While it isn’t as popular as it was in the past, there are still a number of people who go about raising rabbits for meat. Some companies are doing it commercially, while others are homesteading. So what are the best meat rabbit breeds?
This is something that can be tricky to wrap your head around if you are used to rabbits as pets. However, it may be interesting for you to know that a lot of the more popular pet bunny breeds were initially bred for meat purposes.
What are the Best Meat Rabbit Breeds?
These are the best meat rabbit breeds:
- Flemish Giant
- American Chinchilla
- Silver Fox
- New Zealand Rabbit
- Cinnamon Rabbit
- California Rabbit
- Belgian Hare
Now, let’s take a look more in-depth at the top 8 most common rabbit meat breeds:
1. Flemish Giant Rabbit
The Flemish Giant is the largest ‘true’ rabbit breed. They can grow to a whopping 12-14 pounds on average, with some specimens weighing a lot more than that. It is no wonder that this is one of the most popular meat rabbit breeds.
They are not raised commercially all that much, though. This is because they do take a long time to mature in comparison to other meat rabbits. They also require a lot more food. Although, for homesteaders, the Flemish Giant is often a great option.
2. American Chinchilla Rabbit
No. This is not a breed of Chichilla. Instead, this rabbit is just named that because it has fur that is similar to a Chinchilla. For the most part, the American chinchilla rabbit breed was not bred for meat. It was bred for the fur.
This is because it is a lot cheaper to breed than a Chinchilla. Of course, if you are deciding to kill the rabbit anyway to get the skin, you may as well go the whole hog and use it for meat too.
It is no longer farmed in commercial operations due to better options available.
However, because this rabbit is a good breeder, a lot of people who run their own homestead may actually raise these rabbits for meat.
3. Palomino Rabbit
In terms of weight, the Palomino rabbit is not that far behind the Flemish Giant. It is only behind by about a kilo or so (which isn’t much, in the grand scheme of things). While the Palomino rabbit was probably intended purely as a show rabbit, the large size means that it is fantastic for those who are raising rabbits for meat.
It can actually be a bit easier to raise than the Flemish Giant, mostly because the diet of the Palomino is nowhere near as demanding.
When it is fully grown, it will weigh somewhere in the region of 8-10 lbs, which puts it firmly in the medium-sized rabbit category.
4. Silver Fox Rabbit
The Silver Fox Rabbit doesn’t really appear as a pet. Instead, this is a rabbit that is mostly bred for the fur. It has beautiful black fur, which is a perfect substitute for the fur of animals that are a whole lot harder to raise than this one. It is not the largest rabbit in the world, but some are being able to hit around 12lbs in size. So, it is fairly sizable and, as a result, it will often be used as a meat rabbit breed.
This rabbit can be found as a pet, on occasion. However, a lot of people try to steer clear of raising their meat rabbits as pets, particularly the Silver Fox. This is because the Silver Fox rabbit breed is regarded as one of the friendliest rabbit breeds available.
Obviously, you do not want to be raising one of these as a pet, bonding with it, and then eating it later on, do you?
5. New Zealand Rabbit
Oddly enough, the New Zealand rabbit doesn’t actually come from New Zealand. The rabbits that went into the creation of this breed did come from New Zealand, but the breed was completely developed in the United States.
In the United States, this is probably the most popular among all meat rabbit breeds when it comes to commercial meat production. It is also a popular rabbit for use in labs around the country too.
Oh, and it is brilliant as fur. In fact, the only thing it isn’t really used for is as a pet, although that is because all the other uses are probably a bit more lucrative for rabbit breeders. It really is a brilliant meat rabbit. That is why it is used so much.
6. Cinnamon Rabbit
The Cinnamon Rabbit is another very popular meat rabbit breed. In fact, if you eat rabbit meat, there is a good chance that it would have come from a Cinnamon Rabbit, it is that popular.
It has a beautiful cinnamon-colored coat, as the name suggests. However, the commercial-shaped body and the large size means that it is going to be fantastic as a meat rabbit too.
In fact, there are a few commercial farms out there that will raise the Cinnamon Rabbit for meat purposes. It is fairly easy to raise, although it does require a decent chunk of space to run around in.
7. California Rabbit
The California Rabbit is a meat rabbit breed that, mostly, was developed for the fur trade. However, the large size and the shapely body means that is perfect as a meat rabbit. According to ARBA, the accepted maximum weight of this breed should be 10.5 pounds. However, this is for show purposes, when raised for meat in the backyards some are being able to hit around 12lbs in size.
This rabbit actually came from the Chinchilla rabbit, which is why the fur on the California rabbit is so well-loved.
Again, this is a friendly rabbit, and it is often raised as a pet due to its unique looks. Although, once again, we want to stress that you should not be raising your meat rabbits as pets!
8. Belgian Hare
The Belgian Hare caps out at about 9 lbs. It is not actually a hare. It is a rabbit that has been bred to look like a hare, but it is still a rabbit. This is a rabbit that is actually quite muscular, and the shape is a bit different. This means that it does produce a slightly more unique style of meat.
Although, the flavor isn’t that different from the other rabbits on this list. Some people report that it has a different texture. It is not the most popular rabbit for meat out there, but it certainly is eaten in a few places.
Meat Rabbit Breeds Summary
As you can see; there are quite a few different breeds of bunnies for meat. For the most part, there isn’t really a ‘taste’ difference between the various breeds. There may be a subtle hint of a flavor difference, but probably not enough for the majority of people.
If you are planning to raise rabbits for meat purposes, then we do suggest opting for one of the ones discussed on this list. It doesn’t really matter which one you opt for. Also, you can consider the Altex rabbit, it is not on our list but it is a brilliant rabbit to raise for meat.
What matters is that you find one that has a breeder in your local area. You want easy access to the rabbits, and not all of the meat rabbit breeds discussed here are available all over the world.