Anyone raising meat rabbits?

Everglades, FL(Zone 10a)

We are trying to create an environment of self-sustainability. We have a farm with chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys, etc. Not much- a humble approach to living "off the land".

Our latest project is developing a nice meat rabbit setup. We have the Old Florida breed and the Giant White but I would still like to get the Giant Lop. Our setup is coming along...we have cages (comfy I might add) for another 7 does.

The problem is, there are very few breeders here. We got the cream of the crop locally but now what? We were told to stay away from the auctions for fear of bad breeding. We know the local "talent" and already have it. Eventually, maybe very soon, we will be inbreeding. Is that bad for rabbits?

Anyone know a Southern Giant Lop breeder?

Humansville, MO(Zone 6a)

Your herd is to small to do much inbreeding the fl white is a excellent small meat rabbit i would try to find another buck and breed between the two you won't have any problem for several generations that way you might pick up some New Zealand any color we raise whites because that is what the pal-freez want

This message was edited Dec 30, 2007 1:49 PM

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

You may find that you'll want a smaller meat rabbit. The meat to bone ratio is sometimes better with the smaller breeds and the rate of growth is better. We use standard bunnies ( a satin and a black mix with our black mix buck) and even then we end up packaging some of the meat in 1/2 bunny packs. Three months is just about perfect for them, nice chubby bunnies with just a bit of fat. We breed twice a year and average 16 to 20 bunnies each time. 7 does will produce a LOT of rabbit meat.

By the way, try "shake and bake" on rabbit. It's great.

Monticello, GA

I raised rabbits for meat about 3 years. I started out with Flemish giants. Then I got some new zealand whites. The flemish by themselves make an excellent fast growing meat rabbit, I seem to recall ,that at about 6 weeks the litter was as big as a full grown cottontail. Then I crossed the flemish buck w/NZ white doe and the difference in 6 week size was very small from the flemish young,the NZW/flem young were fast growing and turned out some very nice brown to greyish pelts...This worked great for me!

Most rabbit breeders that breed for show ,will inbreed intentionally to get the best show rabbits.
It gets pretty complicated and selective ,,and you need to keep meticulous records.
I would not suggest inbreeding unless you really study up on it a bit! But for just meat rabbits, you can't go wrong with the flemish , or a flemish cross. Keep it real and give the buck a smoke when he gets up!!

This message was edited Dec 31, 2007 6:41 PM

Everglades, FL(Zone 10a)

My computer has about killed itself. I now get on when I can. Thank you guys for the advise. I can't find the Flemish Giant here, turk. If you know where I can get some, I am willing to make the drive!

jylgaskin, when you package your meat, do you use a vacuum sealer or just freezer ziplocks?

Last nite on the Iron Chef Battle , the ingredient was rabbit. Now I am more excited. I wish I could have taped that episode.

We just bred 3 more does this week to hopefully build our stock. We mixed some and kept one true breed ...just experimenting.

My sister in law had a nifty idea to make the bunnies pay for themselves! We are of a main highway- the only easy way to go to a resort town about 20 miles from here. We could promote (with a sign or stand) Easter Bunnies. We could food color them all kinds of neat colors! Then also sell carrying cages and hutches (hand made). Cool, huh?

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

I use the vacuum bags. It lasts forever that way.

I colored a friends rabbit with stripes and spots like an easter egg. (it was a very paitent bunny) Sure surprised her in the morning. It looked really funny as it faded and grew out. For some reason the red outlasted the other colors and she had deep pink ears and tail all summer.

It's a lot easier to just tie big polka-dot bows on them. If you sell BIG bunnies as pets, make sure you let the people know how big they will get. Most people want dwarfs for pets and I end up with a l;ot of rehab calls on ones that got bigger than people thought they would.

Monticello, GA

I just used the white freezer paper
But I guess the vacuum bags would work better. Mine never stayed in the freeze for too long. I'll see if I can find some flemish breeders.

Monticello, GA

I found this site you can look at.
One breeder in fla.

http://www.nffgrb.com/breedersdirectory-easternUSA.htm

Small breeder in Kissimmee,,,they raise blues/ blacks/and whites
All I ever raised were the sandies
Those blues are pretty though!
Hop this helps

Everglades, FL(Zone 10a)

Bummer, turkeybeard! I can't get that web page. I sure would like to see it. Can you give me a link to an inner page there? Maybe that will work.

I bought a vacuum sealer at a thrift store with a big roll of bags for $5!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Cyber...here is turkeybeard's link again, just in case there was a typo.
http://www.nffgrb.com/Breedersdirectory-EasternUSA.htm

If it still doesn't work for you (it didn't work for me either, I googled it), then here is the link to the folks in Kissimmee that have the rabbits:
http://www.littlelongearsrabbitry.com/

By the way, turkeybeard, I raised NZ Whites for nearly 15 years but no other kinds. I stuck with them because of their quick growth and good meat-to-bone ration (when butchered at 8-12 weeks). Have you noticed if the Flemish grew faster than your full-blood NZ Whites, or vice-versa?

Thanks!
Shoe

Monticello, GA

Yes Shoe ,,as I said in a previous post; The flemish were resdy to butcher at 6 - 8 weeks

The flemish /NZW cross ,,there was little difference lost in weight to age ratio, with the younguns. And they had some very pretty pelts.Now I know that everyone knows a young rabbit is much better table grade ,than an older rabbit. Now ,I only raised Flemish sandies,,, and crossed with NZW does!!! Worked fine for me ,,and produced some very fine hardy ,fast growing rabbits.

All this talk about rabbits is making me think about getting some more! I would have to go with the Flemish first! Just because they are such a big breed! When crossed w/anything ,you are gonna get a faster growing dinner!!!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Hehehe...I hear ya! Ya'll got me wanting to go back into raising them again. Fortunately I still have the cages and all!

Thanks for the info, turkeybeard.

Shoe

Monticello, GA

just hope Cyber can find what he's looking for ,,,or at least he can check out the links!
I know how old pooters can be!

Monticello, GA

I clicked on both links from the post and had no problem! I DUNNO!

Everglades, FL(Zone 10a)

I just read this thread. I haven't been on for awhile. I am also taking care of my ill brother. He is getting so thin so I am cooking big meals all day. He also loves the rabbits.

We have a line on some Giant Flemish rabbits. I met a very nice girl on line while looking for good breeding stock. Her kits won't be ready yet but when they are, I will drive up to get them. I am not sure where she is but if I remember, it is at least a 5 hr drive each way.

I went to bed early but am up again. I have an old senile dog that is having a rough night so I am up with her. She has cancer so is wobbly. I try to stay with her so she doesn't hurt herself.

Tomorrow I am going to the hardware store to buy more wire to build larger cages for the Flemish.

Everglades, FL(Zone 10a)

It has been awhile since I posted. I probably have 70 - 100 rabbits now. It's too hot right now to breed the larger breed rabbits but I have a nice assortment ready to go and plan to pick up more this weekend in Gainesville. My flemish doe has grown HUGE! She's amazing.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

wow would be an understatement?

New York, NY

did anyone else know that rabbit meat is legally classified as poultry? my roommate in college had rabbits and a day didn't go by when i didn't think about making myself a little "roast poultry" but then they'd look at me with their vacant little bunny expressions and i just couldn't do it. ;)

New York, NY

my roommate from college reminded me that while rabbit meat is classified as "poultry", rabbits themselves are classified as "exotic pets."

"exotic?"

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

so how are guinea pigs classified, i mean as meat goes?

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Darki meat.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

jyl!

Stanwood, IA

My husband and I raise meat rabbits, and show rabbits (New Zealands and Florida Whites currently) . We've raised Californians, Broken Dutches, and Flemish giants before as well...couple of thoughts here...

The giant breeds (Giant Lops, and Flemish Giants etc) are nice, easy to raise rabbits, but as someone mentioned earlier, the meat to bone ration doesn't really give you that much more food, PLUS they consume more feed PLUS they require more cage space. So you're talking maximum effort and cost for minimum yield. If you have a child that wants to raise them for 4-h, or plan on raising them for pelts, that's one thing but to select a giant breed for meat production alone, in my own opinion, doesn't make good sense. Also we had a lot of problems with the Giant does stomping on their young getting in and out of the nest boxes, so you're losing product there as well, but that may not be a problem for you.
New Zealands, and Californians are two commercial breeds that grow quickly, have large litters and yield more than enough meat for a family of five (I should know..in fact, we usually have leftovers). In fact, the commercial rabbits you purchase at the grocery stores are nearly always New Zealands (usually whites)-Pell Freeze only buys the whites.
The Florida whites, even though they are smaller yield a surprising amount of meat...remember the bones are smaller.
BUT they also tend to have smaller litters.
Inbreeding does not hurt the rabbits. In fact most breeders selectively inbreed...You can breed a son to a mother, or a father to a daughter...but usually not littermates. And you will, occasionally have to add in "new blood". I check each and every litter we have for potential reserve bucks or does, but I never keep more than one from any given litter. The way we do it only one reserve buck or doe could be chosen from any litter.that way you'll never breed littermates. We keep very thorough records and only choose the best of the best for breeding. We do not, however EVER cull runts...we just feed them out and butcher them for our own freezer.
When we butcher for ourselves we just use freezer ziplocks. We've never had a problem with freezer burn-but ours don't last long in the freezer either. I did try vaccumn bags but I felt they really only worked well for cut up rabbit...BUT since you already have a vaccumn sealer..try adding a marinade in the bag with the rabbit before you seal and freeze it..when you thaw it to use it will be absolutely succulent. For commercial purposes we do not butcher...ours are taken live to a Pell Freeze buying station.
As for the "Easter Bunny" idea, you might have better luck just posting a "rabbits for sale" sign..you're likely to sell more rabbits (usually people looking for rabbit meat, not pets). At least that's how it is around here...it may be different in the south, but in Iowa it''s almost impossible to find rabbit in any grocery store.Some people also find the dyed Easter Bunny thing extremely distasteful because so many of those dyed bunnies end up in humane societies and shelters after Easter... and if you are anywhere near a large metro area (did I read that you are in the Gainesville area?) there are some animal rights groups that could make problems for you..especially if you are right off a main highway (easy target)- you may or may not care...just something to think about.

Couple ways for you to try:
ROAST RABBIT
salt and pepper and 3-5 lb. fryer and dredge the whole rabbit in flour. Lay in a roasting pan (preferably a clay roaster) and lay bacon strips across the rabbit.
Roast (covered tightly) at 300 for about an hour (or until done and tender). I usually take off the bacon before serving and make gravy out of the pan drippings. My kids like to eat the bacon along with the rabbit. If you like, about 10 minute before its done, remove the lid and let the bacon crisp a little. The bacon seems to marinate the rabbit while it roasts and the flavor works into the meat.

ASIAN GRILLED RABBIT (my husband's favorite)

Mix :1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 c. hot water
2 T> sesame oil
1/4 brown sugar (or honey)
1/4 c. white vinegar
2 scallions finely diced
3 cloves minced garlic
Pepper to taste
2 T. oyster sauce (optional)

Reserve 1/2 c. marinade and add an additional 2 T. brown sugar and 1 t. sesame oil (store in refrigerator)
Pour remaining over cut up fryer and allow to marinate at least 24 hours.Drain rabbit, pat dry. Brush with oil and grill over medium heat, brushing with reserved marinade the last 10 minutes.
We like this served over rice with a nice green salad.


ALSO: If you have a grinder, try cutting the meat from the bones and making your own ground meat to substitute for hamburger (makes the BEST tacos) and this is a great way to use OLDER stock.

AND if you have leftover cooked rabbit try chopping the meat fine and mixing up a batch of rabbit salad (like chicken salad) OR a nice pot of rabbit and dumplings. ..oh good gravy I could go on forever and now I'm getting hungry!

This message was edited Aug 4, 2008 1:37 PM

This message was edited Aug 4, 2008 1:44 PM

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Tamara, if you want white meat, you have to get hamsters.

Foley, MO

Or guinea pigs, ; P

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

OK, got it, guineas are dark, hammys are white... but both have four LEGS, right?>?.?

New York, NY

I don't know about guinea pigs. I raised them when I was a kid, but I guess you'd have to ask a peruvian. Based on what my friend in Arequipa said though, even they only eat them for a traditional festival -- there's really not much meat to them.

Foley, MO

Well Andrew Zimmer said they're delictable! : )

Clarkson, KY

Patch - I'm not sure I trust his delecting....You first!

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

AZ was off playing with fire ants when they were handing out taste buds...

Clarkson, KY

Too bad he doesn't do a show for chickens

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

i don't think i could watch it... makes me think of fowl sushi, yuck!

Clarkson, KY

Or feather/dust mite Tempura...

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