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would you participate in this rabbit deal if you were me?

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Earlier this year I started exploring keeping meat rabbits. It was a deal where this other farmer provides a sort of rabbit tractor, food, a waterer, and a litter (4-6) young rabbits just weaned.

I give them food, water, weeds/tree prunings, and move the cage every day. In the summer I make sure they don't overheat by giving them a block of ice (frozen quart juice container).

Once they are about 5 pounds, he takes them all away and brings me a frozen rabbit dressed for the stew pot.

It's been good seeing how rabbits can thrive here. It's a good location I think. I've got lots of shaded "pasture" for them under trees in the orchard and they delight in weeds (the dreaded rosa multiflora) and apple prunings.

I'm not sure the one rabbit to eat every couple of months plus the poo makes up for daily work caring for them. I have so much work I would like to be doing here. The rabbits don't take much time and I'm out there caring for my own chickens anyway.

It's nice to not have a financial investment in them though, and handy to not have to do the slaughter or breeding. It would cost about a hundred dollars to have someone make me a cage like this. He sells the rabbits to fancy restaurants for about 30 bucks each.

A very big concern for me is that the food he provides is not organic, contains lots of alfalfa and is probably mostly gmo.

So is it worth it?
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David Livingston
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Nope
As you said what is in the food plus do you think you Will get some of your rabbits back? How could you tell?
Best to do it yourself . Would it be that hard?

David
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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It's not so much that it would be hard, more that starting my own operation would take money and more work. He does the breeding, like I said, so he has to worry about keeping enough breeding pairs for genetic diversity. They're an heirloom breed, Silver Fox. He buys the equipment and food.

At our local seed n feed the only option for rabbit pellets is this gmo stuff. Surely I could grow something better here but again, is that worth the work? My time is limited, and most of the time I'm working with an infant on my hip.

If I had seasonal wwoofers they could do the work but at the moment I'm not sure if wwoofers are worth the work to keep either!
 
David Livingston
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Breeding rabbits does not seem to be an issue here in France. Its stopping the buggers thats the problem!

David
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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We have plenty of wild rabbits here too!

It certainly would be less labor intensive to just eat the wild ones, eh? And the feed is all organic, no gmos...
 
David Livingston
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Its not well known that rabbits are not native to the UK but introduced by the Romans as a Lux food item putting animals deliberately in to new eco système has a long history
Why not just have a Warren / hugel
Bit like the one on watership down if you know the book/ film

David
 
Su Ba
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Deals like that could sour quickly when things go wrong. What happens if the rabbits get sick? Must you take them to a vet and pay for it?

More of what happens if....
....a rabbit gets injured.
....one or more dies
....they get loose and cause damage or get lost
....a dog comes along and tears the cage apart, kills the rabbits and destroys the cage
...they get stolen
...a neighboring child wanders into the yard, then gets bitten or scratched
...you decide you want to buy them

All these things could easily happen. When you farm livestock, a whole list of disasters happens from time to time. But when you don't own the animals but are their legal caretaker, the legal rules can get sticky as to who is liable for what,

Personally I wouldn't get involved in it. I'd rather buy one rabbit and raise it, then trade it in for a dressed carcass.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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He assumes all risk. That's part of the good part of the deal, a hedge against tragedy. In theory he could sue me, but in reality our community would stop shopping at his farmers market stand. Word of mouth and friendship is valuable. Reputation and integrity and all that.

I could buy some other rabbits if he didn't want to sell these.

I loved watership down. My 3 year old children have a similar method of counting. The rabbits had, if I recall correctly, numbers for one two and three, anything more than that was "hrair" meaning "a whole lot" The twins have one, two, three and "all many"
 
Charlei Scott
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Location: Tampa, FL (USDA 9b)
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All you need is to get one breeding pair that will breed healthy decenty sized litters. A good breeding pair will last for 3-5 years. And our does are mutts rather than purebred. We know the breed of our buck, but some of our strongest kits come from the moms who have not a lick of purebreed in em.

You can find a good metal cage for cheap at a farm auction. My husband and I have found several that are several cells in size, or you could gather materials from people getting rid of scrap on Craigslist or on a gardening group nearby.

Basically, we started with one doe and one buck. Now we only have 2 breeding does, but we usually have between 12-15 of their young aging up to the 8 week old mark when they're ready for slaughter. We don't always get to it right then and we do buy feed, but we've been growing things and harvesting from the yard more and more.

I wouldn't put the work in if all I got is one rabbit back after 2 months of keeping a whole litter. Slaughtering takes some learning, sure, but rabbits are among the easiest animals to dress out and after you get the hang of it you can take one from the cage to the pan in 10 minutes - not to mention you can feel good about the meat.

Some things to think about.
 
David Miller
Posts: 280
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Thoughts, if you're new to rabbit farming then having someone who's willing to take all the risks while you learn and get a meat share in return seems like a good deal. If you're not new to rabbit farming you've probably calculated the feed cost vs meat return and know that to be a major balancing act so it depends on your savings/usage. Personally it sounds like you've got a grasp on things, why not try it yourself. I'm relatively new to husbandry and had great success. I would caution against too much caution, with rabbits there's only so much outlay you can have so for making a go of it on your own, the risk seems pretty low!
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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btw, feed costs can be mitigated if you make your own! "Raising Small Livestock" has some tried and true approaches, buying from human consumption sources in bulk organic can be much cheaper than the commercial organic feed, of course offset by your labor.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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We're hunkered down today waiting for a snowstorm and I'm sloooooow cooking the big chuck roast of beef I got in trade for raising the last litter of rabbits. I enjoyed having them like pets, the kids get the idea about animals being meat and I'm enjoying not having to go out and take care of breeding pairs of rabbits right now. Entropy!

Today I feel like it was worth it.

The neighbors loved seeing the hutch moving around every day, so one of the functions the rabbits had to stack was community building.
 
Darren Collins
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Location: Jamberoo, NSW, Australia
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You know what - what do you have to lose?

It'd only take about 6-8 weeks to grow out the rabbits (he'll probably slaughter them at 12 weeks old). The farmer supplies everything, and it'll cost you nothing.

You'll get to know the farmer a little better. You'll get to see whether you really do like working with rabbits, feeding them every day, moving the cage around, collecting the manure, etc. You'll get some manure for the garden, and the kids (and you!) will get to look at the cute bunnies and feed them handfuls of grass.

At the end of the exercise you get a butchered rabbit (probably a couple of meals right there), and you'll know a lot more about how you feel about raising rabbits for yourself. And if it turns out you really like rabbit meat, you'll have a relationship with a supplier.

When you give them back to the farmer, ask yourself honestly if you would be able to kill them. The farmer may even allow you to help him on processing day, or maybe just watch him do a few. You don't want to get all set up for breeding, with rabbits and cages and equipment and everything, and then discover you don't like the "one bad day" side of things.

I'd also ask the farmer if you can visit his breeding setup. You'll pick up a lot of tips from him, and get ideas for how to set up your own cages down the track.

I wouldn't worry about the GMO/organic/etc side of things for a one-off exercise like this. It's a learning experience. If it goes well and you decide to breed your own rabbits, you can address those types of concerns.

If you're anything like me and you don't do it, those 6-8 weeks will go by and you'll still be no closer to raising your own rabbits. This at least gets you moving in the right direction . It may also help get the rest of your family on board, if that's an issue.

I say "go for it!", and let us know how it goes.

EDIT: Sorry, just noticed your last post. I'm glad you did it! I'll leave the post above intact in case it motivates someone else to have a go!
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
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I did two litters! It was worth a try and worth doing again. I think I won't start doing it all myself anytime soon and I think I will raise rabbits for him again.

If you look at the dollars of the situation he's making more value than I am, but I get enough value to make me want to do it again.

 
E. Barker
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I don't think I would. I'd rather try raising them myself, and finishing them myself. But I can't even find any meat rabbits to try with. (I'm in MA)
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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E. Barker wrote:I don't think I would. I'd rather try raising them myself, and finishing them myself. But I can't even find any meat rabbits to try with. (I'm in MA)


The fellow I work with might be interested in selling you some of his, they are Silver Fox. It's a very nice breed, They are endangered because their litters are on the small side but I feel they make up for it by being good mothers. PM me if you are interested and I'll hook you up. Rhode Island is not far from Massachusetts!
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
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Ok, I just decided this morning that I will raise another litter of kits for this fellow. I like the rabbits. It is sort of a lot of work for the meat reward but liking them is another reward, and the fertilizer is nice too. Also, involving the children in food production in this way will help to insure they have a view of the cycle of life more realistic than the one disney would give them. That is valuable to me.

I think I will skip the next litter though, silver fox rabbits are black and don't do well in the heat. August is not a nice time for them, even though I have a lot of shade.
 
Ryan Tollmann
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I see two better options, raise your own (have him butcher and dress them for cut,  maybe buy the prs from him so he stays happy)..or buy a dressed rabbit every three months..imho your time and energy are worth more then a ,30$?, Rabbit.
 
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