Raising rabbits for meat is one of the first things that homesteaders tend to try. They don’t take up a lot of space and are not a bad starter animal for a beginner. They can have their quarks but it is not too hard once you learn the basics.
So if you are wanting to raise rabbits for meat, how do you know which one is right for you?
There are a few things you should think about first before you buy a breed.
- How much space do you have?
- How large of a rabbit are you prepared to handle?
- The speed of growth for that breed.
- Bone size.
There are a lot of things that will take up some space. The mothers themselves and the kits, once they leave the box, will take up quite a bit of space. Once the litter hits 5-6 weeks of age you might even consider splitting the litter up. The babies won’t grow as fast or as well if they have to fight their siblings for food. It is in your favor to do everything possible to get the babies to grow quickly and efficiently.
Most of these breeds have a minimum of 8 in a litter and some have been known to have as many as 12-15 in a litter. Granted not all survive. However, a litter of 9-10 is still a lot of babies.
Before you breed make sure to look ahead to when the kits (baby rabbits) will be due. You don’t want to have a litter due while you are on vacation or during a busy time of year. For more on planning your breeding season, check out this post.
Size Of Meat Rabbits
The bigger you go the more power that is behind that kick. Just keep in mind that even if you don’t pick them up daily you will still have to move them for nail trimmings, assist with breedings (ahem… hint, they don’t always want to have babies when it is convenient for you) and other tasks.
Speed of growth
You want a breed that will be ready to eat in no longer than 12 weeks. If you start going past that you are going to start paying A LOT in feed. So when considering a breed or even a mix breed be sure to see what they are crossed with because there is a chance that the cross could make the babies be slow to mature.
The larger breeds like French Lop and Flemish Giant have extremely large bone. I speak for all French lop breeder when saying we breed for it. The show quality breeders are wanting as large of bone as they can get. This will cause the butcher wait to be significantly less. So when choosing your breed take a look at the breed standard to help you decide if they would be good for meat.
These are the top ten breeds I would recommend by the rate of growth and also their bone size.
- American Rabbit (Max weight: 12 pounds)
- American Chinchilla (Max weight: 12 pounds)
- Beveren Rabbits (Max weight: 12 pounds)
- Californian (Max weight: 10 1/2 pounds)
- Champagne d’Argent (Max weight: 12 pounds)
- Cinnamon (Max weight: 11 pounds)
- Crème d’Argent (Max weight: 11 pounds)
- New Zealand (Max weight: 12 pounds)
- Palomino (Max weight: 11 pounds)
- Satin (Max weight: 11 pounds)
Check out the ARBA website to learn more about each breed.