Where to find rabbits for meat production

The only rabbit sources I have found are for show rabbits and seem to be fairly expensive. Where do you suggest we search for rabbits to start our food production (we'd like 3 does and 1 buck).

***** Karen Sez *****

Well, you did not supply your location, so I am not sure where to suggest you start looking for commercial meat rabbits.

But, I can offer you suggestions on questions to ask the breeders of your prospective rabbit purchases:

1. How fast do the kits grow - what is their weight at age 3 weeks, 8 weeks, 9 weeks, 10 weeks?

2. What is a typical litter size? (8 or more is good)

3. Do the does produce enough milk to feed all kits to weaning, or are there losses in the nestbox due to inadequate lactation?

4. What is the frequency and incidence of disease in the herd, and the rate of losses? (You're specifically looking for no major problems with enterotoxemia and pasteurellosis)

5. Do the does tend to lose their first litters from lack of mothering? (Every doe should have her maternal wits about her, first litter or not.)

That should start you off, at least.

If the answers are honest and favorable, then the rabbits will probably serve you well, despite being from a show herd.

As to cost, it is a rare breeder who tries to price-gouge. (I hope!) No one is getting rich raising rabbits. Feed costs are high, and rabbit breeders who pay show entry fees over and over for the purpose of ensuring their rabbits are of the highest quality are the very breeders from whom you'd like to get your animals.

If you truly wonder about the character of the breeder, then get a second opinion about rabbit prices in your (or his) area.

Otherwise, ask for a multi-animal discount of some sort, and then pay his price. In the long term I don't think you'll regret paying decent money to obtain a very good animal over shelling out a lincoln on a clueless meat mutt that can't raise a litter to save her soul.

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