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  #1  
Old 10/01/12, 11:42 AM
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What is the best breed/cross for meat rabbits?

I've finally convinced my boss to start raising meat rabbits! I was wondering what the best cross would be? I showed rabbits many years ago and had a few flemish crosses I used for meat but the all grew so slow. So, are there any amazing crosses out there that you guys know about?

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  #2  
Old 10/01/12, 12:07 PM
 
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Your boss? Personal consumption or farm production? If personal, how many people are you feeding? Have you studied the market for the rabbits? Some are going to jump into this and say New Zealand while others will say California. What really needs to happen is answering more questions first.

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  #3  
Old 10/01/12, 02:36 PM
 
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The NZW x Californian has always been heralded as the "best" cross for meat purposes, both for home use and commercially. This is based on meat-to-bone quality, growth rates, and basic economics.

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Old 10/01/12, 10:47 PM
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Correct - if youare raiseing for meat the nzw's or cali's can't be beat .:-)

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Old 10/02/12, 04:26 AM
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Any cross, so long as it is in the commercial body type category would be sufficient. Because they are crosses, they will exhibit hybrid vigor and give you good growth rates. I guess the final decision rests on wether or not your boss is fine with looking at all white everyday, or would he prefer something with color?

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  #6  
Old 10/02/12, 11:38 AM
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We've got a small farm and we raise pigs and sheep to feed our family/friends/a few customers and hopefully more soon and make a small profit. We're hoping to do the same with rabbits.

We've got room for probably 25 cages in the barn, maybe more. But we wont be that big for a while. I'm just looking for something that grows big fast. We also tan the hides so a little color/texture splash would be nice but not preferred.

Right now I have a red rex buck and a broken black rex doe that I'm breeding for their coat, not really meat but I do still eat them. I'd like to incorporate them into the breeding program as well.

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  #7  
Old 10/02/12, 11:51 AM
 
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my californian/rex crosses do really well. Hit 3.8-4.2 lbs by 7wks. You won't get the rex fur with the first generation of crosses, but if you want to cross its a good mix.

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Old 10/02/12, 01:58 PM
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As you are already raiseing livestock you will already understand about crossing two pure bred animails to take advantage of the hybred vigor in first generation .I belive in advising people to take advatage of the years of experince of good breeders and get some pure bred stock many faults have been bred out and good traites bred in by profinal breeders .show stock breeders may often over look faults such as temprement small litters poor meat to bone and slow growth in favor of pretty fur markings ect.. in order to get the viggor in a hibred cross it takes at least 1 good pure bred parent and shows best if both parents are pure .your crossed does mated back to a pure buck will usally be good mothers .just as in useing f1 hybred sows or cows .another point to consider if you can raise pure stock to sell as breeders there value and sellabi,ity goes up considerably over mixed moungrel stock .having 25 cages to feed and care for you don't need surprises at kindleing time .

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  #9  
Old 10/03/12, 07:26 AM
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Crossing red and black in the rex breed will get you smutty faded reds. Its not a color that should be crossed if you ever have any intention of selling purebred rex. I know that has nothing to do with the meat aspect of it. Just sayin'.

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  #10  
Old 10/03/12, 09:44 AM
 
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I made my own cross rabbits and have been very happy with them. I want a minimum of 8 weaned kits from every doe. Most the time, I get 9 or 10. I started out raising NZs and just hated how mean they were. I bred in some really good American sables, standard Rex, and chins. The resulting rabbit is very nice with great meat to bone ratio and best of all, never bites or scratches. I also cull very heavily for mothering abilities. Also fun is the wide range of colors and coat types on the kits.

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  #11  
Old 10/03/12, 09:47 AM
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Crosses may work well for meat, but purebreds do just about the same for a small producer. The only time it would make a SERIOUS benefit to a raiser might be for a large scale commercial production of meat.

IMO, for small producers, you might as well get pedigreed purebreds and sell some for breeding here and there for 20.00 (or MUCH more depending on quality). Helps pay for feed costs. I sell my crosses for 10.00 apeice, but my purebred Silver Foxes start at 40.00 apeice. I sell one, and I can pay for an entire growout pen's feed.

But, if it's ONLY for your own use, then crosses work great. The 50% crosses between two commercial breeds make great growout kits. If you cross two commercial breeds and keep females, then cross those females to yet another breed, you can get hybrid vigor from the mothers as well as from the kits. For example, I have a 50% New Zealand, 50% Silver Fox doe. If I bred her to a Californian buck, I'd see maximal hybrid vigor response because the dam will still exhibit hybrid vigor for milk production and feed efficiency, and the kits will exhibit their own hybrid vigor and benefit from their mother's hybrid vigor.

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  #12  
Old 10/03/12, 12:28 PM
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thank you guys! this is all really interesting and slightly confusing, but still very good information! I've bred rabbits for a while, I had American Chinchillas and Lionheads, but I never knew about the hybrid vigor and stuff like that.

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Old 10/03/12, 01:47 PM
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AmChins are a commercial body type. You could cross those to NZ's, then cross a Cali buck (or vice-versa) to the daughters.

Or just raise purebred. Keep the best, sell those that are still good quality for brood, and send the rest of the culls to freezer.

The BEST 'meat' breeds are New Zealands and Californians. The most consistent and quality New Zealands are whites - but they also come in red, black, blue, and broken varieties of all of those. I also get some really off-color 'sports' (which means they're not an accepted color for ARBA shows) when I cross white new zealands to blacks, or crossing reds to anything else. Has to do with REW 'hiding' genetics, and with reds having extension of coat color etc. Way confusing. Most people keep their reds separate from their REW and Blacks/blues unless they're willing to deal with the color issues. Blue is a simple recessive dilution of black, so you can breed those together with no problems.

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Last edited by mygoat; 10/03/12 at 01:50 PM.
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  #14  
Old 10/03/12, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HaleyBugs View Post
We've got room for probably 25 cages in the barn, maybe more. But we wont be that big for a while. I'm just looking for something that grows big fast. We also tan the hides so a little color/texture splash would be nice but not preferred.
I raised Silver Fox and Creme d'Argent, and discovered that the cross can produce an animal with fur very much like coyote fur in terms of color, length, and density. They also had a very nice carcass quality. Local chefs said so.
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  #15  
Old 10/04/12, 07:29 PM
 
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Our best cross was a Giant Chin/Californian doe crossed back to a Cal buck. We had a bad experience with NASTY NZ so stuck with the Cals even though NZ had the size we wanted.

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  #16  
Old 10/05/12, 12:23 AM
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MY favorite is a Cali buck to a good big NZW doe....but, like others have said on here, you can breed any of the meat type breeds together. We do. At the end of the day, just keep your standards: Nice consistent litter counts from the does, fast growth weight, and good meat to bone ratio. Keep the ones that exhibit these features best and eat or cull the rest. Simple as that. We have had some amazing looking hybrids in the past and some amazing sport coloring, but the rabbits didn't fit these features so to freezer camp they went....

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  #17  
Old 10/05/12, 01:18 PM
 
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My advice would be obtain the best possible quality breeding stock, regardless of breed. If you have access to good quality New Zealands, then go for it! Or Champagne D'Argents, etc. You can probably do better with the best possible genetic expressions of [insert breed here] than subpar of what are considered the best meat breeds, like New Zealands or Californians. But that's just my opinion.

That said, we raise mostly New Zealands, and have been happiest with our blacks. We purchased a broken black buck from a (fairly) local show, and he's a lovey dovey meat brick. I've informed BF that we are never eating him, ever. Anyway, we spent $45 on him, he was breeding age, won BOB in shows, and now is producing beautiful fat babies for us. Win!

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  #18  
Old 10/08/12, 12:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimTN View Post
I made my own cross rabbits and have been very happy with them. I want a minimum of 8 weaned kits from every doe. Most the time, I get 9 or 10. I started out raising NZs and just hated how mean they were. I bred in some really good American sables, standard Rex, and chins. The resulting rabbit is very nice with great meat to bone ratio and best of all, never bites or scratches. I also cull very heavily for mothering abilities. Also fun is the wide range of colors and coat types on the kits.
Interesting, if you do not mind answering a few questions.
#1 How many generations out are you on your cross breeding schedule?
#2 Have you noticed any losses after the first generation?
#3 At what age do your litters make weight?
#4 What is the average butcher weight of the litters?
#5 What is your feed conversion ratio?
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