The Guide to Raising and Breeding Rabbits for Meat

Raising rabbits is one of the simplest things you can do on your homestead. Not only do they require little attention, but they also provide a great amount of meat.

| March/April 1970

  • Raising Rabbits
    Raising rabbits is simple and economical. Two does and one buck should produce 180 pounds of meat per year.
    Photo by Fotolia/Vera Kailova
  • 002-051-01a
    A blueprint for a good wood-and-wire type of hutch.
    Illustration by Ed Robinson
  • 002-051-01b
    Here's a dandy nest box, made from a nail keg. The doe pulls hair and makes a warm fur-lined nest for the young before their birth. You keep the nest box in the doe's hutch from a couple of days before the young arrive until they are ready to leave the nest.
    Illustration by Ed Robinson
  • 002-050-01b
    Here is how to cut up a rabbit. It makes six generous pieces, plus the liver, which is as good as chicken liver.
    Photo by Ed Robinson

  • Raising Rabbits
  • 002-051-01a
  • 002-051-01b
  • 002-050-01b

One of the first projects I wanted when we moved to our place in the country was rabbits. I had read many times that they produced excellent tasting meat at little cost. My wife, Carolyn, however, was sort of skeptical of the project because she thought that she she might not be able to eat the rabbits — they looked so cute.

One payday when I happened to read an advertisement offering a six compartment, all-metal wire hutch for sale for less than $20 I couldn't resist this good buy. The hutch eventually came, but Carolyn was still skeptical and, anyway, we were up to our necks getting our barn finished up, learning to milk, running our broiler battery, tending to our bees and goats and setting the geese. It wasn't hard to put off getting the rabbits for a while.

Then, a friend of mine, Wally Boren noticed I hadn't done anything with my rabbit hutch and he asked if he could use it until I got ready. That was all right with me. He borrowed the hutch, set it up in his garage and began reading up on the subject of rabbits.

Choosing a Rabbit Breed 

Wally picked a variety called the Chinchilla. You can take your pick of several good meat breeds. Wally favored the medium sized breeds, which weigh around eight to 10 pounds grown. You could go in for the Flemish Giants, for instance, that sometimes weigh 20 pounds. They eat a lot more, of course, and their fryers, at seven to nine weeks, weigh not too much more than do those of the medium breeds at the same age. The New Zealand Whites are another popular medium weight breed — their white fur is worth more than the Chinchilla. There are are a number of other good medium weight breeds.

Of course, there are Angoras (with their beautiful, white, long fur) and other "fancy" breeds. But these are not meat rabbits. In ordinary times many of the small rabbit raisers don't bother to save the skins, but they do have some value. Right now, for example, buyers are offering from 30 cents to $1.50 apiece per pound. You can obtain names of buyers from a rabbit magazine.

Wally started with a "trio" — a young buck nine months old and two does of the same age. He bred the does shortly after he got them. The following month he had 17 bunnies. Seven is a big enough litter, according to the experts, for one doe to raise. So Wally destroyed four from one litter of 12 and gave the other doe an extra to bring her litter of six up to seven. Wally rubbed a little Mentholatum on her nose so she couldn't smell the difference between her own and the young one from the other litter.

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7/12/2017 9:01:08 AM

Back when I was growing up my family raised rabbits for meat.We chose the New Zealand white and bred them to a new Zealand brown buck which produced a medium sized rabbit with black fur.When the young got enough weight for good eating we would skin the rabbit and dressout the fur.We sold the furs to a dealer in Paris that paid us a preium for the furs as they were reselling them as Chinchella for fur coats.These rabbits were still young and tender and very good eating,also nutritious.The whole project only took up a small space as our rabbitry only took up an area ten feet long and five feet wide close to the house for protection ease of feeding and watering.Very profitable.Rollie Pierceall

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