Question of the Week
Answer: Two medium-size breeds, the New Zealand White (NZW) and the Californian, are the most important for meat production. They have white fur that is difficult to see if a few pieces are stuck to the carcass, and they have higher meat-to-bone ratios. The NZW is considered the best breed overall, considering mothering ability and carcass characteristics. However, crossing male Californians to female NZWs and then breeding the female from this cross back to male Californians results in larger litter sizes and heavier fryers than using straight NZWs.
Other meat breeds include Californian, Champagne d’ Argent, English Spot, and Flemish Giant, but these may not receive a premium price because of the colored fur. A relatively new hybrid breed developed from crosses of Flemish Giant, Champagne d’Argent, and Californian named the Altex (a combination of Alabama and Texas, as the breed was developed between Alabama and Texas A&M), has been bred for commercial viability. This breed is more heat-tolerant and gains more weight quicker than other breeds—reaching up to 10 to 20 pounds. For more information, visit The Rabbit Breeding & Teaching Program at TAMUK.
Breeds developed for fur include American Chinchilla, Checkered Giant, Silver Marten, and Rex. The Angora was developed for wool and meat. Laboratory breeds include Dutch, English Spot, Himalayan, and Polish. Pet breeds include Holland Lop, Polish, Dutch, and Mini Lop.
There are many other breeds of domestic rabbit that are raised for meat, show, laboratory use, and fur and wool production.
To learn more, consult the ATTRA publication Small-Scale Sustainable Rabbit Production. This publication provides an introduction to small-scale rabbit production, focusing on meat rabbits and sustainable rabbit management.
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