Monday, March 21, 2011

How to Raise Rabbits for Food

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Domestic rabbits are highly valued for their low fat, low cholesterol and high quality protein. Rabbit meat compares very favorably to chicken, turkey and some fish for its beneficial health virtues and its palatability.


Raising Rabbits
  1. Rabbit breeding stock can be obtained from many different sources. One good way is to go to a fair where there are rabbits and contact the owners which are usually listed on the show cases.
    • 3 to 4 litters of 5 to 10 young can be thrown by a healthy, mature female (doe) each year.
    • One male (buck) can service up to twenty to thirty does, but in order to keep the gene pool healthy, you should have one buck for each 5 does. Make sure you keep records of which does are bred by which bucks, and keep rotating the animals to keep the gene pool as large as possible.
    • One good breed is the Flemish Giant. The young from this breed will be ready to butcher at 3 months, yielding a very tender meat. Most consider the Flemish Giant unsuitable for a meat rabbit, due to the meat to bone ratio, also the amount of food consumed to meat ratio. It is okay to cross with a New Zealand for meat production.

  2. Get the right pen. The pen should be 3 feet by 3 feet for this large breed, but somewhat smaller for the smaller breeds. The floor should be made of a sturdy wire mesh with about 3/4 inch square holes to accommodate droppings and urine. Do give the rabbit someplace else to stand, however. Standing on wire full time can hurt a rabbit's feet. A full tray or box the full size of the floor of the pen with all four sides about 2 1/2 inches high should be slid under the pen to catch the animal waste. This tray should be emptied once per week and rinsed with a disinfectant. Be careful when using bleach, as it will react with the urine and give off a harmful gas!
    • A solid compartment about 1 1/2 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide should be included in the pen to give the doe privacy while she is having her young. this will keep mortality of the young down to a great extent. Be sure there is plenty of dried hay in the pen when she is "due".

  3. Know that female rabbits will conceive at any time they have an "encounter" with a buck. There is no set estrous period.
    • The young should be separated from the mother at about 6 weeks.
    • The doe is ready for breeding immediately after separation from her young.
    • The rabbit pregnancy period is 28-30 days, with the doe able to mate within hours of giving birth.

  4. The pen should be furnished with clean water each day. The water should be contained in such a way that the animal will not contaminate it with its body waste. If in an open container, it should be elevated so that the top is at least 4 inches above the floor. Conventional water bottles work very well also.
  5. Feed a good quality hay. Be sure it has a sweet smell, and has not been water-damaged and become moldy. Red clover and birdsfoot trefoil seem to be the most preferred by rabbits, but they will also do well on alfalfa, Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, and a mixture of native grasses.
  6. Hay should be contained in a lattice manger, or rick to keep it from being contaminated by the animal's waste. Do not feed lettuces. Any fresh green food such as lettuce from the store or grass from the yard can give your animals diarrhea!
  7. Another feeding option can be to use calf manna along with rabbit pellets, or "rabbit food". Medicated calf pellets, available at a feed mill which dairy farmers frequent, can help keep your rabbits free from diarrhea. They will cost you less than the "bunny" pellets per pound, but can contribute to the overuse of antibiotics and are not available in all cities. Very important: When you are ready to butcher, place your animals in an especially clean environment for 2 weeks prior to slaughtering and feed them conventional rabbit pellets rather than the medicated calf food to clear the rabbits from the effects of the anti-biotic which is in the calf food. Remember these rabbits will not be considered organic which is a personal choice.

Enjoying the 'payoff'
  1. The first is to sell them to a meat processing plant, the second is to slaughter and butcher them for your own use, or to sell the meat after you have processed it.
  2. To locate a meat processing plant, the best thing to do is go to different grocery stores and ask where they are buying their meat from. Explain that you are thinking of raising rabbits and are researching the market possibilities. Many of them will be happy to help you.
  3. When you have located several markets who might buy your product, contact them and see if they would be willing to purchase live animals from you. If possible, set up a contract with them to produce whatever you feel you are able to.
  4. Wisdom tells us that you should have a good sound business plan worked out before you even start to raise a single rabbit.
  5. To slaughter, attach two stout cords to a bar about 2 feet above your head and about 2 feet apart. The lower end of the cords must have a slip knot on each of them.
    • You will need a 12" to 18" length of 1/2 inch pipe to kill the animal. You will also need a keenly sharpened knife to skin and eviscerate the animal. You will need a pan to place the carcass of the animal in after you have skinned and eviscerated it.

  6. Remove the animal from its cage, seize it by both hind feet with one hand, and insert one of its hind feet, on the toe end of the joint, but just below the first joint, in one of the slip knots, so that the belly will end up facing you.
  7. Slip the other foot in the remaining slip knot likewise.
  8. While the animal is hanging, pull its neck out straight, and, seizing the pipe with the other hand, give a quick, sharp hard blow where the neck and skull of the animal meet, being sure you don't hit your own hand. If you have done this right, the animal is for all intents and purposes, dead.
  9. With your sharp knife, remove the head, being careful to keep the blood from getting on you. Give the carcass a little time to bleed out
  10. With your sharp knife, remove the front feet.
  11. Skin the animal according to whether you want to save the pelt or hide. Rabbits are very easy to skin. If you don't want to save the hide, simply cut a slit in the small of the back and pull the lower part down and off.
  12. Cut the tail off close to the carcass, cut the skin around the feet hocks. Slit the skin from the feet to the belly on each side, Then slit the skin (but not the belly) on down to the end.
  13. When the skin is off, slit the belly meat from the crotch on up through, and part the ribcage through the breast plate on up to the neck.
  14. Using your sharp Knife, cut through the front of the pelvic bone, being careful not to cut into the anal canal, which will be filled with feces.
  15. Remove all the visceral matter from the carcass.
  16. Save whatever internal organs which you desire, such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
  17. Cut off each hind foot, leaving it in the slip knot.
  18. Place carcass in the container and chill immediately. You may save the meat for later cleaning, quartering, butchering, cooling, cooking or freezing.

General Rabbit Information
  1. Mature bucks should not be kept in the same pen, as one or both will be castrated by the other.
  2. Rabbits are sensitive to too much heat, and the pen should be shaded and well ventilated in the summer.
  3. In the winter, the pen should be protected from wind, and most of its screen areas should be covered. Be sure to keep plenty of hay or straw in the pen for bedding.
  4. Rabbits reach maturity somewhere between 6 and 10 months of age depending on the breed. Smaller breeds mature quicker than larger.
    • The following breeds will weigh approximately this much when fully mature; Netherland Dwarf 2 1/2 lbs., Jersey Wooley 3 1/2 lbs., Holland Lop 4 lbs., Mini-Rex 4 1/2 lbs., Dutch 5 1/2 lbs., Havana 5 1/2 lbs., Florida White 6 lbs., Mini Lop 6 1/2 lbs., Rex 9 lbs., Palomino, 10 lbs., Satin 11 lbs., New Zealand 11 lbs., French Lop 12 lbs., Flemish Giant 13+ lbs.

  5. Pellets should be fed to rabbits in the following portions; Dwarfs 1/2 cup per day, Mini-Lops 3/4 cup per day, Larger rabbits 1 cup per day, Flemish Giant 1 1/2 cups per day.
  6. Clean each pen at least once per week, throwing out all bedding material, and replace it with new, clean bedding.


  • Rabbits should never be lifted by their ears, as it hurts them and damages their ears!
  • To handle a rabbit, grasp a handful of the loose skin over the upper part of its shoulder blades. Rabbits have very sharp toenails on their hind feet, and they can inflict painful scratches on you if you're not careful. To practice lifting a rabbit, use a glove with a long gauntlet on the lifting hand, and a coat or heavy lined shirt. You will soon learn how to lift a rabbit bare armed by observing where to keep your wrist and arm, which will be as close to the animal's body as possible, and with your forearm as close to the center of its spine for its full length as possible.
  • Tame rabbits generally will not bite you. It is not their nature to do so. Hares are a different matter.
  • Occasionally, rabbits, like any other lagomorph, will develop longer teeth than they need. Longer teeth are caused by lack of enough coarse food to keep their teeth ground down, or from a condition known as malocclusion. Lagomorphs are continually growing their teeth out longer, like we do our fingernails. This can be a problem if they are not properly trimmed. Use a pair of large toenail snippers or a small set of wire cutters to trim extra long teeth and relieve the animal of further distress and make it possible for them to eat properly. This will not hurt the animal like it would you or I, because they are built different in this respect. Their teeth will continue to grow on out again.


  • Wash your hands before and after slaughtering or butchering to avoid infections.
  • Never use rabbit livers for food if they have white spots in them. Use only if they are of a clear, dark color. Be sure to remove the bile sack from the liver.
  • Do not slaughter or butcher if you have an open wound or cut, to avoid infections.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Raise Meat Rabbits For Fun & Profit

Raising meat rabbits can be a very rewarding experience for the novice or veteran rabbit breeder. Breeding rabbits for meat and raising them properly can be a profitable hobby or business.

If you do not currently have any meat rabbits. Or if you are thinking of purchasing additional ones consider the following when selecting meat rabbits to raise:

1. Meat rabbits need to have ample milk for large numbers of kits.
2. Any rabbits raised for meat should mate as frequently as is safe.
3. When dealing with meat rabbits litter size should be large.

The top two breeds raised for rabbit meat are the New Zealand White rabbit and the Californian for their size. Both of these breeds have all the qualities needed for needed for successful meat production. These qualities to look for are: good traits such as larger litters, good eyes, good feet, good health, and good meat per portions. There are many other possible breeds to choose from also.

The health of the rabbits raised for meat is essential to the success of any rabbit farm. This is true whether you are raising rabbits for show, pets or for meat. To help insure your rabbits are healthy, buy healthy breeding stock to begin with.

Before buying breeding stock look at the conditions of the rabbit farm selling the rabbits. Ask the following questions to yourself while you tour the rabbit farm:

* Are the cages and rabbits clean?
* Do they have the fly population under control?
* Is there plenty of food and water available for the rabbits?
* Do the rabbits have healthy fur? Look for signs of scaly skin, bald patches and other signs of disease.

If you answered no to any of these, you should think carefully before purchasing from this rabbit farm.

When you are starting out with a new rabbit farm, consider starting small at first. It is usually a good idea to start with as few as one buck and three does. You can always add more as you go along.

Try to find rabbit breeders close to your geographic location. Rabbits find it very difficult to adjust to climate changes. Taking healthy rabbits from the north west and moving them to the south east could destroy your chances of rabbit farm success.

If you are having a hard time finding breeding stock near you, try the internet free classifieds sites. They often offer a great starting point in finding rabbits for sale. The county extension office can refer you to local breeders as well.

Before you bring the new herd home try to have everything ready for them. They will need housing, water, food and daily attention. Try getting the whole family excited about this fun new rabbit farm you are starting. Kids often take to raising rabbits right away and can be very helpful in ensuring proper care for your rabbits.

Also read, read and read some more on the topics of rabbit farms for meat. The more you know the better prepared you will be to handle any crisis that might occur. Typical crisis that might occur is such as disease, sterility, market loss and other such related problems.

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Equipments You Need for Rabbit Breeding

Breeding rabbits is a great hobby that can also become a very profitable small business. The first step to successfully breed rabbits starts with stocking the right equipments. Having the right equipment will help your rabbits not only be more willing, not usually a problem, but healthier and better suited for sell.

The goal of rabbit breeding should not be just producing numerous little bunnies, but growing healthy rabbits that your prospective customers would seek for. These simple to follow tips will help anyone whether you are just starting out or you are a seasoned rabbit breeder.

Let’s start with the rabbit house or cage. Rabbit cages should be on average of two to three feet off the ground. This will help with keeping the rabbit house clean. It will also reduce labor time by reducing the need to bend over too much. Keeping the rabbit house clean is essential to your success in breeding rabbits. Meat rabbits must be healthy before processors will buy them. People looking for rabbits as pets would turn away immediately when they see filthy or diseased rabbits. Show rabbits must be exceptionally healthy and clean before any show.

To save money when you are first starting out, many people elect to buy cages, or rabbit hutches that need assembly. This is a great way to save some money. If you select to assemble your own rabbit house be sure to follow all instructions carefully. Loose wires are sharp and can kill the rabbits before you know there is a problem. While self cleaning metal cages are beneficial, keep in mind that rabbits are not birds and need some space with a solid bottom.

When selecting the water system many breeders just starting out use the manual waterers. These are typically similar to the ones seen in pet stores for gerbils and other small animals. As the number of rabbits increase, switching to a self-watering system can be a great time saver. It’s essential that the rabbits have twenty four hour access to clean water and food. Pregnant does especially need ample amount of fresh water.

The nest box is of obvious importance when breeding rabbits. Many new rabbit breeders have been known to lose several litters of kits because of the nest box. The nest box should be six to eight inches high on three sides and four inches on the front side. The lower side allows the pregnant doe easier access into and out of the nest box.

Ample clean and dry hay in and around the nest box is essential for the doe and kits comfort. The doe will arrange and rearrange the nest box until she is happy with it. Do not be alarmed if she also pulls some of her own fur out as well. She will use this to help line the nest for the kits.

Remember grooming supplies are also essential when breeding rabbits. You should also have the following items handy when breeding rabbits:

* A brush to care for the rabbit’s fur.
* A toe nail clipper to keep the nails trimmed.
* Disinfectant for cleaning the rabbit houses.

Remember proper equipment can help you be a successful rabbit breeder. Keep these things on hand before and after you begin raising rabbits.

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Feeding Rabbits Right

Rabbits are very sensitive creatures in many ways. They can literally die from fright and suffer from many nervous health problems and overheat easily. Also since they are small in size they can easily break bones or otherwise injure themselves if handled improperly. But one way that can really affect your rabbit’s well-being and even shorten its life span is improper feeding. This is not only feeding it the wrong foods, but also the wrong amounts or allowing the food to become moldy or otherwise spoiled.

Knowing what not to feed your rabbit can be as important as knowing what to feed him or her. Some foods that may seem natural to you or even be thought of worldwide as a great choice, can turn out to be bad for your bunny rabbit. Make sure to get plenty of books on rabbits and do your research before obtaining one. A very, very common food that people feed rabbits is lettuce. This is almost universally known as a favorite for rabbits, but lettuce actually contains lactucarium which can make your rabbit very sick or even kill it in large amounts. This happens because the lactucarium gives your bunny very bad diarrhea and works almost as a poison.

Other foods that you should avoid are cabbage for the same reason as lettuce, potatoes, and tomato leaves. Timothy hay is great to feed your bunny and a small selection of pellets as part of their everyday diet can be added as well. Never overfeed your rabbits and use the pellets as only a small part of their regular diet. Provide fresh hay, but only feed pellets once per day. Rabbits can also be fed treats such as carrots, apples and bananas semi-regularly but again only in small amounts. These treats can also be used to help train your rabbit to do tricks!

Overfeeding rabbits is a big problem and giving a rabbit too much food can not only lead to a rabbit becoming overweight but also usually makes rabbits sick and leads to vet bills as you wonder why your beloved bunny acts lethargic and keeps vomiting. Only pregnant does and very young rabbits need pellets down constantly and even hay should be kept up if you have a rabid over-eating bunny on your hands.

A big problem with feeding is that a rabbit may spill his water on his food and cause it to become moldy. So as soon as you notice soggy food, throw it away because it can make the bunnies very sick. You may also see your rabbit try to eat his or her own droppings. As disgusting as this sounds, it is done commonly in the wild. Also it does not mean there is anything wrong with your rabbit or its diet. However, keeping the rabbit's pen very clean will help to eliminate this behavior.

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How to Buy a Dwarf Rabbit

If you have your heart set on a beautiful little dwarf rabbit, there are many ways to go about obtaining one. You may wish to buy one from a breeder or even adopt one from a local shelter. With the recent boom in pet rabbits, often times many people with no knowledge on how to properly care for them, will simply give a rabbit away to a shelter. You will not only be getting a new companion for you and/or your child you will be saving a life too. Either way, before you go about how to buy a dwarf rabbit you need to think about the right breed for you.

There is the unique and tiny Hotot Dwarf rabbit, known for its sweet, good nature and fondness for play and curiosity. Also there is the oldest species of dwarf rabbit, called the Netherland Dwarf. They are known for the babyish appearance but tend to do better with adults or older children as they can be skittish and timid. There is also the hugely popular Mini Rex, though not a true dwarf breed, they are small and known for their very friendly personality, just like their bigger cousins.

Another breed is the Mini Lop, these adorable bunnies are a cross breed of the French Lop, the original lop eared bunny, and the Mini Rex. They have a personality somewhere in between the two breeds, making them a great and laid back pet for both old and young. Though as with all dwarfs, being even more fragile than their larger relatives you need to make sure young children play gently and do not treat them as a toy.

Never breed dwarf rabbits unless you know what you are doing, the very genetic reason they dwarf rabbits can cause a number of baby bunnies to be born only to suffer and die. A better idea if you really feel you have to breed the type, is to go with a Mini breed versus a dwarf or breed your dwarf with a larger rabbit, which will give you only some dwarf rabbits but all will be healthy. Who wants to see little helpless baby rabbits die? This could be very detrimental especially for children.

Most species of rabbits whether full sized or dwarfs can be house trained to use a litter box or go outside and make great indoor pets. In fact they tend to bond easily with their people and can be taught to peacefully co-exist with gentle cats, dogs and other animals though in particular with larger dogs, they should never left unsupervised to wander around with them.

After you have chosen your perfect breed all that is left is to find that perfect breeder or call around to shelters to find ones. Ask friends or search online for local breeders that can provide you with information on taking care of this breed and allow you to visit their rabbit breeding haven. Try to avoid those that do not want to let you meet the mom as they may have sick and poorly bred dwarf rabbits.

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Tips on Breeding Rabbits

Rabbit breeding can be a great endeavor but it can also be a relaxing hobby as many lay rabbit breeders found out themselves. However, not many people know that it be a great way to make money as well. Here are some tips you should remember whether you are breeding rabbits for hobby or for profit.

Spayed or neutered rabbits tend to live longer and suffer from less disease, so if you have rabbits mainly as pets you may think about getting them fixed. Maybe after one or two litters you may wish to stop breeding your rabbit. In any case, if you do choose to breed rabbits, there are some things to think about beforehand.

Rabbits have been found in certain areas to be domesticated as early as the 1500's. Even earlier domestication can be credited to French Catholic Monks. They needed a meat during Lent that was permissible. Early rabbit breeders had to deal with a lot of issues that modern ones do not. One such issue as the wildness was not yet bred out of their rabbits. Through breeding selection and natural processes, we now have hundreds of coat colors and dozens of breeds of domesticated rabbits to choose from. What type of rabbit is right for you to breed is based on many things. For example location, especially if you choose to keep your rabbits outside. Also your personal preferences can influence which rabbit to breed is right for you.

Some people prefer more aloof breeds that may sell well but really need little affection to flourish, and others want the big snuggly bunnies to sit on their lap and only sell maybe one litter per year to only the best rabbit parents. Some basic things to consider regardless of your chosen breed of rabbit include choosing a breeding pair. That is a buck or male rabbit and a doe or female rabbit. They must be healthy of course and free of genetic mutations or diseases. This means purchasing your rabbits from a great breeder that will give you the family history of the rabbit.

Neither sex of rabbit should be either too nervous or too aggressive as these traits will be passed down to their offspring. Some breeds naturally display more of these characteristics than others and that should be taken into account when deciding between a feisty or just plain mean rabbit. Some rabbits were just not meant for breeding even if they are from a high quality stock and have good genes. A good breeder will not sell you these types of unsuitable animals but there may be signs you can look for yourself to determine this as well.

Ask the breeder questions such as how the doe or buck's mother did with her young. Were there any accounts of cannibalism or the mother abandoning the young? This trait can be genetic and may ruin your chances of successfully breeding and selling your kits. Other things to look for are a bad coat and malocclusion, or an improper alignment of the teeth as these will often also be passed down the genetic lines.

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Raising Rabbits for a Profit

There are many ways that you can raise rabbits for profit without having them killed for meat or fur if you don’t like the idea. Many breeds of rabbits do very well in rabbit shows and competition. Most rabbits can be taught to do tricks and provide hours of entertainment for others while providing you with some extra cash. You may also wish to breed pet rabbits for money, such breeds like the Rex and Himalayan are hugely popular for pets and properly bred rabbits can get you close to $100 dollars per kit (baby rabbit).

If you are serious about making real money by selling rabbits for pets, you need to first attain a show quality rabbit. One doe is okay to start with as you can always work out a deal with another breeder that has a show quality male to breed with. Some deals such as pick of the litter will ensure you no up front cost and let you easily start your own rabbit breeding business.

Rabbits are good breeders and simply keeping one female from your first few litters will have you a large breeding stock in no time.

To gain attention and have people want to buy your rabbits, try taking one of them to a rabbit show. Not only can this earn you some money it will also show off your beautiful rabbit and allow to meet with other breeders and get tips on showing, breeding and raising them. Find a local place to show rabbits, maybe take this into consideration before you select your desired breed. Attending a show once month will get your name out there and increase interest substantially.

Creating a web page for your bunny rabbits with a cool name and layout will also get you a lot of interest. In this day and age, people are always looking on the net for everything. Show your pet rabbits and some cute pictures of baby rabbits along with some information and guarantees on health and temperament can be irresistible for those passers-by of your web page. Submit your page to several search engines for free and also join discussion groups, forums and lists on your rabbit's breed to get both more information and to market your rabbits for sale.

Easter is, understandably a huge time for the sale of cute little bunnies and many parents will be contacting you looking for a gift for their child. Make sure they understand baby rabbits are not toys and no domestic rabbits can simply be 'let go' once the child loses interest. A return policy may be necessary to ensure your kits are not abandoned when the other people have lost interest in their baby rabbits they bought from you.

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