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 - links to the nitty gritty of providing the best hands-on care for livestock rabbits, whether a hobby rabbitry such as a show rabbit herd, a homestead herd, or a commercial enterprise.
Many thanks to Carla Carter for the following three guest posts. Carla is the owner of Rabbits4U, a commercial rabbit operation and breeder network that supplies raw frozen rabbits for pet dogs and cats.
Choose a rabbit breed with rapid weight gains and adaptability to your climate. Well known for their commercial potential - large litters, excellent mothering, prepotent bucks, kits that reach 5 pounds in 8 weeks - are:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eco-Friendly Rabbit Farming in Ukraine/Hungary
(Very interesting - off-site page opens in new window)
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.
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 may shell out the big bucks for a commercial-grade cage system, complete with built-in nesting boxes and manure disposal.
(In the meantime, building your own cages is cost-effective and not difficult...)
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. 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.
I guarantee they are not colony-raising on a commercial scale. If you lose half your market animals to the local feral or wild predators and all their buddies, it'll be YOU going hungry.
Understand and manage the most frequently encountered rabbit diseases, parasites, infections, and non-infectious challenges to rabbit health.
Barn conditions and rabbit husbandry practices that contribute to herd health.
Lactation and Condition Enhancers:
Rabbits for Show
The same conditioning mix will also improve your pregnant and/or lactating rabbits' nutritional status.
Keeping rabbits cool in hot climates is essential for the survival of your rabbits.
Outdoor Rabbits in the Winter
Can rabbits handle freezing temps? Yes! Here are ways to keep rabbits fed, warm, and safe during wintertime.
What bunny doesn't love Bunny Bran??!
1 Tablespoon per day of our tasty and nutritious snack mix
sprinkled on their regular food is all your bunny needs to be happier and healthier.
Nesting Box Materials: Pine Shavings, Hay, Straw
Rabbits are quiet, timid, and unobtrusive. In other words, rabbit farming is easy on the neighbors, as long as you keep the flies under control.
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 before their numbers get out of hand. There's a huge benefit to this last suggestion - "free" eggs!
Fly Predators are a fabulous and very effective way to wipe out your fly population. It's safe, non-poisonous, and completely natural. Plus, Fly Predators CAN be used successfully in conjunction with chickens to nearly eradicate flies.
Ammonia smell 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...
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?
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.
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 then quit your day job.
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...
how to remove the rabbit pelt, clean the rabbit carcass and cut up the rabbit meat
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 wonder that you've read this far.
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.
But true herbivores utilize armies of bacteria and other life forms to do the digesting for them. These are mechanisms that humans 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.
Have we evolved beyond the point where we
need to kill in order to eat, as some believe? "We're intelligent enough to find other
ways to eat that don't involve killing another animal," I've been told.
But, apparently there ARE no other options...
The fact that dietary vitamin supplements are essential for vegans to remain healthy is stark proof that a vegan diet is inadequate for long-term health.
You can certainly try it for yourself, though...
Certified Holistic Health Counselor Alex Jamieson did...
Ms. Jamieson's conclusion:
"I believe there is a middle way. There is no ONE way that everyone should live or eat. People can still love animals and care about protecting the environment AND honor their own animal bodies and consume the foods that they need."
We're omnivores. There is no shame in accepting the truth.
more about animal rights, animal welfare, and human health here.
Edstrom - the Gravity-Fed Auto-Watering System I Love:
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!)
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