Newbie here!

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by dunroven, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. dunroven

    dunroven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have been lurking around here today reading some of the messages about the rabbits and I am very impressed! My husband and I want to get into breeding for meat and sales, but are unsure of how to go about it. We are very small right now. I'm almost ashamed to say, we have 5 does and 3 bucks. Two of the bucks were given to us and are california whites (I believe, ((they have black noses and tails)). I know that sounds dumb to ask, but I am really unsure. The others are all New Zealands. We live in Iowa, northern part, but were told that we could not breed in the winter. I am reading where most of you folks do that, huh? Please don't think I'm terribly dumb, I really am wanting to learn! Also, we have a source who we can get some Flemish Giants from which we really admire, and thought they would make great meat rabbits. This person; however, wants $30 for one or $50 for 2 rabbits. These are pedigreed. Here's my question on them. Is it better to buy the California and New Zealands and just go for the fryers, and if so, where can I sell them to with a continuing market, how do I find that? I know I'm full of questions, but I guess that's the only way to find out, huh?

    Thanks for helping me and not thinking I'm too stupid! LOL! :(
     
  2. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

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    Hi dunroven, I would stick with the Cals and New Zealands. the flemish giant is not a good meat breed because of its large bone structure. The not breeding in the winter thing is based on daylight. If you keep your rabbits in a building and provide 12-14 hours of light a day then you should be able to get them to breed year round. Do not be ashamed of what you have or questions you may have. Everybody has started where you are now. Randy
     

  3. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

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    Also, visit http://www.prma.org/ and click on Sample newsletter to look for processors in your area. Join ARBA or PRMA or even both. Good Luck, Randy
     
  4. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    South Dakota
    Hi dunroven

    I live just north of you in South Dakota, near the MN border. This was my first year with rabbits, so know very little. I found it harder to breed my does this summer during the heat. Right now I have four litters and one due in two or three days. I did lose one litter to the cold but it was a first time mother and she didn't pull very much fur. I'm not sure if I should breed them in Jan-Feb but I don't want the does getting too fat either.

    My sister's brother-in-law raises Flemish giants in Wis. He raises them for show but they do eat them. I guess he gets a lot of money for them but they are for showing mostly.

    So far the best book I have is Rabbit Production By JI McNitt, Peter R. Cheeke,
    Nephi M. Patton, Steven D. Lukefahr, I would recommend it.

    Good Luck!
     
  5. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    The Market Report listing some of the processors in the U.S. has recently
    become available on the ARBA website also.

    http://www.arba.net/

    Good luck with finding a market for your rabbits.
     
  6. dunroven

    dunroven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the responses folks! I am really interested in good advice and that's what I got here. I'll definitely be back!
     
  7. TINYMARIA

    TINYMARIA Active Member

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    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hi dunroven,

    I live in MN and I am raising Flemish Giants. I just started this year in March. I also have 5 does & 3 males. I know alot of people dont care for the flemish meat, but I like it. We raise for the table. we currently have 2 liters and 2 coming this week. All of my rabbits are outside in wood cages. But since it is winter, I put thick plastic on the front to cut down on the wind and cold. The mothers are doing great. I too will be breading year round to keep the does from getting fat. good luck to you. this a great forum for info.
     
  8. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Actually, *any* rabbit can be eaten, and so long as it is for your own personal table purposes, then, no harm is done. There is a very viable market for Flemish Giants for the Raw Feeding market which often requires more bone than what the human consumption market prefers.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     
  9. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    Hi Pat.
    I've read some of your posting on Yahoo meat rabbit groups. I'm happy to see you on here.

    I was JUST going to ask about Flemish for BARF feeders. Is it better to breed them purebred or cross them to a New Zealand? I would think the same greater bone density would be valuable to the large reptile feeders too.

    Anyway thanks for the info.



    Tim
     
  10. MikeD

    MikeD Well-Known Member

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    "I would think the same greater bone density would be valuable to the large reptile feeders too. "

    Thats an interesting observation, Tim. This is actually how I began raising rabbits. I used to run a reptile rescue and it was simply more cost effective and made more sense to raise my own feeders for the large snames and lizards that we always had in-house. We always knew what our feeders were being fed and how humanely they were handled which is always important to us. Since this would be the sole source of a wild carnivorous reptile's calcium intake I would tend to agree with you but I have a feeling that very little research has been done on the topic. As far as I know, little has been done so far with regard to overall research on reptiles let alone things like dietary intake and "recommended requirements" for elements such as calcium, phosphorous and Vitamin D3 etc.

    After seeing how the "average" big snake or lizard owner thinks I think that it ultimately comes down to cost for the majority of them. Rabbit is bigger than rat therefore fewer are needed to feed a 14' Reticulated Python etc or 6' Nile Monitor. Potentially one rabbit as opposed to 5 or 6 adult rats at a feeding. If you got into a situation where you already had an established clientele for feeders you may want to bounce the idea off of them as a whole before you started breeding for specific things like bone density. To the best of my knowledge at the moment, Cals, NZs and other "human grade" meat rabbit works well for the reptile market. I'd be concerned with breeding for such a specialized market that the end result (being an "increased bone density rabbit") couldn't be used for other clientele namely human meat market etc. That and feed conversion ratios could be more cost prohibitive to raise such a rabbit. Add to that, if it actually was discovered that something such as MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) was found in a big lizard or snake supplimentation of calcium would be easy enough to deal with simply by stuffing the feeder with calcium. BUT, there I go assuming that we're talking about pre-killed feeders. I assume that simply because I've seen enough snakes come in to my program and others with sever bite wounds inflicted by intended "prey" and have always fed pre-killed whenever possible.

    My .02 for what it's worth... Feel free to give me change back... :)
     
  11. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    An excellent post, Mike, and I am in complete agreement with you. Just take note of the fact that we do differentiate between "feeder" rabbits (for snakes, reptiles and other carnivorous animals requiring whole-carcass feeding) and "Raw Feeding" or "BARF" markets for mostly cats and dogs and often requiring a ground product.

    In regard to the Flemish Giant, I still stand by the NZW's and Californians as being the most economical to raise, but each breed has its own devoted followers... and that includes Flemish Giants. This, then, provides an excellent market for those devoted Flemish Giant producers who are generally confined just to the show rabbit market.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, 2005 ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  12. Tracy

    Tracy Well-Known Member

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    A couple other things to also consider. Raw feeding [barf terminology is not comonly used anymore] as well as feeder markets for reptiles has been my business for over 3 years now.
    On large feeders for snakes it is very comon for these snakes to be hibernated in the winter months so the market is not always there. There is a market for rabbit pinkies, fuzies, smalls etc year round. I also sell pre-killed. I do not sell live rabbits for feeders.
    Raw feeders [dog and cat food] vary greatly but the idea of more bone to meat has also been pretty much eliminated in the way of thinking in the last couple years. Raw feeders want to mimic prey animals. Most prey animlas would only have 5-10% bone. Some raw feeders want a ground product but not all. Some feed whole rabbits with fur just like reptile owners do and some want skinned rabbit [gutted or ungutted].
    If you want to do ground and doing any type of volume you need a very large commercial grinder. I have a 10 h.p. grinder that can litterly grind 500+ lbs an hour. You need freezers [I have 2 walk ins] as well as all the other expenses that people do not think of. Freezer bags, labeling for the bags, Shipping boxes [if you are going to ship] dry ice, freezer packs, etc.
    I normally work at this business 60+ hours a week. It is labor intensive but also rewarding. I have many repeat costumers that have been buying form me for years and I think that says a lot about the quality of my products. You need extremely good orginazational skills and most be able to multi task. I have posted this before but here is the website url for my business.
    www.hare-today.com
     
  13. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    This has all been very informative to me. I appreciate everyone sharing their expertise. My goal for now is to get my dog back on a raw food (I won't say BARF anymore, even though the 12 year old that still lives inside me finds it funny) and supply my family with the occasional home-grown meal. Thanks for all the info. I think I"m going to get a pair of californians and a pair of new zealand whites and do some experimenting intermixed with pure bred breedings. Thanks again!!

    Tim
     
  14. MikeD

    MikeD Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, Pat.... I'm not communicating as well these days as I usually do ...:)

    Thanks, again, both of you....I've been toying with the idea of jumping into the feeder market to start with especially as I have one of the larger commercial breeders of reptiles in the country all of 20 miles away from me and I know he doesn't have a reliabe supplier. As it is I donate as many feeders to a friend's rescue as I can. The raw market seems to be doing a fairly brisk business as well. Maybe after all of the legal wranging dies down I'll be able to concentrate on MY business for a change....