Let's discuss meat rabbits...

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JimW
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by JimW » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:30 pm

Okay one of my projects on the list for this year is I would like to get a few meat rabbits to breed and raise some babies for the freezer.

I raised a few rabbits back when I was a kid, but looking for suggestions on good, easy to keep meat breeds, housing set ups, feed suggestions..... any other tips...

A don't have a barn or building of any type so would be building caging and housing from nothing. I wish I had a barn, but probably good I do not. lol

JimW
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by coonhound » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:38 pm

new zealand whites or calinfornia are your best meat rabbits going or the cross of the two easy to raise and grow fast I seen quite a few ppl raise rabbits in chicken tractors with wired floors
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KimChick
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by KimChick » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:52 pm

JimW,
I'll be watching for responses; we are also interested in raising rabbits for meat.
When I had my rabbits, I was about 11 or 12 yrs. old, and they stayed outside behind the garage, in cages. (And I say they were mine because I was the only one who looked after them all year round.) In the winter, there was a tarp over the cages. They did, however, have wooden hutches within the cages, like mini dog houses. A local Italian family also had meat rabbits and kept them much the same way.
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Ellis
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by Ellis » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:58 pm

I raise New Zealand Whites and Chinchillas. I found Californians had a hard time on the wire due to less fur on the bottom of their feet.
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MommaChick
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by MommaChick » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:50 am

NZ or NZ x Cal would be my recommendation. Right now we have NZW, Rex and 2 NZ Crosses. There is definatly something to be said about Hybrid vigor.
I tried keeping them in big roomy stalls, on the grass, in wooden hutches and had my best sucess with a wire floor and resting mats.
I'm thinking that I could try a tractor on the grass, I would do a wire floor as well as an upper shelf area and plenty of protection from the elements. Rabbits do not like the heat at all. I've had to come home on my lunch breaks to put frozen water bottles in thier cages in the summer. They do much better in the cool and cold in my opinion.
My cats are crazy hunters so I have to keep a solid wood Maternity ward to stop them from pulling kits through the floor. I will say that Rabbits are fantastic at keeping me humble. They have been a real challenge for me.
Backyard Meat Rabbits on FB is a great site to check out. There are a few others.
There are a few things to worry about, but they can be fun and economical if you get it right. Sometimes I sell out of rabbits in a few minutes, while other times my barn is packed to the rafters. (Like right now) I have a love hate relationship with them, thats for sure. I've made so many mistakes with them that I figure, something's gotta give any day now.
If you want rabbits, spend the money one a good pair or trio. Don't waste your time on $5 mystery rabbits, unless you want to test how predator proof your set up is.
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windwalkingwolf
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by windwalkingwolf » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:59 am

I'm considering pretty much the same thing I had some Flemish Giants several years ago, but didn't breed or eat them because I couldn't bring myself to kill them. They are a very large rabbit but slow growing compared to other common meat breeds, and their meat-to-bone ratio is comparatively poor...But apparently when crossed with other meat breeds, the offspring are better in ways than either parent: or so I've been told. Anyway, fairly recently I've had two does of meat breeding, kind of dumped off on me. Don't know what breed they are, the owner picked them up at Renfrew sale last spring and can't remember what they are. They've been living in a dog crate, in my barn, quite happily. They're fat on very little feed, and I've been considering finding a buck to breed them, preferably Flemish, as I personally never had reason to complain about Flemish--I found them large, long-lived, extremely hardy and very tameable. They weren't ever handled and very wild when I got them, but never bit or attempted to bite and tamed down very fast--or they wouldn't have been hard to put in the pot!
The does I have now (they're wide and heavy but not very long, are white with red eyes if that means anything to someone more knowledgeable about rabbit breeds than I) are hand-tame also, but they came that way, so I don't know if any one breed is more tameable than another. These ones also seem less "stinky" than my Flemish did, even though they eat the same things I fed the Flemish. Rabbit urine, especially the females, can have a very strong acrid odour. Worst ever was a lop my kids had as a pet, daily thorough cleaning did nothing...Not long after she peed, the house stank. Outdoor bunnies only from then on out, the Flemish were in raised wire hutches but still ponged, but the white does hardly smell at all. So if you're considering putting a hutch in a garage, or upwind of your house, don't until you know the smell factor lol.
Pound for pound, rabbits are more efficient feed converters than even meat chickens. Cheaper to raise, breed like, well, rabbits lol and good lean protein. Easier and faster to dress for the freezer! But bear in mind the 'cute' factor, it can be terribly hard to wring the neck of a soft fuzzy stuffie that just moments ago was tapping your pant leg for dandelion greens :/
I think I'm ready for it this time, but still arguing with myself.
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JimW
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by JimW » Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:34 am

Thanks everyone for the tips and suggestions so far. Lots of ideas going on in my head. Too many ideas.
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Syble
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by Syble » Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:17 pm

the breed you want or cross there of depends partially on what you want to do, if its just meat only, then i like crosses, nz x chin give you a fast growing well filled rabbit with good bone to meat ratio, I like to do pelts too so i breed rex, they take longer(because you wait for the animal to prime the fur) but its not a big deal for me. I also show them so it works great for me, i breed for show if it doesnt make the cut for show we eat it, wins all around.

housing is very subjective... outside they are a bit more subjected to critters (stress from having a fox run around outside can spook em bad enough to kill em), on ground tractors you run the risk of running over where wild rabbits have been, theres actually a scarry diseas rabbit hemmoragic disease or something along the lines of that, its been confirmed in quebec near the ontario border, not to mention other bugs that they can pick up, cocci is a more prevalent problem and will slow meat growth and can weaken rabbits so they succumb and die of other things.... Raised outside pens are a safer bet, personally i avoid them just dont want the added risk. Inside a barn/shed you have lots of options too, 2 most popular are hanging cages vs stacking cages... hanging cages are nice because even with big litters the waste wont make it to the bottom of the cage, but in my case urine just soaks into the clay and gets powerful, so i dont use them, i use stackers, they have rubber drop pans i flip em weekly or whatever and both urine and poop goes away, no stink! rabbit poop is a cool manure so can be used right away but i compost anyways, urine and shavings are good to compost!

Did i help or make it worse?!
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JimW
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by JimW » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:08 pm

Thanks Syble that is great information.

I have no plans to show, I want to produce for meat and I would like to skin some for a few pelts.

I am leaning toward get a couple NZ and Chinchillas to produce the crosses to raise for meat.

Do the coloured New Zealands grow close to the same rate as the whites? I like color.

Any thoughts on if I crossed a NZ or a Chin with a Rex would I get a decent pelt?

For caging I had been doing some reading and thinking and leaning towards keeping them in raised outdoor hutches. My ground is not very flat so I don't think on ground tractors will work that great. Plus then I can collect the manure and use in my garden beds, since my soil is terrible. Additionally I have wild rabbits running around regularly so they would be in close contact with rabbits in a tractor on the ground.

Now to start looking at hutch designs.
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Keeping poultry with my 2 daughters since 2014.
Ayam cemani, BC Marans, Cream Legbars, Cuckoo Malines and Turkeys (Beltsville Small White, Blacks and Chocolates)
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Syble
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Let's discuss meat rabbits...

Post by Syble » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:32 pm

maturation rates are going to be VERY line dependant, do yourself a favour and find a good breeder who eats their rabbits lol, a buddy got an excellent show stock pair of NZ reds, man did those buggers grow slow!!! they also had a meat line of nz reds, the colour wasnt as intense, but the growth rate was more on point. Ik back when i did my meaties, i used chin nz, and i tried a couple times to bring new stock in and man it was just so slow, i cant stress how important lines are they mean a big difference lol. i think the whites probably are a hair faster, but if you get a good line, the extra week or two they take to give the colour is worth it, white pelts are just so darn boring!

as for if you got a good pelt, depends what qualities you like. rex fur is recessive, you might see more down the road. outdoor hutches definately need closed off areas that can be out of the wind and weather.

Attached are some pelts weve done, the chinchilla coloured ones are the meatie crosses, the other ones are all different kinds of rexes
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