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I am really interested

1556 Views 38 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  MaggieJ
I am really interested in raising meat bunnies.
If I got one male and a female, would that give me enough to grow meat for myself (am alone) and maybe share with others?
Would love input on how many to a litter, how many litters a year, etc.
Am not squeamish to butchering as I butcher my own hens.
I am planning next for next year and will be outside on back porch so as they will have protection from the elements.
Can anyone tell me how to get started? I will build my own hutch so I need to build big enough for their family. Is a 2.5'w x 6'L and 2.5' H big enough?
Where is the best place to buy and what breed is best?

Any help would sure be appreciated.
Thank you in advanced

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Debbie, welcome to the forum! My hat's off to you :cowboy: for doing your research before starting. :goodjob:

I think 2-3 does and a buck is just about right for what you want. If you find you are not getting enough meat, it is easy to grow out a promising young doe or two to increase your herd. You also may want to add a second buck at some point. But start small. You'll enjoy them more that way.

Suppose you have two does, bred four times a year and producing a modest 6 fryers per litter. That would be 48 fryers. You can expect the fryers to dress out at about 2.5 pounds each. That would give you 120 pounds of table-ready, lean, delicious white meat a year. I guess ball-park figures would be that you should be able to get 50 pounds of meat per doe per year without any problem.

My best advice is to read, read, read. This forum is, IMO, the best resource available for people beginning in rabbits. There are many different ways of raising rabbits well and you will soon develop a sense of which members' management styles you are most comfortable with.
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Yes, they are all good to eat. The difference between "meat rabbits" and "pet rabbits" is indistinct and there can be a lot of overlap - many breeds are dual-purpose.

The well-known meat breeds like Zew Zealand White and Californians were developed for commerical rabbit production. They have, in general, a better body shape for meat, chunky, with heavy muscles particularly in the hind quarters where the best meat is. They tend to grow out faster and more efficicently too -- that is, to reach butchering size earlier and on less food. This matters particularly if you are running a large operation, where high overhead really gouges into profits.

Pet breeds vary in size and shape. They all have excellent meat too, just perhaps not as much of it (the mini breeds) or not as much compared to the amount of bone (some of the large breeds like Flemish Giants or Belgian Hares. I raise "yard sale mutts" and am pretty happy with them. The longer I have them, the more I can see their ancestors popping out. They definitely have some New Zealand blood in there, some French Angora, maybe even some Dutch. Doesn't matter to me and it keeps things interesting. A surprise in every nest box. I keep the best of the best for future breeding and the rest go into the freezer. :)
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LOL, Cathleen, you're doing fine. I don't see anything in your posts that I would disagree with... although I would like to point out that the results one gets from pets and mutts are variable. Some can be great, some not so good.

I'm glad you made the switch to purebred meat stock. They seem to be doing great for you and you sound much happier about them than you were with your starter rabbits.

I think results are more likely to be predictable with purebred stock, but they can be expensive and there is also something to be said for "starter rabbits" since we all make rookie errors. You can always eat them later if you decide to upgrade.

Availability is another issue. Some areas just do not have much to choose from while others seem to have every breed under the sun.
Cages 24 inches deep are a really good idea, as Shari mentioned, but if you can make them longer than 30 inches, please consider doing so.

My cages are 30 inches deep and 36 inches long which gives 7.5 sq. ft. of space - adequate, but certainly not palatial. They are too deep for my short arms unless I lean way into the cage. I wish I had made them 24 by 48, which gives 8 sq. ft. - only slightly more space, but better proportioned, giving easier access -- and more room for the buns to hop back and forth.

This becomes especially important when a doe has a litter. They won't be weaned until somewhere around 5 weeks and until then they will be sharing momma's cage... It's going to be pretty crowded in there!

You can manage with 24 by 30, but if you are building your own cages and only need a few, the difference in cost is not usually that much. And the buns will be more content -- and less likely to become bored and fat. I wish there had been someone to suggest this to me when I started in rabbits, but I did not discover this site until long after my cages were built.
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I have swing out and down doors, pretty much the full size of the cage front. I like them a lot - they are down and out of my way while I am working. If I were building new cages, I would likely opt for the same type of opening, but have it in two halves so that it is not necessary to have the whole cage front open. My current bunnies show no inclination to hop out, but there is certainly enough space that they could get by me if they wanted to.

I don't use water bottles or J-feeders... and I can see how diwnward opening doors could be a problem if you like to attach these things to the front of the cage.

I found that J-feeders made it too easy for rats to get into the feed and - theoretically - into the cages. For the small amounts of grain we feed, thrift store crocks work just fine. I prefer crocks for water too, because I believe the rabbits drink better that way and a glance is all it takes to tell if there is a problem. These are personal preferences and are likely a minority opinion. I might think differently if I had dozens of rabbits. My adult population stays around 4 - 6.
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