Rabbit Farming


With few exceptions, rabbit farming on a small scale, or even not-so-small, is possible no matter where you live. 

This page is our rabbit husbandry hub page, with links to the nitty gritty of providing excellent hands-on care for livestock rabbits, whether a hobby rabbitry such as a show rabbit herd, a homestead herd, or a commercial enterprise.

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Hobby and Homestead
"It's a herd, not a hoard"

Show rabbits are also classified as livestock. Breeders typically keep enough representatives of their chosen breed in their rabbitry to continue improving on the quality of the animals.

If you're raising meat rabbits in your backyard or country acre for your own use and that of your pets, your rabbit breed choices will expand to fit your preferences and needs. Just know that, while "all rabbits are made of meat," some breeds, even if they're big ones, might not yield as much meat as other breeds.  

You will likely need rabbit pedigrees for your show rabbits and meat rabbits.

Starting your Rabbitry or Farm

Rabbit Farming - this is a pre-market black otter rex rabbit

To start out farming rabbits, in the big city or in the country, your best choice is to start with just a few rabbits at first. This is in order that you can learn the needs of your rabbits and get comfortable with the whole process so that any mistakes don't result in irrecoverable losses.

Getting Started:

  • Start with a buck and two does.
  • The does will each need TWO cages measuring 36 inches by 30 inches.  One cage will house the doe, and her litter up until 6 weeks of age. At this point the cage will be getting crowded. Move the doe to the second cage, which will wean the kits without undue stress. The kits will remain in the first cage until market day.
  • Butcher when the young rabbits reach 4.5 to 6 pounds. Market day typically falls between 8-12 weeks of age, depending on breed, quality of feed, and specifications of the market. 
  • Down the road, when it’s time to think about replacing your brood does, you will want a couple more cages. Retain a couple large and healthy young females out of your litters, and grow them to 7-8 months. At this point you can retire the older doe, and put the new doe into service.
  • Hopefully you won’t need to replace the buck for several years.

As your confidence and understanding of rabbit husbandry grow, you will be able to make your next choices and decisions from a position of expertise.

Examples of rabbit farms here


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House the Herd

Simple and clean is best for your rabbits and their health.

Set up your barn or rabbitry in such a way that your list of chores will be shorter, not longer.

  • Single tiers of cages are always easier, if space allows
  • Place worm beds under the cages. This adds the possibility of another income stream to the bottom line.
  • Ensure excellent air circulation to minimize respiratory distress or ammonia odor build-up. (Worms and fly predators help to safely control smells)
DIY Livestock Rabbit Housing E-Book, from Raising-Rabbits.comBuild your own, or see if Hostile Hare can help you.

Each rabbit will need its own cage.

Consider building your own detachable rabbit cages and rabbit hutch frames.  We offer a few free plans, and you can purchase our full collection of enhanced and illustrated plans.

More info at Rabbit Hutch Building Plans and at World of Raising Rabbits

Building your own rabbit cages allows you to increase your rabbit farming project at your own rate. When you run out of rabbit housing space, you can build more.

At some point, a growing commercial operation or even the serious rabbit raiser may wish to purchase manufactured cages, or invest in a commercial-grade cage system, complete with built-in nesting boxes and manure disposal. 

FYI: Hostile Hare offers excellent quality cages and cage set-ups.

Where can I find top quality rabbit cages?

Hostile Hare Logo

From Raising-Rabbits, of course! 

Raising-Rabbits has partnered with Hostile Hare to bring you cages that exceed our rigorous rabbit housing standards.

hostile-hare-10-stackable-rabbit-cages
hostile-hare-07-double-rabbit-cage

We do not manufacture cages, but we sure know a well-built, rabbit-safe cage when we see it! And we think these Hostile Hare cages will serve you well for years.

Predator-Proof! Most are constructed completely with baby-saver-sized wire (1/2 x 1-inch), from top, sides, to bottom. Rats, snakes, and even mice will clearly get the "no trespassing" message.

Kit-Safe! You might escape the nest box, little one, but you cannot escape the cage! This means fewer lost bunnies, and better outcomes for your rabbitry.

Singles and Multiples to fit your needs! Hostile Hare cages are perfect for pets, homesteaders, and breeders. Available as single and multiple cages and configurations, even complete turn-key rabbitries in several sizes.

Visit Hostile Hare for more Info
Click the Logo or this Link to Purchase Now


Are Rabbit Cages a Must?

For hobby breeding or any kind of commercial rabbit enterprise: Yes. It is the only way to manage a breeding program, or to keep the rabbits safe, healthy, and reproducing. Any breakdown in the process results in red ink on the bottom line.

How about raising rabbits in colonies? 


There are whole online forums filled with people who colony-raise their rabbits. Here's a group that I've been a part of for several years: 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/colony.raising.rabbits

They love doing it, and it seems wonderfully humane. What's not to love?

Rabbit colonies, unless extreme measures are taken, typically result in escapees, disease and parasites, death by fighting, loss of kits for many reasons, and predation of up to 70% of the offspring, possibly. (75% offspring losses are typical in the wild.)

I guarantee there are no colony-raised commercial operations. If you lose half your market animals to the local feral or wild predators and all their buddies, it'll be YOU going hungry. 


Rabbits Need  to Chew - Get Them Apple Infused Chew Stix.


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Rabbit Herd Health

Rabbit Diseases
Understand and manage the most frequently encountered rabbit diseases, parasites, infections, and non-infectious challenges to rabbit health. 

Keep Your Rabbits Healthy
Barn conditions and rabbit husbandry practices that contribute to herd health.

Lactation and Condition Enhancers: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, available through Amazon, Bunny Branola, available through the Raising-Rabbits Store.

Raising-Rabbits offers a number of resources


Black Oil Sunflower Seeds - Excellent Source of Extra Fats

-- 5lb Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
-- 25lb Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
(ad)


Bunny Branola - Ultimate Rabbit Nutritional Supplement, and Treat!


What rabbit wouldn't love Bunny Bran??!
One Tablespoon per day of this tasty and nutritious rabbit food supplement sprinkled on their regular food is all a bunny needs to be happier and healthier.

  • Bunny Branola makes fur softer and shinier, teeth and tummies healthier, and helps relieve stress due to scary things like barking dogs, new situations, or ultra cold winters. 
  • Bunny Branola is a wonderful rabbit superfood supplement for pregnant bunnies and growing bunnies. 



Rabbit Raising Problem Solver book cover.

Raising-Rabbits: Home of
The Rabbit Raising Problem Solver

All your Answers in One Book!
Learn More Here
$22.62 - Order Here


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Rabbit Farming Chores


Conditioning Rabbits for Show
The same conditioning mix will also improve your pregnant and/or lactating rabbits' nutritional status.

Rabbit Farming - conditioning rabbits for show

Cooling Rabbits
Keeping rabbits cool in hot climates is essential for the survival of your rabbits.

Rabbit Farming always includes ways to keep rabbits cool depending on your climate.

Outdoor Rabbits in the Winter
Can rabbits handle freezing temps? Yes! Here are ways to keep rabbits fed, warm, and safe during wintertime.

Outdoor Rabbits in the Winter - Can rabbits handle freezing temps? Yes! Here are ways to keep rabbits fed, warm, and safe during wintertime.

Fly Control (Keep Your Neighbors Happy!)

Rabbits are quiet, timid, and unobtrusive, making rabbit farming very easy on the neighbors.

But whenever animals and their droppings are involved, one runs the strong potential of also breeding FLIES. This does not make the neighbors happy. 

Here are some very good ideas for controlling the fly population; we at Aurora Rex Rabbit Ranch successfully implemented all of them:

  • Keep the droppings raked up and tilled into the garden or moved to a covered compost heap
  • Set up worm beds under your cages
  • Keep a few chickens, ducks or both, to snap the flies out of the air and to devour the fly maggots and other insects on the ground before their numbers get out of hand.  There's a huge benefit to this last suggestion - "free" eggs!
  • Fly Predators are a fabulous, safe, and very effective way to wipe out your fly population. It's safe for both humans and animals, and are non-poisonous and completely natural. Plus, Fly Predators CAN be used successfully in conjunction with chickens to nearly eradicate flies.

Click on the banner to get started on freedom-from-flies today!

Spalding Labs - Fly Control

Learn more at our Fly Predators page.


Control Ammonia Levels

Ammonia fumes in animal urine can be dangerous to your animals, so eliminating ammonia odors is essential. And all the better if it's easy to do. With Spalding Labs’ Bye Bye Odor, rabbit farming is that much easier - just ‘spritz spritz spritz.’ Voila, odors minimized. 

Learn more at Ammonia Levels, or...

Go straight to Spalding Labs and get the straight scoop (#ad).



Rabbit Farming - the ingenious rabbit manure collection system created by our friend Lisa in CT

Easy Rabbit Manure Collection

Rabbit farming results in lots of manure. Some outdoor systems allow the rabbit manure to fall to the ground, where it can be shoveled before the piles grow too large.

But, we wanted to bring your attention to an ingenious manure collection system that our friend Lisa in Connecticut set up. Maybe something like this could simplify your life, too?

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Protect the Herd from Rabbit Predators

Rabbit Farming - the raccoon is a formidable predator of rabbits

Do not for a minute underestimate the capability, brute strength, and determination of raccoons, coyotes, foxes, weasels, bears, eagles, hawks, mountain lions, snakes, rats, and other predators to rip a flimsy rabbit hutch to pieces and help themselves to the rabbit(s) inside the hutch.

The Predator Prey relationship goes only one way. Pictured: this raccoon was looking to end the life of a rabbit or chicken on the premises, and would return later for seconds....


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Commercial Rabbit Farming

The following three guest posts were written by the very experienced Ms. Carla Clark, owner of Rabbits4U, a commercial rabbit operation and breeder network that supplies raw frozen rabbits for pet dogs and cats.

If you're ready to take your rabbit enterprise to the next level, you can now learn from Ms. Clark's expertise:

Meat Rabbit Breed Choices

Choose a meat rabbit breed with rapid weight gains and adaptability to your climate, breeds that are well known for their commercial potential - large litters, excellent mothering, prepotent bucks, kits that reach 5 pounds in 8 weeks. The following breeds are very good starting points:

  • New Zealand Whites
  • Californians
  • Production Whites (Altex or other commercial crosses containing the blood of the best commercial breeds)
  • A combination of these

Some strains of Silver Fox, American rabbits, Satins, and other meat rabbit breeds may also compete well. Learn the strain's performance record before incorporating it into your stock, as the success of a commercial rabbit production enterprise will depend on getting many fryers to market by 8 weeks of age.

Like cattle ranchers and chicken or egg ranch farmers, the commercial rabbit farmer is in it to put food on the family table. It is possible to make a living, as long as there are enough rabbits in the herd, and the processes are optimized.

  • Rapid reproduction is in a rabbit's DNA. They're rabbits - they multiply like rabbits. 
  • Optimum rabbit welfare is a rabbit farmer's chief focus, because it is good for both the rabbit and the business. 
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Maximize Your
Rabbit Farming Products
Meat, Fur, Wool, and more

Rabbit farming is not a "Get Rich Quick" scheme. But the more products that your rabbit farm can market, the more likely it is that you may eventually make your hobby a profitable one, and maybe be able to quit your day job one day if you have the passion for rabbit farming.

Note that there may be state and federal regulations that apply to your enterprise.

Be sure to do your due diligence and educate yourself as to the applicable laws and regulations in your state, province, or region.


You Can Sell...

  • Fryer rabbits. Market fryers are sold live by weight to a meat processor

  • Meat. Sell whole or cut up, frozen or fresh. Meat can be sold by the unit or by the pound, and prices vary by area. 

  • Breeding Stock. Other breeders or individuals new to rabbit farming may be looking for high quality pedigreed and healthy rabbits that are excellent representatives of their breed.

  • Homemade Pet Food. Cats are considered obligate carnivores with digestive systems that rely solely on raw meat. Dogs are very nearly so. Feed them a species-appropriate diet, and their health improves, sometimes dramatically.

    See Raw Rabbit. (Would you be interested in raising meat rabbits for the pet market? Let us know!)

  • Rabbit pelts. Rex pelts are in high demand in the USA and in Europe. The big name furriers need "bundles" of at least 40 matching pelts in order to craft their fine garments.

    Rex is not the only sought after breed. White, black, chinchilla and wild agouti pelts of various breeds are also desirable. 

    The most valuable pelts are the senior primes, harvested between October and March (in the Northern Hemisphere) when the adult winter coats are fully prime (no sign of molt).
    • Sell 'green' (preserved but not tanned) pelts
    • Sell your professionally tanned pelts to a furrier
    • Tan your own rabbit pelts (or have the professionals do it) and utilize them yourself by making and marketing the garments, mocs, blankets, pet toys (and more)
  • Wool (fiber). Angora wool can be sheared or plucked approximately every three months. Sell the loose wool, or spin it and sell the fiber. Or, create your own angora products such as caps, shawls, sweaters, socks and blankets for sale.  For more info on wooled breeds, see Angora Rabbits, and German Angoras

  • Manure/fertilizer/mulch. There's a plethora of uses for the brown gold that accumulates (rapidly!) under the rabbit cages. Sell it by the used feed bag. Or sell it by the pick-up load - gardeners LOVE it. Sell it composted or fresh. Offer a low "U-Shovel" rate to your gardening buddies.

  • Fresh Vegetables. If you have a vegetable garden on which you've spread copious amounts of rabbit manure, you're likely to reap an abundance of veggies. You can sell your surplus fresh vegetables at the local Farmer's Market or to friends and neighbors.

  • Worms. Several species of local earth worms may migrate into the piles of rabbit droppings. Large, well-fed earthworms and red wrigglers (and whatever other name they go by in your area) are valuable to fishermen and to others wishing to populate their own compost or worm bin projects. 

  • Rabbit Recipes and cook books. Compile your favorites into a cookbook and market it with your other products.

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Rabbit Farming: Market Day
Process the Rabbits

This is a hard topic; do we need to talk about it??

Does the idea of killing and butchering rabbits gross you out?

Are you of the opinion that butchering rabbits is cruel? That humans don't need meat? That we're herbivores by nature?

If so, then I marvel that you've read this far.

Here is the position of Raising-Rabbits: Humans are omnivores that need to eat a certain amount of animal-based nutrition regularly, and this is why we accept using rabbits for food. 

  • Humans have been meat-eaters throughout the entire time frame of recorded human history, and our digestive system is still a meat-eating one.

    Humans are healthiest for the long term when we eat at least some part of our diet in (grass-fed) animal protein and animal-based fats on a regular basis. 

    How do I know? There is not a single human on this planet that can digest the complex cellulose in plants. And in fact, neither can herbivores

  • True herbivores have digestive systems with either a hind gut or multiple stomachs that utilize armies of bacteria and other life forms to do the digesting for them. These are mechanisms that humans with their single stomachs will never be able to employ. Humans don't have the anatomy OR physiology that herbivores have.

  • Eating only plants eventually exposes humans to insurmountable nutritional shortfalls that can become crippling or fatal, if one does not consume compensating nutritional supplements.

It cannot be considered cruel to butcher and eat meat when consumption of animal protein is a requirement of the human body for long-term health.


Okay! Are we good?? Here are the pages on Raising-Rabbits that will help you with processing your rabbits:

Killing Rabbits: Butcher your meat rabbits, euthanize your culls.

Slaughtering Rabbits: how to remove the rabbit pelt, clean the rabbit carcass and cut up the rabbit meat.

Learn more about animal rights, animal welfare, and human health here.



Raising-Rabbits' Raw Frozen Rabbit is Ideal for Feeding your Dogs and Cats



Raising rabbits? Consider a membership to the American Rabbit Breeders Association






Add your Comments or
Share your Experiences!

Your comments or experiences can help others who read them. So, comment away, and if you have pictures, you can post up to four of them. Pictures are always helpful.

(Have questions? Perhaps your question was already asked, and answered, below. If not, Karen has answered hundreds of your questions in her book: Rabbit Raising Problem Solver, covering every aspect of pet rabbit and livestock rabbit care as well as rabbit health and disease. We recommend it!)

Comments from Other Visitors...

Click below to see additional posts that other visitors have made to this page...

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