When it comes to livestock, most people immediately think of cows, or perhaps chickens, but one species that’s making a huge comeback lately is the rabbit.
We usually think of rabbits as cuddly pets or sometimes as fur-bearing animals, but they actually have a pretty distinguished history of providing meat.
Many domestic breeds grow big, and they grow quickly, and combined with their positively explosive reproductive rate, it’s an easy thing to wind up with more rabbit meat than you know what to do with!
Plus, rabbits take up very little room and need relatively little care and food compared to larger species. This can make them a great choice compared to other, typical livestock.
If this sounds like the right choice for your homestead, keep reading and I’ll tell you about 18 of the best rabbit breeds for meat below.
The Cinnamon rabbit breed is actually a hybrid, a crossbreed between the New Zealand and American Chinchilla found elsewhere on this list.
Initially, it was developed as a fur-bearing breed and as a pet thanks to their wonderful coat quality and friendly disposition.
But breeders soon found out they would regularly grow to 11 pounds or a little bit more, and are well muscled making them able providers of meat.
Two things that definitely recommend the breed for meat purposes, but they can be very difficult to find in some regions.
The Californian, also known as the California rabbit, is one of the best-known and numerous rabbit breeds in the world, specifically for producing meat.
But you might not think that just from looking at them, because the Californian has a wonderful, plush coat and clear colors let’s see it placed firmly in the fancy breed category, and just as commonly raised for its fur.
But, topping out around 12 pounds, although weight is highly variable, these rabbits are stocky producing meat with a firm texture that is perfect for soups and stews.
The Palomino is a meat breed that has been a mainstay in various parts of the world for the better part of the 20th century, and it is kept privately and used as commercial stock specifically for meat production.
Topping out at around 11 pounds, they reliably produce lots of good quality meat per carcass, and these rabbits are easy to handle and reliable breeders, although one drawback is that they typically grow a little bit slower than other rabbits in the size category.
But for most of us, that won’t be a huge issue, and that makes the Palomino one of the most reliable choices for meat around.
Heavy, bulky and broad describes the Satin rabbit. Despite their large build, these rabbits are notably calm and docile even among other domestic breeds, and also quite resistant to cold thanks to their thick and heavily insulating coats.
You’ll get plenty of meat from each and every satin rabbit, as the breed usually tops out around 12 pounds or a little bit more.
Though the meat is not of exceptional quality, it’s certainly good enough for most consumers and most preparations.
5. American Chinchilla
The adorable American Chinchilla is an extremely popular rabbit breed that’s used for lots of different purposes, although it’s nominally a dual-use breed raised for fur and meat alike.
It has also contributed its genetics to many hybrids and crossbreeds like the Cinnamon rabbit up above.
Unfortunately, the popularity and it sure demand for the American Chinchilla currently has it listed as vulnerable on the status lists of conservancy groups.
Although they look soft-bodied thanks to their wiry fur, these rabbits can grow surprisingly heavy even though they aren’t the tallest or broadest rabbits around, usually maxing out at around 12 pounds.
But it’s their notable high-quality meat that makes them so coveted as meat producers, said to be especially succulent and flavorful.
6. Checkered Giant
The Checkered Giant is another truly huge domestic rabbit, maxing out around 16 pounds and very rarely dropping below 12 lbs.
Despite their immense frames, for a rabbit, this is another highly active breed that needs lots of room to exercise.
This makes them somewhat challenging for most keepers who want to raise rabbits for meat, but if you don’t mind the idea of free-ranging your rabbits they can be a great choice.
They’re also highly attractive, having a distinctive coat of black and white patches that makes them look very much like a typical dairy cow!
7. Giant Chinchilla
The biggest of the chinchilla breeds, and another monster rabbit that tips the scales at around 16 pounds and occasionally a little heavier, this North American heavyweight is a dual-use breed raised for both meat and fur, although it has found ready acceptance among rabbit fanciers and pet owners for its mild, docile temperament.
8. Florida White
One of the smaller rabbits that are viable for meat on our list, the Florida White is nonetheless a true all-purpose specimen, is an able producer of fur and meat, and is also a really good pet.
Though they rarely grow any larger than 8 pounds, they’re often heavily muscled for their size meaning the net return of meat per rabbit is a higher percentage than most other breeds.
Calm, even-tempered and easy to handle, they’re also reliable breeders and all of these characteristics combined will give you many options for getting a return on your investment.
9. Champagne D’Argent
A French heritage breed that is well known the world over by connoisseurs of rabbit meat, the Champagne D’Argent is on the lighter end of the large breed spectrum, but it’s famous both for the quantity and the quality of its meat, and also its magnificent silver fur.
Unfortunately, their excellent reputation means that this breed usually commands a premium, so it can be way more expensive for you to get started with it.
10. Flemish Giant
The Flemish Giant lives up to its name, and is one of the most commonly encountered of the huge domestic rabbits.
Routinely topping 20 pounds, when it comes to sheer size and yield of meat, there are very few other domestic breeds that will rival the Flemish Giant.
If butchering isn’t your favorite activity, this might make them worthwhile, but keep in mind that these big and slow-growing rabbits need more food and take more time to yield that meat, meaning they might not be as efficient as smaller and quicker-growing breeds.
Another very old breed of rabbit that has its true origins lost to time, we do know that the breed has been in the United States since the beginning of the 20th century.
With robust musculature that yields supple meat, these rabbits are extremely docile and easy to care for, making them perfect for brand-new or skittish rabbit keepers.
However, the breed is also somewhat notorious for being very poorly adapted to cold and damp weather, so don’t let their name fool you. Keep them warm and sheltered, and they’ll do great.
12. Blanc de Hotot
Another rare French heritage breed, the striking Blanc de Hotot usually weighs around 11 pounds when fully grown and is notable for having stark white fur with black “domino” markings over the eyes.
They are certainly beautiful, but there are also noteworthy for being excellent all-natural breeders that require a little assistance, and mothers are extremely attentive.
This means that most young they give birth to will survive easily with only a little bit of extra care from you, making them perfect for self-sustaining rabbit ranchers.
However, the rarity of this breed contributes to its high cost…
An older breed that has been around since the middle of the 19th century and is very popular throughout the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, the Dutch rabbit is known for needing lots of space and lots of exercise or else they get cabin fever and turn destructive.
This is one of the smallest breeds that are commonly kept for meat, rarely growing larger than six and a half pounds.
However, they have a high meat-to-bone ratio, are robust, easy to care for, and commonly available making them a dependable choice.
14. Belgian Hare
The lanky Belgian Hare is not, as its name suggests, an actual hare, it’s truly a domestic rabbit.
But it’s also a heritage breed that’s currently under threat around the world due to a lack of breeders.
Tall, slender and athletic, the 9 pounds Belgian Hare produces a large quantity of lean, sweet meat.
But like the Dutch rabbit we just discussed, this is another breed that’s notorious for its high activity level, meaning it needs lots of room unless you want it to develop a complex and turn destructive in the enclosure.
The American, also known as the German Blue Vienna, is an all-American breed first created in the very beginning of the 20th century.
Developed for meat and fur, it has since gained a cult following with rabbit fanciers who admire its lustrous blue-black and white coat. They grow quickly, and have a reputation for good health.
This means they can be a low-fuss, low-maintenance meat breed, although they don’t grow as large as many of the other big bunnies on our list, usually maxing out around 11 pounds.
16. New Zealand
The single most popular breed of rabbit in the world for meat production, and also one that coincidentally is an American creation, not a New Zealand one.
The New Zealand rabbit grows very large and gets that big very quickly, typically topping out at more than 10 pounds and routinely up to 12 pounds in as little as 2 months.
Regardless of its overall size, this is a breed that typically boasts the best meat to bone ratio of any common domestic rabbit.
One of the very best and also most reliable choices for your homestead if abundant meat is what you want.
17. Silver Fox
The Silver Fox lives up to its name thanks to its gorgeous charcoal gray-to-white speckled fur.
Almost commonly regarded as a fancy or show breed, these rabbits can grow quite large, maxing out at around 12 pounds with precious few weighing less than 10 pounds when fully grown.
Their meat is of good quality, and the rabbits are also mild-mannered and easy to handle making them wonderful pets also.
But like the Champagne D’Argent, the semi-exotic nature of this breed makes them more expensive and harder to find.
18. Standard Rex
Another French breed developed as a dual-use rabbit producing both fur and meat, the Standard Rex is notable for its impressive musculature and satiny, velvety coat.
Although they are on the smaller end of the scale for proper meat rabbits, they still grow to a hefty average of 10 pounds, sometimes a little bit more.
Today they’re still kept for meat and also fur production, and the breed has developed some notoriety as a friendly and playful pet.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.