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Author Topic: Raising Meat Rabbits  (Read 1061 times)

Offline The15thMember

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Raising Meat Rabbits
« on: July 19, 2019, 02:26:11 pm »
I know there are some old posts on this subject, but with all the new people on the forum since then, I figured I'd start a new one.  My family is looking to start raising rabbits for meat.  We are still in the research and planning stage, but we are looking to purchase our breeders next spring probably.  Anyone have any experience with meat rabbits?  What breed(s) do you have?  What is your setup like?  Any tips for someone getting started? 
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2019, 02:31:34 am »
Member, this will not answer you questions. The only experience I have with meat rabbits is eating them and that was only once.  As a boy one of the older fellows fixed some for a breakfast for the folks at church.  They were outstanding! Also as a boy we had beagle hounds and hunted wild rabbits and they were also very tasty and good in my opinion. The raised rabbits were a delicious delicacy !!  Good luck to you and your family on this!!
Phillip

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2019, 10:21:31 am »
I have tried this for personal use. First thing, find a large breed. You do not get a lot of meat off of the small ones. Start with more than a couple of rabbits. If one of them is a dud, of poor breeder, it really puts a halt on production. Like Beekeeping, start building your cages now.
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Offline MikeCinWV

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2019, 12:03:23 pm »
We did meat rabbits for years.  Had one male and five females as our breeders.  That's five separate cages plus an additional five for raising the young ones.  We separated them by sex not litter mates.  We raised Californians, Rex, and champagne.  The Californians did the best for us.  After about five or six years we came to the conclusion it just wasn't worth the effort/feed.  Taking them hot water twice a day during winter was a real pain and probably. Kept Flemish Giants for a few years after that. Their litters are smaller and they take to long to grow to be meat rabbits.  They make wonderful pets. They are really cool rabbits but need an extremely large cage with a special mesh floor for their feet. 

Make sure your cages are raccon proof.  Butcher between 3 to 6 months old.  Best way to kill them is to grab them by the back legs with one hand and around the neck with your other hand.  Then just give a quick sharp pull to "stretch" them.  It breaks their neck instantly. Rabbit liver is the BEST!  I don't like liver but rabbit liver is amazing.  Best part of the rabbit IMO.  We supplemented their regular feed with garden scraps, fruits and apple tree branches. We out pieces of mine belt under the cages so it was easy to clean their mess with a flat shovel.  You may be surprised at how much mess a rabbit generates.  It can go straight to your garden it won't burn the plants.  Seriously try the livers fried in butter, sooo good.  Don't leave the male with the female for very long they can be really hard on the females.  Also make your cages so the rabbits can't chew on the wood frame of the cage because they will chew right through a 2x4.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2019, 04:30:48 pm »
Thanks for all the great information everyone!  My father is looking to start building some housing for the bunnies in about a month or so.  Our plan is to keep the breeders in hutches mounted on the back wall of our garage, and then use rabbit tractors to grow out the babies.  We are currently looking into the silver fox rabbit breed.  We like the size and the bone/meat ratio.  Anyone have any experience with those?   
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2019, 04:37:40 pm »
Hey, I've got a question that I can't seem to get an answer to, maybe someone can help with this.  Why do you want to keep your breeding rabbits in cages and not in tractors?  Could you keep the breeders in tractors too? 
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Online iddee

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2019, 06:30:54 pm »
You keep the breeders in cages to be able to catch them quickly and easily. You only keep the male with the female for a couple of minutes until the job is done. If you leave him with her, he will eat the babies as soon as they are born.
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2019, 08:14:33 pm »
You keep the breeders in cages to be able to catch them quickly and easily. You only keep the male with the female for a couple of minutes until the job is done. If you leave him with her, he will eat the babies as soon as they are born.
I didn't really mean keeping the males and females together.  What I meant was why does everyone keep breeders in cages off the ground.  Why not just make smaller tractor type cages and keep each rabbit separately in it's own little tractor on grass?
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Online iddee

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2019, 08:30:58 pm »
Snakes, weasels, rats, dogs, cats, and others will be getting in and eating the babies. Also, the adults will dig out faster than you think they can.
You will have to worm them more often, as they will get worms from the ground.

My suggestion is forget the tractors and keep them all off the ground, at least 4 feet, to keep animals from tearing into them.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2019, 10:24:14 pm »
I kept rabbits in a fenced in area years ago. On night I heard screaming coming from the rabbit yard. I ran back there and found a raccoon in the yard. The rabbits were shredded on the ground and the coon was scrambling to get out. I grabbed a bow and arrow and shot it as it ran straight up a wood fence. He took my arrow with him as reached the top.
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2019, 12:49:17 am »
Snakes, weasels, rats, dogs, cats, and others will be getting in and eating the babies. Also, the adults will dig out faster than you think they can.
You will have to worm them more often, as they will get worms from the ground.

My suggestion is forget the tractors and keep them all off the ground, at least 4 feet, to keep animals from tearing into them.
Thanks, iddee, that makes perfect sense, and that?s exactly the kind of answer I was looking for. We are planning on using standard elevated cages for our breeders, but it was the kind of thing where we wanted to understand why everyone did it that way.

I kept rabbits in a fenced in area years ago. On night I heard screaming coming from the rabbit yard. I ran back there and found a raccoon in the yard. The rabbits were shredded on the ground and the coon was scrambling to get out. I grabbed a bow and arrow and shot it as it ran straight up a wood fence. He took my arrow with him as reached the top.
Jim Altmiller
What a horrible story, Jim. :sad: I didn?t realize raccoons were even that predatory!  We don?t tend to have too much trouble with raccoons here thankfully. We also have outdoor dogs so they should help keep all the nasty critters away.
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Offline Beelab

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2019, 02:55:34 am »
Just want to say thanks for this topic. Brought up some memories. My granddad back in Germany had a shed full of meat rabbits and I loved the rabbits throughout my childhood. Could spend days in the rabbit shed.
I remember he kept the bucks separate, even though I argued Daddy rabbit wants to be with the kids. Haha. And how come Daddy rabbit has babies with several lady rabbits.
I was only allowed to learn the skinning. They kept me away from the neck breaking part till I was 10.
The meat was so good, I didn?t mind eating the bunny I played with. Because I knew they were raised for eating on special days and selling to the neighbourhood.
I remember it was a great side income for granddad. He had them on order before they were even born.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2019, 02:08:04 pm »
Just want to say thanks for this topic. Brought up some memories. My granddad back in Germany had a shed full of meat rabbits and I loved the rabbits throughout my childhood. Could spend days in the rabbit shed.
I remember he kept the bucks separate, even though I argued Daddy rabbit wants to be with the kids. Haha. And how come Daddy rabbit has babies with several lady rabbits.
I was only allowed to learn the skinning. They kept me away from the neck breaking part till I was 10.
The meat was so good, I didn?t mind eating the bunny I played with. Because I knew they were raised for eating on special days and selling to the neighbourhood.
I remember it was a great side income for granddad. He had them on order before they were even born.

Sounds wonderful, Beelab.  Glad I could give you remembrance of those nice childhood times.  :smile:  Oddly enough, I'm kind of excited to learn the butchering and skinning part.  I don't want to do the actual killing, and my father has already agreed to do that part, but I really like anatomy and dissection, and butchering an animal is just a dissection that we'll then get good use out of for meat.  :happy:
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2019, 12:47:53 am »
Just want to say thanks for this topic. Brought up some memories. My granddad back in Germany had a shed full of meat rabbits and I loved the rabbits throughout my childhood. Could spend days in the rabbit shed.
I remember he kept the bucks separate, even though I argued Daddy rabbit wants to be with the kids. Haha. And how come Daddy rabbit has babies with several lady rabbits.
I was only allowed to learn the skinning. They kept me away from the neck breaking part till I was 10.
The meat was so good, I didn?t mind eating the bunny I played with. Because I knew they were raised for eating on special days and selling to the neighbourhood.
I remember it was a great side income for granddad. He had them on order before they were even born.

Beelab, what did y'all feed the rabbits there in Germany? I was thinking if a person such as Member were to go to her area grocery stores and vegetable markets, she may be able to contract to dispose of the older produce in a positive way?
 :wink:
Phillip

Offline Beelab

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2019, 09:12:57 am »
I remember neighbours dropped off their potato peels every afternoon and grandma cooked them in a big pot every night. Then they were mixed the next day with something mealy, maybe crushed grain or flour? Bone meal? I don?t know what it was.
Granddad didn?t allow me to feed too many greens. He said it gives them bloating.

I bought skinny wild rabbits once here in Australia at the butcher. Never again. No comparison.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2019, 01:43:08 pm »
Beelab, what did y'all feed the rabbits there in Germany? I was thinking if a person such as Member were to go to her area grocery stores and vegetable markets, she may be able to contract to dispose of the older produce in a positive way?
 :wink:
Phillip
Interesting idea, Phillip.  Although I'm not sure I'd want to feed grocery store produce, just because I have no idea what sort of chemicals the food may have come in contact with.  Maybe for organic produce though. 
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2019, 01:25:06 am »
I had a friend growing up whose daddy kept rabbits as described by iddee

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2019, 10:32:02 pm »
@ Member
How are things coming along with the rabbits? Also how is your family?s puppy?s that you mentioned in the topic My Friend Tuff a few months ago?
« Last Edit: August 27, 2019, 10:56:30 pm by Ben Framed »

Offline Anonimo22

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2019, 05:17:28 am »
Very cool thread!

You know its interesting that you asked about rabbits. A lot of us have been thinking about stuff like this. And we've done some research on this also. Our family had them years ago, and years and years ago there was a big business scheme going around to raise Rex rabbits for profit.

Haha...well anyway.

So what do rabbits do well...

A lot of people think that the meat in rabbits and ducks can be more nutritious than chickens. And people are starting to be concerned with the diseases that chickens can get and how stuff like bird flue can carry over from 'fowl' into humans as a germ elevator. So this is a big point in favor of rabbits (and ducks) over chickens. (Its also why people are very interested in raising & trying out quail right now also.)

Also, you can use grass more with rabbits than you can with these other small time ag equivalents mentioned in the paragraph above and that means more efficiency and saving money. Now the guy above says you they can get bloating from only grass. But a lot of people do claim that you get more efficiency with grass pulled tractors with rabbits than you do with some of the other small time livestock that i meantioned. And some people only raise rabbits in pasture enclosures and then rotate the fencing around them while reaping fertilization benefits as well as moving the enclosure around to not allow the pasture to become too stripped of vegetation. (And it looks like an interesting idea.)

Rabbits do have good weight gain for your meat early on, fast growth, multiply quickly, and they are more efficient with resources than say cows (which require tons of space).

Some things to consider or concerns;

Rabbits are VERY hard to sell. American culture can't get past the fact that rabbits are seen as pets. And their kids especially have a hard time understanding why their parents want to butcher cute things. This was why rabbit farming has never taken off. The meat is wonderful, and can be stored. Also the pelts can be used and turned into leathers or used for stuff but just the mental block of having people buy them for meat is something that everyone who has experience with rabbits will always say that this is why 'rabbit farming' never takes off because they have a hard time turning these wonderful products into cash. (And time and time again everyone still agrees that they can make great products, yet they always still also agree that turning them into cash becomes difficult right back at the main dead end.)

Another thing that people have trouble with in comparing ducks, rabbits, and chickens against each other is that with the other two you get eggs right away but rabbits haven't figured out how to 'can' eggs yet. So for some people they think there's less return on investment than these other things that use similar space, which deliver a food product early on.

And the funny thing is when you look at the numbers on a graph of the gains of rabbits and how fast they produce meat it doesn't make sense why people don't use them more. (Especially with chickens having recent diseases and being raised in poor conditions.)

Another consideration; I don't know if they overwinter easier than ducks (which are their alternative). And duck products are easier to sell (supposedly). (But who knows so many people are trying ducks now that, its possible those also might hit a dead end if too many people jump on it.) And out of chickens and rabbits compared I'm not sure which winter better.

Well there's all kinds of questions you could ask. I think it will help if you compare them to over small livestock. Stuff like; ducks, quail, and geese are the alternatives (and medieval alternatives) to rabbits. In the middle ages our ancestors also farmed geese heavily, and sometimes ducks. The hundred years war of Britain and France for example, when you read about it, farms had a quota of geese feathers they were all supposed to provide to the king for English Longbowmen. But at some point, Anglo Saxon derived cultures started to forget about geese and some of the other small ag livestock. (Odd right? Bigger isn't always better.)

People also say that quail eggs are much healthier and less disease than chicken eggs, and higher protein also for both quail and ducks compared to chicken eggs also. So I don't know why we don't use some of these other alternatives more.

Hope that helps in some way! :)


PS I'm aware of a channel on youtube that documents and does research on agricultural news. And what one of their videos is saying is that some of the big ag companies are strip mining US food processing in order to send it ALL over to Africa now. This seems really bizarre to me. And the way they are doing it they are basically leaving nothing left. They are talking about closing canning companies entirely like in Illinois, Wisconsin, and just taking all of that wealth out of the US (with foreign interest), and leaving nothing behind.

Its kind of crazy that you can't even make this stuff up. It sounds like Science Fiction. But its really happening.

There's not really any limits in the law right now on how much a US Corporation can strip mine wealth generated over 50 to 100 years in say the NE of the US, or the Midwest and turn ALL of it over to some foreign country (for whatever excuse) without oversight on how much is left behind!

So where I'm going with this...turning this back to the original thread. I think this is a really great idea to be thinking about what you can do on your own and do these small space small livestock things. People should be as self sufficient as they can and try to help themselves and not wait on government or foreign takeovered corporations to save them.

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Raising Meat Rabbits
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2019, 01:08:48 pm »
... People should be as self sufficient as they can and try to help themselves and not wait on government or foreign takeovered corporations to save them.

Agreed.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln