My wife has her heart set on raising Flemish Giants for meat, though I think she'll be far too attached, but I'm leaning for toward New Zealand rabbits for meat. My question is do Flemish Giants make good meat rabbits?
From what I understand Flems have heavy bones and more feed goes toward bone production. So bone is a higher percentage of their weight so they're not as cheap to convert feed to "food" as NZ's or Cal's which (I hear) have lighter bones.
That said, I have Flemish/NZ mixes so we'll see what happens with that
I breed Flemish and Flemish New Zealand crosses. They prob are a lil more expensive to feed than a pure New Zealand as far as feed ratio goes, but one rabbit feeds my family of five quite well boiled up and shredded and when cooking in pieces it usually takes 2 rabbits to feed us all if that helps you.
I second the no-go for flemish.
we raise them as show rabbits and at a mixed show like our county fair, the kids always take a hit in judging the young ones. most of our judges are looking at meatiness in the young ages and not breed standards
they make great pets tho
we have mixed nz/flemish that do great in the meat pen and mixed breed shows
get a nice nz buck (one big for his breed) and a stocky flemish - stay away from black flemish, traditionally they are smaller than the grey and reds.
personally for breeding crosses, I'd go with the white nz buck to a light grey/chinchilla flemish and you should get some very nice meat from them
There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.
We raise Flemish/mutt crosses for meat (Flemish doe, mutt buck). At just under 12 weeks, our fryers dressed out between 2 1/2-3 lbs, and they seem to be quite meaty. We're very satisfied with this cross for our freezer.
I just sent over a buck to a friend for butcher at 4 months. He was a Flemish Giant crossed with Checkered giant. They said he was "kind of tough". He had been kind of small for the longest time, then in the space of about a week or so, he just filled out and got big, close to five lbs or somthing like that. You know, the size of eating. Anyway, my friend, that had had a rabbitry for meat before took a look at him and said "Ya, he's ready to eat, the right size" but they said he was kind of tough. I freerange as much as I can, but due to escapees, this little guy spent about two months in the cage just eating 19% protien feed. I was trying to make him grow and get meaty in his legs. I was wondering what made him tough? Was it is his age, the fact that he is mostly Flemish, or was it the freerange? I still haven't yet had a chance to EAT one of my own rabbits, so I'm curious. Mostly I am breeding Flemish crossed with NZ mutts or a Rex, with some purebreds thrown in because people keep wanting to buy them. They seem very popular around here. Your thoughts? I like the big rabbit, and I am trying for a big meat rabbit. I also have big dogs, so I thought maybe the RAW food diet might be an option, trying to find a compromise between feeding us people nicely and feeding my Rott/Husky/Lab(s) nicely.
I have a flemish doe & my buck is a chinchilla mix & together I think they make a great fryer for the freezer. At 12 weeks my flemish does' kits dress out at about 3 1/2 pounds & some will come close to 4 pounds alot of time.
I don't think my flemish doe as an adult eats that much more than any of my other meat breeds or meat mutts. She's an excellent mother & very calm & easy to handle.
I'm breeding the flemish and nz cross for meat. the kits are nice sized and grow really fast. I will be butchering my first rabbits in a few weeks. some for the family and some for dog food. I have a new litter now of california/flemish cross that will be meat rabbits and I will sell a few. so I'm experimenting with these crosses to see how they do.
A lot depends on what you plan on doing. If you need to really watch the bottom line, then a flemish may not be the best choice.
If you are doing it for personal consumption, then as long as you are spending less to raise the meat than it would cost you to purchase in the store, you are head of the game. And even if it costs you more, you are still ahead because you have control of what goes into the meat you are eating, and control of the source for making more.
One really yummy way to fix a roaster is to split it and lay it flat, marinade it (I've found fruit based marinades give a good flavor, not so overpowering as tomato/bbq based)
Then put in in the smoker for 3 hours.
If you don't have a smoker, I think putting in in the oven at around 200 - 225 would work about the same, and put a pan of water underneath (like in the smoker) to keep things moist. You won't get the smoke taste. I use applewood because I don't like a heavy smoke taste with the rabbits.
Thanks Pat Lamar for taking a look at that tough meat issue specifically. And the posts from everyone else, very very helpful. So, now I am reading in my endless Google searches for "fryer weight of Flemish Giants" that in the industry they are ready for fryer weight at 2 months old? Uh oh... those cute little babies out there are ready to eat now? That's it. I KNEW I was going to have to raise the ugly, big, red eyed white ones to get by. Those babies are adorable! I can't do it! My mutt crosses with Flemish are about a third of the size of the purebred bucks I have left. I need to go buy a scale. The purebreds are two months old and 4-5 lbs, I think. The size of a grown pet rabbit. The same size as the adult mama of the other litter, and she is NZ, Flem G., lionhead and who knows what else. LOL But she's my best doe in temperment, mothering, and number of kits, so I keep her. I guess my thinking in breeding BIG rabbits, aside from the fact that hubby just thinks the sire Bam Bam is just totally cool, is that I thought a bigger rabbit would produce enough meat for me to eat to justify the killing process, which I hate. Hubby hates it even more than me, so much so that after doing the roosters last winter, he made me promise I would do the rabbits. HE is the one out there petting and snuggling those rabbits, the big softie! I keep telling him "Don't hug that one, that one's dinner. Here, hug this doe..." but he won't listen.
If Flemish giants are fryer size and meatwise doing good at 2 months old, then truly they produce meat FAST. But I feel their little legs and while they are BIG rabbits, they don't feel as "fat" in their little thighs as for instance, my Rex of the same age. Or the mutts. Perhaps if I only want roasters, then I will do ok. We have a crockpot. We can do that. Plus, there's the dogbones.
I think I may have to go get some big ugly white ones and get to work breeding some actual meat, though. LOL
You misunderstand, Flemish at 2 months cannot compare to fryers of other breeds, they put all their energy into growing frame not meat, and a two month old Flemish is all bone and ears. That is why they are not a good meat rabbit, between the heavy bone, big heads and growing frame not meat they aren't anywhere near as meaty as most other meat breeds. Flemish also go thru a gangly stage, and finally start putting on some muscle between 4 and 5 months, thats not a fryer, thats a roaster, and you've poured a great deal of food down their throat at that point. I wouldn't even butcher a 8-10 week old Flemish, it would be a waste.
"I dont know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." Bilbo Baggins
um - at 8-9 weeks you'd expect a NZ rabbit fed on pellets to be 4-5 lbs, and that is butcher weight. I feed mostly greens in the summer, and it takes about 3-4 weeks longer to reach that size. I've butchered some at 16 weeks because I got behind. Cooked some up in the smoker and it was grand - the rest got cubed up and canned, also a good way to get real tender meat out of a not so tender rabbit.
It's also important to check the meat to bone ratio. With NZW there is not that much bone in that 5lb rabbit. Flemish have bigger bones so a rabbit the same weight will have less meat on it.
Also, you don't need "big ugly white" rabbits to raise good meat. Mine are cross bred but all meat types (Standard Rex, satin and NZ) and I don't have a white one in the breeding shed. I like color!