MAKING MONEY WITH RABBITS
A 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!
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
Posted on May 6, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged animals, bank money, meat rabbit, meat rabbits, nature, rabbit breeder. Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.
What do you mean when you say you “screen” the manure? And what are the benefits?
I have a 3/4 x 3/4 hardware cloth screen in a frame, I sift all the manure through the screen to keep out most of the hay and urine spots (wet clumped together mess) So i just sell the dry round bunny berries in the bags. The leftover stuff that does not go through the screen goes in the compost pile or worm bins. The benefits are a nice odor free dry time release capsule of nutrients for your garden! I did a post on THE BENIFITS AND USES OF RABBIT MANURE it is in the March archives check it out!
Oh, ok. That makes sense if you’re selling it to clean it up a bit. Thanks for the reply! I’ll definitely read through the archives. 🙂
I could not agree more. “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.” That is right on the money (no pun intended) in my opinion. I would add to that, and I don’t want to get political, so feel free to remove my comments if you want….if you think of profit as saving the environment because you don’t contribute to factory farming (and its destruction of the world), and therefore in essence, make huge donations to the earth every year, you can totally profit.
In summary, if profit equals being a better person, educating people, knowing where your meat comes from then yes, you can profit. If profit equals quitting the day job then no, you cannot. I do believe that rabbits can be profitable, and there are some rabbities that are, but keep in mind, RABBITS ARE A VOLUME BUSINESS, bottom line.
A quick look at my numbers. With conversion ratios of about 5 to 1 (five pounds of food to make one pound of live rabbit, and I pay cents 30 cents a pound in feed) that means it cost me $1.50 to make a pound of live rabbit (not including labor and startup), So, to make a 3 pound fryer I need a 6 pound rabbit which cost me $9. State inspected processing cost $2 so that puts my cost at about $11 not including labor, transport cost, etc. That puts my cost at $3.66 per pound. Market rate in my area for rabbit is about $7.50 a pound so that is a profit of about $4/pound.
Medium income in my area is around $60,000 which means I need to sell 15,000 pounds of rabbit a year, or 5000 rabbits. Assuming the average doe can produce about 22 kits a year, that means I would have to have a rabbitry of about 230 does and 20 bucks. Again, RABBITS AREA VOLUME BUSINESS
And just so we are clear, I don’t have anywhere close to 230 does. I usually have about 8-10. Taking care of 230 does does not seem like a good time to me, and would probably take all the fun I get our of raising rabbits.
I agree with everything you have said, that’s why a called the title of the post MAKING MONEY WITH RABBITS not profiting with rabbits. I have 50+ does and I am happy to break even! With the sales of manure,redworms,comfrey, and rabbits it helps! It is a hobby and a lifestyle for me. Thanks for the comment!
Wow that is pretty interesting. I found this that could make money but not sure. Takes six bucks so figured I would try.
Its more about making pocket money. The profit is very low, but the real income is good healthy meat!
How much do you sell your rabbit manure for?
Depends on size and if it is the worm casting mix, Just Bunny Berries sifted in a 50lb feed bag is 8.00. I also use wood pellet bags with a Bunny Berries mixed with worm castings for 8.00(just a smaller sized bag). Hope this helps
Definitely helps, thanks! So, the feed bag is a more sturdy cloth bag and the wood pellet bag is plastic, correct?
The feed bags are paper and the wood pellets plastic, Just like reusing the stuff I would normally throw away
Your information is invaluable, period. I am getting into farmiing and raising meat rabbits for sale is one thing I am considering, strongly. I’ve gotten some really good advice from local breeders and I plan on attending local shows, I know better than to be stupid. I listen to all the experienced people and you are one of the best. I wish I could somehow repay you for all the excellent information.
wow you have just given me reason to continue keeping rabbits. This is my third year keeping rabbits for profit purposes mostly and i have been asending slowly but surely i started of with two rabbits a buck and a doe thats 3 years ago now i have 17 does and 2 bucks and still rising. I thank you alot because i had not considered selling the manure or the hides, and you just gave me another way of making money out of the rabbits. I usually sell my rabbits for meat and for pets here and there. You have just inspired me thanks so much for the info
We try to use the whole rabbit by making rabbits feet charms and necklace’s, tanning pelts, screening and bagging up bunny berries, raising red-worms under the hutches, and even putting the ears in the dehydrator to make dog treats by taking advantage of everything a rabbit produces help to offset the cost of raising rabbits. Glad you are going to keep raising rabbits!
This is an awsome site. I would have never thought of using dried rabbit ears. Can’t wait to go through all the back posts. Thanks so much for your efforts and the time you take to get us good, useable information.
I posted some pictures of the process on my Facebook page a while back. Thanks, glad you like the site. I am working on Rabbit Revolution Radio and You Tube stuff soon to be out!
This was an excellent article. I’m planning to start raising rabbits once I move (hopefully very soon) which I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve scoured the internet for information on the subject most of which I found to be outdated or with the intention on selling me something. thanks for the great information. I had a question though. You mentioned tattooing the rabbits. What is this for?
Tattooing rabbits ears is a way to keep track of them, some people use numbers to represent their blood line some just as identification.
Great info! Thanks so much for sharing! We have a smallish rabbitry with about 20 does right now. We are currently buying our food from the local tractor supply co. in 50# bags at retail price. Do you have any recommendations of where we can get a better deal? We have been trying to find a way to buy our food by the pallet or in bulk. We have a good safe dry place to store food here…if we could just find larger quantities at a better price! Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much..
Tractor Supply should do discounts on a larger purchase. If not look to other feed stores and find out if there is a local feed mill near you.
Good evening from Ireland. What a woderful site. I have been trawling the net and youtube looking for exactly what you have here. A few questions I have for you.What happens with your off cuts or waste? heads, liver, kidney, heart etc… Can they be sold to pet food companys? I see a lot of cat food that contains rabbit.
Have you any information on angorha rabbits and how to cultivate their wool? Has it to be washed? how is it spun?
We use most of the rabbit, The only waste we have at this time is the heads, I do have someone who will take the heads and any other parts for dog food and coyote bait. Here is a post I did about using the complete rabbit https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/02/11/nose-to-tail-uses-for-every-part-of-the-domestic-rabbit/
I do raise Angora rabbits. I will put together some Angora rabbit information and post it.
In Missouri Rabbit Producers can process up to 1000 rabbits a year without inspection. Vendors who process 1000 chickens and rabbits may sell them at farmers markets. These products must be unadulterated and kept at proper temperature until sold. This seems like a way to make enough money so you can feed your family for free. What do you think? Is Missouri a special case, or do most states have these exemptions for small operations selling to farmers markets?
In Maine if you are to sell rabbit meat it must be slaughtered and packaged by a USDA approved slaughter house with a special rabbit stamp (about 5 dollars a rabbit). You have to have a State mobile vendors license($) and have your freezer inspected to make sure the freezer is at the right temperature($). You also need farm insurance in case someone sues you($). I was selling at a farmers market (you have to pay for you table more$) before I found this all out I am now just raising rabbits for my own consumption. Raise your own rabbits! control your own food source without government intrusion.
Does that mean you’re raising in Maine? I’m in Maine and hoping to start raising for meat in the next year or so. Would love to learn more from you in person if possible.
Yes, I raise rabbits in Maine. When you are ready give me a shout.
What can you tell me about selling live animals to someone who will then take them home and kill and process them themselves? We live in Alabama. We have a buyer in Mississippi who wants all the live rabbits we can sell him. He will take them home and process them when he’s ready to eat it. Do you have any idea as to the legalities of this? 1) the selling of live rabbits, 2) transporting live rabbits across state lines, 3) both of the above, but knowing that the end buyer is eating the rabbits at a later date.
Any help is appreciated. I just don’t know where to look up this information and the googles doesn’t really help here.
Selling live animals as far as I know is ok, remember that rules vary from state to state. It is when you start transporting processed rabbits across state lines that is were the problems are. Try your local USDA field office, or local extension office and ask some questions. Good luck!
Thank you so much!
I was interested in getting rabbits for homesteading. I was worried about the cost of feeding them. I was thinking making 25 does to start. We have a large family. Could you tell me about what the cost would be?
My roommate and I are getting prepared to go into rabbit breeding for meat and manure. We also have alpaca and are curious if you think mixing the two manures would produce a “super” manure?
Would you suggest going to a local breeder for our startup does and bucks?
How did you go about tattooing your rabbits?
We have alpacas here on the homestead and also use both manures. I like rabbit better as there are no weed seeds, as our alpacas spend a lot of time on pasture. I always recommend people checking out what is available for rabbits in your area. Will be doing a rabbit tattoo post soon as I will be tattooing some rabbits
One thing, is watching Pennies to make a profit. Think about it. How much is your time worth? How much does it take for your Gasoline to get you places? How much do you save by going somewhere other than Tractor Supply? If Tractor Supply is on a regular route, then you only save if the price difference is greater than the Gas that it costs to get you there. Say you save $5/50lb bag (or 33%). You need 200lbs of food for 6 months. That’s $20 saved, but if it costs you $20 in Gas to get there or to be shipped, then did you save any money?
The primary reason is to grow your own food. The secondary reason is to help offset some of the cost. Otherwise, Just raise 2 does and a buck.
FYI: There is 112 Cups in a 50lb bag of food. (I think) It’s either a 40lb or a 50lb I forget.
If I just want to raise rabbits for personal consumption, assuming meals of once or twice a week, how many does and bucks would you advise? I had rabbit at a restaurant while skiing in VT and fell in love. Thanks
One doe and a buck could raises up to 42 rabbits a year, that would = 42 meals a year. If you want more add a doe and double it.
These post have been so helpful. I am just starting in fact going to pick up my first 2 does and 1 buck this week. How do you tattoo them? Also, is there a form for writing down their records like a spreadsheet already available to keep up with their info?
There are lots of free stuff to download or print online. I use a master notebook I keep in the house and hutch cards on each cage.
Just thought you should know that rabbit manure isn’t the only manure that can go right into the garden without being composted first. Goat and sheep manure can be used right away as well. I raise goats, rabbits, and chickens. I only compost the chicken manure. My squash and watermelons just love straight goat manure and they flourish. This is my first year with rabbits and I won’t get a chance to use the manure until next years garden.
Is it legal to sell rabbit meat locally, to the general public, in Maine?
If you want to sell rabbit meat legally in Maine, your rabbit must be slaughtered by a licensed USDA rabbit processor (Weston meat cutting is the only one I know of). You have to have a resale permit from the state and your freezer must be inspected by the state.
Great information! As a child my family used to raise all kinds of animals including rabbits just for the enjoyment of having animals, but also for personal consumption.
Recently I’ve began raising rabbits for myself again, and introducing my children to the wonderful and great learning experience of raising rabbits. It’s been a great experience for my entire family. And the meat is great!
I have wound up with different breeds, Mixed breeds, Holland flops, Californians, and even one Flemish Giant doe… and currently maintain 36 total rabbits that we rotate through in a homestead setting. We use the manure on our own gardens and compost bins. And although we have worms on our compost bins, I did not know about the added benefits of worms under the cages themselves, that should work great for breaking it down faster and controlling the odor! We do dehydrate some of our produce, but I never thought of rabbit ear treat for my dog, that will be a great addition as well!
I have been doing some research into actually starting a small-to-medium scale rabbitry, and you have offered some of the best all-in-one-place information I have yet read. Great job. The information you’ve shared, along with some of the reader comments have actually made me realize that unlike other readers, I do NOT want to continue to pursue a rabbitry, there does not seem to be enough financial profit incentive in a business sense for me at this time, not once you consider the labor that goes into maintaining such large amounts of rabbits to be profitable in a sustainable financial sense.
However my family & I will continue to enjoy our homestead rabbits, in every aspect of the word!
Thanks so much for your time and info. Will dig through your previous posts to find what else I can learn!
Can someone give an idea of how much a Pelt(either) is worth per pelt so i can do some maths.
You have to find out in your area, I have seen them sold at farmers markets for 5.oo to 10.00 each. See what you can get first do not sell yourself short.
Very informative. Thank you
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