New Zealand Rabbits
Adult Size: Large (8-12 pounds/ 3.6-5.4 kg)
Despite the name, New Zealand rabbits were first bred in America in 1916 for meat and fur production and are currently the number one meat rabbit in the United States. W.S. Preshaw first bred it with his plan to produce a rabbit that would be excellent not only for meat but also for fur. The original breeds used to create the New Zealand breed are unknown.
They come in several different colors (black, red and white) but white rabbits are the most popular for meat production because of their large, broad, and muscular bodies and the easy of matching their pelts for sale.
When mature, bucks weigh 8-10 pounds and females from 9-12 pounds. New Zealand rabbits are ready to slaughter as fryers after just 2 months. Their average litter is 8-10 bunnies. Average dressing percentage at 8 weeks (on commercial pellet diet) is 55.9%, at 13 weeks 59.2% and at maturity 58.2%. The rabbits who have high grade fur are used to make fur coats and trimmings, while those with lower grades are used to make felt hats and glove linings.
Although primarily bred for meat and fur, their body type contributed for them to become a favorite breed of domestic rabbit. They have well-rounded bodies with slender and muscular faces that come with round cheeks and their back feet are large and long. The ears are long and perforated and go straight up. What is most noticeable among this breed is their eyes, which go from a shade of pale pink to bright ruby red.
NZ rabbits are quite social and outgoing, and enjoy being part of the family. They like everybody, including most other household pets, and seldom bite. They also don’t mind be handled. This makes them great rabbits to get started with. They are often associated to “big rag dolls” because they can accommodate you in any way you wish to hold and cuddle them. Pick them up, set them down, hold them in your lap or even carry them across your shoulder, they have no problem at all with that. They were thought to be utility or working rabbits and most people select this breed because they have an outgoing personality and very easy to work with.