Raising rabbits for food and fur provides an excellent return-on-investment because rabbits are incredibly low-maintenance creatures. Unlike other types of livestock, they don’t require a great deal of room or attention. Rabbits make delicious eating and their fur can be fashioned into outwear or gloves. Rabbits enjoy a low mortality rate combined with a very high reproductive rate, so it’s likely you’ll end up with more than enough to suit the needs of your family. In this case, you can sell the extra rabbit meat and fur, making it likely that your rabbit operation will run entirely on its own, instead of costing you money.
Here’s what you need to know about raising rabbits.
Those who want their rabbits to pull double duty by providing both fur and food can’t go wrong with choosing breeds such as Chinchilla, New Zealand White, Silver Fox, or Cinnamon. As a general rule, you’ll get slightly less than half of the rabbit’s live weight in meat with these breeds. Although you might be tempted by the sheer size of the breed known as Flemish Giant, which grows up to 20 pounds, this breed grows very slowly and requires much more food than its smaller counterparts. They also have extremely large bones, creating a low meat-to-bone ratio. If you’re considering selling the fur instead of using it in your own projects, keep in mind that the fur of New Zealand Whites has a higher marketplace value.
Used rabbit hutches can often be purchased inexpensively at agricultural auctions, second-hand stores in farming communities, or online. If you’re handy, you can make your own with lumber and wire. Make sure the shelter is sturdy, rabbits aren’t prone to breaking free of their hutches, but predators like to eat rabbits. Coyotes, foxes, and other carnivores can easily access your bunnies if your structure isn’t strong. Be sure to check the wire mesh on the hutch regularly for small tears and other weak spot.
Always keep the ground under your rabbit hutch clear of rabbit droppings. It can be used in compost or added to your manure pile for the purpose of providing your vegetable garden with additional organic matter.
Keeping your rabbits well fed can be done by purchasing commercial rabbit food, feeding your rabbits from the contents of your vegetable garden, or by utilizing a unique combination of these strategies designed to meet the needs of your individual circumstances. Most people start out by using commercial rabbit food while transitioning to growing their own. You can feed them potato peelings, leftover breakfast cereal or toast, oatmeal, and various chopped fruits and vegetables. However, avoid feeding them broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or cabbage, and go light on garden greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale. Greens may be lethal to baby rabbits, so feed them sparingly to adults only. Rabbits can also eat clover and hay.
Always use glass or metal food and water bowls in your rabbit hutch. Rabbits tend to chew on any available items when they are bored and may become ill as a result of ingesting wood or plastic.
Raising rabbits is an activity that fits well with a variety of life circumstances. If you have children in the household, rabbit projects are an excellent way to introduce them to animal husbandry as well as develop business skills if they plan to market the fur and meat or breed and sell baby rabbits. The benefits of raising rabbits for meat and fur are significant and can be achieved with minimal effort and financial outlay.