ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Raising Meat Rabbits on the Homestead

Updated on March 14, 2015
A litter of commercial meat rabbits.
A litter of commercial meat rabbits. | Source

Choosing a Rabbit

Many breeds are suitable for home grown meat, but the medium sized breeds, such as the New Zealand and Californian, are best because they've been specifically bred for meat production. Since a homesteader isn't producing for a specific commercial market, smaller rabbits like the Dutch might also be useful. Remember that it costs as much to feed and house a good rabbit, as it does to feed and house a bad rabbit, so buy the best breeding stock you can afford. Be aware that rabbits are also raised for show, and that a show rabbit may or may not be a good breeder for meat production. Ask to see production records from the parents of the rabbits you are considering.

Housing and Feeding

Rabbits should be housed in wire cages up off the ground to prevent them from getting parasites. A rabbit will grow quicker when exclusively fed a commercial rabbit pellet, but the homesteader might be more concerned with economy than speed of growth. If you have the time to do so, you can save money by feeding some greens and hay to the rabbits in addition to a commercial ration. Be sure to make any dietary changes slowly and find out what plants are safe for rabbits to eat. Some plants are poisonious to rabbits.

An excellent Californian Buck.
An excellent Californian Buck. | Source

Breeding

The Doe rabbit should be taken to the Buck's cage for mating. After mating has taken place, she should be returned to her own cage. To help insure fertilzation, it's ideal to put her back with the buck a few hours later.

Kindling

A rabbit giving birth is called Kindling and the resulting babies are called Kits. An average New Zealand or Californian doe will have 6-8 kits in a litter. Some does will have a lot more.

Twenty-eight days after mating, the doe should be provided with a nestbox filled with a suitable nesting material such as hay or straw. The nestbox can be made of wire, or solid metal or wood. Wood nestboxes are difficult to clean, and won’t last as long, but might be warmer for the babies. If you are using a wire nestbox, line it with some corrugated cardboard to insulate the kits against any drafts.

Just prior to kindling, the doe will pull fur from her dewlap and make a nest. The babies are born hairless with their eyes closed. They will remain in the nestbox for about three weeks and they should stay with the doe for 6-8 weeks, depending on when the doe is being re-bred.

If you spend plenty of time with your rabbits, it should be no problem for you to gently pull back the fur in the nestbox and inspect the kits. If the doe does seem upset by this, you can try distracting her with a treat she likes. Don’t allow strangers to handle the kits as their scent may cause the doe to reject her kits.

If you have more than one doe, and have the space to do so, it’s ideal to breed them around the same time. In the event one doe has a very large litter, or if something unfortunate happens to one of them, it will be possible to foster kits to another doe. Place a small amount of something strong smelling such as vanilla on the foster doe’s nose before transferring kits into her nestbox. Cover them up with her fur. Once the scent on her nose wears off, the new kits will smell the same as her own and she should accept them.

Weaning

Kits can be weaned as early as five weeks. If you are not in a hurry to get the doe re-bred, they can stay as long as eight weeks as long as they don’t fight. To wean the litter, it’s ideal to remove the doe from the cage and leave the kits behind. This is less stressful for the kits that moving them to the new cage.

Processing

Commercially, young rabbits are usually butchered at 5-6lbs live weight, but for your own table, you might wish to allow them to grow a little longer so you get more meat. At any rate, the rabbits need to be processed at some point. You might wish to learn to do this yourself, or find a commercial processor. In Ontario, if you wish to sell any rabbit from the farm gate, it must be processed at a government inspected facility.

A rabbit having four litters of 8 and raising all of them to 5lbs, will produce 256lbs of live rabbit. Even after considering the dressout percentage, that still amounts to a lot of meat from one 9lb rabbit!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)