Choosing the breed of rabbit for your rabbit farming venture will depend upon the purpose of the farm. Some farms are dedicated to producing meat rabbits, whilst others have rabbits for their fur. Outside the rabbit farming arena, breeders also raise rabbits for the pet market or as a show animal.

When it comes to choosing a meat rabbit then there are really two breeds to choose from. One is the New Zealand White, commonly known within rabbit circles as the NZW, and the other is the Californian. The desirable traits of the NZW include good carcass quality, rapid growth rate, good reproduction rates and mothering ability. A NZW can reach 3 kgs (6.6 lbs) within 12 to 14 weeks of age. The rabbit carcass dressing percentage is about 50 to 54% of live weight.

The Californian is slightly smaller than the NZW and has a lower finishing weight but has a higher carcass dressing percentage, given that it is a meatier rabbit proportionally speaking. Hybrids are produced crossing the Californian bucks with New Zealand White does, to try and combine the best of both traits. Sometimes the Flemish Giant can also be used as a terminal sire with the objective of getting higher meat yields despite its lower reproduction rates.

Other rabbit breeds that could be considered for rabbit meat include the American, Chinchilla, Silver Fox, and Giant Chinchilla but nearly all European rabbit farmers use the NZW.

If you are just starting off with your rabbit farming venture, it would be wise to start small, say with 20 does and 2 bucks, to get an insight into the business before fully investing. Always try to buy from registered breeders as this should offer you some guarantee of purchase. A good registered breeder will always try to correct a poor situation as it is his reputation on the line. Moreover not buying from registered owners poses the danger of buying animals that are not pure breed, injured, possibly sick or genetically defective.

If you want added protection, purchase a Registered Rabbit. A registered rabbit is one which an American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) licensed registrar has examined and certified as free from defects and disqualifications. The registrar has determined that the rabbit is healthy and a good representation of the breed. The registrar examines the rabbit’s pedigree for accuracy and completeness. A copy of the rabbit’s pedigree is forwarded to ARBA. Buying a registered rabbit greatly reduces the chances of purchasing “inadequate” animals for whatever purpose you have chosen to raise rabbits.

Some rabbit farming ventures concentrate on raising rabbits for their fur. There are a number of rabbit species selectively developed for the purpose of harvesting their furs for the garment industry. The Angora rabbit is one of the best suited for this purpose, but other breeds could be considered as the Sable, Satin, Silver Fox and Rex. The fur can make some amazing rabbit products, though this may not be to everybody’s taste.

Rabbit farming therefore fails into two main camps, one for meat and the other for fur, with the New Zealand White and the Californian being bred for the meat, and the Angora for the fur.

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