Well, we are in the process of setting up a rabbit supply for our family in the back garden.
We decided to go for the Flemish Giant. The young from this breed will be ready to butcher at 3 months, yielding a very tender meat
One male (buck) can service up to twenty to thirty does, but in order to keep the gene pool healthy, you should have one buck for each 5 does. Make sure you keep records of which does are bred by which bucks, and keep rotating the animals to keep the gene pool as large as possible., however if one chooses to breed the giant rabbits then only one buck and three does are required.
3 to 4 litters of 5 to 10 young can be thrown by a healthy, mature female (doe) each year.
Bunnies have to be bought from a breeder when young and once they reached the right age breeding can commence. Best not to tell the breeder what they for, as all rabbits can be used for consumption.
The pen should be 3 feet by 3 feet for this large breed, but somewhat smaller for the smaller breeds. The floor should be made of a sturdy wire mesh with about 3/4 inch square holes to accommodate droppings and urine. Do give the rabbit someplace else to stand, however. Standing on wire full time can hurt a rabbit's feet. A full tray or box the full size of the floor of the pen with all four sides about 2 1/2 inches high should be slid under the pen to catch the animal waste. This tray should be emptied once per week and rinsed with a disinfectant. Be careful when using bleach, as it will react with the urine and give off a harmful gas!
A solid compartment about 1 1/2 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide should be included in the pen to give the doe privacy while she is having her young. this will keep mortality of the young down to a great extent. Be sure there is plenty of dried hay in the pen when she is "due".
Female rabbits will conceive at any time they have an "encounter" with a buck. There is no set estrous period. The young should be separated from the mother at about 6 weeks. The doe is ready for breeding immediately after separation from her young. The rabbit pregnancy period is 28-30 days, with the doe able to mate within hours of giving birth.
The pen should be furnished with clean water each day. The water should be contained in such a way that the animal will not contaminate it with its body waste. If in an open container, it should be elevated so that the top is at least 4 inches above the floor. Conventional water bottles work very well also. Clean each pen at least once per week, throwing out all bedding material, and replace it with new, clean bedding.
Feed a good quality hay. Be sure it has a sweet smell, and has not been water-damaged and become moldy. Hay should be contained in a lattice manger, or rick to keep it from being contaminated by the animal's waste. Do not feed lettuces. Any fresh green food such as lettuce from the store or grass from the yard can give your animals diarrhea! You can feed of course pellets, too but make sure they do not contain any medication in them. Pellets should be fed to rabbits in the following portions; Dwarfs 1/2 cup per day, Mini-Lops 3/4 cup per day, Larger rabbits 1 cup per day, Flemish Giant 1 1/2 cups per day or according to manufacturer.
Mature bucks should not be kept in the same pen, as one or both will be castrated by the other. Rabbits are sensitive to too much heat, and the pen should be shaded and well ventilated in the summer. In the winter, the pen should be protected from wind, and most of its screen areas should be covered. Be sure to keep plenty of hay or straw in the pen for bedding.
Rabbits reach maturity somewhere between 6 and 10 months of age depending on the breed. Smaller breeds mature quicker than larger.
The following breeds will weigh approximately this much when fully mature; Netherland Dwarf 2 1/2 lbs., Jersey Wooley 3 1/2 lbs., Holland Lop 4 lbs., Mini-Rex 4 1/2 lbs., Dutch 5 1/2 lbs., Havana 5 1/2 lbs., Florida White 6 lbs., Mini Lop 6 1/2 lbs., Rex 9 lbs., Palomino, 10 lbs., Satin 11 lbs., New Zealand 11 lbs., French Lop 12 lbs., Flemish Giant 13+ lbs.
We looked up best and quickest possible way how to slaughter, skin and to gut a rabbit on youtube.com. It is better to watch and do then to write it down and slaughter as it requires quickness, so the rabbit will not suffer. If you cannot slaughter it yourself, go to your local butcher and ask if he will do it for you for a small charge.
Never use rabbit livers for food if they have white spots in them. Use only if they are of a clear, dark color. Be sure to remove the bile sack from the liver.
Do not slaughter or butcher if you have an open wound or cut, to avoid infections. Needless to say wash your hands before and after slaughtering or butchering to avoid infections.
To handle a rabbit, grasp a handful of the loose skin over the upper part of its shoulder blades. Rabbits have very sharp toenails on their hind feet, and they can inflict painful scratches on you if you're not careful.
Occasionally, rabbits, like any other lagomorph, will develop longer teeth than they need. Longer teeth are caused by lack of enough coarse food to keep their teeth ground down, or from a condition known as malocclusion. Lagomorphs are continually growing their teeth out longer, like we do our fingernails. This can be a problem if they are not properly trimmed. Use a pair of large toenail snippers or a small set of wire cutters to trim extra long teeth and relieve the animal of further distress and make it possible for them to eat properly. This will not hurt the animal like it would you or I, because they are built different in this respect. Their teeth will continue to grow on out again.
Well, we hope you will enjoy it as much as we will