I have two meat rabbits that I have raised since they were 8 weeks old. My intention is to breed them and use them as a household meat project. Rabbits are very easy to keep, and you can feed them without giving them corn and soy, which is a big problem with raising chickens for meat. Corn and soy are genetically modified, it costs a lot, and it tends to not be the natural feed for chickens. Rabbits can be raised on rabbit feed, oats and alfalfa pellets. They are much cheaper, and you can easily get it without corn or soy in it.
Additionally, the rabbits are raised by their mothers, so no brooding lights or anything. They finish as fryers in about the same time as chickens, and it seems to be a smoother project.
I bred my rabbits last month hoping that they would kindle in time for me to take both the rabbits and the chickens to the butcher at the same time (when I am 36 weeks pregnant). I was being incredibly optimistic thinking that they would kindle large litters just fine. I forgot that it is very common for rabbits to lose their first 1-2 litters before they get the hang of being successful mothers.
The meat rabbits are both Californians. I named them Thing 1 and Thing 2 because they do cause as much trouble as is found in the Cat and the Hat. Califonians are not generally known for their good temperaments.
Thing 2 had her first litter last night, and big surprise, none of them made it. I had noticed that she had been off feed for 2 days. That is common when they are about to kindle, but 2 days is a bit long. I went out with a syringe last night to feed her some pineapple juice to make sure that any GI stuff got handled and she actually kindled the first baby right there. I'm not sure that either of us noticed (it was pretty dark at that point). The first 5 kits she had were extremely premature and underdeveloped. The rest of them would have had a pretty good chance if she had bothered to put them in the nesting box, but even though they were inside, it was too cold to not be protected. I put her out with the buck this morning, so we will see what her second litter looks like in about 30 days. I'm thinking positive.
Thing 1 should have her litter any second now. I'm hoping the kindling gods are looking favorably on me after this last week.
First time rabbit moms can be a pain, but they should be worth it in the next breeding.