Raising Meat Rabbits

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by nayeli, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 18, 2014
    Hello,
    I'm a "new egg" and while this website is mostly for chickens or poultry I was hoping that there are some homesteaders on here that have experience with rabbits. I have a month until closing and moving into our first home and I'm wanting to produce as much of our food their as possible. If you have raised rabbits for meat please tell me about your experience and if you could answer a couple questions.

    1. What cages/hutches did you use. I am having a hard time finding a tutorial with pictures on how to build a rabbit cage and I don't want to start out with a minimal investment.

    2. Can dog kennels be used as cages.

    3. Where did you buy the meat rabbits

    4. Was it worth it?

    5. How many should I start out with?
     
  2. GD91

    GD91 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I've just started keeping them.... So far we have 1 buck & 3 does.

    We keep ours in 3 hutches. Originally the plan was to only have one buck & 2 does, but when I went to collect the baby buck 2 days ago, his sister was just so pretty I came home with both as they were the only remaining rabbits at 8 weeks old. So the 2 bunnies are currently housed together are in the largest single hutch & my 2 big does are in the double hutch.

    My 2 large does are used to free ranging in the garden & sleeping under the blinking shed (they dug under) so they are now glaring at me everytime I feed them.

    All our rabbits are mutts, we have 3 lops & one ordinary.
    I plan to freerange the does in our secure garden (yes, this does work [​IMG] ) except when they are pregnant & kindling. Currently I am moving rabbits around to get the 2 does used to the younger female.

    The buck will have a whole open air shed to himself, I don't like the whole colony idea because I don't want my does producing litter after litter. My aim is to raise for meat as humanely as possible & that includes giving the does a month or 2 as a break in between litters.

    Also I have to get another buck since I have 2 related rabbits & I don't want to inbreed. Despite what some people here say I have lost entire litters due to inbreeding issues in the past with pet rabbits.

    So far I haven't bred any litters with these, so I'm waiting to see the results.

    How are you planning to raise yours?

    My DH thinks I'm nuts btw [​IMG]
    First chickens, then quail... now rabbits!
     
  3. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When I started reading your thread I was going to ask if you were worried about inbreeding. I suppose I will have to find two places that sell the rabbits in order to get the does from one and the buck from another. I have done some reading and when we raise I think a month in between is good. Part of the reason I want to raise animals for food is also that I want them treated more humanely, I mean obviously its probably not as nice for them as being in the wild with infinite space to roam but much better than factor farms! Why can't you free range when they are pregnant?

    Also where did you get the hutches?
     
  4. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 18, 2014
    Oh I'm sorry. I'm planning on getting New Zealand rabbits? They are a more popular meat breed. I'm looking for cages/ hutches right now and may consider building a wire one... We will probably keep them in the sun-room or garage (depending on the heat/cold factor). I plan on starting with a buck and two does, you can't breed the does until like 6 months... technically you can but its not good for them because they are still growing.
    I will free range them but how often depends on my dogs, the yard is more theirs so if they don't get along (read try to attack) then the rabbits will have a smaller time to free range.
     
  5. spangledcornish

    spangledcornish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    we raise a few rabbits every year for our families consumption, we have a buck and two to three does depending on the year, with one litter year we expect 3-5 kits for each doe. we were able to get some old mink cages for rabbit cages, when you talk about minimal cost the tradition wire rabbit cages can usually be found second hand for $20-40 each. If you are looking for meat production I would highly recommend a cross breeding program. we have Californian, New Zeland and Satin as our three breed cross.

    Free ranging rabbits can be tricky as they will dig and depending on the degree in which you tame them they can be hard to collect for harvest and may actually cause more stress on them at this time in the production cycle.

    AS for is it worth it in our minds it is rabbit is great meat and we are able to raise them to the size that fits our needs.
     
  6. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have heard good things about californian's as well so that might make it easier for me to find the rabbits if cross breeding is actually a good thing!
     
  7. montain_dweller

    montain_dweller Out Of The Brooder

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    I plan on having rabbits as well, I like the controlled free ranging, or grazing idea. Collecting the rabbits is easy as setting a trap by the hole they hang out by most. The ones for dinner can receive a pellet round to the head, quick and humane.
     
  8. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think it would be healthiest for them to be able to graze, both for the exercise and stimulation and for the fresh food.
     
  9. spangledcornish

    spangledcornish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess when I decide to butcher, I wouldn't want to do them one by one or catch rabbits for a week to get a batch to butcher. We have had movable pen that have a wire bottom that has allowed them to eat grass, and we have kept them in groups works nice, provides predator protection and easier to monitor animal health (not much health problems with our rabbits though), however in the past 10 years we have just raised the rabbits in wire pens or lager floor pens. they have done just fine and been more than happy with them. I would also recommend splitting up your male and female rabbits, reduces fighting and breeding.
     
  10. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @spangledcornish, I have heard that it stresses rabbits out to be free then penned so I'll have to see... I'll also have to see how hard they are to catch haha. I would just allow them out to graze for an hour every day or so often... in a fenced in yard.
     

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