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Raising meat rabbits is easy
So, you want to raise meat rabbits!
Do you want to raise your own meat, know what exactly is coming into your bodies because you fed that meat everything it ate? Do you think its too hard? Or that you would have to have several animals to get started? Let me tell you how wrong you are!
I raise meat rabbits for my family of 5. For now it is supplemental but should things get bad they may be the bulk of our meat. We chose rabbits because they are allowed in most places as pets. Before you get started check local laws regarding owning and breeding rabbits. We have heard of places where if you have even one of certain kinds of animals you are labeled as a breeder. Always make sure it is legal for you to do anything before doing it. There is nothing worse than investing in something like this only to lose it because it is not allowed.
After checking the legal side, if you are in the clear, you can start getting ready. The first thing to do is to research breeds available in your area. Do not worry if it is labeled as a meat breed. They all have meat. If you are raising meat for yourself dwarf breeds will work fine, the more people who will be eating though, the bigger the rabbit you will want. Once you know the breed you want you need to setup with proper cages. You need a basic cage for the buck, a basic for the doe, a slightly larger cage for delivering and raising up the kits. This is the minimum. If a pair won't do well for you, you can keep does from the litters to grow out to breed. This will require more basic cages and "maternity" cages. So be sure you have the room for the number of breeders you plan to keep.
We currently have one buck and one doe with a litter of 8 in the nest box. We were planning on keeping a buck to test a curiosity in the doe's coloring, but with the latest news we will be keeping a Doe so we have 2 does and the one buck. Line-breeding can work just fine for meat rabbits, but when you begin to see smaller litters from breeding dad to great great grand daughter or noting smaller kits or fewer kits, its time to get a new buck. Do not use one from a litter it will make things worse. Find a buck from another breeder. Do not be afraid to cross breeds. Mixed breeds give hybrid vigor which is far from a myth. A lot of people out there believe there is no such thing as hybrid vigor, but the truth is that bringing in unrelated animals, even from another breed which may have never been bred into the one you are working with dilutes the genes in the lines putting in good along with some bad, yes but thinning out what had become concentrated from line-breeding.
Once you have cages and have rabbits lined up, decide how you want to feed your rabbits. Most are fed on commercial rabbit pellets, however in the future that may become and impossible diet so you may want to consider alternate foods. Try to save grains for winter when food is difficult if not impossible to grow. Grow your own grains! Rabbit manure is a rich fertilizer for the garden so they tend to pay for themselves. When you clean out the cages put the waste in the garden bed and turn it under now and then. It is a "cold" manure so it can be added even while plants are growing! Let them help you eat meat, vegetables and feed them! Rabbit manure will also be great to barter with if it comes down to it.
Feel free to post questions in the comments section and I will write hubs on those subjects!