Firstly conversion, apart from geese, rabbits are the best feed converters I know of. Most meat breeds will reach 'fryer' weight, approximately 5 - 6 pounds live weight at 8 - 10 weeks. Sometimes even less if you utelize hybrid vigor or have exceptional does. If you want to look at something larger, a roaster, then you will have to be slightly more selective in your breed choice. With regard to breed choice, there is no right answer. It will come down to determining which breed works for your particular setup and goals. With 43 recognised meat breeds you will have lots to choose from. We have always used New Zealand and Californians. We did try a few Flemmish Giant does a couple of years ago, Reiley's request, but they have such a large frame to grow we found that although the were meeting the weight milestones the dress out weight was less for comparably sized rabbits of the Californian New Zealand cross.
Second is production rate. We all know rabbits are easy to breed. Some of the small dwarf breeds are actually harder to breed, but if you are raising animals for meat you probably wont be dealing with these breeds. Conception is only half the equation however, you need to get that animal weaned. In commercial farming, when we talk about production levels such as a sow's production, we only count animals raised to weaning age. Rabbits will produce lots of babies, they are also verry effective at raising their young to weaning age at that is money in the bank, or food in the freezer. An average meat breed buck and two does are able to produce 200 - 300 pounds of meat per year, and this can be done in a very small footprint.
Rabbits require very little land base. This makes them suitable for all homesteads, even urban ones. They are what we have always called "easy keepers". The American Rabbit Breders Association recommends a minimum of 6 square feet for a 10 - 12 pound doe with kits. All Rabbit cages should have enough room for the rabbits to sit up comfortably, and if the cages are wire floors all rabbits need a board to sit on and rest their feet. A nest box for a doe is ideal, however given a few good handfuls of hay she will make her own nest and raise her kits just fine. I have seen some does who actually preferred to nest in hay and completely ignored the nest box. So I removed it and there was never an issue.
In our climate, your rabbits will need to be in a building during the winter. If you try to keep them in small hutches that are exposed to our winters you will find that they lose condition and you will need to feed much more just to maintain condition, and substantially more if you are expecting them to produce and raise kits during the winter. You should also make sure that there is good ventillation in the building for the summer months.
Once you have your housing in place, caring for the rabbits requires little time and effort. You will discover that they are remarkable little beasties. They are social, rarely mean, and all together pleasant to work with.
Their meat is very healthy, and makes a good addition to the homestead meal plan. Their manure is a boost to the farmstead also. Low in nitrogen it can be utelized straight from the trays to the garden.
As you can tell, I really think rabbits are a positive addition to your homestead. For those of you who like to tell me that you could never eat a cute little baby bunny, let me just say that you will not be eating a cute little baby bunny. The same way you don't eat a cutle little fluffy chick, or a cute little baby piglet. You will be eating a grown up rabbit. As with all the animals we raise for food, you make sure it has a comfortable life and a quick painless death. We raise animals ethically and with compassion. There is nothing wrong with that.