It is best to start with quality stock.  That doesn't necessarily mean pedigreed stock, but if you are looking at showing then it should.  If only for meat production then not necessary.  Show stock usually has different goals than meat breeders, although you can sometimes find breeders with similar goals.  So asking the right questions will get you there. 
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.
  1.  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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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". 
  5. 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.
 
 
First place to start is with assess your goals. 
How much money and time do you have to put into your rabbits.  5 rabbits with litters take a lot less time than 10 rabbits with litters.  Plus they go through twice as much feed.  Rabbits don't take up too much time but more than my chickens.  You have to feed them, make sure they have water 24/7, once bred they need the nest box put in and changed weekly after kindling.  Also the detail of detailing with crap, I mean literally how are you handling the poop.  It adds up quicker than you think. 

How many rabbit fryers are you wanting and on what schedule?  Are you
raising for my own person consumption or friend and family that might purchase some now and again.  Are you wanting to sell breeders to other people?  Are you planning on raw feeding for your dogs or cats?  Do I want fur/pelts as well, or just meat? 

This will get you thinking and help narrow down the number of rabbits for your need and what breed you might want to start


What to Start with:
I recommend people start with 2 breeding pair and get rabbits that are between 8-12 weeks old, not adult proven breeders.  I know that it is harder to have patience waiting for your stock to get of breeding age but there are a number of reasons why I recommend the above age.  It gives you time to get to know your stock and handle them with confidence.  When getting adult stock you are usually (but not always) are getting someones cull.  That can mean they don't produce as well or have the desired qualities for that person but it also can mean that they are sick or have breeding issues.

Why 2 pair and not just a trio.
  Trios are fine but 2 pair gives you a backup plan and more diversity in your breeding program.  If anything happens to your one buck, whether it be illness, a predator kills him, his goods don't work or sometimes a doe just doesn't like a certain buck.  A second buck gives you a backup plan. 

Here is some rabbit math to give you an idea of production. 

Rabbit math:   1 doe - breeder her, about 1 month later kindling (8 kits on average), then about 2 or so months til butchering (depending on your growth rate and size preference).  Fryers are typically 5 lbs and under 3 months and Roasters are over 12 weeks and closer to 8 lbs. 
You can rebreed a rabbit right after they kindle but more typically, and depending on your weaning schedule, 2-6 weeks is more common.  But for home production rebreeding at 4-5 weeks post kindle would yield a rotation of every 2 months for processing.  If you put in a rotation of a second doe then you get a litter to process about every month. 

I really like to have the option to foster, so I always try to breed 2 does at the same time, but that means twice as many fryers when it come butchering time, or you can stagger it out in 2 weeks, taking the biggest half first and a week later processing the remaining half.  Just food for thought.