Over the past few years, many people have become more invested in raising rabbits for meat. Although some might be skeptical about trying it out, the process is not as difficult as some think. This article will guide you on how to raise meat rabbits and provide all the essential information you need.
What are Meat Rabbits?
Before anything else, you must know what meat rabbits are. As the name states, meat rabbits are a collection of rabbit breeds that produce an ideal meat-to-bone proportion, making them a good candidate for meat production.
Most of the time, meat rabbits are raised in small homesteads with cabinets where you can keep each rabbit. They are also known to reproduce prolifically, providing a steady supply of meat to sustain your family.
It may sound weird to some, but rabbit meat is an excellent food to consume daily. They taste better than chicken meat because of their firmness. They are also very nutritious, topping all other meat available such as chicken, pork, and beef.
It is rich in protein, low in cholesterol, and contains a healthy balance of essential nutrients and minerals that your body needs to function properly. It’s essential to be aware of how good rabbit meat is for your health to choose to add it to your diet.
Choosing a Rabbit Breed
Now that you know what meat rabbits are, it’s time for you to choose a rabbit breed to raise. Raising regular rabbits is not that hard, and the same goes for meat rabbits.
Choosing the right rabbit breed will help you prepare for the whole process and ensure what you will need. This section will tell you all you need to know in choosing the right meat rabbit breed to raise.
The first thing you must figure out is the size. Rabbits are categorized based on their sizes, so you need to know the ideal size that you want for a meat rabbit.
Many people choose moderate-sized rabbit breeds such as the Dutch Rabbit and the Florida White Rabbit, although some smaller breeds like the Mini Lop Rabbit are also popular. These breeds can grow to a maximum of 8 to 10 lbs, which is considered a perfect standard size for meat rabbits.
If you want to start off small for a family of 3 to 4 members, you can go for the medium-sized rabbit breeds. However, suppose you’re going to go all-in.
In that case, you may go for the large-sized rabbit breeds like the Flemish Giant, American Chinchilla, Giant Chinchilla, and English Lops. This breed can go from 10 to 12 lbs maximum weight, but they are understandably more complex and more expensive to raise.
Get a rabbit with lovely fur if you’re planning to turn this process into a profitable one. Their coat can be sold for 30 cents to a dollar fifty per pound.
This will allow you to obtain more significant profits than regularly raising rabbits for meat only. You can consider one thing, especially if you want to turn this into a full-scale business. You may also check out this link to find out the best rabbit breeds for meat production.
Building the Rabbitry
Once you have chosen the right rabbit breed to raise for meat production, it is now time to start building a structure where you can keep your rabbits as they grow and reproduce.
This detailed structure is called a rabbitry. There are many rabbitry designs that you can get on the web like this one. It doesn’t matter what your rabbitry looks like for as long as it’s a safe space where your rabbit can live comfortably.
One of your rabbit’s requirements is an enclosed space with proper ventilation. It should also have adequate lighting and temperature settings such as cooling and heating to be prepared for any weather you may face.
The rabbitry should have separate cabinets for each of your rabbits and separate feeding bins to regulate their feeds.
For separate cabinets, make sure they have enough space for the rabbit to move around. The ideal size for a rabbit pen is 30 inches x 36 inches x 18 inches.
Make sure that it’s easily accessible to you, like having large doors and feeding holes. Cleaning should be done regularly, so always make sure you have supplies on hand.
One great material for your rabbitry walls and floors is hardware cloth. It’s strong enough to carry your rabbits’ weight, keep predators out, and give them a comfortable place to live in.
The hardware cloth can allow your rabbits’ droppings to fall through, making cleaning more accessible and manageable.
However, you may notice that rabbits will have difficulty walking on the hardware cloth floors, so you may opt to add a tricky material to give them solid footing. If you want to get more information, you may also check out the video below.
Food and Diet for Meat Rabbits
If you are seriously thinking about raising rabbits for meat, you should consider what your rabbits should and should not eat. Rabbits don’t have a specific diet to follow.
You only need to keep in mind that their meals should always be 70% hay or more. Rabbits need enough grass to sustain them and keep them healthy.
Each cabinet in your rabbitry should have its own hayrack. This will help you have a more efficient way of feeding your rabbits regularly. Keep your hay prepared all of the time by cutting them into two to three segments to make it easier for rabbits to eat.
You can also add in some fruits and vegetables here and there to boost up your rabbit’s meal and keep their diet balanced.
In feeding rabbits, you need to be cautious about the type of food that you will give to them. Do not give them fruits and vegetables with high water content since it can affect their droppings and make them watery.
Choose food with lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals to make your rabbit grow stronger and healthier.
If you want to find out what your rabbits like and don’t like to eat, leave their food overnight on the hayrack. After a good night’s sleep, check it the following day and see what types of food are left on the hayrack.
This will give you an idea of what you should add to the next meal and how much food you should put inside the hayrack.
Another great snack that you may think of giving to your rabbits is pellets. If you try to feed this to your rabbits, make sure that you don’t do it every day and instead offer it once or twice a week.
Be vigilant on the number of snacks you’ll feed your rabbit, and do not ground them up too nicely. Rabbits won’t eat it if there’s nothing to nibble at.
Mating and Reproduction
Another thing that you should consider well when choosing a rabbit breed is how well they reproduce.
They can produce an average of 7 bunnies per litter or reproductive cycle. After seven weeks, the bunnies will then be full-grown and can be reproduced once again. The mother rabbits can also be bred again to produce more bunnies for your rabbitry.
If you plan to start with two does and a buck, the average number of rabbits you can get in a year falls between 40 to 50. That’s a lot, to say the least, and it can easily feed a family of 4 with ease.
Be mindful of what you will need to ensure the success of raising meat rabbits on your own. It’s essential to note how long each reproductive cycle is so that you can be aware of how much you will need for the process.
Your rabbits can be bred every 90 days or 3 months. The does have a gestation period that lasts for 30 to 32 days or a month on average.
This will give your female rabbits some time to fully recover and nurse for their young ones. They’ll be nursing their bunnies until the fifth or sixth week of life; this is when rabbits can become fully independent.
After the nursing period, it’s time to separate your does from their offspring. Put the offspring in one or two cabinets while feeding them regularly. Your female rabbits will then have two more weeks of recovery before being bred once again.
Once your rabbits reach 10 to 12 weeks, you can now eat or process them for meat. This will give you a standard output every week while the other rabbits grow in your cabinets.
Knowing how to raise meat rabbits can help you and your family save and earn some money. They’re a good source of protein, and it’s a good thing that they are easy to sell when the time comes. Just make sure to follow everything above to ensure the success of the process.