Best breed of meat rabbit you ever bred - PURE or CROSSED...

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Milk n' Honey, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. Milk n' Honey

    Milk n' Honey Well-Known Member

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    I haven't had much luck with my Californians. They reach 5 lbs at around 16 wks or so. I'm in the process of experimenting. I had 4 Californian does and one Cal buck. I added to that: 1 NZ doe, 1 Harlequin doe and 1 NZ buck. I'm going to experiment and see what I can do with crosses between this and that. What has been your experience with crosses and what has been your best outcome in breeds (for meat)...whether it be purebred or crossed? I'd like to get my rabbits up to 5 lbs at least by 12 wks and maybe sooner.
     
  2. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    I'm a bunny newbie, but I butchered my first two litters of Silver Fox recently. The litters were six and seven kits. These were the first kits for both does, so I'm hoping future litters will either be bigger or will grow faster, or both. I sold the three chunkiest bunnies from the two litters for breeding stock when they were 9 weeks old. When they were 10 weeks old, I butchered the five heaviest remaining bunnies. They were 4.5 to a little over 5 lbs. The rest were under 4.5. The following week, at 11 weeks old, the ones that were left ranged from 4.5 to 5.5 lbs., and I butchered those five.

    I fed free choice pellets and hay, with a daily large handful of COB, BOSS and Vigor Plus mixture per litter. Also, a few comfrey leaves each day, and lawn clippings, carefully dried or fresh.
     

  3. susieM

    susieM Well-Known Member

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    The trick for me seems to not let the doe keep more than six babies with her to raise, to let her rest between litters, and to not keep her for more than two years.
     
  4. sdrew

    sdrew Well-Known Member

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    I have a CAL buck and 2 NZ does,.... the offspring are 5 lbs by 8-10 weeks !!! Far better than the straight CAL's I've had in the past.
     
  5. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First off, I believe you may be confusing "breeds" with "genetics?" It is true that Californians, being a naturally slightly smaller breed, will take longer to reach market weights, but even for Cals, 16 weeks is a bit much! There are other factors to be considered, as well... such as the feed and the heat. You may have simply gotten into a strain of slow-growing Cals. I've seen this in New Zealand whites, Rex and Satins, so it's not unlikely to happen in any breed.

    I once had a slight problem with slow growth rates with my New Zealands and wanted to improve it. The feed was good and it wasn't summer time, so I knew that was okay. I solved the problem by purchasing a *large* buck to use on the does. Rather than to start over with all new stock, you may want to consider doing the same. Just be sure to choose your "keepers" by size!

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  6. chas

    chas Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious do you kill the extra kits to keep it down to 6?
    It seems to me in any animal the more offspring the more profit!
    My 3 yr old /rex N.Z. cross regularly raises 10-14 young.Iv'e sold quite a few to people anxious to get more per litter.
    With the hot weather and selling two I am getting ready to butcher the remaining 8.I will let the ole gal go till easter bunny time now.
    Chas
     
  7. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not necessarily, Chas. The more kits the doe has, the smaller they are at birth, and that means a slower growth rate. For the professional commercial folks, we try to keep it down to 8 to 10 per litter. Anymore than that just isn't economical. What good is it to have more if it costs more in feed, utilities and manpower to get them to market weight? Those things usually wind up costing more than whatever "profit" can be realized from those smaller kits. This is a common mistake many will make in thinking that "more is better." In the case of rabbits, It isn't.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  8. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    Hi Pat- thanks for all the input!

    One question- if one had a doe that kindled 7 or less and one that kindled more than 10, would it be beneficial to foster some to the small litter? Is there any reason why you wouldn't want to do that? I'm assuming it'd be smart to cull the under kindler after she brought up her kits.

    Tim B.
     
  9. rooter

    rooter Active Member

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    Pat is right about the large buck solution. I used to bred my largest NZW doe to a Flemish buck and keep young bucks from that x to breed my smallish [Calx]commercial does. It made big fryers fast. Now I only use commercial type Ozark strain NZWs. They are amazing producers and very fast growers. But I still bred a "buck line" with large size as one requirement. So find a good sized buck from a good commercial strain if possible. Happy rabbits!
     
  10. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You have the Ozark strain??? Wow! Even the creator, Dr. Lukefahr, thought they were no longer in existance! His own stock has since been interbred with other strains. You might wish to let him know that you have them.

    Tim... Yes, many of the pros will keep an exceptional doe or two who produce 6 or 7 kits to use for fostering kits to. "Exceptional" means good mothering skills and a good milker. It just makes good sense.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  11. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    So you are saying that some breeders actually keep a lower number producing doe that does good with kits just to maximize each litter? What if through culling you end up with all does that kindle 8 or more? Start servicing the pinky industry? This is cool stuff!

    Tim B.
     
  12. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well now, Tim... you've had rabbits long enough to know that not every kit in every litter will survive to market weight, eh? Some are even stillborne, and when dealing with a large herd, this happens quite often. I had a large herd and was able to adequately supply the pinky market without ever having to purposely cull newborns for it. :)

    It's also pretty unlikely to have an entire herd to consistently throw 8 per litter. As a doe nears the end of her productivity, the litter sizes tend to decrease, so this means your herd will be a mixture of litter sizes. Not all does are replaced at the same time. No way of telling ahead of time when the does' litters will begin decreasing, so we can't cull them until we know. Keeping good records is invaluable in such cases.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  13. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Pat-
    I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. I've never focused on production and didn't want to miss one of the small variables by making assumptions.
    As far as our earlier PMs (sorry everyone), I think what I'm going to do is slowly grow a meat rabbit production program and focus on supplying local demand. When I get big enough for the possibility of transport, I'll look at where everyone is at. Thanks for all of your help so far.

    Tim B.
     
  14. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not a problem, Tim! Feel free to keep the questions coming! By so doing, you are also helping to educate others. :D

    Pat Lamar
     
  15. rooter

    rooter Active Member

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    Pat, how flattering that Dr. Lukefar named a strain of rabbits after the lovely area I live in, or was it the wonderful rabbits grown here? Either way its cool with me. Of course I wasnt refering to his strain in my earlier post. I am refering to the NZWs grown here in the Ozarks in huge numbers for the past 50+ years. Sorry for the confusion. I just wanted to encourage MilknHoney to take your good advice.
     
  16. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yep, you can foster kits onto other mothers easily. Try to breed at least two does at once so you have a place for the extras to go.

    I am just ramping up to go commercial and from pushing the pencil I can see that record keeping on litter weight/gain is going to be something that makes or breaks the operation. Costs for feed are too high to mess around with litters or does that don't grow fast enough. For example, two sister does freshen four or five days ago here. They both had seven kits but I can see already one doe is a much better milker than the other one. I'm flagging that litter to keep does from and the other one will all be marketed if the difference is maintained until weaning.

    Right now most rabbits I have here are crosses or meat types that are not NZW, although I expect to get some of them soon. The Silver Foxes look like good growers to me. American Sables seem on the slow side. NZ Reds are good growers, and the Satins I have seem to be pretty good. It's going to be interesting to have enough numbers so they can be more closely compared, though.

    Jennifer