Man has been raising rabbits for meat production for hundreds of years. All rabbit meat is edible. It is rich in protein and very easily digested. The meat obtained from the domestic rabbit is different from that of the wild rabbit. Domestic rabbit meat is more tender and carries more fat than that of the wild rabbit, which is inclined to be coarser and have very little fat.
There is no single breed of rabbit that is bred for its meat alone, because meat-producing rabbits are usually large and therefore provide very attractive pelts that can be utilized in some way. The rabbits used for their meat are not restricted to the fur breeds alone. Indeed, some of the fancy breeds make very good carcasses with very little dressing-out waste. Among the fur breeds, we can include the New Zealand, the ever-popular Californian and the chinchilla. The fancy breeds include the harlequin, the English and the Flemish, English and American giants. Neither listing is exclusive.
Correct management is extremely important in commercial rabbit raising. Because the profit margin is so thin, the accent must be on as little waste as possible in both time and money.
Among the breeds most frequently raised, growth rate is the prime factor in their selection. Time is precious to the rabbit raiser; therefore, the maximum use of the does should always be a prime consideration. The hutches or pens should be designed so that cleaning is not as laborious or as time-consuming as it would be for other rabbit breeders. The hutches normally used for commercial rabbit production are the wire pen type. These pens require very little maintenance, and bedding is not necessary. The fecal pellets from the rabbits fall through the wire floors and onto the floor underneath the pens, where they can be disposed of (or put to good use) without the usual rigors of cleaning.