NZ white rabbits for breeding meat/fur

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Kazel
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Joined: 29 Jun 2008
NZ white rabbits for breeding meat/fur

I'm looking for a couple of breeding does to start producing my own rabbit meat and fur.  I've done lots of research and have found the NZ White Rabbit to be the best breed for this - apparently it is the main breed used for the meat industry.  NZ Whites were originally bred in America.

I have been completely unable to find any rabbits locally.  I live in Opotiki, which is near Whakatane and can travel as far as Tauranga or Gisborne or Rotorua to collect.

Does anyone know where I can find NZ White rabbits in the Bay of Plenty?  I have scoured the internet, trademe, even called local butchers, searched for lab rabbits (they use the same breed) - all to no avail.

Surivalists must surely know who is breeding these for their own meat and fur?

Cheers

Kazel

Richard
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Joined: 4 Jul 2008
Rabbits

Hi Kazel,

We do Flemish Giants for meat and they are great. Would like to do fur but haven't got the time.

We are in Auckland, so unfortunately I can't help you but there are often NZ Whites and Flemish Giants on Trade Me.

cheers
Richard

Scott Willis
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Joined: 2 Jul 2008
Raising Rabbits or wild food

Rabbits are a tricky one in NZ I think - I love the idea and always wanted to raise them having lived in hamlets where rabbits were part of the peasant and neo-peasant (permaculture in our context) production system. They are nice and big and fat. But in NZ isn't it simpler, cheaper, more environmentally and ethically sound, and less labour intensive to buy a .22 and shoot a few of the leaner ones for when needed or for the freezer?

For household scale meat production I think chooks are great, and potentially pigeons, but not so sure about the economics of rabbits.

Richard
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Joined: 4 Jul 2008
Depends where you are

Depends where you are Scott.

My suburban neighbours might get a bit worried if I started stalking the streets with a .22! I might go a bit hungry as well as rabbits aren't exactly plentiful in the hills of Titirangi.

In saying that though we did our meat rabbits on our previous 60 acre property too. There was the odd wild rabbit down at the neighbours of which I bagged a couple but I started doing rabbits for more reason than just meat.

For me, whether its chooks,rabbits, pigeons or giant south american guinea pigs ( if only I could get my hands on a breeding pair of them!) its really about developing and stacking the production system with a range of diversity that compliments and supports the system.

Rabbits are very useful from a permaculture perspective as they are livestock that can easily be incorporated into zone 1. They can be utilised to mow small spaces between your veggie beds and around the fruit trees. What's better though is that they poo in the same spot. Place a handful of hay down each week in their chosen location and at the end of the week you have a fabulously enriched pad of mulch that can go directly around a fruit tree or into a worm farm.

Chooks serve their purposes and are useful in different ways but they don't perform the same functions as rabbits. I guess the other point to make is that if you are wanting home meat production in the burbs chickens are'nt really an option due to restrictions on roosters. A breeding pair of Rabbits on the other hand will not make a peep and will reduce your need for a lawn mower.

cheers
Richard

Melva
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Joined: 14 Oct 2009
rabbit breading.

Four years ago, while living in Kaikoura, hubby and I bred rabbits for meat. Didn't have time at that stage for fur. We cross bred NZ whites with Flemish Giants - big bunnies with good meat. Got ours thru the Rare Breeds website. The bigger sized breeds are not sexually mature until around 5 months.

We had 2 females and 1 male, all in separate arks; smaller versions of a chook ark, with lawn mower wheels at one end. We moved them, twice a day, round the garden. Take the female to the male and watch them for a while. You will know if they don't like each other! One of our original females tried to kick her way out of the ark. If they are compatible, they will race around each other and behave like loonies. They will also groom each other.

Treat your breeders as pets so they get used to you handling them. One special point, don't let anyone disturb a new mother - she will kill her young in defence.

Hope this helps.
Melva

Scott Willis
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Joined: 2 Jul 2008
Running Rabbits

Thanks Richard and Melva - you've enriched my perspective. My only experience in raising rabbits was via friends and acquaintences and was with rabbits that were raised in hutches and fed a high intensity diet (lucerne pellets and I can't remember what else). In your experience, can you raise rabbits for the household pot in a suburban setting without supplements (ie. by keeping them in hutches rotated around on grass/clover and perhaps fed something like compfrey as an easy garden produced supplement)?

Richard
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Joined: 4 Jul 2008
Rabbit systems

Hi Scott,

Our rabbits predominantly graze on grass but you certainly can supllement with comfrey and other prernial herbs.

Because wev'e only been in our place for less than a year , we do supplement a bit of feed with a commercially available rabbit "muesli" which is essentially a mix of grains and lucerne but we also throw them any edible weeds from the veggie beds and any carrots and apples our kids don't finish. ( Is it just us or do all kids take 3 bites of an apple, put it down somewhere and then go and get another a couple of hours later??.....good for the bunnies I guess)

But in saying that I am working on developing our system so we do need the supplement with bought food. I am experimenting with essentially turning my "lawn" into "pasture" using a herbal ley mix, which contains a lot of edible perenial herbs, so the bunnies can get a good mixed diet from their environment rather than the shop.

I am also playing around with a "rabbit proof fence", so we can get them out of the hutch and let them range over a larger area but still be contained. If this works without to much digging up the pasture, fighting or predation from neighbouring pets, I then want to see if I can incorporate some fruit trees like apple and pear into the mix, so the bunnies can snack on fallen fruit....but that one is a while down the track.

Its all about experimentation.

Cheers
Richard

Kazel
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Joined: 29 Jun 2008
Some great advice here

thanks for all the advice, I have been browsing Kings Seeds catalogue today and they sell chicory and giant mangel beets that you can grow to suppliment your rabbits' diet.

I came up a blank for NZ Whites in BOP, but have found two does in Ak that a friend will pick up from me. It's beginning to look like the best thing to do will be to get a flemmish giant buck to breed with them, but replacing my breeders will be tricky - and I'm now getting people contacting me who are also interested in NZ whites also, so it may be worth still getting a buck for breeding and selling them to other interested people.

I want the does to be pets - for my kids to be able to take them out for exercise daily. Our friends have agreed to have the buck as a pet for their kids. That way they can all get the maximum out of cage time.

I like the idea of wheels to help move the runs around. I'll be hunting our resource recovery centre for wheels now...

Heidi
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Feeding Rabbits

My rabbit raising was years ago - now I have guinea pigs and chickens (and bees). You can definitely raise rabbits in a suburban setting without supplements. One great supplement to our guinea pig diet is choko, as it is so prolific. I pull down the huge trailing stems and leaves and give them to the guineas. Try it on the rabbits. Apart from all the myriad things you can grow, the other easy food source is food scraps from cafes and greengrocers. Twice a week I bring home about 40 litres of food scraps from the local organic shop/cafe. I tip it out in whichever strawyard the chickens are in and pick out the yams and carrots and so on to give the guinea pigs. (Good idea to dedicate a pram or trolley to pull behind your bike to this as it's sometimes a bit drippy.)

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