Commercial:Meat

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Commercial Rabbit Production

Overview

Food Value of Rabbit Meat
Raising rabbits is not a "get rich quick" business.
The rabbit business can be profitable on a small scale or as a full-time operation, provided particular attention is paid to the selection of a good breeding herd and good management is practiced on a daily basis.
Interested individuals should realize that daily care is required and a capital investment is necessary for the proper facility. An important point, which many producers may take for granted, is to establish a suitable market prior to starting in different areas of the country.
Another consideration is particular zoning laws which may differ in each community. There is ample information available for those interested in rabbit production.


Rabbits are an ideal small stock project for urban or small farms. Rabbits are quiet, clean and relatively odorless. Raising rabbits can be anything from an interesting and profitable hobby to a full-time living. Today, many people are investigating the possibilities of rabbit production, and those who have studied the subject find its present stage of development worthy of their consideration and investment.
A great number of rabbits are raised each year for pleasure, show, meat, fur, and research purposes. Domestic rabbit meat is a specialty item and is finding acceptance by consumers wherever methods of merchandizing are available. Commercial rabbit production can be designed as a part time endeavor to provide extra income, or expanded into a full-time occupation. Rabbit meat can be prepared and served in many ways. The all white meat of the domestic rabbit can be found in supermarkets packaged as 2 to 2.5 pound fryers or broilers, and the price of rabbit meat is competitive with beef. On a comparable basis, rabbit meat has less cholesterol, fewer calories, and a lower percentage of fat than beef, pork, chicken or lamb, and has a greater protein content.
The two most popular breeds for meat production are the New Zealand and the Californian. These breeds are most popular because they combine white fur (preferred by processors) and good growth characteristics. New Zealand rabbits are slightly larger than the Californian, 4.1-5.9 versus 3.6-4.5 kg. The New Zealand rabbit has a completely white, red or black body, whereas the Californian is white with colored nose, ears and feet.
Management entails breeding, housing, equipment, feeding, health maintenance,record keeping and marketing. Failure in any one phase will negatively impact other areas. Feed is the single largest operating expense. Feed costs account for 75% of total production costs. Rabbit feed should contain 12 to 18% protein.
Rabbits will reach market age at about 8 weeks of age or less. Rabbits may be sold live or dressed. In most cases producers must develop their own markets. Meat rabbits must have good loins, shoulders, hips and pelts. Rabbits raised for meat are generally marketed as broilers, weighing 2.0 to 2.3 kg liveweight. The fur market requires that rabbits have meaty carcasses and clean, top quality pelts. To obtain a satisfactory price, a large number of pelts are usually required. The price of pelts depends on quality. For research work, rigid guidelines may be specified such as a specific age, sex, size or breed. The market for rabbits raised for research is generally handled on a contract basis.

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