Information including Rabbit Breeds, Pens and Care
thought. Plan which rabbit breeds you want on your homestead or
backyard, cages or pens, and what
sort of rabbit breeding plan you are going to follow. Read more...
Well June is half way gone and I'm still running to catch up. Funny how
all winter I had nothing to do, and now I have so much I don't know
where to start.
TO BREEDING RABBITS
One of my main projects
lately has been my rabbits. Most homesteads benefit by the addition
of rabbits however many don't keep them do to the cost. Here at the
ranch that problem has been long since solved. I thought I would share
with you some of my tips and tricks to keeping and breeding rabbits and
some ways to make money and have fun with them other then the
traditional meat and fur.
WHY BREED RABBITS AND
bred litter of Dutch x Flemish. These will be used
for agility and hopping.
breeding rabbits there are 2 things to think about. What
will you do with them, and housing. How many do you wish to have as
your capped number?
For me, I don't eat rabbit, however I do study and
raise them in a way that would benefit meat growers and I work with a
world wide group that studies rabbit housing for meat sources for 3rd
What I do as an end product with my own rabbits is
agility, hopping and showing on the breed table in ARBA. Don't forget
all the movies and popcorn we have shared together. It doesn't matter
what you do with your rabbits if they are not housed correctly and
costing you an arm and a leg, they are not worth it. So lets start with
KEEPING RABBITS IN RABBIT
PENS AND CAGES
row of rabbit pens. Note that the
grass in the pens is
left unmowed. The rabbits love the shade and a hiding
are 20x20 pens with high voltage hot wire on the top.
What most people don't
understand when breeding rabbits is that you don't have to
cage them. That's right,
no cage required. Unlike a dog they won't run away. What they will do
is get eaten by a fox. You don't have to house them in for keeping sake
but for safety sake. Once this is understood, you can broaden your mind
as to how you wish to house them.
I have a Dutch rabbit that runs freely in the yard. She never leaves,
and even comes to the door when a storm comes so she can sleep in her
cage in the warm dry house. She hates to be handled, she is not a pet.
She is a rabbit that knows how to get what she wants.
BREEDING RABBITS AND WHAT
TO FEED THEM
Most of my rabbits are
not small breeds like the Dutch however. I raise
and show Flemish Giants. This means more food, more room, more of
everything. If you feed Flemish Giants you know what expensive rabbits
are. That is if you house them in a cage.
I have a friend that goes
through 150lbs of rabbit feed a week and has less then 25 rabbits.
That's 20.00 dollars times 3 every week. I go through 3 bags a year.
I spend about $100.00 per rabbit pen. So the pens are not cheap, they
are however permanent and once built will be there looking new for over
20yrs. That's how old my oldest pen is so I don't really know how many
years they look brand new. These rabbit pens are 20x20 with shelter.
BREEDING RABBITS AND
MAINTAINING YOUR RABBIT PENS
Knowing that all rabbits
will dig is key to building your pens. Rock the corners and edges. Then
only set your shelter in the center of the pen. That is exactly where
they will dig. Have a lot of rock on hand as you will need about 3 bags
of rock per year per pen. Or you can just shovel the dirt back in as
they take it out. I do both and honestly at $2.00 a bag for rock, its
nothing for maintenance.
You will also want to have one extra pen for what is like pasture
rotation. You will need to let your pens rest and re-seed just like a
pasture. You will want to burn or lime your pens when empty to clean
DOES AND HOUSING BREEDING
does that were
raised together also are hutched together (one
hutch, 2 compartments) and bred the same day so that they can also baby
each others kits when weaning day arrives. These 2 does and their young
form a family that will take up one pen. The bucks however will be
about 3-4 months.
is it... it's not
hard. You can house as many does as you want per pen as long as they
were raised together or you put them all in there the same day. If one
rabbit has been there before, you are screwed. They will fight. Does
are territorial so if you want 4 does per pen, put them all in there
the same day. If they have been there before and you think their smell
is still there, try burning or liming first and let the pen rest before
putting them in. Once you have a group of does that get along, remember
them and keep them paired up for kitting time etc. Don't allow that
bond to break.
BUCKS AND HOUSING
Keeping bucks are
another story. If they were raised together they are alright until they
start wanting to breed, then you have to separate them into buck pens.
That's just how it goes. Bucks are like stallions, bulls or any other
male animal. They will fight, they will castrate their opponent or try
and kill them. This is life. Don't try it to house them together and
then complain later that it didn't work. I can't say it never works, I
have had it work, however... I don't recommend it.
BREEDING RABBITS, THEIR
KITTENS AND RABBIT CARE
fresh pen before the rabbits are re-introduced. The circle
to the right of the pen is a small water hole where a solar fountain
help keep clean circulated water at all times. The down fall of this
pen is the
ground shelter is to close to the fence. This shelter is where the
dig, it needs a center location.
Now you have your rabbit
pens, your does and your bucks, now you need your kitten hutches. The
reason I build and keep hutches that are not cheap, but in my opinion
very well worth the money is that the kits (baby rabbits) are secure.
Snakes, rats, owls, so many things can rob you of your profits. Hutches
keep them safe and dry. Flooding in my area is also a kit killer. When
the kits are older then as bunnies they can't slip through wire fences
and you loose them to fox or other predators, they are safe in that
BREEDING RABBITS AND
USING PERMACULTURE METHODS IN
DEALING WITH RABBIT DROPPINGS
view of the rabbit hutch, note
the baby chicks on the
ground. They have a small door leading under the hutch where they sleep
help scratch around all that rabbit poop.
hate rabbit hutches. I hate
the confined mess. My solution to this is to raise my baby chicks under
the rabbit hutch. See photos attached. The chickens keep the rabbit
manure cleaned up so I don't have to and I don't have bugs worms and
all that other stuff that farmers love building up giving me more work
Yes, I know how good it is for my garden. I get enough from the pens I
don't need more work. This is me, you can get on your belly and scrape
the crap out from under the 16x16 hutches if you want to.
RABBIT BREED WHEN BREEDING RABBITS
We do need to talk for a
moment about picking out a good rabbit. As most of us have long since
figured out, a bad one eats as much as a good one. At one time my steer
calves were selling for no less then 4K a piece. My neighbors stalk
cows were bringing about $800 US per calf and $1200 US per cow. I sold
2 cows and lived off that money for 2 years. I had a much lower feed
bill as well.
4 cows eat less then 50. That's about what my neighbor would have had
to raise to get the same profits. So if you buy a rabbit for 5.00 at
the local sale barn you can't expect to get more then 5.00 out of the
bunnies that rabbit produces. If you have 6 bunnies in a litter that's
30.00 and your bag of feed is 20.00 so you are behind 10.00 already.
This is not profitable and it is stupid farming.
Even if you don't plan
to show, find a pure rabbit breed you like. Others that do show will
pay good money for a good rabbit. If you are only breeding for meat,
get a meat rabbit you can depend on. These little things will save you
heart ache and hundreds if not thousands of dollars as time goes on.
THROUGH BREEDING RABBITS
Flemish Giant Rabbits
in their hutch
at $100.00 US a bunny, a far cry from the $45.00 US for the cross-bred
Flemish at the local sale barn. This extra $50.00 US for having a
complete honest pedigree and to have taken the time to have the rabbits
inspected and registered, made me $50.00 US per head. Remember, both
the sale barn rabbit and my rabbits all eat the same. You make money
not when you sell, but when you buy.
HAVING A BUSINESS PLAN
WHEN BREEDING RABBITS
good to be out of the hutch. This
is these bunnies first
moments of freedom. As you can see their mother is just happy to be out
hutch and back home.
Ok... now you have your
rabbits, you have your rabbit pens and it;s time to breed them. First
you have to know where those bunnies will go so you don't get stuck
with them. Will you eat them? Will you market them? Will you show them?
Plan this out before not after you breed.
Feeding extra rabbits and finding places for extra bucks is not fun and
its expensive. I take my extra rabbits to the show with me and they
normally sell before the show starts.
When you raise your rabbits in this manner with fresh air, sunshine,
grass, clean water, and access to rabbit pellets and corn daily, don't
forget the salt. You will have healthy rabbits that cost you almost
nothing but the price of the pens and rabbits. You will have more time
to enjoy them, less time cleaning up after them, less time feeding,
watering, fixing sore hocks and the list goes on.
For those of you who have a negative impression of colony rabbits. I
want to let you know that my rabbits show very well, judges are
impressed with the over all condition of my rabbits and when told they
are colony rabbits, of course they are shocked, they had that bad
However many of those I show with are changing their minds about giving
their rabbits a bit of freedom. I hope you will consider adding rabbits
to your homestead as well, and then, allow them freedom to just be
rabbits so you both have a much more enjoyable experience.
Please stop by and visit my website for more information on colony
resident homestead blogger from One
Wanderings Homestead Blog
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