All you want to know about raising rabbits for meat

Four Less Common but Great Meat Rabbit Breeds to Start Your Rabbitry

Although Californian and New Zealand rabbits are the most popular breeds used in meat and fur production, it doesn’t mean that they are the only breeds you should consider if you are starting a rabbitry. The following breeds are fantastic for meat and fur production because of their ease of care, great mothering skills, high meat-to-fur ratios and range of coat colors.

  • Silver Fox
    Adult Size: Large (9-12 pounds/ 4.1-5.4 kilograms)
    The Silver Fox is considered the teddy bear of the commercial breed and is very well suited for meat breeding. It has a high dress out percentage (65%) with a small boned carcass, does are excellent mothers with large litters, they have plenty of milk and they make excellent foster mothers. They are also gentle, easy to handle, like attention and have beautiful long fur. Their fur resembles the pelt of an Arctic silver fox: coarse, extremely dense and 1 ½ to 2 inches long. Kits are born either solid black or blue and silvering will start at 4 weeks, taking about 4 months to complete. Unlike any other rabbit breed, when the fur is stroked backwards from tail to head, it will stand straight up until stroked in the opposite direction. The breed is considered critically endangered and is not recognized in outside the U.S., although in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom there is a breed called Silver Fox, which is actually the same rabbit breed as the Silver Marten in America.
  • Satin
    Adult Size: Large (8.5-12 pounds/ 3.9-5.4 kilograms)
    The Satin breed has translucent hair shafts that reflect light, giving the coat a very high sheen. Coat color ranges from black to copper to white…and many things in between. A high protein diet supplemented with sunflower seeds helps maintain good body tone and a healthy coat but no special care other than routine brushing is required. Satins have one of the best meat-to-bone ratios of the commercial breeds. Other characteristics which make them great for meat production are their good growth rates, their great motherly instincts and their ease of breeding.
  • Champagne d’Argent
    Adult Size: Large (10-15 pounds/ 4.75-6.8 kilograms)
    The Champagne d’Argent is one of the oldest known rabbit breeds, existing in the Champagne province of France for over 400 years. Then called the French Silver for its silvery coat, it was once prized for its pelt despite being a common breed. Bunnies are born pure black, begin turning silver grey at about 3 weeks and are completely silver grey by 6 months. Champagnes are not so common in America today, but their popularity is increasing. The rabbit has a medium length with well-developed hind-quarters.
  • Harlequin
    Adult Size: Medium (7-9 pounds/ 2.7-3.6 kilograms)
    Harlequins are usually pretty docile, make good mothers and foster kits well. The ideal age for a Harlequin doe to start breeding is 5 to 6 months old. There are two varieties of Harlequins: Japanese are golden orange with colored markings and the Magpie is white with colored markings. A well bred Harlequin will have white or orange on one side of the face with a straight, clean line dividing it from the other side of the face, which would be colored. The ear attached to the white or orange side would be colored, and the ear attached to the colored side would be white or orange. The body is alternately striped with white or orange and color.

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3 Responses to “Four Less Common but Great Meat Rabbit Breeds to Start Your Rabbitry”

  1. Ujang says:

    Your article very complete and very usefully. Thank you very much for all.

  2. Mary C. Charest says:

    Hi,

    I hope you can help me. We have 2 does and 2 bucks. We want to have a large scale breeding business - but that will not be for 3 years and then all the rabbits will beset up with a great cage/self watering system in a barn. Right now they are in our home. Temperature is regulated. They are well taken care of and they like us

    Fifi (Doe) Born on October 5, 2007
    Francois (Buck) Born on September 4, 2007
    This “couple” is about 3 years old

    Paris (Doe) Born on April 19, 2009.
    Pierre (Buck) Born on Feb. 2, 2009.

    Recently the last two times we bred both does - they had miscarriages. Paris most recently - all dead. Fifi is due soon - last time all dead “blobs” but one live and she rejected it. I tried to play “mommy” and it worked for a while but the kit died.

    Neither really ever had large litters - Fifi had the biggest and I think that was 5.

    Does any of this miscarriage stuff have to do with the ages of the rabbits? They are pure bred Champagne D’Argents.

    Please respond ASAP. We are members of the ARBA and the Champagne D’Argent Federation. We are also looking for “new bloodlines”. We’ll be at the Dutchess County Fair on Sat. - I do not know if you ever travel to those things…or know of anyone in the CNY area that breeds pure bred Champagne D’Argents.

    My husband is distraught - I want to give him some answers and hope.

    Best,

    Mary C. Charest

  3. Tiffany says:

    Hi Mary,

    Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about your losses and recent difficulties.
    In general, a medium-sized rabbit like a Champagne will be able to breed until they are about 4 years old. But it could decline sooner. Have you noticed a drop off in the success rates over the last year or is this all just a rather sudden development?

    As for the younger rabbits, their age should not be a factor right now. Are you certain that they are not having heat-related troubles? You said they are inside but could they maybe still be overheating somehow? Rabbits are much more comfortable around 60°F. I’m sure you know this but I’m just trying to rule things out… I wouldn’t be concerned about the litter size either, that sounds fairly average.

    Did the rabbits carry the kits to full term or were these premies? Maybe the does were stressed from the move inside the first time around? Could there be other factors stressing them out now that they’re inside? Or is one/both bucks causing trouble?

    I don’t know if I’ve said anything useful yet but I do hope that you’re able to find out what the problem is. If doesn’t seem to be any of these things, I would have to start looking at genetic or health issues. Have you had healthy litters from either of these pairs in the past?

    Each breed has their own quirks and differences…have you consulted with anyone at the Champagne d’Argent Federation? I would certainly do that as well as I’M sure other even more experienced breeders would have plenty to interject.

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