There are many places to buy rabbits, but if you want to be certain that you are getting a good line of rabbits with meat quality traits (high milk production, can be bred frequently, large litter size, good mother, fur is easy to care for, not prone to sore hocks ), you’ll need to find yourself a serious hobby or professional meat breeder. Those who breed for show or pets will be looking for different physical traits in their rabbits.
Good places to start looking:
- Rabbit Breeders Directory — A website I put together with over 1000 rabbit breeders across the US where breeders can update their own profiles on a regular basis
- Classified ads in your local newspaper and free classifieds
- Search Craigslist in your area
- Call your local feed store and ask if they know someone in the area
- The American Rabbit Breeder Association’s website (www.arba.net/Breeders.php). You can narrow your search to specific states and rabbit breeds.
A visit to the rabbit breeder’s facilities should tell you about their standards and if you want a bunny from them. A clean rabbitry is a healthy rabbitry. If the place seems dirty or smells, leave. No excuses are acceptable.
Steer clear of pet stores, flea markets and backyard breeders. Rescue organizations and animal shelters are a good source for a pet bunny, but not a place to start your breeding line.
When you do find a breeder you feel comfortable with and select your bunnies, make sure the breeder demonstrates how to sex rabbits (determine male from female.) Explaining it is harder than seeing it and the information will be vital when you’re trying to figure out which rabbits to breed, butcher or sell. Once the rabbits become more mature, some physical traits will give away their sex: medium and large breed does (females) have nipples and a dewlap (a large skin fold under their chin); bucks (males) have blockier heads, are usually a bit smaller than does and tent to have visible testicles after 3 months of age.