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What's the best tip you have for raising rabbits?  RSS feed

 
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We're planning on adding rabbits to our small plot, what's the biggest thing you've learned/realized after raising them?

Thanks!
 
gardener
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Plant sunchokes and sunflowers for easy fodder.
Cured hides might not be worth the effort, maybe make  rawhide dog chews?
Pasture raised rabbit can get decent prices from the right buyers,  like restaurants.
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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They can be a lot of trouble if you aren't set up right before you get them.
I made the mistake of not having enough separate cages the first time and I haven't gotten back into rabbits again.
I had mistakenly thought I wouldn't need separate pens for females except when they were kitting, that was totally wrong in my situation.

If I do rabbits again I will have nice, large cages for each male and each female and special "breeding" cages for mating a pair.
In my area I won't try a pen, to easy for them to tunnel out and escape.
Since we have plenty of wild bunnies, I just thin the herd when we want rabbit for dinner these days.
 
pollinator
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Keep dogs away whether it is a dog near a neighboring fence or your own. Some rabbits can literally be scared to death by barking.
 
pollinator
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Be prepared to experiment a lot with cooking the meat. In my opinion it is not like chicken and definitely took some getting used to. Also be prepared to experiment with stock from different breeders. Some are better for certain goals and conditions than others.
 
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Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
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I raised rabbits commercially for a while. One buck for each 10 or so does. Everyone in their own pen. Put one doe with the buck and watch until they mate (usually within seconds - male falls over backwards).  Immediately remove the female after mating. Keep good records. Write the date with which female - she will ovulate after mating. Mate her again the next day. A few days before due date put a nesting box in the cage with the female. When the babies are weaned - about a month - put them in a growing pen (the same size as the nesting pen). A few days later you can breed the doe again. Record the date and number in the litter and how many survive to wean. Numbers will be lower at first but a good doe will average 9 babies by her third litter. You can breed the buck every 5 to 7 days. Keep food and water in front of everyone all the time. Babies can be slaughtered when they are about 2 months old. You can supplement their feed all kinds of greens from the garden.
 
Celise Musarra
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These are all great tips, especially about the dogs. I haven't quite decided on where to put the rabbits yet. I'm thinking keeping my main breeders in cages and then having the weaned kits in tractors. I've read Raising Rabbits for Meat, and he's not a fan of raising rabbits on pasture, but I think I'm still going to try it out.  Any suggested reading material?
 
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This is pure intuition but I think pastured rabbits would do better with other animals around than without. My thinking goes like this, let's say you have 100 rabbits on a fenced pasture, a fox breaks in, kills as many as he wants before getting bored and leaving (yes, predator animals are known to do this, they won't stick to killing the one or two they can drag off to eat, for some reason). 100 rabbits and 30 ducks on a pasture, fox breaks in, ducks freak out and attack him, driving him off before he can kill many rabbits. This combined with small bushy trees for cover from aerial predators and I think it becomes a viable system. A bunch of rabbits in an open field is like a buffet for wildlife.

Something in my gut tells me, sheep ducks and rabbits. It feels like they belong together. You get everything you need animal product-wise, wool and milk from the sheep, eggs and feathers from the ducks, meat and pelts from the rabbits. Well, meat from all 3 really but mainly from the rabbits; they give you the most meat per pound of feed of any mammal or bird, if I remember correctly.  Also the rabbit and duck manure should be enough to fertilize the land so you can shovel the sheep manure off to be used elsewhere. To me this brings it back to the ideal of 1:1 farming despite the having to grow a patch of sunchokes or something for rabbit food elsewhere.

Well, that's my vision anyways and the first thing I will try once I start raising livestock. Sort of a 3 sisters garden but with animals, that's how I think of it. Sheep graze the grass and leaves, ducks eat the bugs and weeds (a pond would be included ideally, a pond is like a duck food petri dish), rabbits you grow food for since they're such excellent feed converters. And none of them are a threat to the others as far as I'm aware. Having a ram or two around might even make the predator animals think twice about breaking in in the first place.
 
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