Now that isn't to say that records are not necessary. Good breeders should have records for weight, breeding history, and growth rate. You should feel free to ask a breeder questions to help figure out if their stock is right for your needs and goals. Here we will keep it to meat breeding focus so these are the questions I like to ask and the answers I am hoping for.
- Adult weight- my breeders should be between 9-12 lbs. I like to see 10 lbs and up but if a buck has good qualities I will allow 9 lbs as a minimum. (fyi bucks usually weight less than does)
- Growth rate- Typical weight to butcher is 4.5-5 lbs (live weight). Some breeders reach this as early as 8 weeks, which is my goal. But with non-commercial lines (ie heritage breeds) they tend to grow just a touch slower, 9 weeks is more common. 9-10 weeks it what I like to see, but I wouldn't recommend buying anything that doesn't reach 5lb by 12 weeks. My heritage currently reach 4.5-5 lbs around 9 weeks.
- Litter size- I like to have between 8-10 kits on average per litter. On occasion a doe or buck will cause a litter to be smaller, but that should be a rarity. I also like does that can handle around 5-6 litters per year. I breed year round as my weather is fairly even (50-70) with occasional extremes. Some breeders due to extreme hot or cold weather will limit their breeding schedule, and of course that would be an exception.
- Number of kits to weaning- This tells not only the overall healthy of the rabbits but how good of mothering skills a doe has, and how good her milk production is. Although, it is not uncommon to loose a kit or 2 now and again, especially in large litters over 10. It is usually the runts and they are usually gone by day 3, with what is called "failure to thrive".
- Cleanliness- It is important to rabbit health to have good hygiene and a clean environment. Some breeders have a closed rabbitry, but even in pictures you can get an idea of how they care for and clean their rabbitry. Now do realize that if you are not used to rabbits, they pee and poop a lot. But you don't want to see rabbits having contact with either nor do you want to have your eye burning from ammonia fumes. But to have the smell of rabbit pee/poop around is pretty much a given. Kind of like a horse barn.
If a breeder won't answer your questions or provide pictures of their stock, then I would be suspicious. It is sad to say but there are many people who either don't know any better or are straight out scammers. You don't want to buy someone elses bunk stock. Invest wisely and from reputable breeders.
My personal goals are for my herd: overall health, growth rate/size, quality mothering skills with consistent larger litter size (no less than 7 kits) and good demeanor. We strive to increase our size of rabbits while maintaining these other qualities. I enjoy the mellow temperament of the Silver fox and the curious and friendly nature of our American Chinchilla. I am happy to be raising heritage breeds and infusing these excellent qualities into my hybrid project. My favorite hybrid cross so far is Californian and American Chinchilla. But this project is still in the early stages so that might change.