Raising rabbits for meat is one of the first things that new homesteaders tend to try. Rabbits 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 meat rabbit 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.
Space Needed For Meat Rabbits
There are a lot of things that will take up space. One rabbit on its own isn’t
Most of these breeds have an average 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 7-10 is still a lot of babies.
Recommended Cage Size by the ARBA for SINGEL Rabbits
- 18x24x12 for rabbits under 6lbs
- 24×26-36×18 for rabbits above 6lbs and under 11lbs
- 24×36-48×18-24 high for rabbits above 12lbs
This is an ideal style of cage but they still need shelter from the wind and rain.
If you want to build something yourself to fit your needs then this book is GREAT for helping you in that process. Lots of tips and things to think about.
Recommended Cage Size by the ARBA for DOE and Litter
- 48x30x18 high for doe and litter.
For more on finding the best outdoor cages, you can read that post here.
Don’t be afraid to split them up.
Momma stops feeding her babies at 3 weeks old so once they are 5-6 weeks think about removing her from the litter so she has time to get back into shape before you breed her again.
Once the litter hits 6 weeks of age you should consider splitting the litter up at least by half. Or have enough space in the cage and enough feeders so all the jr’s can eat well.
The babies won’t grow as fast or fill out as well and get a nice flesh if they have to push for food. It is in your favor to do everything possible to get the babies to grow quickly and efficiently.
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.
Get your rabbit buyers on autopilot with my automated waitlist training.
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 breeders when I say we breed for it. The bigger the better.
The show quality breeders are wanting as large of bone as they can get. This will cause the butcher weight 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 (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.
When raising rabbits for meat make sure to choose a breed you don’t mind working with. They may be for meat but you don’t want to make the work completely