(ALBERTA , CANADA)
Is there a market for rabbit in Alberta?
Chris, local knowledge is vital when determining whether there is a huge demand for rabbit meat. People eat rabbit the world over, but do Canadians eat enough rabbit for you to make a living?
First of all you have to look at the culture of the people living in Alberta. Do they eat rabbit regularly? If you lived in Tuscany, Italy, the answer would be a resounding yes, as rabbit features on all the local menus and eating rabbit is part of their culture.
So, you need to do your own market research to see if rabbit farming would be worth your while. There would be no point in going to the expense of buying in your breeding stock and all the cages, only to find that it is not a product that people in Alberta would readily eat.
Having said that, there are high-end restaurants in places like Calgary, Edmonton and Banff that do have rabbit on the menu and is also sold in delis.
Rabbit meat is not just for human consumption, but is also used in pet food. So perhaps this is another avenue for you to research.
So although there is a demand for rabbit meat you need to determine if the demand is increasing or decreasing or merely stable, and as there are more than 20 rabbit farmers in Alberta, is there room for more? Only your research can answer these.
7 or 8 years ago, rabbit farming was a growing industry in Alberta that was moving away from the cottage industry level to something more sophisticated, but whether the demand for rabbit meat is as strong today as it was back in say 2008 is something else you will have to research.
Rabbits are not just kept for meat, and in your question you did not specify if you were talking about raising the rabbits for meat or fur. Angora rabbit farming is also an option, with probably a much higher demand, and at least here you don't have to kill the rabbit for the product!
Finally, rabbit manure is an excellent by-product that can be bagged up and sold to gardeners.
The only advice I can give you, is to talk to other rabbit farmers in Alberta as well as your local agricultural office. For example, look up J&M Rabbit Farms in Wilson Siding, one of the largest rabbit farms in the area and ask them for advice. Or contact Marion Popkin in Valleyview. They may be willing to part with their knowledge.
And also contact the Alberta Rabbit Producers Association (ARPA). They would be more than willing to share the type of advice that you are asking for.
For the nitty gritty on raising rabbits for meat in Alberta you can download this e-book from your local agricultural office:
Good luck with your research and I hope you come to the right decision.