Choosing a Meat Rabbit Breed | 14 Best Meat Options (2023)

Choosing a good meat rabbit breed is key to ensuring a good meat to bone ratio is achieved. There are 14 rabbit breeds that are ideal for both meat and fur, and are excellent mothers which birth an abundance of kits.

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When we first began our homesteading journey it was quite simple – a few backyard chickens for eggs and a small garden. However, it quickly became evident that if we wanted to achieve food freedom and a sustainable lifestyle raising our own meat would be essential.

Little did we know that raising meat rabbits would be something we would ever consider. Since the incorporation of rabbits onto the homesteader we’ve never looked back. They are ideal to raise for homesteads of all sizes, especially for a small acre homestead as ours.

Rabbits, in many counties within the United States, are not considered agriculture livestock. Making them ideal for all who seek to own a small amount of their food source. Not to mention, there are various methods for housing rabbits, from hanging cages to stackable wire ones, even a colony type of setting is ideal under the right circumstances. One quick tip, make sure to choose the housing method which works best for your property size.

Rabbits as a Sustainable Meat Source

There are many benefits to raising rabbits. Actually, there are 13 reasons to raising rabbits for meat. The sustainable meat source is incredible, however, there is nothing better than instant fertilizer for the garden.

(Video) Choosing a Meat Rabbit Breed

You learn quickly in the life we live, how to offer fresh alternatives to your livestock to supplement feed. This is no different with rabbits, feeding rabbits naturally creates a healthier animal when partnered with a high quality pellet feed. Learning which fresh food options to feed rabbits is key to raising healthy rabbits.

Choosing a Meat Rabbit Breed for the Homestead

Prior to incorporating rabbits make sure the rabbitry is set-up and feed has been purchased. This will allow less stress caused to the rabbits as they adapt to their new environment.

Now, let’s talk about which breeds will give you the biggest bang for your buck (no pun intended). Choosing a meat rabbit breed means knowing what to look for, and sadly, cute little lionhead rabbits are equivalent in size to Cornish hens purchased from the local market.

When choosing the best rabbit breed for meat there are few things to consider –

  • meat to bone ratio
  • the pelt
  • the doe and the buck

Meat to Bone Ratio –

With an animal as small as rabbits you need to consider the amount of meat available, you want the rabbit to have an equal amount of meat to bone. If not you will have to raise double the amount of rabbits to compensate for the difference in order to receive enough meat to make the endeavor worth the effort.

The Pelt –

Create a zero waste product by tanning the pelt. However, if you are not yet at this phase of working with hide there are many individuals who are. Also, barter the hide for goods. Take the time to reach out to homesteaders in your area and offer a trade.

(Video) THE 5 BEST MEAT RABBIT BREEDS

Doe and Buck –

Select breeds which breed which will –

  • be good mothers
  • birth large litters

This will keep you in meat for months to come. For those looking to sell pedigree rabbits, make sure to look for reputable breeders. Breeding rabbits for show will allow for one to make a small amount of money as well.

Birth to Butcher –

To minimize expenses those who raise rabbits for meat will seek breeds which grow out relatively quickly. An average grow-out time for meat rabbits is between 8 to 14 weeks of age. However, not every meat rabbit breed would have reached an appealing weight at this age.

For this reason we often cross breed a larger breed such as the American Chinchillas with the Harlequins. This allows for a fully dressed rabbit to weigh between 4 to 5 pounds.

14 Excellent Meat Breeds

There are a few things to consider prior to selecting a breed, and the first is whether you intend to raise a heritage breed. Heritage animals have a slower grow-out than standard rabbit breeds. For a list of heritage rabbits take a look at the Livestock Conservancy.

The following list consists of commonly raised heritage and standard rabbit breeds raised for meat –

New Zealands

Let’s begin the New Zealand rabbits. This breed is available in many colors and are the most popular meat rabbit breed to raise. The NZ rabbit weighs between 9 to 12 pounds and matures quickly. Butchering time for New Zealand rabbits is as early as 8 weeks of age. To continue with this breeds greatness a doe can throw up to 14 kits with each pregnancy.

(Video) What Are The Best Meat Rabbit Breeds to Add to Your Homestead?

Rex

Much like the New Zealand rabbits the Rex is a very popular breed to raise among those who raise rabbits for meat. The Rex rabbit breed is easy to purchase throughout the US. It is and prized for their meat to bone ratio and velvety pelt. The breed weighs in between 7 to 11 pounds and will throw 6 to 12 kits with each litter. However, the Rex rabbit is known to take longer to reach the dinner table than the New Zealands.

Flemish Giants

This breed is known as a gentle giant and can weigh between 9 to 15 pounds. They have a poor meat to bone ratio and are very slow to grow out, for this very reason many choose to cross breed them with other breeds. A typical litter is between 5 to 10 kits.

Florida White

One of the small meat breeds weighs in between 4 to 6 pounds, but they have a nice meat to bone ratio. They are a hardy breed and not very susceptible to illnesses. They are known to have a litter of 5 to 8 kits.

American Chinchilla

A favorite breed of ours to raise. The American Chinchillas are kind and gentle, weigh in between 9 to 12 pounds with an excellent meat to bone ratio. Unlike the standard and giant Chinchilla breeds, the American Chinchilla is hard to come by. They are excellent mothers and are known to birth between 8 to 12 kits. Like the Flemish Giants, this heritage breed is often cross bred with small breeds such as Harlequin, Silver Fox, Rex. and American Chinchillas. The pelts on this breed are prized and used to line gloves, coats and for making rugs.

Californians

This standard breed weighs in between 8 to 12 pounds and is known to be the second most popular breed to raise for meat. Californian rabbits are an extremely gentle breed though their pelt is not prized for tanning due to its coarse texture. The Californian rabbit breed will throw between 6 to 8 kits per litter.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon rabbits are a cross between the New Zealand Whites and the American Chinchillas. They are a very hardy and gentle breed, with very little health issues. The Cinnamon rabbit breed weighs between 8 to 11 pounds and throws small litters consisting of 4 to 6 kits. Their pelt is beautiful and great for lining gloves and hoods of coats.

Champagne D Argent

This breed weighs in between 8 to 12 pounds and has an excellent meat to bone ratio. Champagnes are a gentle and calm breed and will throw 5 to 8 kits per litter.

(Video) Top 10 Rabbit Breeds for Meat

Harlequin

A heritage breed which fed many families across America during World War II. This rabbit weighs in between 6.5 to 9.5 pounds and is known to throw between 6 to 10 kits. Its pelt is available in many colors and is prized for lining gloves and coats. The Harlequin rabbit is another breed which grows quickly and is ready to be butchered as early as 8 to 10 weeks.

Standard Chinchilla

Standard Chinchillas are the smallest of the Chinchilla breed weighing in between 5 to 7 pounds. This smaller breed is great for those with limited space and are prized for its pelt. This breed is known to birth up to 7 kits, but is more likely to deliver an average 5 kits. Though a small breed they have an excellent bone to meat ratio.

Satin

This breed is available in many colors which is great for those who like to tan hides. Satin are cold weather hardy and do well in colder areas, not to mention, they are a healthy breed to raise. This larger rabbit weighs between 8 to 12 pounds, is very friendly and docile, and will birth 1 to 12 kits. Much like the other larger breeds, Satins are slow to grow out.

American Blue

The American Blue rabbit weighs between 9 to 12 pounds and is valued for both its meat and fur. This breed throws 8 to 10 kits at each birth and are excellent mothers. Unfortunately, like the Flemish Giant they have poor meat to bone and are ideal when cross bred to other breeds such as the Rex, Harlequin, Silver Fox or any smaller breed.

Palomino

This sweet rabbit breed weighs between 8 to 11 pounds and is extremely maternal. They are not susceptible to many health issues, though they throw very small litters – roughly 4 to 8 kits. Much like the Flemish Giants this rabbit breed grows out quite slowly.

Silver Fox

Silver Foxes are available in many colors and weigh in between 9 to 12 pounds, however, they are very rare to locate. They are a calm and friendly breed throwing 4 to 8 kits on average. The pelt is quite stunning and is prized by those who are skilled in tanning hides.

Begin by choosing a meat rabbit breed which is easy for you to handle and butcher. Also consider whether you seek to work the pelt. If not, find an individual who is willing to work the hide for you as a trade. Rabbits are an excellent animal to have on the property regardless of the property size and one which will provide for you for many years to come.

(Video) Where to Buy Meat Rabbits Breeders & What to Look For!!!

FAQs

Which breed of rabbit is best for meat? ›

The New Zealand rabbit breed is by far the most common and the most popular best meat rabbit. It's estimated that 90% of the rabbits raised for meat are New Zealand rabbits. One reason may be that this rabbit breed puts on weight quickly and has an exceptional meat-to-bone ratio.

How do you pick a good meat rabbit? ›

Good depth (height from highest point of back to table) is very desirable for showing and meat. It means a longer loin. Many people over-pose their rabbits to give the illusion of more depth. Resist the urge to make rabbits look better than they really are by squishing their hindquarters to their head.

What are the two most efficient meat rabbit breeds? ›

New Zealand and Californian

The most popular meat rabbit breed is the New Zealand White. These rabbits easily produce multiple litters per year. They reach 9-12 pounds in weight. Some strains can grow very quickly, even reaching reach 8 pounds at 8 weeks!

Why rabbit is the best meat? ›

Well, rabbit is one of the healthiest, leanest, and most environmentally friendly meats you can eat. Compared to beef, pork, lamb, turkey, veal, and chicken, rabbit has the highest percentage of protein, the lowest percentage of fat, and the fewest calories per pound.

Where is rabbit meat most popular? ›

RankCountriesRabbit Meat Production 2019
(Tons)
1China457,765
2North Korea166,879
3Egypt44,893
8 more rows
30 Jul 2021

What is the name of the meat of rabbit? ›

Unlike other animals like cows (beef) and pigs (pork) where there are other names to call them, rabbit meat is simply called “rabbit meat” all over the world. This is due to the fact that rabbit meat is uncommon and somewhat rare to be eaten, so there are no culinary terms for it.

How many types of meat rabbits are there? ›

Choosing a good meat rabbit breed is key to ensuring a good meat to bone ratio is achieved. There are 14 rabbit breeds that are ideal for both meat and fur, and are excellent mothers which birth an abundance of kits.

What you need to know about meat rabbits? ›

Meat rabbits are an excellent animal to teach you about a life of animal husbandry. According to RabbitBreeders.us, a single commercial doe can produce offspring to yield 300 # of meat per year! Rabbits have excellent feed conversion rates, low startup costs, healthy meat and don't require much space.

Is rabbit meat any good? ›

Most people find rabbit meat pleasant to eat, as it has a mild flavor that can be seasoned to taste and used in many dishes, including stews and stir-fries. Rabbit is a lean protein, which means that it's good for your heart and won't contribute to high cholesterol or heart disease.

Is rabbit meat the healthiest meat? ›

If you can get over the idea of eating the Easter bunny, there are many advantages to consuming rabbit meat. It is considered a “healthier” meat as it's lower in fat and cholesterol than chicken, and higher in protein than beef or pork.

What is the most efficient meat animal? ›

For example, chickens are more efficient converters crops than cows. They have a lower FCR, meaning that it takes less feed to create a pound of chicken than a pound of beef.

What is rabbit meat used for? ›

Fresh or frozen, rabbit meat is sold all year round. It can be used in most of the ways in which chicken is used. Like other lean meat, poultry, and fish, rabbit meat is a good source of high quality protein. The meat is fine grained and mild flavored.

Who eats the most rabbit meat? ›

Rabbit meat is popular in countries such as Italy, Spain, France and China. These countries consume the most rabbit – about 8kg per person – and are the best export markets for rabbit meat.

Is rabbit meat profitable? ›

They can be sold as meat, pets, or breeding stock. Their pelts and droppings are also popular products. The ability to easily raise large numbers of rabbits that can be sold in many different ways makes rabbits one of the most profitable animals to keep. Yes, rabbits are actually profitable.

Is rabbit meat healthier than pork? ›

Rabbit meat was richer in calcium (21.4 mg/100 g) and phosphorus (347 mg/100 g) than other types of meat and lower in fat (9.2 g/100 g) and cholesterol (56.4 mg/100 g). Beef had the highest cholesterol content (114.5 mg/100 g), almost double than rabbit meat, while pork was rich in fat (28.2 g/100 g).

What is cooked rabbit called? ›

Hasenpfeffer
TypeStew
Place of originThe Netherlands, Germany
Main ingredientsRabbit or hare, onions, wine

What is rabbit meat made of? ›

Rabbits are all white meat and taste like tender chicken breast. Rabbit is high in protein, low in fat, with no trace of gaminess often associated with eating wild rabbit.

What is the biggest meat rabbit breed? ›

The Flemish Giant rabbit is the largest breed of domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus). Flemish Giants are historically a utility breed used for their fur and meat.

How long do meat rabbits live? ›

Although companion rabbits are capable of living 10 to 15 years, the vast majority of “meat” rabbits are killed at three months of age.

How many meat rabbits do I need? ›

For your family you need 4 rabbits per week, which is 208 rabbits per year. For the parties you need 8 rabbits for 3 parties, which is 24 grilling rabbits. 232 rabbits are needed for your family and friends to eat for the year.

How much food does a meat rabbit eat per day? ›

Rabbits generally eat more at night than during the day. Weanling meat-type rabbits will eat about 4 to 6 ounces of food per day, depending on their size.

Do meat rabbits need salt blocks? ›

Contrary to popular belief, rabbits do not need salt licks, vitamins, or hard wooden objects to wear their teeth down.

Why rabbit meat is not popular? ›

Rabbit meat is not popular meat because it's not profitable to produce, as the rabbits are small and lean. They need a very specific feed, which is more expensive than chicken or cattle feed. And they're first and foremost seen as cute, cuddly pets that you buy for your kids. Not something to serve for dinner.

What does the Bible say about eating rabbit? ›

The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

Is rabbit meat red or white? ›

Meats are usually broadly categorized into red (i.e., beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, or goat meat) or white (i.e., chicken, turkey, rabbit) meats, based on their heme iron content.

How much money can you make from meat rabbits? ›

If you're able to process your rabbit meat on-site, you can expect to get $5 to $7 per pound, depending on quality.

What is the best first rabbit breed? ›

Other popular breeds for beginner pet rabbit owners are the Mini Lop, Mini Rex, Dutch and Polish. All four are small breeds that have reputations of being gentle. That being said, all types of domestic rabbits have the potential of being good pets.

How do I make my rabbit farm successful? ›

Following these steps will lead you to a successful rabbit farming business.
  1. Select a Space For Your Rabbitry. ...
  2. Get a Mentor. ...
  3. Know The Breeds of Rabbit. ...
  4. Choose the Right cage size. ...
  5. Feeding Of Rabbits. ...
  6. Rabbits Need Fresh Water Daily. ...
  7. Environmental Care. ...
  8. Establish A Ready Market.

What is the number 1 healthiest meat? ›

Liver. Liver, particularly beef liver, is one of the most nutritious meats you can eat. It's a great source of high-quality protein; vitamins A, B12, B6; folic acid; iron; zinc; and essential amino acids.

Is rabbit meat good for high blood pressure? ›

For those looking for high vitamin content, rabbit is an excellent choice. Rabbit meat is rich in vitamins B12 and E, while also having a higher concentration of most minerals. One mineral it is lower in compared to other meats is sodium, making rabbit even more appealing to people with high blood pressure.

Is rabbit meat good for diabetics? ›

Rabbit meat is good for those with diabetes

This is because rabbit meat contains low cholesterol and low-fat content. In addition to that, the presence of conjugated linoleic fatty acid, a molecule found in rabbit meat, may help prevent obesity as well as lessen the effects of diabetes.

Which breed is best known for meat quality? ›

The best breed of pig for meat is a meat specific breed or cross of breeds, including Hampshire, Duroc and/or Berkshire. These breeds of pigs are selected for superior carcass traits and growth, which give you more meat per finished pig.

What is the best meat on earth? ›

Wagyu beef originates from Japan and is considered by many the best beef on the planet. With the name meaning “Japanese Cow” (wa = Japanese, gyu = cow), it can be found in four different types of Japanese cattle.

What meat has the most energy? ›

Beef liver may be one of the best meat sources for vitamin B-12, which keeps the body feeling full of energy. While many cuts of meat contain vitamin B-12, the difference is that beef liver has a large amount.

What are 5 uses for rabbits? ›

Rabbits can be produced for many different markets: for breeding stock, as medical and educational lab animals, for pet food, as pet and show animals, and for their wool and skin. While these may be pursued as a secondary market for rabbit farmers, the focus of this article is on meat production.

What country eats the most rabbit? ›

The country with the largest volume of rabbit meat consumption was China (925K tonnes), comprising approximately 62% of the total consumption.
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8 more rows
16 May 2019

Is rabbit a pet or meat? ›

Across the world, rabbits are raised as livestock (in cuniculture) for their meat, pelts, and wool, and also by fanciers and hobbyists as pets.

How many meat rabbits can live together? ›

Breeding Colonies

If you are raising rabbits for meat or sale and have a very high demand you can keep the bucks & does together full time. One buck can easily cover 10-15 does. If you have too many bucks, they could fight more often and overbreed the does.

Is rabbit meat halal? ›

According to the above discussion and arguments, in our opinion rabbits are halal to be eaten and it is not makruh as stated by the jumhur of scholars following clear evidences that state its halal status.

Can any rabbit be a meat rabbit? ›

A lot of folks think that you can use any rabbit for meat, and while you can, technically, not all breeds are suitable for meat. Rabbits are small, lean animals, and making sure you have a breed that produces a lot of meat on their very bony frame is important.

Is raising rabbits for meat worth it? ›

They're not worth the effort. If you're serious about keeping rabbits for meat, you need a breed built for the job. Meat rabbits are longer, fatter, and fluffier than your typical wild bunny. These are generally regarded as the best rabbits for eating – though some make good house pets as well.

At what age do you butcher rabbits? ›

Meat rabbits will need 10 weeks to go from birth to processing. If you are counting the gestation period of the doe then you need to add 30 days to the total. This will take the total from breeding to butchering time to 14 weeks.

Is eating rabbit meat healthy? ›

Rabbit and hare meat are excellent sources of protein. Protein also keeps us healthy by building and repairing our muscles, skin and blood. Rabbit and hare meat are excellent sources of iron. Iron helps make healthy blood that flows through our bodies, giving us energy to be active and to grow strong.

What are three breeds of rabbits used for meat? ›

The most popular breeds of rabbits to raise for meat are New Zealand, Californian and Satin. Less common meat breeds are: American, American Chinchilla, American Sable, Champagne D'Argent, Cinnamon, Creme D'Argent, Harlequin, Hotot, Lilac, Palomino, Rex, Silver Fox and Silver Marten.

How much meat will 2 rabbits produce? ›

Rabbits breed and grow so quickly that one pair of healthy does (females) can produce more than 600 pounds of meat in a year. Compare that to the dressed yield of 400 pounds for an average year-old beef steer.

How many rabbits do you need for meat? ›

A rabbit trio will produce 112 pounds of meat

If you just want to eat the fryers your pair or trio of rabbits produce, that's great! Even one doe on an average production schedule of 4 months will still have 32 kits per year. That's 112 pounds of meat!

How long can you leave a rabbit before gutting it? ›

You should gut furred small game as soon as possible. Especially rabbits and hares, because there's something about their innards that allows them to sour very quickly. In warm weather, it only takes an hour or so for the thin abdominal muscles to start turning greenish blue.

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