Now that we own a farm (farmette, really), it’s amazing the animal-related opportunities that fall into our proverbial laps. This weekend, it was a pair of what we believe are New Zealand White breeding rabbits (1 buck, 1 doe).
You know that phrase “breed like rabbits” – the origin becomes pretty clear when you dive into bunny reproduction. These critters have a gestational period of 28 to 31 days. That’s right, while we humans carry our unborn around for nine plus months, rabbits pop them out in one. And they pop out 6 babes a pregnancy, on average. They wean at about 3 weeks, but you can get your doe pregnant at about 2 weeks post partum, meaning you can have a new batch of bunnies every 45 days or so.
From what I’ve read, rabbits are ready for slaughter at 8 to 12 weeks, which is not as fast as conventional cornish cross chickens but on par with dual purpose chicken breeds.
And now for a confession. While I do find rabbit meat delicious, I was worried I wouldn’t have the chutzpa to raise meat rabbits. I have to admit that the creepy red eyes of these albinos alleviates a lot of the cute factor. If anything, I look at them and imagine some chemical engineer testing out eyeliner vs. children frolicking in the yard with their favorite pet named Fluffy. Who would have thought my inherently suburban sense of aesthetics would come in handy on the farm?