A lot of people are raising meat rabbits to feed their families high quality meat. Raising rabbits involves much less labor and room than other livestock such as cattle and pigs. Chickens are also an option, but they require more outdoor room and more effort than rabbits which can even be raised in your house if needed. Domestic rabbits produce high quality, low-fat, low cholesterol, all-white meat that is easy to digest.
We all know that rabbits reproduce very quickly. With one breeding pair of rabbits you can produce over one hundred pounds of meat every year in as little as 100 sq ft. This makes it perfect for people that live in apartments or houses with limited space. With just a few pairs of rabbits, you can successfully produce enough meat to feed a small family and still have enough to share with neighbors!
You can choose to keep your rabbits in hutches or in a colony set-up (I’ll go into more detail in a later post). Rabbits are easy keepers, you only need to check their food and water once a day. You will also need to visually assess their health and keep a journal on their breeding. Cleaning the pens once or twice a week is also necessary. If kept in a clean environment, rabbits are generally healthy and productive.
Raising meat rabbits requires dedication and more attention than caring for a pet rabbit. The first thing you should think about is what breed of rabbit to choose. The two most common types of rabbits used for meat production are Californians and New Zealands. They fatten up faster than other breeds and have a good meat to bone ratio, producing a decent amount of meat per rabbit. It is a good idea to purchase a breeder trio (one male, 2 females) of purebred stock to get started with.
- New Zealands are a bulky breed. They are approximately 13 lbs full grown, at 8 weeks old they generally weigh 4-5 lbs, which is the standard age for slaughtering. The usual litter size is 8-10 rabbits.
- Californians are a little smaller than New Zealands, but they are a very hardy breed which makes them ideal for breeding stock. They reach about 10 lbs full grown,and their litter size is about 6-8 rabbits. Some breeders will cross breed the two types to produce a hardy, bulky rabbit.
Raising meat rabbits can be a satisfying business if done properly, but it is not for the faint of heart. You will be caring for these cute bunnies knowing they will eventually be stocking your freezer for family meals. However, if you can get past that, raising meat rabbits will tremendously help your budget and provide you with the satisfaction that you are providing for your family.