As mentioned before, Californians and New Zealand Whites are the most popular breed for meat rabbits.  A lot of breeders will cross-breed these two to produce hardier, plumper rabbits that produce a lot of offspring.  The best combo is a New Zealand buck with a Californian doe because Californians are typically better mothers.  These two breeds are also popular because their white fur is preferred by processors (if you go that route) and they have good growth characteristics.

Californian New Zealand
Full Grown: 10 lbs
8 weeks: 3-4 lbs
Litter size: 6-8 kits
Full Grown: 13 lbs
8 weeks: 4-5 lbs
Litter Size: 8-10 kits

Any breed will work for meat production, but New Zealands and Californians have a better growth rate.  Other breeds, such as Satins, Rex, and Angora’s are often used because they are considered a dual purpose rabbit because of their fur.

Once you choose which breed you would like to raise, you will need to find a reputable breeder.  Prices of breeding stock vary, but you can usually purchase a 12 week old rabbit for $15, pedigreed rabbits will be considerably more.  Meat rabbits should always be purchased when they are between 8-12 weeks old.  This will give them time to get used to their new surroundings before they start breeding.

After finding a breeder, it is always in your best interest to visit the rabbitry before making a purchase.  You will want to see the conditions the rabbits are raised in.  Check for clean cages, healthy looking stock, insects, overwhelming odors, and sufficient food and water.  Keep in mind that some breeders do not allow prospective buyers inside their rabbitry for the fear of diseases being introduced to their animals.  This doesn’t always mean they have something to hide, they are just being protective of their stock.

One common mistake is to jump the gun and buy too many rabbits in the beginning.  It would be reasonably to start out with one buck and 2-3 does.  As you get used to caring for these rabbits; and all the other aspects such as breeding and slaughtering, then you should slowly increase the size of your rabbit herd slowly.  If you do not plan to expand, it is best to have 2 bucks.  Some does can be picky about breeding to a certain buck, and you will always have a back up in case one gets sick or sterile.

Another thing to remember is that rabbits don’t do well in hot weather.  Make sure you purchase stock that is already acclimated to your climate, if you live in Texas, don’t buy rabbits from North Dakota.

To find breeders in your area, check out some of these websites: