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Best meat rabbit breed?

 
Misty Rayne
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Location: SW Ontario, Canada
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Hi all I was wondering what people think is the best breed for raising rabbits for meat? I see alot of rabbitries seem to have Newzeland whites but i was wondering if there was any particular reason like meat to bone ratio or cause the pelts can be sold easier etc. let me know what your thoughts are! thanks for your time!!
 
Saybian Morgan
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im a champion of the giant chinchilla, there a rare heritage breed, fast forage conversion, great temperment. i dont think you can go wrong, its a matter of what factors appeal to you, helping save an endangered breed ranks higher than abosolute efficiency for me. obviously the breeder matters, you might find a great new zealand but its only great if you feed them pellets. My rabbits are bred to convert ferns and blackberry vine into rabbit meat, if you feed them store pellets they destroy the feed tray in anger.
 
Abe Connally
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to be honest, I prefer mutts. We also use the hides for fur items, and the mutts produce a wide range of colors and patterns. Californians and New Zealands are good, but even my mutts come close to matching their meat performance.

http://www.velacreations.com/food/animals/rabbits.html

 
                        
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Location: San Diego
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Abe Connally wrote:to be honest, I prefer mutts. We also use the hides for fur items, and the mutts produce a wide range of colors and patterns. Californians and New Zealands are good, but even my mutts come close to matching their meat performance.

http://www.velacreations.com/food/animals/rabbits.html


I agree with you. Meat mutts are the best for numerous reasons, chief among them being that since there is less inbreeding they tend to be healthier. My best line came from a cross New Zealand doe bred to a cross Rex buck. Besides that they are more fun. Every litter is a surprise package with some truly amazing results. I bred one of the daughters back to the Rex buck and was amazed when a pair of Giant Angoras showed up in the litter. That being said however, you will need to do some serious culling to develop a meat mutt line that consistently gives you good meat rabbits. If you just breed willy-nilly without culling your line will eventually revert back to the wild genotype which has too high a bone to meat ratio.
 
Abe Connally
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yeah I select for breeders, and we have a decent mix, now.

I love the surprises, though. I just had a litter born that are tri-colored! white/tan/black Very awesome pelts there! The funny thing is that the father is a registered New Zealand, the mother is a mutt, but her mother was a registered Californian!

You never know what you are going to get, but I love the possibilities.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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My lady and I raise Californians for meat and show. The great thing about them is they have very fine bone structure for a high bone/meat ratio and they have nice usable pelts. Their gentle disposition also makes them good pets. As a result, they work well as an all-purpose breed.
 
April Ann
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Location: Northeastern MN
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Hi all...I'm new here.

I've heard really good things about Champagne D'Argents and their crosses for meat. Locally, everybody and their Aunt Bertha seems to be breeding Giant Flemmish. I've always understood that breed to be a slow grower with lots of bone, but apparently, they know something I don't. Currently, I'm waiting for a 4-H'er to get back to me about some Flemmish x Silver Marten x Champagne crosses...sounds very doable, since I'm looking at pasturing.

I did start with the typical Cal bucks over NZ does, but it was kind of hit or miss for pasturing. But if you're new to rabbits and intend to feed pellets, it could be a good way to start. Aside from the mixes, they are probably the most readily available meat type. I got my first rabbits by going to local shows, talking to breeders and judges, and learning from them how to pick out a good rabbit. It's amazing how much you can learn by seeing so many rabbits in one place!
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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April Ann wrote:Hi all...I'm new here.

I've heard really good things about Champagne D'Argents and their crosses for meat. Locally, everybody and their Aunt Bertha seems to be breeding Giant Flemmish. I've always understood that breed to be a slow grower with lots of bone, but apparently, they know something I don't. Currently, I'm waiting for a 4-H'er to get back to me about some Flemmish x Silver Marten x Champagne crosses...sounds very doable, since I'm looking at pasturing.

I did start with the typical Cal bucks over NZ does, but it was kind of hit or miss for pasturing. But if you're new to rabbits and intend to feed pellets, it could be a good way to start. Aside from the mixes, they are probably the most readily available meat type. I got my first rabbits by going to local shows, talking to breeders and judges, and learning from them how to pick out a good rabbit. It's amazing how much you can learn by seeing so many rabbits in one place!


Yeah you'll want to stay away from the Flems for meat. Like you were thinking they don't reach weight rapidly and have a poor meat-to-bone ratio.
 
Matt Saager
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Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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I have not raised Champagnes myself. But in researching for my rabbits and talking to breeders, they can be difficult to breed reliably.

Most breeders here in Oregon use Californians, New Zealands, or a mix breed.
 
Kristaps Vinogulajs
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We got decent result by mixing breeds- fastgrovers with heavyweights etc. But remember parents should be the best breed examples as possible. Callifornians + NewZealands was our favorite too.
 
                        
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I always like at least some Rex in my lines. Rex have thick loins (the back) and that trait is usually retained in their offspring. Rex are usually consideed mid range in size but a line can easily be developed that equals NZ in size. The meat/bone ratio is also good. If you save pelts they shed less hair when tanned because they are all fur with no long hairs.
 
Jason Guerard
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We decided to go with Florida Whites.
Mathematically they have the second best feed:meat ratio (CA/NZW being the highest)
The deciding factor for us is they are a smaller rabbit (4-5lbs vs 6-8lbs)
Since there are only two of us they make a perfect meal with no need to refrigerate (ie, no electricity)
YMMV
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Can I request that anyone breeding meat rabbits list their usual dress out weights, weeks to butchering, breeding stock, meat yield per kit, feeding style (pellets, homemade etc, anything that might affect dressout weights). I'm trying to baseline my successes to understand how much more to expect from my efforts. I'll post my updates when I butcher my first batch here soon.
 
Louise Knight
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We have just started our breeding program and decided to go for NZ White and Californian Rabbits

Here is a couple of studies that may interest people

The effect of crossing New Zealand White with Californian rabbits on growth and slaughter traits
http://www.archanimbreed.com/pdf/2009/at09p205.pdf

Postnatal Growth of New Zealand White Rabbit
http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/44/6/1021.full.pdf

L
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Awesome research find, when I dive into rabbits again I'll follow their breeding advice on the cross!
 
Jen inOr
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Louise Knight wrote:We have just started our breeding program and decided to go for NZ White and Californian Rabbits

Here is a couple of studies that may interest people

The effect of crossing New Zealand White with Californian rabbits on growth and slaughter traits
http://www.archanimbreed.com/pdf/2009/at09p205.pdf

Postnatal Growth of New Zealand White Rabbit
http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/44/6/1021.full.pdf

L


Hi! I'm new here and was wondering if anyone could answer a few questions for me about crossing NZW and CAL? My sons started 4-H rabbits this year and are interested in crossing the two. The research shows results for NZWXCAL and CALXNZW. Is the doe or buck the first in the equation? Sorry, I tried to find the info in the article with no success. Also, my boys are interested in perhaps selling rabbits for pelts like other rabbit breeders in our area. Do companies like to have purebreds or is a cross okay as long as it's white? Thanks so much for your time! Jenny
 
Louise Knight
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Jen inOr wrote:
Louise Knight wrote:We have just started our breeding program and decided to go for NZ White and Californian Rabbits

Here is a couple of studies that may interest people

The effect of crossing New Zealand White with Californian rabbits on growth and slaughter traits
http://www.archanimbreed.com/pdf/2009/at09p205.pdf

Postnatal Growth of New Zealand White Rabbit
http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/44/6/1021.full.pdf

L


Hi! I'm new here and was wondering if anyone could answer a few questions for me about crossing NZW and CAL? My sons started 4-H rabbits this year and are interested in crossing the two. The research shows results for NZWXCAL and CALXNZW. Is the doe or buck the first in the equation? Sorry, I tried to find the info in the article with no success. Also, my boys are interested in perhaps selling rabbits for pelts like other rabbit breeders in our area. Do companies like to have purebreds or is a cross okay as long as it's white? Thanks so much for your time! Jenny



Hi Jenny,

Not sure if Im the best one to answer these questions as we are just starting out ourselves, but here goes... the first link tells you the answer to your question but its not very clear Page 206 under Materials and Methods "New Zealand White (NZW) and Californian (CAL) medium-sized rabbits and their F1 reciprocal crosses (♂CAL × ♀NZW and ♂NZW × ♀CAL)" So the follow charts I assume list them in the same order. White cross, cal cross, male cal to white female, male white to cal female.

As to the second part of your questions we are in New Zealand so markets for pelts and rabbits may be different. I wanted pure breeds when I purchased so I assume so do others. Our first litters will all be pure and we will test the market with those. The next litters will be crossed and we will try the market again with them to see if there is any difference with sales. We are not really looking into selling rabbits though just enough to cover costs. As for the pelts we will only be tanning our own for our own use. Someone else who knows more hopefully will reply with a little more helpful information than me.

Our first rabbit had her litter just a couple of days ago.

1551606_667291019988603_747124132_n.jpg
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New Zealand White Rabbits (first day)
 
paul wheaton
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kadence blevins
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paul thats a continental giant. they are a kinda rare breed, mostly in the UK and few in the USA.
they are freakin huge and have the appitite of a cow. i had done some research on them a while back and the lady who had the current "worlds largest living rabbit" said how many POUNDS of veggies and pellets he eats each day.
they do not have a weight limit for the breed whereas most breeds are like 3.5-5# or 6-8# or even the flemish giant is 12+# but i have never heard of one more than 20#

they have small litter size from what i recall (like 5 kits) and a high death rate. kits are very small and easily injured, whats a 30+# rabbit mother to do?

new zealands and californians are popular because they have big litters (7-11 kits average per litter) which they can feed up well and reach 5# weight by 8-12wks old and they have lots of meat on them with lighter bones. they are the farm animal closest to "fast food"

flemish giants and continental giants grow huge so they have to grow bones and hide first, then they slowwwwwwly fill out over time. at 8-12wks a flemish rabbit might weigh about 5# but the dress out is going to be about 40% meat. whereas a new zealand or californian dress out at 60% meat.

that said a lot of people use flemish in meat mutts that do terrific. if you want it then its most recommended 1/4 flemish or less with the rest from a good big fast growing meat rabbit line. like 3/4 new zealand 1/4 flemish.

i have a 3/4 new zealand 1/4 flemish giant doe. she is my biggest and best mom i have had in all my rabbits since i started about four years ago. she was 9# last time i weighed her. her first litter was of 10 kits, the runt died the first night but the other 9 she fed up great. i even kept back the biggest best doe from the litter which is due to have a litter here soon. she is bred back as well and i am looking forward to another great litter from her.
 
Tina Paxton
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SILVER FOXES!! Docile meat bricks with a great pelt.
 
Rw Wood
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Location: Seneca Falls, NY
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If you are strictly breeding for meat, then by all means your best bet is probably going to be a cross of at least a couple of breeds. The crosses result in hybrid vigor, so your litters are apt to grow quicker. Then you have to cull ruthlessly to get the bucks and does that give you the largest litters that are raised to butcher weight. It's no good to have does that consistently have large litters but have half of them die in the nest or in delivery. Neither is it any good to have does that only have 4 or 5 kits. Feed is expensive and you can't afford to have a rabbitry full of pets.

Keep in mind that if it's just you and your family that will be eating rabbit, if you have more than a couple of does, you will be eating a lot of rabbit. You want to rest the does a week between weaning and re-breeding to keep from burning them out, but even so, that's a litter per doe about every 9 weeks if you wean at 4 weeks. (Some people leave the litter with the doe until they reach butcher weight, but I think that's too stressful for the does.) So if you have litters of 8 every 10 weeks, to be conservative and two does, that's 80 rabbits a year. For my wife and I, that equates to 2 meals per rabbit or rabbit 3 times a week. If you have a larger family, it will be less. If you have more does, I hope you have friends that like rabbit.

Having said all that, I opted for American Chinchillas (not the giant Chins mentioned above). Any of the giant breeds will cost you more feed to raise because 1) your breeders, being larger, will consume more, and 2) more feed goes into forming the heavier bone structure that the giants have. As has already been mentioned, the result is more expensive meat.

I'm not entirely satisfied with the Amchins. Litters have been on the small side, but in their defense, I've been in the hospital a lot during the last couple of years and had someone else taking care of them who was not real knowledgeable. I lost two entire litters and I'm not sure whether it was due to the extreme cold we had this winter or the fact that the person taking care of them decided they needed to be moved to cages closer together because of the cold. You NEVER move a doe or handle her more than the second week after breeding. You can cause her to abort or damage the kits so that they end up being still born. I'm going to give the does I have another breeding and see what happens. I have one that I've about made up my mind is going in the soup pot, but I may give her one more chance.

The Amchins do have a very good feed to meat conversion ratio, are tasty, very docile and have a great pelt if you're planning to use them. As with any livestock, the key to success is spending time getting to know the animals and their idiosyncrasies. They are all individuals. Some will come to the cage door and want to be petted, others act like they don't care if you exist. They may be candidates for culling, depending on how good they are as breeders. Really, the breed to raise is the one you like. Go to a rabbit show or two, talk to some of the other breeders, and if a particular breed catches your eye, try them out. You can always switch at a later date and won't have lost anything. You'll get experience and some meat in the freezer. Joel Salatin says, "Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong at least once," the point being, just get started before you have all the information you might think you need.

HTH.
 
Neal Foley
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Tina Paxton wrote:SILVER FOXES!! Docile meat bricks with a great pelt.


I agree with Tina! I used to raise Silver Foxes and they are by far one of the better tasting meat rabbit breeds. They are slower growing and the meat is a finer texture and less fibrous.... And they cross very well with Calis or Kiwis.....
 
Aspen Bacwaden
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Can I breed a New Zealand white with a Chinchilla rabbit? Pics on link.. They told me the black one is Chinchilla..
rabit3.jpg
[Thumbnail for rabit3.jpg]
 
Tina Paxton
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Aspen Bacwaden wrote:Can I breed a New Zealand white with a Chinchilla rabbit? Pics on link.. They told me the black one is Chinchilla..


First: there is a breed of rabbit called a Chinchilla and then there is a color called Chinchilla.

Either way, yes, you can breed different breeds of domestic rabbits together. The general rule is that the doe should be larger than the buck to avoid problems in delivery though I have heard of folks not having a problem with smaller does bred to larger bucks. What you get is a mixed breed rabbit -- and hybrid vigor. It seems popular to mix, for example, a New Zealand and a Flemish. The mixture generally gives you a fast growing meat rabbit that is larger than a purebred New Zealand.
 
Aspen Bacwaden
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Tina Paxton wrote:
Aspen Bacwaden wrote:Can I breed a New Zealand white with a Chinchilla rabbit? Pics on link.. They told me the black one is Chinchilla..


First: there is a breed of rabbit called a Chinchilla and then there is a color called Chinchilla.

Either way, yes, you can breed different breeds of domestic rabbits together. The general rule is that the doe should be larger than the buck to avoid problems in delivery though I have heard of folks not having a problem with smaller does bred to larger bucks. What you get is a mixed breed rabbit -- and hybrid vigor. It seems popular to mix, for example, a New Zealand and a Flemish. The mixture generally gives you a fast growing meat rabbit that is larger than a purebred New Zealand.



I am going to spend a lot of time here reading and learning.. THank you.
 
Deborah Jane
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We started raising meat rabbits in May 2014 , started with two 9# New Zealand does and a 11# broken coated American Chinchilla doe. We bred them to our Two Agouti colored American Chinchilla Bucks and our mixed breed New Zealand Rex buck. 17 kits , healthy with extremely vigorous growth! They seem to make a good cross for meat rabbits and the colors are beautiful for pelts, which I intend to start for my winter project. Our American Chinchillas both adults and kits [crossed] are far more people friendly than the New Zealands.
 
Luis Rios
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I had great results crossing Californian and rhinelander. The offspring were bigger than both parents. One cross female I kept is 12 pounds. I use her as a breeder now. I chalked it up to hybrid vigor.
 
Matu Collins
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We've raised silver foxes and they were great. Fast growing, big, docile. I am generally a fan of mutts though.
 
Jackie Trades
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I raise American Chinchilla's and have had good success with them. I butcher at ~10 weeks when they reach 4.75-5lbs, and have a market for them. The lines seemed to be really regional (I couldn't get away from basically the same bloodlines until I went and got new bloodlines from 2 states over). Before I added the completely different bloodlines, they had relatively small litters of ~5. Once I was able to branch their family trees, I'm now getting 9 on average per kindle. They have so far all been good mothers, and even the young ones that I have saved back have raised at least 5 out of their first set of kits. It is my understanding that it is almost unheard of to have a doe keep almost all of her kits alive her first kindle.

One of the pros about the Am Chins that I like as well, is that even though they are grey, the individual hairs are almost "see-thru" which means that the occasional stray hair on a carcass doesn't stand out like a sore thumb. That was one of the reasons that the NZ and the Cali's became so popular, was because with the automated processors it was almost impossible to keep some hair off the meat, and the white didn't show up.

Another pro that I like about them is that they don't seem fragile. I've had many many people tell me that I should never move a doe more than 2 weeks after she has been bred. Now, you are welcome to do whatever works for you, but I only have so many cages that I can kindle in, so my does move around on rotation. 90% of the time, a does doesn't get moved to a cage with a nest box until 3 days before she is due to kindle. After I wean the kits that are using the cage, I disinfect it, put a new liner in the wire nest box (feed sacks are SOOO handy), add hay, and dump the doe who is due next in. So far, I've never had a problem, and I've been moving my does on rotation like this for at least a year now and I've got around 160 babies in the growing out process currently. I touch and count kits within hours of kindling, and foster babies all the time with no vanilla or other scent killer. I've never had a doe reject a kit, even if it wasn't hers and she jumped into the next box right after I put it in. I've also been able to dump a whole litter that was 3 weeks old in with a doe whose litter was over a week younger, (The other doe got attacked by a coon thru the bottom of the cage, and I had to euthanize her.) and she never missed a beat. Just acted like her family just got twice as big. Of course, this is the mamma that protected her entire litter from a very hungry snake, but that's a story for another time.

I've seen several other people mention this in these forums as well, but I will also stress it again. RECORDS are KEY!! and you absolutely positively need a good scale if you are going to be continually breeding for your idea of the "ideal" meat rabbit, no matter what breed or mutt you go with. You can make huge strides with your parent stock and the traits you want in just a year, as long as you keep meticulous records and don't get attached to animals that aren't "ideal".

On the mutt front...Mutts are usually a great idea especially for starters. With mutts, they are normally something a neighbor, someone down the road, etc is looking to get rid of, and you can pick up some animals to "learn" on without having the huge overhead of full blood stock. Now, I know that seems harsh, but as with any animal, there is much that is between the lines of even a good rabbitry book, and there will be a certain amount of trial and error with any setup. If it is your first time breeding, butchering, raising, etc....its always a good idea to start with cheap mutts so that your overhead is lower while you are learning. As long as they are relatively good sized mutts (don't get anything miniature, or it will feel like you are butchering and eating rats, not rabbits), you will still get meat out of the deal.
 
Melissa Swartz
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David Miller wrote:Can I request that anyone breeding meat rabbits list their usual dress out weights, weeks to butchering, breeding stock, meat yield per kit, feeding style (pellets, homemade etc, anything that might affect dressout weights). I'm trying to baseline my successes to understand how much more to expect from my efforts. I'll post my updates when I butcher my first batch here soon.


We just breed our first pair Flemmish Giants (Doe) and Satin (buck). We also have 5 month old Florida Whites. We would love to compare notes with you. My wife did most of the research but the Florida Whites should produce something like this. (Per Mating Pair)
8 per litter
@ butcher weight 5 LBS in 12 weeks
Feeding 3 oz per day a total of $5 in feed over the 12 weeks
should be 60% meat so 3 lbs meet per offspring
or 24 lbs of meet per litter in 12 weeks
should easily get 3 litters per pair a year with possible almost 100lbs meat.

We feed ours hay, grass and greens from garden. and only 3 oz of pellets daily

This is just our ruff math with NO real data to back it up.

 
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