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Store bought rabbits for meat production?

 
Matt Tebbit
Posts: 35
Location: Cusco, Peru
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I like the idea of keeping rabbits as a meat source but here in Peru I've never come across anyone using them for anything other than a pet.

Could regular pet rabbits be bred to be meat varieties - what do meat varieties look like so I can try and see if they're being sold as pets. If not what characteristics should I look for when choosing?

Thanks

Matt.
 
C. Hunter
Posts: 111
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Some of the pet varieties are good meat rabbits, others aren't. You want lots of meat compared to the amount of bone, but enough bone to support the rabbit Nothing too tiny, fast growing.

Here's a little 4-H handout that has some quicky descriptions of breed and conformation that might be helpful. http://rcextension.colostate.edu/docs/rabbitstudyguide.pdf
 
Matt Tebbit
Posts: 35
Location: Cusco, Peru
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Thanks, that should help me when I come to picking. How can you tell how much bone to meat there is? I'm guessing I'll be buying young rabbits, do you check the mother?

I'll maybe be heading by where they sell rabbits this Saturday, if I get some photos of what's available I'll post them.
 
David Livingston
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If you are in Peru why dont you keep guinea pigs ?

David
 
Matt Tebbit
Posts: 35
Location: Cusco, Peru
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I'm also going to keep guinea pigs - they're decidely unmeaty though, lots of very fine bones with a little meat attached.

The biggest guinea pigs get up to 2-2,5 kilos so 5.5 pounds or so, unfortunately the big ones are mutants and I fear have a lot of congenital problems. The biggest sign of their mutation is the number of toes, it's typical for them to have 6 toes or more on each foot and it's not uncommon for them to have more. I want to engage in a breeding program to try and keep the size but improve the overall health of the animals - I bought a pair last year but then had to leave the country so they became dinner. Since then my wife hasn't wanted to keep them in our apartment, we're pretty constrained on space so I understand. Next year we're hopefully going to have a house in the country so I can try and start again then.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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I don't know what the popular breeds are there in Peru but most people keep Californians, New Zealand's, Florida whites, Satins, Flemish Giants or many cross breeds of those varieties. I keep a Californian buck and a Satin doe along with some hybrids. They average a litter of about 8 kits which reach fryer size (5.5 lbs) at about eight weeks old.

The only real way to know how much potential a rabbit has is to wait til it's gotten at least 4 months old. By then the front end has filled out a bit and you'll have a good idea about how much meat to expect. In this case you'll want to feel the rabbits muscles to determine how much meat there is compared to bone. It takes some practice to figure out but once you do it becomes second nature. Ideally you'll have an opportunity to get some juvenile rabbits from a breeder who raises meat rabbits. In this case you'll be able to see the parents. A general rule is that you'll want a long bodied doe to breed with a blocky meaty buck. This usually produces kits with both beneficial traits. You'll end up with longer meatier kits.

If you have to get them from pet stores I would think about asking the store manager if they could give you the name of their supplier. Can't hurt to ask. Just say that you're interested in buying older rabbits. Also make sure that if you do get them from a store that they are not related rabbits. Many local stores could be getting their rabbits from the same breeder and you might end up with closely related animals. That's not always a bad thing but you'll still want to know.

I'm still working on my first cup of coffee so I'm sorry if that's a little rambling.

best of luck
 
Betsi Lynn
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HI Matt,
Did you ever find an answer to your question? I am coming through Cusco for ONE DAY ONLY in January on my way to another permaculture farm in a remote part of the sacred valley area. I would like to help them start raising rabbits as they are currently very limited in their protein. Any information that you have learned from your process of raising rabbits for meat in this area would be extremely valuable to me. Furthermore, I will be in need of a breeding male and female or two to get us started. Maybe you have surplus that I can buy from you? Or know where I can find an adequate species for meat in town? Thanks!
 
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