Dutch Rabbit for Meat

OctoberKitty

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I just bought a pair of 8 week old mixed does for pets. Their mom is a Lionhead/Dutch mix and the dad is a Harlequin. The lady I bought them from was going to process the litter for her own family if they didn't sell. That left me wondering if I could breed them (when they're old enough) to a Dutch buck for meat rabbits. I know the breeding can be done, but would it be worth it? Should I stick with my original plan of getting a trio of NZs this spring?
 

OctoberKitty

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Thanks! I was going to wait until spring, but these two popped up on a BST page and I couldn't pass them up. I picked them up at the breeder's house this time too.
 

SableSteel

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It can be done. Dutch don't have the growth rate or size of NZW, but I've heard that they have a better dress out ratio than most commercial breeds. They are not as productive as NZW, but they aren't worthless for meat.
 

Bunnylady

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Any breed of rabbit can be eaten; the smaller ones just take a bit longer to get to a size where it is worthwhile. Dutch have commercial type, after all; like most of the older breeds, they were originally bred for meat.

Unfortunately, while the Harlequin supposedly has commercial type, most people get so hung up on color, they ignore type, and an awful lot of Harlies are bony scarecrows under the fancy fur coats. Still, the Harlequin might give these girls a bit more size, so they might have larger litters and raise them easier.:idunno
 

OctoberKitty

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The size is where I was worried about their worth as meat rabbits. I figured you could eat a Lionhead or a Holland Lop if you were determined to do so. I'm only feeding two people and not selling so commercial quality isn't as important as space and time.

Their dad didn't appear to be a bony scarecrow and the breeder was very proud of his size. She actually didn't mention his coloring once. The girls themselves have a really solid build to them and they were larger than I was expecting for their age. They are built like the pure Dutch rabbits I've seen, but I've never seen more than one Harlequin so I can't compare them properly. I was actually more worried about the Lionhead part. My Lionheads (and American Fuzzy) would have been perfectly described as bony scarecrows.

They did come from a litter of six so I'm hoping they will have similarly sized litters if bred. I didn't think to ask if that was an average litter size for her or not since I hadn't intended to breed them.
 

Bunnylady

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Well, when you put a Harlie on a show table, you get something like 70% of the points for color and pattern, and only about 10% for type and condition; pretty clear where the focus is, huh?

True story - I once took a junior buck to a show that had barely enough pattern to be showable, but he had excellent type (I had more competitive rabbits, I really only took him to beef up the numbers). The judge for this class was a Californian breeder, and unfortunately, his disdain for the bodies currently under his hands was obvious. He'd set the rabbits up, run his hands over them, sigh, and look for the markings . . . . Then he came to my little guy. He set him up, ran his hands over him . . . . and the shocked look on his face was priceless! He did it a couple times more, as if he couldn't believe what he was feeling. When making his remarks to the writer, he said, "surprisingly good type . . ." He placed the buck last in his class (as I expected, given his markings) but as he handed him across the table to me, he said, "if things were as they ought to be, he'd have won."

So they aren't all awful!
 

DutchBunny03

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They will be ok small meat rabbits. Dutch are very compact, and dress out well. Getting some NZs is still better, but it would be worth it to breed them. May as well use what you have. One good thing about small meat rabbits is that they eat a lot less than NZs, so you spend less money on feed, even if you dont get quite as much meat. But if you are only feeding two people, it should work out fine. You should get some pretty cool color combinations, too!
 

Bossroo

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They will be ok small meat rabbits. Dutch are very compact, and dress out well. Getting some NZs is still better, but it would be worth it to breed them. May as well use what you have. One good thing about small meat rabbits is that they eat a lot less than NZs, so you spend less money on feed, even if you dont get quite as much meat. But if you are only feeding two people, it should work out fine. You should get some pretty cool color combinations, too!
While the Dutch eat a smaller amount per sitting, but when one increases time, which adds to the amount of your labor as well as housing , to get them to slaughter size they have consumed the same or more feed than a meat rabbit such as the NZW or California would have consumed for the same amount of edible meat. The price of that Dutch edible meat costs more. T I M E is MONEY !!!
 

OctoberKitty

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I seem to still be having back luck with rabbits. For the first time in my life I lost one of my rabbits to a cat. I was hoping she'd be okay after she was attacked on Friday, but I found her dead this morning. They were in a cage I've used for rabbits for years without issue. Her sister is still in good health and safe. I'm going go breed her to try and get another rabbit with her deceased sister's coloring.

Back to the New Zealands, I wasn't going to breed white. Is there a difference between white and colored NZs? I know whites are better for commercial use, but like I said before I won't be using them for commercial purposes. There are a handful of sources for Californians, but colored NZs and Dutch x NZs are popular in my area.
 
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