9 Best Meat Rabbits For Raising: Taste, Weight, Meat-Bone Ratio & More
Regardless of whether you’re looking to hunt or breed, we’re here with the definitive list of the best meat rabbits for eating.
I’ll talk you through each breed’s reputation for taste, size, and growth time, as well as ease of handling. So, let’s get to it.
The 9 Best Meat Rabbits For Raising & Eating
New Zealand White Rabbit
Mature Weight: 11-12lbs
Whilst there are lots of rabbit breeds perfect for eating, there seems to be absolutely no contest when it comes to the fan-favorite, The New Zealand White rabbit.
You may be wondering: Are New Zealand rabbits good meat rabbits?
New Zealand rabbits produce very tasty meat with a great (one of the best) meat-to-bone ratios and can be market-ready at as little as 8 weeks old (reaching as heavy as 8lbs in that time).
They are beloved for their fast-growth rate and “days-to-market” turnaround. However, potential breeders should note that these are big rabbits who require a lot of space to move around in.
Mature Weight: 9-10lbs
Rarely is the New Zealand breed mentioned without this breed from sunny California following close behind.
With white fur covering the body, and black detailing on the ears, nose, and legs, the Californian rabbit is strikingly attractive.
It makes a great show pet as well as a meat rabbit.
Mature Californian rabbits weigh around 9-10lbs, with a fantastic meat-to-bone ratio. The meat of the Californian is also of a similar high quality to the New Zealand White.
American Chinchilla Rabbit
Mature Weight: 9-12lbs
If you’re into smoking your meat (as we at Meat Sumo are), then the Chinchilla is the meat rabbit for you.
Bred originally for their distinctive mottled grey pelts, today most mature chinchillas rival the New Zealand White for meat weight, growing up to 12lbs when mature.
The docile, friendly nature of the American Chinchilla, combined with its fast growth rate, makes it the ideal starter breed for beginners.
What’s more, the doe Chinchillas have excellent mothering instincts and produce large kittens, so are perfect additions to rabbit farms.
Flemish Giant Rabbit
Mature Weight: 15-20lbs
When it comes to meat rabbits, lots of people want to know: what are the largest meat rabbits?
Flemish Giants, originating from Belgium, are the largest meat rabbits around. They can grow to a whopping 20lbs or more (meaning there’s a lot of meat on their bones!).
And not only is that meat plentiful, but it is also much milder than most other meat rabbits: perfect for those who aren’t as much a fan of “gamey” tasting meat.
Docile and friendly, the Flemish Giant is easy to handle. However, at the size of a small dog, it requires a heck of a lot of room to move around. Flemish Giants are also voracious eaters, so they do cost more to raise.
Champagne D’Argent Rabbit
Mature Weight: 9-12lbs
A posh name for a posh rabbit! This breed originates (funnily enough) in the Champagne region of France.
Born black, the Champagne D’Argent’s coat slowly turns a luxurious, handsome silver over time, making it a beautiful show rabbit.
Its meat is tasty, and there’s lots of it since the Champagne D’Argent has deep hindquarters and full shoulders.
You should socialize Champagne D’Argents as young kittens as much as possible, else wise they tend not to be the most docile or friendly of animals.
Still, well worth it as they are a healthy breed with minimal health problems.
Mature Weight: 9-11lbs
An extremely rare breed, the Cinnamons Rabbit (named for its distinctively rich caramel coat) is found only in the USA.
These rabbits require a lot of indoor and/or outdoor space to move around in but are very docile, friendly rabbits who love to play.
Whilst Cinnamons make great pets (getting along with other animals exceptionally well), they are also good for meat rabbits.
Their wedge-shaped body provides a respectable meat-to-bone ratio and the flavor of their meat is good.
Mature Weight: 11lbs
Satins Rabbits are some of the hardiest meat rabbits in the business. Bred in cold climates, they thrive even in harsh conditions thanks to their thick fur.
With a broad, arched body and strong legs, there’s plenty of meat on the bone.
Satins Rabbits come in perhaps the widest variety of fur colors imaginable, and their pelts are in high demand due to their soft, shiny quality.
Calm, friendly, and good-natured, they can reach 5lbs for use as fryer rabbits in just 8 weeks.
Florida White Rabbit
Mature Weight: 5lbs
Smaller than all other rabbits on this list, the Florida White has, ironically, the best meat-to-bone ratio at 65%!
Florida Whites birth large litters of 6-8 kittens, reaching market-readiness faster than a lot of other breeds (probably third fastest on this list).
The meat, aside from being in abundance, is tasty, too, and the higher ratio of meat to the bone means that overall harvest turnaround is fast and affordable.
If cost-effectiveness is your priority, check out the Florida White!
Mature Weight: 10-20lbs
Last, but most certainly not least, is the Altex rabbit.
Bred from a cross of the Californian, Flemish Giant, and Champagne D’Argent, the Altex rabbit is one of the tastiest meat rabbits out there.
It also has a fantastic meat-to-bone ratio. Altex rabbits are bred for their meat and are docile and easy to handle. They thrive on veggies and hay, so are easy to keep, too, and are happy indoors or outdoors.
Altex rabbits reach fryer-readiness/market-readiness earlier than any other rabbit, even the New Zealand White!
When people ask me: What breed of rabbit sells best? The answer is unequivocally the Altex, thanks to its size, flavor, and the speed at which it’s ready for eating.
The only real drawback to the Altex is the small size of its litters. I recommend breeding an Altex buck with a Californian or New Zealand doe for maximum meat rabbit goodness!
3 Things When About Raising Meat Rabbits
If you’re just getting started, you might be thinking, is raising rabbits for meat worth it?
The answer is, without a doubt, yes! Rabbits are fairly inexpensive to buy, can be bred easily and often, require minimal maintenance, are cheap to feed, and are tasty to boot!
Housing & Feeding
You can house rabbits in a number of different types of housing, each with different benefits and uses, and each better suited to individuals with different living situations.
Colony-raising is by far the most humane way to raise meat rabbits.
Colony-raising requires a large area (sometimes in a barn or shed, sometimes outside provided you can enclose the space safely), where the rabbits are left to roam freely.
This way rabbits can tunnel, creating the burrows they would dig in the wild. Colony rabbits will require worming and the appropriate vaccinations.
Consult your vet for professional advice.
Hutch-raising remains as popular as ever for meat rabbits. Hutches can be purchased, but can just as easily be built with everyday and accessible objects from the garage.
They are more expensive to build and maintain than the following options, but provide good safe spaces for your rabbits to run about in, and tend to keep rabbits nice and warm and comfortable.
3. Wire Runs/Hanging Cages
If you have decent enough space in a shed, garage, or lean-to, you could always keep your meat rabbits in hanging cages or wire runs.
Wire runs are ideal for hygiene, as rabbit waste passes through the mesh to the ground, requiring less cleaning.
You have to ensure that rabbits kept in these types of houses are provided rest pads in a designated area, though, to avoid them getting ‘sore hocks’.
Rabbits can subsist solely on grass and other vegetation, but ideally, meat rabbits should not eat a diet consisting solely of natural growth.
Instead, supplement it with free choice hay and quality rabbit complete pellet feed (for a higher protein diet). Typically, weanling rabbits gain 1lb for every 3lbs of feed they consume.
Breeding & Care
If you plan to breed your rabbits, then there are a few things you should know first.
Does can be bred year-round, and once pregnant should be given their own space, as they can get pretty territorial.
You can generally start breeding does from 6-9 months old, though some even suggest they can be bred from 18-22 weeks.
You should keep bucks in separate enclosures from 12-14 weeks old (depending on the individual buck’s temperament).
Otherwise, they will relentlessly pester the female rabbits, leaving you with more litters than you can possibly handle. You can breed bucks from about 17 weeks old.
Be sure to trim your rabbits’ nails, brush their fur regularly, and give them safe chew toys to keep their front teeth filed nicely (this is as much for your safety as it is for the health of the other rabbits).
If you can, ensure that your rabbits have as much space as possible. A happy, healthy rabbit is a tasty rabbit, after all.
If you’re going to raise meat rabbits, you’re going to have to learn how to slaughter them to prepare them for cooking or selling.
1. “Rabbit Wringer”
A “rabbit wringer” is a wall-mounted bracket, shaped so as to allow you to slide your rabbit into the vice at the neck. You then pull sharp and hard on the back legs to quickly and humanely break the rabbit’s neck.
2. Air Rifle
If you’ve got an air rifle to hand, then you can always despatch a rabbit quickly with a well-placed pellet to the brain.
3. Old-School Pole/Broomstick
Place the market-ready meat rabbit belly-down on a hard flat ground surface, and place the broomstick or pole across the back of its neck.
Ready yourself by placing one foot on one end of the pole, as you face toward the rabbit’s back legs.
Quickly place your whole weight on the pole by putting your other foot on the other end, and, taking hold of the rabbit’s back legs, pull hard and fast to break the neck.
Meat rabbits are fairly inexpensive to buy, breed, house, and feed. They also don’t take particularly long to reach an age and size at which they can be eaten.
If you’re a beginner, try raising American Chinchillas to get used to the whole process.
However, if you’ve already some experience in rabbit-rearing, and you’re looking for the best meat rabbit, then I’d say for flavor you want to go for the Flemish Giant or New Zealand White.
Whereas, if you’re concerned with cost-efficiency and high turnaround, then the Altex rabbit is the best meat rabbit for you.