While all rabbits can be raised for meat, there are some rabbit breeds that make up great backyard herds. Perhaps you want to get started with rabbits and haven’t decided on which breed yet. Or maybe you have been raising them, but are thinking about switching to a multipurpose breed. Here are three proven rabbit breeds that can excel for small scale breeders.
Great Rabbit Breeds For Meat
I’m a huge fan of raising heritage breeds whenever logical, especially increasing numbers of endangered varieties. The Livestock Conservancy publishes a list of threatened breeds every year. Any time you can raise one of the breeds on this list, you are doing a great service by increasing the stock numbers and genetic diversity of that variety. Anybody can raise New Zealands and Californians. And maybe you have some of those too, but as a small scale producer you are in a great position to raise help preserve heritage breeds!
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My first rabbits were American Chinchillas, and I highly recommend them as good meat rabbits. They are large rabbits, and dress out with quite a bit of meat. American Chinchillas are dual purpose rabbits, which means they have beautiful pelts if you wait to process until the coat has matured. They also have large litters, and the does make good mothers. I noticed in my particular rabbits that they were also very friendly and made excellent pets. They aren’t as popular anymore because there isn’t a commercial fur industry, but they still make an excellent choice for small scale raising.
Silver Foxes are on my wish list of rabbits I would like to try raising. I have heard excellent things about them from other rabbit breeders. Like the American Chinchillas, they are an excellent dual purpose rabbit breed. They and can be raised for their fur, meat, or as pets. They also are good mothers and have large litters. I’ve heard them described as “meat bricks with a great pelt.” You can’t go wrong with that, and they really are beautiful rabbits.
Any rabbit can be raised for meat, but that doesn’t mean they all have a good dress out weight. You can however raise fiber rabbits as multipurpose rabbits, especially if you get your stock from someone who is already breeding for a decent body shape. If not, you can start selecting for it yourself, while at the same time enjoying some of their lovely fiber. Just make sure you have enough to brush your rabbits regularly, as their fur can become very matted. Angora’s probably are not a good breed for a colony style pen or on the ground housing for that very same reason.
Really though, you can raise any breed for meat and have great success. Some people prefer to raise mutts as the hybrid genes contribute to how productive they are. So, don’t worry if you don’t have any fancy breeds, or if they are hard to find in your area. Start with what you have, and if you can pick an endangered breed, that’s awesome.
What is your favorite rabbit breed for meat? Share in the comments!
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