Which breed?

Beachbunny

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We're considering getting into meat rabbits...if we can find a processor in Ohio that does rabbits. We know how to process them ourselves but this will be meat for sale and it must be processed in a state inspected facility.

Anyway...

What breed would you recommend?

Which one has the best meat to bone ration in your opinion?

What about best feed conversion?

Thanks!
I've read this entire post and no one mentioned American Chinchillas so I will. I have been breeding them for meat for about a year now and find them to be very easy to work with. One of the reasons I chose them is their heritage status and rare breed status...i get meat and can keep them from disappearing from the rabbit world. Mine do not reach the 8 week/5lb mark as of yet but I think that is because I feed fodder instead of pellets(much cheaper). They do reach the 5lb mark by week 10 or 11. I am not so concerned about cost/feed/meat ratios but more so that I know where and what exactly the meat we eat is..no chemicals, antibiotics, no water weight added. just had to add my 2 cents to the thread.
 

P.O. in MO

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Thanks Hens and Roos, good point. Replacement does would require another buck to have a pure NZW breeder or like you said go to an outside source. Beekissed also has a good point, I already have what I need to produce all that I need except I need to pay more attention to what I am doing. I have 5 in the freezer, 3 kits in a small litter a week old and the next doe in line hit day 33 today with fur in the nest box and still no litter. I have 2 more bred but Feb. 18 is the next due date. Were all in different situations with different conditions and goals. VickieB has a plan that suits her needs and it is working out well. If I ran across an Altex buck close and at the right price I would probably give it a try with one of my does, but it would take a lot of rabbits to recover the travel costs of a long trip to get one.
I am going to concentrate on getting my rabbits back down to the proper weight and breeding them as soon as the kits are weaned until I get 30 ahead in the freezer.
 

autumnprairie

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I have raised NZ and Californians, I prefer NZ bigger litters and better mothers. The meat to bone ratio is the best out if all of them. I thought you were moving? Did things change? Missed ya too
 

VickieB

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"So I am assuming that this is what VickieB is doing. She is using a crossbred doe to produce these offspring that are doing so well on quick development. If this is true run thru how you got where you are VickieB. What other breed did you use to achieve the 1/2 Altex doe and what did you breed her to to get where your at?"

P.O., I went on to re-read what you had written about the Altex and saw this question. Queen is 1/2 Altex, and half NZW. I bred Queen twice last spring, before the summer break. Those were her first kindles. I bred her to a Production White. He really looks more like a NZW than the Altex, which is common with the PW. He is a little smaller than she is. Because he's PW he does have the Altex in his background though. Her first litters had 11 and 10 respectively, and the kits were small. They didn't start reaching that 5 pound mark until the 12th week. (I'm beginning to think that the small size was either due to the heat, or the fact that these were her first litters, or a combination of both) I bred her for the 3rd time with the same PW buck in September. She kindled only 4 kits in October, 3 does and 1 buck. They had the markings of an Altex, and they were much larger, even at birth. She has had kits with those markings before but their markings weren't nearly as dark as these. They weighed 1 pound at 3 weeks, but by 8 weeks they were all over 5 pounds, the does being 5 1/2 pounds. When those babies were 4 weeks I bred her again to the same buck. She had 9 babies that time. All of those babies reached 5 pounds by 8 1/2 weeks.

I got my Altex buck in the fall, and bred him to Queen on the next breeding. She kindled last week. She had 12 babies, but has lost 4. They're only ten days old, and I don't start weighing them until 3 weeks. I hate messing with them when they're so young, so I won't know how they are comparing yet, and won't for another couple of weeks. I also plan on breeding the Altex with the younger does next month.

I hope this answered those questions. I'll let you know how it all turns out.
 

P.O. in MO

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Thanks for answering that question VickieB, I would definitely like to know how much the latest 8 kits weigh out at 8 weeks. I would like to see how it correlates to all that info from earlier in the thread.
 

VickieB

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I weighed the 3 week old kits yesterday. They averaged 13 oz, so they are 3 oz under the 1 pound mark you want to see at 3 weeks. (I had read that kits weighing 1 lb at 3 weeks generally make it to 5 lbs in 8 weeks, and so far that has held true for my rabbits.) I'm thinking, though, that the weather has played a part in that. They had not ventured out of the nest box yet, because of the cold, so they hadn't started eating on their own. I opened the door of their box, and they all hopped out and showed lots of interest in the food. I'm looking forward to seeing if, now that they have access to the rabbit food, they will start picking up on their weight gain... I'll let you know what they weigh at 8 weeks!
 

P.O. in MO

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I have marked it on my calendar as I am really curious how this turns out after all the discussion on this subject.
 

sawfish99

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I will jump in with Beachbunny on American Chinchillas. We started our meat operation a few years back with a variety of breeds. We now only have American Chinchillas for meat. Even the mixes we were keeping were more than 75% Am Chin.
As for 5lbs at 8 weeks, we never come close to that, but I think I can explain why. We have specifically selected our breeding stock for larger litters. We usually have 10-12 kits in a litter. Our Am Chins hit 5lbs at 12-14 weeks. If we try to put the weight on faster, they are very fatty inside, which isn't what our customers (or our family) want.
In our area, there is a butcher shop that will pay me $2/lb live weight for 4-5lb live rabbits. I never sell to them, but I know their price. So basically, I can get $8-10 if I sell to them. If I process the rabbit and sell the meat directly (which is legal in CT), I can sell that rabbit for $6/lb packaged or $12-15. Not much higher. BUT - I can save the organ meat for the dogs and sell the pelts for $2.50 each. So I almost double the value by processing myself.

Regardless, we are no longer selling much meat. We currently have 7 American Chinchilla does as breeding stock and we will resume breeding in March - half the does at a time.

I take that 1 pure Am Chin that is 8 weeks old and not yet 5 lbs and sell as a show rabbit or breeding stock for someone else at $35. And we are cheaper than a lot of others around who sell at $60+ per rabbit. So my 3lb 8 week old is worth basically $12/lb. Breeding stock is much more valuable than meat. We sold more than twice as much as breeding stock than as meat last year. In fact, our new model is sell breeding stock and keep the meat for ourselves.

My point - if everyone around you has New Zealand and Californian mix breeding stock, it's not worth much and you compete with all of them. If you have something good quality and different, customers start driving over an hour to buy from you.
 

VickieB

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Hmmm That's interesting, Sawfish. Maybe it has to do with the breed, because I have found that my 8 week olds, no matter what the weight, have much less fat on them than my 12 week olds. They are also more tender when it comes time to cooking. I'm not saying the others can't be used for cooking, that's obviously not the case. But the tenderness of an 8 week old versus a 12 week old can't be denied, and the fact that you have to invest another whole month into feeding and caring for the rabbit to take it to 12 weeks is something that needs to be considered. Some people don't have a problem with this, but it is part of the equation when it comes to how much you invested in that dinner.
 

P.O. in MO

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A lot of good information in these posts about the American Chinchillas. It sounds like sawfish has a pretty good handle on what he is doing and it makes a lot of sense. I wish someone around here would pay 2 dollars a pound live weight but I haven't really looked as I am barely producing enough for myself at present. Thanks for the posts.
 

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