The Silver Fox Rabbit is a breed that was developed by a man named Walter B, Garland of North Canton, Ohio. The history of this breed stretches back to 1925 when it was recognized as a true breed by the American Rabbit Breed Association. The Silver Fox is a dual-purpose breed, raised for it’s meat and fur, although many people raise them now for show only, they are still an exceptional meat breed.
The Silver Fox is a large breed with Senior Bucks weighing at around 9-11 pounds and Senior Does weighing at at 10-12 pounds. As with most rabbit breeds, the females tend to be slightly larger than the males. They are fine boned but heavily muscled. This is actually a trait of many rabbit meat breeds. They are bred to put all their energy in muscle, rather than bone growth. This provides more efficient meat production and so this breed is an efficient choice for meat rabbit. They are said to have a high dress out ratio sometimes up to 65% of the whole undressed carcass is meat/bone although a dress out ratio of 50-50% is most common. Rabbits butchered around ten weeks have been know to produce a 2.5 to 3 lb dressed carcass.
The does of this breed produce larger litters and are good mothers. Litters of 4 to 12 have been seen but litters of 4 to 8 are most common. The does are also known for their fostering abilities, they will generally take other does unwanted kits quite readily.
Their coat is a black color at birth. The coat then begins to “silver” at around 4 weeks of age and the adult coat is completely silvered by 5 months of age. There is also a blue coated version of the Silver Fox but these are not as common as the black Silver Foxes. The blue coat is not even recognized by the American Rabbit Breed Association. The coat itself is very attractive and at least in the past, the pelt was very desirable but the modern rabbit fur industry seems to prefer only white pelts these days.
The breed has become displaced by New Zealand Rabbits and Californian Rabbits as the preferred meat breed in the states. Those two breeds are thought to be faster growers and more efficient meat producers than the Silver Fox. It is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the American Livestock breeds Conservancy with an estimated total population less than 500 in North America.
The Silver Fox is an excellent breed to both meat, fur and aesthetics. Personally, I would rather have a slightly less efficient but more attractive meat producing rabbit as opposed to the plain white New Zealands. What you lose in food efficiency, I believe you gain in the enjoyability of the breed, of course this is only my opinion and that can be said of any breed.