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Monthly Archives: May 2012

PELLETS AND NUTRITION FOR MEAT RABBITS

Rabbits are inexpensive and easy to feed, if you are only raising 3 does and 1 buck for a backyard food source, pellets are fine and will raise you lots of good tasting healthy meat.

Most brands of commercial pellets are locally available and you could feed your rabbits just a good quality pellet for life and your rabbits would have happy healthy life. But knowing what a good pellet is can be more troublesome.

Every rabbit breeder has a different opinion! On how much protein, or fiber, or whether corn can be used as an ingredient, or not, or will a GMO infested soy product affect your rabbits. But remember there are benefits to feeding your rabbits pellets!

The consistent ingredients and known nutrient balance and the inclusion of salt, so no salt/mineral lick is needed. Most rabbit pellets also contain Copper Sulphate which will help fight off intestinal parasites that can make your rabbit sick. So make sure to check your feed labels and be informed!

It is hard to beat a quality pellet for rabbits for the best performance (high production) in your herd. Pellets are designed to grow a healthy rabbit in the most economical way. Even using lower priced pellets may not save in the long run as they are most likely made up with lower quality ingredients. I do feed pellets (alfalfa based only no corn ever) as the main diet in the winter.

I  supplement with whole oats, grass hay, any dried greens I have stored, an occasional fruit treat, apple tree and grape vine trimmings. Remember rabbits are herbivores that eat mostly  dried and fresh grasses, safe weeds, veggies, and herbs supplemented with grains, barks, twigs, and roots.

I do however, in the growing season use pellets as a supplement, with a great deal of their diet devoted to harvested greens, weeds and grown crops just for the rabbits- The rabbits would much rather eat the natural feeds which the rabbits prefer! (imagine that rabbits wanting to eat like rabbits) I like providing the pellets to be sure they have the vitamins they need! Harvesting the natural feeds twice a day DOES require time AND KNOWLEDGE.So learn and know what it is you are feeding your rabbits!

This method works for me and helps out with the feed budget. I grow rabbits for meat and the only compromise I have seen for feeding naturally this way is slower growing rabbits. So, if meat rabbits are your objective, and you want fast and high production stick with pellets and good MUST HAVE grass hay. If you are homesteading and want to raise your own, take the extra time do your research! I have a post I am still tweaking on natural feeds for rabbits, such as greens, weeds etc. I just wanted to get some information on pellets out first.

Here are a few tips on selecting a good rabbit pellets-

Never buy rabbit pellets at a pet store. They are only available in small bags and for the same price you can get a 50lb bag at a feed store. The feed at the feed store is usally a better quality pellet and contains none of the candy pieces in the mix.

Avoid corn as an ingredient. A few pellet brands have corn as an ingredient and none of them have very much. The corn itself poses no problem to rabbits, but there is a type of mold that is not uncommonly found in corn that is toxic to rabbits. Most places do test their corn before milling. Corn is also a GMO grown and round up sprayed food crop. Do you really want your rabbits eating this.

Look at the pellets they should be uniform in size and consistency. The color should be green and smell fresh there have been stories of people raising rabbits and getting a bag that didn’t quite look right, because the manufacturer mistakenly filled bags of rabbit pellets with a unknown livestock feed. If you have been using the same feed for a while and something is different you are probably right call the manufacturer or feed dealer before you use it.

Remember no major feed company is going to make any bad feed intentionally

Check the mill date on the bag. Rabbits like fresh clean pellets! Avoid feed with dates older than a 2 months.

Always use the same brand and type of pellets. Do not go changing brands of feed because one is on sale that month. If you do change you must mix the old feed with the new feed to get the rabbits digestive tract used to the new feed. Make sure you have enough of the old feed to slowly change over to the new feed. do this gradually, over a period of at least one week preferably two if possible. Some rabbits do not do well to the sudden change in feed and could cause digestive problems. When you buy a rabbit from a breeder, or if you sell a rabbit to someone, should include a small amount of the current food until they can get the same brand or so you or the new rabbit raisers can make the change.

The rest is simple the protein/fiber percentages that no rabbit breeder can agree on what is the best. But if you’re breeding rabbits, a 16% protein pellet will do just fine. Rabbit food must contain 16% protein at least to build the tissue in growing kits. But a 18% for nursing does helps with milk production and the pregnant doe also needs extra protein to produce her quick growing litter(inside her). Alfalfa is an equally good source of protein if fed right. Always look for the highest amount of fiber content you can find in a pellet.

The amount that rabbits are fed depends on your rabbits and the conditions you keep them in. They need more food in cold weather and less in hot. It’s also good to get in the habit of checking your rabbits body condition by feeling how lean or how fat they are. You need to get a feel for what a healthy rabbit looks and feels like. With full grown Bucks or does you are not currently breeding, you want to limit how much you feed them. You do not want fat rabbits it will reduce the does fertility and make lazy bucks. Adult rabbits will eat about four ounces a day, and does with young need about eight ounces.

For a meat breed, about 1/2 to 1 cup a day (depending on each individual rabbit). For pregnant or nursing does, and any growing kits you should feed them as free feed another contriversial subject. This is where breeders agree or disagree because more protein usually means that rabbits grow larger, faster and do not have to be free fed.

But you don’t have to feed your rabbits JUST pellets. Many additions and treats can benefit your rabbits health.

Grass hay: In addition to being used by a doe to make her nest when she gives birth, grass hay is great to feed your rabbits daily. It’s high in fiber which aides in digestion. But you want to avoid feeding your rabbits straight alfalfa hay. Alfalfa is not a grass, it’s a legume and often fed to horses, goats, cows and other ruminants to add protein to their diet. Plant protein is good for rabbits, but alfalfa also contains a comparatively high amount of calcium. High calcium levels can cause urine of a “sludge” constancy and eventually kidney stones. Timothy grass is great, but brome and orchard and any other horse quality hay is good. A grass/alfalfa blend is also fine. Oat grass is also fantastic and can be found at feed supply stores that cater to horse owners.

Oats and/or barley: These are great for growing kits as they’re easily digested for the newly weaned. Some people will keep a separate dish of oats in a cage with young (2+ weeks old) kits. It’s best to use uncut, unrolled oats or barley.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (or BOSS). These are common in the bird feed section and really do a wonder on rabbit coats. If you want to show your rabbits, giving them a tsp. of BOSS a day is a great idea.

Alfalfa or hay cubes: these are compressed cubes of alfalfa or hay that also have molasses and are squished into hard cubes. Great for chewing and wearing down rabbit teeth (remember that rabbits teeth grow constantly). Small bags can be found in rabbit sections of feed stores but if you want a better value, look for larger bags in the horse section.

Calf Manna: This is in a class on its own. Calf manna is a brand of supplement designed to promote milk production in many different species of animals. A couple tsp. of Calf Manna a day for pregnant or nursing does can be a great way to make sure she’s making enough milk for her kits (meat breeds generally have very large litters) and make sure she maintains good body condition throughout pregnancy and nursing so you can breed her back sooner.

Dried or fresh fruit (apples, bananas, pineapples, mango, papaya, oranges). This is good as a treat, but shouldn’t be fed in any large quantity. Feeding pineapple can help treat a condition known as “fur block” which happens when a rabbit ends up consuming too much of its own fur and causes a block in their digestive system. Papaya is also used to reduce the odor of rabbit urine, if you find that’s a problem with your rabbit.

Fresh vegetables and herbs: The list is to long for this post- Check out THE SAFE PLANT LIST on the web page, Here are a few, Radish greens, sunflower leaves, beets greens, and roots, carrot tops , dill, mint, comfrey etc! I have been writing up a post on naturally feeding rabbits! Check back soon.

Weeds, lawn trimmings and bush trimmings- The useful wild plants for rabbits include young trees, leaves and shoots (make sure they are on the safe list!). Some of the useful wild plants are- Comfrey, chickweed, cow parsley, docks, cattails, dandelion, Plantain, Shepherds Purse, sow thistle, watercress, (check the safe list on the web page and get a good book to identify your weeds in your area) Rabbits love dandelions so much that you might find yourself growing them in your yard (on purpose). They like fresh grass cuttings too. A lot of people will create a little pen of wire fencing or use a dog crate in their yards to let rabbits roam around and forage (while their owner cleans cages) this is great but make sure that there are no poisonous weeds available to them! Another option is the rabbit tractor more on this setup in later posts.

Carbohydrates: Provide energy- rabbits will balance their own ration when they can. They will eat more food if it is low in energy and less if it is high, if they are given the choice, but a high energy diet could produce a deficiency of other nutrients. To many carbs will slow do the digestive tract so be careful

Fiber: Wild rabbits eat more fiber than tame rabbits. Young rabbits require less fiber than the adult. Adult rabbit food must contain at least 25% fiber. Find the pellet with the highest fiber possible!

Minerals: Rabbit food contains all the minerals except cobalt.

Vitamins: The last part of a rabbit’s intestines contains bacteria which produce vitamin B-complex and vitamin C. So the Vitamins A, D and E are needed in the diet and should be in your pellets.

It is important that your rabbits are not overfed, so it is easier to regulate the diet if you feed them twice a day. Fermented and sour food is very bad for a rabbit. If pellet food is used it is said to increase their weight three ounces a day.

Hope this was something you wanted to know and helpful, Stayed tuned for more in the next few days! Join The Rabbit Revolution -LIKE US ON FACEBOOK- subscribe to the web page for updates as they are posted!

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RAISING RABBITS TO PLAN FOR A SHTF SCENARIO

Back in the 1930s during the middle of the Great Depression. Families raised rabbits in hutches and pens in their backyards to provide a healthy protein source to supplement the victory gardens and help with the grocery budget. They would gather grass, weeds, and vegetable waste to feed their rabbits.

So I feel we should learn from what our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did a few generations ago. Rabbits can be a good source of protein for your family during tough times. They multiply quickly, don’t need much space, don’t eat much food, produce excellent manure, and are easy to handle and butcher.

Join The Rabbit Revolution! Raise Rabbits Today! Start your own self sufficient family meat supply to feed your family, gardens and compost piles today! Enjoy it today so you can learn everything now so that you will know more tomorrow. Think of it as money in the bank (or is that a bad saying, rabbits maybe worth more than money some day!)

When feeding your rabbits to help sustain you and your family in a SHTF situation you would want to feed them as cheap and as easily as possible. I have chosen to go as natural as possible. It will be a lot more work. I feed a lot of grass, weeds, garden scraps and produce, in season. There are lots of other food sources available brambles, herbs, tree twigs and sometimes a little fruit or dried bread. We still feed some pellets regularly but much lower amounts. This can be beneficial than just feeding one food source as it is easier to change their diet if one or the other food source is not available. If I did just feed my rabbits pellets and not feeding any natural foodstuff and one day I could not get pellets? It would take longer for their gut to get used to this new food source, changes in a rabbits diet should always be changed slowly. So if the rabbits have a varied diet, their food source can be changed sooner and healthier than a rabbit just fed pellets.

When starting to use a new food source and green foods you should introduce it slowly over a two-week trial. You need to give their gut time to develop the correct bacteria for digesting new foods. By doing this I have never had any trouble with diarrhea in my rabbitry. If you do then back off the forage for a day and give a straw, dried grass hay, or a small piece of dry bread.  Some breeders feed rolled oats for this. By keeping your rabbits on both pelleted food and green food this can help out in case one or the other food source gives out. You need to make sure you feed both types at least every other day to keep their guts used to both.

SOME GOOD SHTF RABBIT FACTS-

Rabbits are quiet, No one will know you have a hidden meat supply.

Rabbits take up very little space, Easily hidden in a outbuilding or behind a fence.

Rabbits reproduce quickly, Fast sustaining meat supply.

Rabbits can be butcher as needed so no need for refrigeration. Store your meat on the hoof.

You only need one buck for every 10 does, Less mouths to feed. Always keep a spare buck as insurance!

Each doe will have on average have 45 to 50 kits per year each doe producing 150+ pounds of butchered meat.

Rabbits have a very short gestation period of 31 days and can be re bred 2 weeks after giving birth.

Rabbits sexually mature at about 5 to 6 months, Quick to add new breeding stock to up meat production.

Rabbit manure is the best fertilizer. Needed for your high production survival gardens.

Rabbits are herbivores but can ingest the cellulose material that a humans body will not so they do not compete with humans for a food source.

Rabbits can handle many different climates, Can be raised in a multitude of environments.

Rabbits also will produce some beautiful pelts that can be used for homestead projects or trade. Rabbit fur is great for keeping warm by making hats, mittens, blankets, coats etc!

Rabbit meat, pelts, manure, and breeding stock can be used for good bartering items.

Rabbits are inexpensive A 50lb bag of food is about $13+, as of the date of this post, It will rise! A adult rabbit should be fed a cup a day.

Did I mention how tasty rabbit meat is! You can cook it many ways bake it, fry it, roast it, smoke it, make jerky, can it, and more!

Caging can be made with locally scavenged materials. such as pallets and native trees or construction debris.

So get some rabbits and raise some good healthy meat you owe it to your family so in tough times you will have some meat on the table and in good times you will have a chance to see how to raise, feed, and care for rabbits!  Join The Rabbit Revolution! Check out the these posts for more good information on the subject.

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/09/09/naturally-feeding-rabbits/

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/02/26/safe-food-list-for-rabbits/

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/03/31/the-benefits-and-uses-of-rabbit-manure/

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/01/19/basics-of-raising-meat-rabbits-on-the-homestead-part-1/

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2011/07/16/hello-world/

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/06/09/medicinal-herbs-for-rabbits/

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2013/10/23/beyond-the-pellet-feeding-rabbits-naturally/

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/01/22/tanning-rabbit-pelts/

COOKING RABBIT- HINTS AND TRICKS

Unless you’re a vegetarian, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider eating rabbit instead of ham, turkey, chicken or beef for dinner. This country still has the Easter Bunny syndrome! Europeans, especially the French, Italians, Portuguese, Spanish, Hungarians and Germans eat lots of rabbit.

If we can get over our prejudices, eating rabbit makes a lot of sense. Four ounces of roasted rabbit meat has 175 calories and 7.2 grams of fat, slightly less in both categories than skinless turkey dark meat. And rabbit meat has more flavor than chicken, to which it is often compared.

Rabbit is an all white meat that’s lower in cholesterol than chicken or turkey (164 mg of cholesterol in rabbit vs. 220 mg in chicken), has just 795 calories per pound (chicken has 810 calories per pound), and has the highest percentage of protein and the lowest percentage of fat of any meat. In short, meat doesn’t get any healthier. If you want more information I have a post in the October archives on the HEALTH BENEFITS OF RABBIT MEAT check it out. Now on to cooking rabbit!

Jointing a Rabbit-

Working with rabbit is very much like working with chicken. Think of the forelegs as wings. There isn’t much breast meat but the saddle or tenderloin makes up for it. When cutting up a rabbit, remove hind legs and forelegs and the saddle (or have the butcher do it). The bony rib cage can be used for stock. A 2-1/2 pound rabbit should serve 2 people, more if you have a rich sauce or several side dishes.

Although a rabbit can be roasted whole (stuffed or unstuffed), it is most often cut into pieces and cooked slowly in a casserole or stew. Domestic rabbit, although available as saddle or legs, may still need to be cut into smaller pieces before cooking.

1. Lay the rabbit, on its back, on a chopping board and cut the legs away from the main carcass with a large chef’s knife. (To cut right through the bone, it may be necessary to tap the back of the knife with a kitchen weight or mallet, protecting the back of the knife with a cloth.)

2. Cut down the center of the legs to separate them. Then divide each leg in two, cutting through the knee joint. Cut the body into three or four pieces, making the last cut just below the ribcage

3. Cutting lengthwise through the center of the breastbone, divide the ribcage section in half. If you wish to remove small bones from the flesh around the breastbone, use pliers or pull them with your fingers.

Rabbit Cooking Hints and Tricks-

For safety, cook rabbit until it reaches 160 degrees F.

A rabbit weighing between 2.5 lbs and 3.5 lbs makes six portions: two saddles, two thighs and two front legs.

Either cooked or raw, rabbit meat freezes very well.

Rabbit meat can be grilled, roasted, braised, fried or barbecued. It also makes great terrines and pates, and the liver and kidneys are delicious.

It takes 60 to 90 minutes to cook rabbit meat at 325F (160C).

Rabbit can easily be used in recipes calling for chicken, turkey and veal.

As rabbit is a lean meat, it is important to baste it often when roasting to avoid it drying out.

Excellent rabbit seasonings include parsley, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, lemon-grass, coriander, and basil.

Rabbit may be soaked in a marinade of sugar or honey, red wine, or olive oil seasoned with herbs.

Fryer rabbit can replace chicken in almost any recipe, but if you’ve never cooked rabbit before, it’s a great idea to start with a trusted recipe.

When barbecuing rabbit, marinate the meat first or baste it with a mix of lemon juice and olive oil with herbs. Grill it first on high heat, than continue to cook it on medium heat for a further 40 to 45 minutes with the lid closed.

Fresh herbs marry very well with rabbit meat. Try basil, lemon grass, coriander, bay leaf, parsley, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and sage. It also works well with wine-based sauces and fruit sauces made with raspberry, pear and apple.

Use rabbit legs as a substitute for chicken in paella or other dishes.

Though white wine is often used to deglaze the pan that rabbit is sauteed in, you can also use grappa (the fiery Italian clear brandy) and balsamic vinegar.

Rabbit liver is unusually large and unusually delicious. Sear it on both sides in clarified butter, leaving it pink inside. Then add a few shallots to the pan with some wine, port or brandy and cook a few minutes. Process with a touch of cream, salt, pepper and a pinch of allspice or nutmeg for quick pate.

When roasting whole, buttered or lard with pork back fat, or wrap in foil to keep the flesh moist and tender. Or bone the main body and fill with a stuffing. Baste the rabbit frequently during cooking.

Marinate in wine or olive oil, with aromatic vegetables and seasonings, before cooking to help tenderize the meat.

Poach or braise young rabbits; stew or casserole older ones.

Use a rabbit to make a terrine. Grind the rabbit meat with 2 shallots and mix in 2 eggs, two-thirds cup heavy cream, 2 tbsp. shelled pistachios, 1 tbsp. dried cranberries, 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, and seasonings. Place in a pot lined with bacon slices and bake in a water bath at 350 degrees F for 2 hours. Add 1 and one-quarter cups liquid aspic after cooking. Allow to cool and refrigerate until set.

Roasting rabbit-
To roast a rabbit, rub it down with olive oil and chopped herbs and place it in a roasting pan. It may then be baked just like a chicken, at about 350 degrees F. (A 2 pound rabbit takes about 1 – 1 1/2 hours to cook at this temperature.)

Braising rabbit-
Begin by browning the rabbit in a little olive oil. Then place the meat in a pot and cover it about a quarter of the way with water. Cover the pot and allow the meat to simmer for about an hour.

Stewing rabbit-
Chop the rabbit meat into small pieces (about one inch square). If desired, roll in flour or seasonings. In a preheated pan with a little olive oil added, brown the meat on every side. Place the meat in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Cover the pan with a well-fitted lid and simmer for at least two hours, or until meat is tender. Add vegetables to the last hour of cooking.

Sauteing rabbit-
Thin cuts of rabbit (no more than one inch thick) are suitable for sauteing. First, preheat a pan and add a small amount of olive oil. Place the rabbit in the pan and brown both sides, cooking until it reaches 160 degrees F.

Shreaded rabbit–You can use either stove or crockpot to cook the rabbit ahead of time. But don’t boil it… simmer it very gently so it barely bubbles. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until meat falls of bones, Remove and allow to cool. When cool,pull meat from the bones and shred. You can freeze the meat for later use or make all kind off foods with this! I have made Rabbit Tacos,Rabbit Salad Sandwiches,so much more. I like to use apple juice for part of the liquid. I use a bay leaf or two, some herbs and some black pepper and allspice for seasonings.

Here’s a very simple but tasty grilled rabbit recipe for the outdoor barbecue. Preparation time, 15 minutes, Cooking time, 80 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

1 fryer rabbit, cut up
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup sherry
1-1/2 tsp seasoned salt
Rub rabbit with salt and pepper; place over medium hot bed of live coals. You can use a gas grill. Make sauce by mixing oil, wine and seasoned salt together. Keep rabbit well basted with sauce, turn often while cooking 1 hour or until rabbit pieces are tender.

For More Recipes Check Out The DOMESTIC RABBIT RECIPE PAGE

MAKING MONEY WITH RABBITS

Money RabbitA backyard meat rabbit breeder can make a little money if he or she is resourceful and hard-working.

You will not be able to quit your day job. But to supplement your income? Absolutely. There is a saying, “There is money in rabbits it’s just getting it out of them that’s hard”! It depends on how you define “profit.” If you are looking for profit with a cash value, you aren’t necessarily going to get ahead with rabbits, unless you find a niche and then spend a lot of time cultivating your herd to fit that niche. However, if you think of profit like being able to eat healthier meat, that costs less cash than it would if you bought comparable meat at the grocery store, then I think you’d profit in that way.

By raising your own meat rabbits, butchering and processing them yourself for your own consumption it is totally worth it! This has benefits in that you know the history of the meat, how the animal was treated, whether drugs were used, and how it was slaughtered, handled, and stored. That is money saved! A rabbits value is worth more this way than it could be if converted in to cash, because the value of money is changing, but we, and other people, are always going to need food to eat. This is just how I look at it. Rabbits are like money in the bank. Money can be made! But a profit is hard to come by with rabbits but it can be done.

Like starting any small business you won’t be an overnight success. You have to market, plan and budget to get money out of rabbits. So, there is money in rabbits but just like anything else, it takes work.

Remember that it cost more to raise junk rabbits than it does to raise good ones. Part of trying to make a profit with rabbits is how much you can save! Learning to keep rabbits healthy and clean is important.

If a doe doesn’t raise her babies consistently, cull her. The longer you hold a rabbit that cannibalizes her offspring, refuses to use a nest box or scatters them on the wire the more feed you have into her and the more you will lose on those offspring if you ever get any. The three strike rule applies to breeding does! Remember if you’re looking at making money you have to look at the little things and the big things. A quarter’s worth of food isn’t a big thing, but a quarter’s worth of food multiplied by 100 rabbits adds up a great deal on a daily and monthly basis! Manage for efficiency.

One group of breeders ran the numbers and in order to make a full time living off of rabbits required an efficient set up of at least 200 working does. Those 8 ounces of pellets that isn’t very much takes on new meaning when you start going through over 100 pounds per day! You notice the spilled feed because that’s wasted money. Keep records up to date and tattoo every rabbit you plan on keeping. Keep weights on the parents, the offspring and how many in each litter. It’s a lot of labor but record keeping will save you money. I go through the rabbitry every quarter and review the does production records and know who to cull and who to keep.

Those just starting out with rabbits need to examine their reasons for getting into breeding rabbits and what their goals are. A common mistake is to start with too many rabbits. A reasonable starting point might be one buck and three does. I recommend that these rabbits be purchased while they are still young. This way they will have a chance to become acclimated to their new surroundings prior to breeding. As the new breeder gets accustomed to the rabbit hobby, then, and only then, should he or she decide to increase the size of the herd, and then slowly. Start slowly!

Learn the basics and learn to do things the right way with a couple dozen does. If you’ve chosen a handful of GOOD rabbits to start with you can easily build a herd by keeping back the best does and only the very top bucks, marketing the rest as meat or feeders. I always say keep the best eat the rest. This way you grow into it and see the amount of work needed. Perhaps when you hit 30 does that might change your mind or perhaps you will find that covering your feed costs is just not worth it! Only add cages as you sell rabbits. MAKE them pay for themselves!

The first step in making money with rabbits is adjusting the attitude to not expect to make money with rabbits. It can be done, but not as often nor as much money as many believe. Start with good solid equipment. Cages, with feeders that allow enough feed to be fed at a time without wasting from digging it out or dumping bowls over, are important. Don’t keep diggers around. Those rabbits that dig the feeders and waste food are another money pit to eliminate.

No backyard meat rabbit breeder should start the hobby/business with the idea of getting rich quickly. There are many scams such as offers to buy back fryers from stock purchased from the swindler and there are lots of them! Sometimes he refuses to buy the fryers. Even if he does pay for the rabbits, the grower is responsible for shipping costs, which can exceed the amount received for the animals. Though rabbits can be prolific, kit mortality can easily be 25% or more when you get into high production. Profits are really only possible with hard and steady work. Secondly you must learn proper management. Rabbits must have proper nutrition or they cannot breed efficiently! A natural diet will not work for this type of production they need high quality pellets to boost production.

Make sure to have a market! If you’re raising smaller breeds this might be pre-killing for snake food or pet food. Larger breeds might be the same or for filling a freezer and selling tanned furs. Compost the manure sift it and bag it up to sell to gardeners. Raise worms in the manure and sell fishing worms or sell the red worms for vermicomposting. By using all the sources of products a rabbit produces will help you make your first dollar!

RABBIT MEAT-
The most important reason for raising rabbits of course is for meat, you can butcher them to lower your food bill. Does it make you money, NO but saves it from your grocery bill. In order for the cost of the meat produced by a backyard operation to be equal to or possibly better than what would be spent at the supermarket, each doe should successfully raise 36 fryers per year (six litters of six fryers each). Any doe that does not perform properly should be culled. Ideally fryers should reach “market weight” of 4.5 to 5 lbs. by eight weeks of age, and most certainly by 11 weeks.

If the fryers will be sold to a meat processor it should be noted that some facilities will not accept fryers over 11 weeks old. Meat processors also generally prefer white over colored rabbits. For this purpose the Californian, though having dark brown “points”, is considered white. You can sell fryers at “live Weight” or sell the meat after you have processed it depending on your local laws. To locate a meat processing plant, the best thing to do is go to different grocery stores and ask where they are buying their meat from. Explain that you are thinking of raising rabbits and are researching the market possibilities. Many of them will be happy to help you. When you have located several (Make sure to have more than one buyer!) markets who might buy your product, contact them and see if they would be willing to purchase live animals from you.

If possible, set up a contract with them to produce whatever you feel you are able to do. But do not sign anything. Remember they are making more money than you and their profit is higher they have no rabbits to feed, they buy them as cheap as possible and sell them as high as they can. There are lots of swindlers in the meat market. They will wait and offer you less if they know you are sitting on rabbits. Of course a big part of having rabbits is enjoying them.

If you have 40-50 working does depending on breed you might have 100-250 bunnies in boxes and growing at all times. You must have a plan for marketing either commercially for meat if you’re near a buyer or making your own market. Remember if you’re selling commercially they can dictate the breed so sometimes Rex, Satins or colored furs are penalized. If you’re using it yourself this isn’t a factor. Make sure to have more than one buyer. Many a rabbit breeder has been stuck when a buyers does not need the 50 fryers you have ready for him.

Another meat market would be pet owners that feed their animals the BARF (Bones And Raw Food) diet. BARFers, as they are called, aim to provide their cats and dogs a more natural diet than kibbles. A newer, and more inclusive, term for BARF is “raw feeding.” Sometimes a variety of meat sources for this diet are scarce, so these pet owners are more than happy to discover a meat rabbit breeder near them. Selling to the dog food market can be profitable at $4/lb. There is one rabbitry that I know of that did this and just about put themselves out of business because they couldn’t keep up with demand. I also raise my rabbits for dog food. This is a good market you can butcher and sell rabbits as pet food with no USDA restrictions. Also snake and reptile owners need to feed their animals. You can sell rabbits at every age and size for this market.

RABBIT PELTS-
If you’re using rabbits for meat what will you do with the furs? Throwing them away is not making maximum use and can be wasted money thrown away. Pelts should be saved at slaughter time (If not using right away freeze them to sell or tan when you have more to make it worthwhile. Rabbit pelts can also be sold for a small profit or used to make clothes, toys and other trinkets to be sold as a finished product or just selling the tanned hide (see our post TANNING RABBIT PELTS for more information).

I have sold frozen pelts to people who want to learn to tan and do not even raise rabbits. Remember that fryer pelts are best suited for craft-type projects, while stewer pelts are better suited for use in hats, coats, etc. It is recommended that if you are planning on selling the pelts to a commercial tannery that you raise white rabbits because the white pelts can be dyed to any color desired. I prefer natural colors and have found that local homesteaders would rather have natural colors than dyed pelts.

Tanning them is not always an easy process but not hard to do, but an exchange may be made with a local tanner in which they get to keep a percentage of the tanned hides for them in exchange for tanning a percentage for you.

Also you can raise angoras. You can sell the fiber or products made for the fiber, I find this to be a good bartering item, if you happen to spin, angora blend yarns can sell for a premium If you have an eye towards that expensive angora wool. Remember the amount of time grooming that is needed on top of the feed, special cages, handling to keep the wool clean and other factors needed to keep top quality rabbits. You can make money with angora fiber. I have a few angoras but we use all the fiber we produce. Someday I will get into the angoras more (aha thinking of retirement!)

RABBIT MANURE-
Rabbit manure is considered one of the best available. The manure is excellent and is the only manure that does not need to be aged before using as fertilizer. It contains more nitrogen and phosphorus than many other manures and more potash than most. Even when applied fresh, it will not burn plants. Gardens with rabbit fertilizer consistently applied most often yield much better results! I screen it, bag it up in feed bags, and sell it with a information sheet in early spring. It all sells out and I have a waiting list for more. (for more poop information check out our post THE BENIFITS AND USES OF RABBIT MANURE) Gardeners may be willing to pay for manure or composed manure for a higher cost. Because of the complimentary nature, many rabbit raisers also raise earthworms (or Red Wigglers). The worms will break down and clean the bed just under the rabbit cages, turning the manure into black potting soil. Several species of worms, most notably night crawlers and red worms, can be grown in the manure. The worms help keep the manure from smelling bad and could be sold to gardeners for vermicomposting or fishermen for bait.

BREEDING STOCK- For Show Or Meat Stock
In order to get top dollar for your stock you have to make a name for yourself. (or should I say your rabbits) Only sell your best for breeders. Do not sell anyone the runts, slow growers,rabbits in bad condition, or ever from a bad bloodline. This is how you get a good name. Sell one junk rabbit and they tell everyone! Sell one good rabbit a they keep the secret to themselves. (But they always come back when they want more rabbits) I have sold many a rabbit that I wish I had kept! There are many misconceptions about showing and breeding rabbits just like every other animal. People see a $75 show animal and think wow $75 if I sold 6 per litter that’s $450 and six litters per year is…wow that’s a lot! They run to the local sale barn and buy old cages and cull rabbits that are “just as good as those at the show.” Remember earlier I said junk cost more to raise! Buy the best rabbits you can find! What they are often buying are breeding problems, attitude problems, health problems and most of the time as far from a show rabbit as you can get.

They don’t do the research so they lose the first two litters and they give everything away swearing rabbits are just a money pit. The big thing to realize is that $75 show animals have hundreds of dollars in breeding behind them and often many years of selective breeding. For every show rabbit there are several that end up in the freezer. It is possible to make a little money if you do things the right way. You must make a concerted effort to market, and market everything! This means from the wasted feed to the poop to the meat to the offspring to the furs. Find a market. If you’re also raising show rabbits pick out those prospects and get them on a show feed. Keep records up to date and tattoo every rabbit you plan on keeping. Keeping weights on the parents, the offspring and how many in each litter is a lot of labor.

PET RABBITS-
I will not really be going to go into this subject because I think it is not worth the money to sell rabbits as pets. It never seems to work out. They feed the wrong food, use the wrong housing, the kid lose interest and the rabbits starve, never have fresh water. My meat fryers have lived a better life than some of the pet rabbits I have sold. There is good money in Easter bunnies and it could be a good market for some, just not for me. I wish the parents would stay more involved!

RABBIT SUPPLIES-
Always have extra cages, feeders, waterers, bags of feed, bales of hay and shavings on hand so when someone buys rabbits you can offer them more. With shipping costs skyrocketing they are better off paying a few dollars more to you than getting those cages online.