It doesn’t matter if you breed the rabbits as a business or keep the meat for yourself; one of the first questions that come to your mind is this.
How much meat do you get from a rabbit? The butchering weight of a rabbit is 6 pounds, and it weighs 4.5 pounds skinned and gutted.
Do some rabbits give you more meat than others? Does the breed size matter when it comes to the amount of meat? Let’s find out and much more!
Rabbits’ butchering weight is 6 pounds, and they reach it between 8-16 weeks.Learn how to raise your own quail and have an unlimited supply of eggs and meat.
There are three rabbit breeds based on body size: large, mid, and small. Are all breed sizes butchered at 6 pounds?
Small size breeds are typically kept as pets; they don’t count.
Mid and large size rabbit breeds are both butchered at around 6 pounds.
The difference isn’t the butchering weight but rather the pace they reach butchering size and the meat-to-bone ratio.
Large size rabbits grow slower. They reach butchering size at 16 weeks; mid-size rabbit breeds develop quicker and reach butchering size at around eight weeks.
Another difference is that the large size breeds eat more.
For example, it takes twice as much time to reach butchering size for a Flemish Giant compared to a New Zealand White. To add insult to injury, not only will the New Zealand White eat less, but it will give more meat than a Flemish Giant when you butcher it.
This might sound strange because of the same butchering weight; however, this is true if you consider the meat to bone ratio. You determine the meat to bone ratio by taking the carcass and weighing the meat and the bone separately.
A 4 pounds meat and 0.5-pound bone of a 4.5 pounds carcass gives you a 8:1 meat to bone ratio. The higher this ratio, the more meat the rabbit provides you.
Large bony rabbits will have a lower meat-to-bone ratio and thus provide less meat.
The main reason for a lower meat-to-bone ratio of large size breeds is that in the first 16 weeks, they mainly use the feed and energy to grow the bone structure, whereas mid-sized breeds first develop the muscles.
But why can’t you just simply give more time to large size rabbits to grow? The reason is that after 16 weeks, the rabbit meat starts gaining a gamey taste and loses tenderness, not to mention that you also need to feed them longer, increasing the costs.
Genetics is often more important than breed size when it comes to size and how fast they reach butchering age. A New Zealand White with bad genetics might reach butchering weight slower than a Flemish Giant with good genetics.
If you are about to start and you want to have as much meat as possible, pay attention to the bloodline of the doe and the buck: they should come from a well-bred stock.
If you want to have as much meat as possible, get a mid-size breed with good genetics.
To increase the amount and quality of the meat and the pace rabbits reach butchering size, you need to feed them properly.
Rabbits need 18-20% protein feed to grow fast and reach butchering age between 8-16 weeks. Alfalfa-based pellets provide that amount of protein.
How much do you get from a pair of rabbits in a year?
Rabbit does have a 28 day gestation period. After giving birth, the babies need at least 4-8 weeks of nursing. You can rebreed the doe two weeks before they stop nursing the babies. Thus the doe has a 1-2 weeks recuperation period before giving birth again.
As you can see, the breeding schedule can be pretty flexible depending on how many times you want to rebreed the doe. Does can be bred 4 to 7 times in a year.
The average litter size of rabbits is 8. So the number of babies the doe will have in a year can be anywhere between 32 and 56.
Meat rabbits can provide you with 150-250 meat per year depending on the genetics of the individual doe and buck, the breeding schedule, and the breed size.
Reaching the higher end of the spectrum (250 pounds) requires following a very aggressive breeding schedule.
There are about 45 weeks when you can breed the rabbits as they usually don’t breed when it is hot. Actually, many homesteaders prefer to breed the rabbits when the weather is cold and don’t breed the rabbits when it is warmer.
The more meat you try to produce, the more demanding it will be on the doe’s body, and the risk of babies having health issues increases, and the average litter size might also decrease.
Following an aggressive breeding schedule means that the doe will rebreed every 6 weeks and consequently have babies every 6 weeks.
A less aggressive breeding schedule is less demanding on the doe as she has time to nurse her babies to recuperate after giving birth. The doe will breed in every 10 weeks.
The doe nurses the babies until they reach 8-9 weeks. You rebreed her when the babies are 6 weeks old and let her nurse the kits for 2 more weeks. You wean the babies when they are 8 weeks old. Thus the doe has two more weeks to recuperate before having a litter again.
Rabbits can be a good source of healthy meat. If you are thinking about keeping rabbits, whether you do so only for yourself or as a business, you can get plenty of meat.
Obviously, you can further increase the amount of meat if you don’t butcher all of them when they reach butchering size but keep them even until they reach sexual maturity to breed them.