The following are the different available breeds of rabbits;
1. California breed
This is the second most popular breed for meat production. The colour is all white but with black tipping on the nose, ears, feet and tail. The weight range for the mature Californian is 3-4.5 kg.
2. New Zealand white
This breed is the one used most widely throughout the world for meat production. It is all white in colour and usually weighs 3-5 kg when mature.
3. American chinchilla
This breed is blue-grey in colour with a white belly. It has a characteristic ruff or dewlap.
This is a thick fold of skin around the front of the chest which is very obvious when the rabbit is in good condition and sitting in a resting position. The weight range for the mature Chinchilla is 3-4.5 kg.
The Dutch are a small breed with a mature live weight of 2.5-3.5 kg. It has a wide white band of fur around its body at the shoulders as well as a white stripe down the middle of its face. Its front feet fall within the white and the tips of its back feet are also white.
5. Flemish giant
This is a giant breed which at maturity can weigh well over 6 kg. It is usually light grey in colour but may also be sandy blue or white. This is not a suitable breed for the beginner.
6. New Zealand red
This breed is essentially a red New Zealand white type which has not been as intensively selected for growth rate. Mature live weight is lower than the white type, at 3-4.5 kg.
Read Also: Principles of Reproduction in Rabbits
Other Breeds of Rabbits
There are over 40 recognized breeds of domesticated rabbits in the world. Other common breeds include Champagne d’ argent, English spot, Simon ire, Lop etc.
Comparison between some popular breeds of medium and heavy-weight rabbits
Table: Comparison between some popular breeds of medium and heavy-weight rabbits
|Breeds||Weight at maturity (kg)||Litters/doe/year||Body colour|
|California||3.5-5.0||48||The colour is all white but with black tipping on the nose, ears, feet and tail.|
|New Zealand White||4.1-5.4||50||It is all white in colour|
|American- chinchilla||4.1-5.5||38||This breed is blue-grey in colour with a white belly. It has a characteristic ruff or dewlap.|
|Dutch||2.5-3.5||45-48||It has a wide white band of fur around its body at the shoulders, face, front feet and tips of its back.|
|Flemish giant||5.9-7.3||36||It is usually light grey in colour but may also be sandy blue or white.|
In conclusion, rabbits grow quickly and are a cheap source of protein, they have many advantages, and several breeds of them are available and can be reared for consumption or commercial undertaking.
Rabbits are used for meat, vocational projects, as laboratory animals, as a teaching tool, animal research model and for pets.
Advantages of keeping rabbits include relatively small body size, meat is of high-quality animal protein, efficient feed converters to high-quality protein, can be used to minimize the protein intake in-balance in certain parts of the world, excellent product acceptance, useful by-product, suitable animal for learning basic skills for animal husbandry etc.
The few disadvantages are vulnerability to prey, and Rabbit production is not easy it takes a great deal of skill, a lot of hard work and a lot of food.
Constraints of rabbit production include the needed demand for daily care and attention, lack of awareness of the skills needed in rabbit production, Unavailability of improved parent stock etc.
Guidelines on promoting rabbit production are the formation of rabbit clubs or groups and organizing competitions.
Common international breeds of rabbits include California breed, New Zealand white and red, American chin chilla, Dutch breed, Flemish giant, Champagne d’ argent, English spot, Simon ire, and lop.
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