either would be fine for our purpose for them. The weight a d meat are pretty much the same.

    We did get some mini rex when we first started. Their pelts are so so soft! But. We had grow those out a looooong time to get any kind of meat off of them. So if you wanted buttery soft pelts and were not feedin but two adults minis would be ok. They have many colors too.

    Standard rex come in many colors and are a good meat one. They are very similar in size to the cali and nz. Tennessee redbacks as well.

    @mariarose lops ARE so adorable! And. I have been seein a lot of calis with crazy spots all over them round here. Still the black and white mostly but color in the fur fur and not just tails and ears and noses. They are pretty!
    Trollmor, MellonFriend and mariarose like this.
  18. Trollmor

    Trollmor Well-Known Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Goatless in Sweden
  19. Chris488

    Chris488 Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2018
    Upstate NY
    When I raised meat rabbits, New Zealands were what I had.
  20. bisonviewfarm

    bisonviewfarm Well-Known Member

    Apr 2, 2015
    We raised Rex for meat & show added bonus was the wonderful pelt’s and the large assortment of colors. though they grow a bit slower than the new zealands and Californians that you see more often as meat rabbits. When we had larger numbers (100+) we found this the easiest way to clean. Now days we maintain a smaller herd and have gone with stacking cages with pans.
    6E1F374A-9687-4D4D-8866-EC3BDE7D390F.jpeg EB75FBB8-D281-4148-8E4E-C6AB2DA4F436.jpeg
    MellonFriend likes this.