Farming rabbits for meat
It's very difficult to get any accurate, up-to-date figures on the number of rabbits farmed for meat in the UK. We believe that any rabbit farming industry in the UK is fairly small-scale. Greater numbers are reared in EU countries. The breeds of rabbit commonly farmed include the New Zealand White, Californian and Carolina.
Here's more about how they're farmed.
Rabbit farming production systems
Farmed rabbits are often housed in buildings containing rows of bare wire cages, which may be arranged in a single row or stacked in two or more tiers. Cages are often only around 45cm in height.
- Eight or more growing rabbits are often kept together in a cage of around 0.56 square metres in floor area - that's just over an A4-sized area of floor space for each rabbit in the cage.
- Young rabbits (called kits or pups) are weaned when they're four weeks old and slaughtered for meat at around 8 to 12 weeks, when they've reached around 2kg in weight.
- Breeding does (females) without young and breeding bucks (males) are usually kept on their own in separate cages.
- Each doe will have around five to eight litters of eight to ten young per year.
- Breeding rabbits are usually kept until they're around 18 to 36 months of age.
A small number of farms may rear rabbits in better conditions, with open floor pens and hay in addition to their diet of pellets.
If you share our concerns about the welfare of farmed rabbits, find out how you can help. You can also learn more about rabbit farming in Europe in the Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) report on farmed rabbit housing and husbandry.