Raising Rabbits

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Seacowboys, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I think I want to try my hand at raising rabbits for food. I have absolutely no experience in raising rabbits and would appreciate advice about breeds, housing, food, what-ever else needed to produce them enough to supplement the larder a bit.
  2. eeyore

    eeyore Monkey+++

    Not an expert by any means, but here goes.
    1. If your handy with wood working tools, i would start making your own cage. You can buy one but it will take a long time to recover the cost. Building it easy and if you find you like it, then you could spend money on a cage.
    2. Cages need to be dry and keep the winds off them as much as possible.
    3. I would stick with California or New Zealand breeds. They are medium sized and easy to raise and grow quickly.
    4. Stick with pre-manufactured feeds. I tried using my own mixtures (to try and save money) and found that the conceptions rates dropped off. If you find you like it then start to experiment.
    5. Make it so dogs (cats, raccoons, Kids and such) can't harase the rabbits, they can cause them to kill their young.
    6. Start with a buck and one or two does. Have a place to put the JR's (offspring).
  3. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Our engineer at work is designing me a rabbit factory that will be minimal maintenance and occupy about 100 square feet. Ultimately, I hope to grow worms, use them to accelerate composting rabbit turds, eat rabbits, and use the compost on my fruit trees and garden. The worms will feed my fish. I am also putting in a bee hive or two. We have natural gas, so a generator that runs on that is coming soon. I have enough solar panels and batteries to run my house for several hours, including the well pump but my inverter needs some more ass. I am thinking about a supplemental wind turbine.
    My wife suggested that we build some more crab traps and get another casting net or two and a flounder gig. The Bay has one of the best oyster beds in the gulf just a few hundred feet from my house.
    I looked into some steel security fence today that I think I can manage in the next few months. We have been looking into dehydrators today, as well.
    I get the costs of my rabbit breeding stock and assistance in construction and materials from the "Molly" syndrome. Molly was a pet rabbit that my wife used to have and when I explained this to our engineer, he volunteered to help to avoid his daughter from undergoing the "Molly" syndrome (he likes rabbits for dinner). An AK that I built a while back has paid for the rest of the materials and several hundred pounds of alfalfa pellets. I am looking at New Zealand rabbits for breeding stock with initially six does and a buck for starters.
    I love rabbit dumplings.
    Jerry is considering buying some American Bison and ostriches. He has a ten acre lake surrounding the compound that is well stocked with fish and gators.
    We have a small group of five dedicated families that are planning long-term survival issues. Barter is our chief means of exchange with each other.
  4. zarraza

    zarraza Survivalist in training

    Me = Envious!
    you are living every "survivalist in training"'s dream!!!!!

    my other half is an avid animal lover, and loves to watch the rabbits we have in the wild behind the house - how would i convince her that we should eat something like those cute cuddly creatures behind the house?!
  5. mobilus

    mobilus Monkey++

    Make sure you make salt blocks readily available, they're like cows that way. Oh, and make sure you separate the bucks from the does before the does give birth...the bucks will kill them usually, IIRC. My dad raised rabbits for food when I was young, and that's really all I remember. Good luck!
  6. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    When you breed, take the doe to the buck, not the buck to the doe. The does are territoral, and will at times castrate the buck. After he has breed her a couple of times then put her back in her cage. One thing you will have to be conserned about is heat. Once it gets above 90 degrees it will make the buck go teperrally steril. So breeding should be done in the earlly morning hours. If you are going to have 6 does then you could breed 3 one month then 3 the next. On your 3rd month go back to the first set of 3 and rebreed them. This way you can breed 3 each month, which should keep you in good supply of young rabbits to eat. :D

    Who use to have 30 does and 6 bucks ;)
  7. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    I wish we could find the same around here. The people that we meet are as WG calls them toe dippers. They dip their toe into survivalism and thats about as deep as they get.

  8. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    I've always been told that California Whites or New Zealand Whites we're the best breeds. Never done it myself though.
  9. toemag

    toemag Monkey++

    Rabbits, wow, we have three, a buck and two does, all sterilized, as they were never meant for breeding or the larder. Here in Bavaria in winter the current temp is -10°C at the moment and the snow crusted earth is frozen. In the summer the kid's have a 10sq foot garden run for them, and the hutch is in the middle, their hutch is in an insulated cabin as I write this.

    I used to breed Ferrets and Polecats, had one male albino ferret who was also my liner. A liner is a male that you keep separate from the rest and you only feed him once a week, I found that when I took him out hunting on the second day after his feed he wouldn't kill a rabbit in the burrow and make himself comfy and go to sleep after his meal. The purse nets would sometimes have to be doubled on most of the bolt holes, one spread over the hole and one in reserve, at the end of the day just prior to me joining the Army I had over 24 Ferrets that I had to give away, as they had spread myxomatosis the previous year, and what was once a large healthy rabbit population was now devastated, the rabbits were dieing horrible deaths and it really pissed me off that the UK local authorities would rather poison them than let me legally hunt them, BTW, at that time I was a poacher, trained by a master poacher, he has never been caught or prosecuted, and must be in his mid to late 60's today. Every time I get back to the UK I go visit him, and he has still got at least 6 or so ferrets that are direct descendants of my original breed.

  10. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Well for the crash coarse, here it goes.

    You apparently have the cages taken care of. You will want nesting boxes in there for them also to have the babies in.

    While its good to have most of the floor so the pellets fall through, you want at least part of it to be a board or some such particularly if they dont have a box in the bucks cage so that they can get off the wire floor for foot health and to get away frompredators that will eat their feet through the mesh.

    A wall or privacy fence to block the prevailing wind is a good thing but you want them to have good air flow and plenty of shade. As mentioned above 90 they dont bred well but also above 100 or so they have a bad tendancy of dieing off from the heat in cages where they cant get against the cool ground. One way to get help a LOT with this in adition to makeing use of as much shade as possible is to keep soda bottles of water in the freezer. A 2 liter bottle of ice in their cage on hot days will save your rabbits as they will lay on it to keep cool when needed.

    Make sure to kep salt and mineral licks in the cages for them.

    Keep blocks of wood/sticks in the cage for them to chew on. They are rodents and if they dont chew their teeth will grow to long and kill them.

    If they start pulling out their hair when they arent nesting give them some willow sticks to chew as its generaly a lack of fiber that they can get from the willow.

    Keep breeding records. You will likely have to do some culling to get a good rabbitry started getting rid of does that wont produce or are bad mothers, unreliable bucks, etc and it will take 2-3 breeding cycles to figure out for sure if they are bad breeders or if it was a fluke so you need to know when they were breed (28 days later you should have babies), if you have more than 1 buck then who they were bread to (we had a couple does that did great with one buck but nothing with others) and if you decide to expand your number if bunnies being produced its best not to inbreed to much so haveing 2 bucks and breeding the offspring from 1 to the other works well but you have to have the records to show who was from who.

    The does can be bread a month after delivering and the previous litter removed 2 weeks later so you get a litter every 2 months from each doe.

    New Zeland Whites are a good choice for breed IMO.

    If possible, particularly if you are going to use any of your own bunnies for breeding stock later on, I like to try to get the does and buck from unrelated rabbitries so you get deeper genetics. Its also good to try to make sure you get does that are not related to each other for the same purpose IF you plan to produce your own future breeding stock.

    Thats most of what jumps to mind along with the stuff already mentioned but if you have any specific questions feel free to give me a call.
  11. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    We raised New Zealand rabbits for food while growing up, good eating and a better choice than some of the varmints you guys eat in the south, LOL!

    We kept our cages on the east side of the barn since most prevailing winds come from the southwest around here. However, we did have to block the wind from the east also since east winds here are colder than from the pineapple express out of the south. During the cold winter months we used heat lamps to keep them warm, probably not much of an issue in sunny Florida but would imagine you get a couple days of cold weather.

    Building cages isn't that difficult and doesn't require master carpentry skills whatsoever. I would imagine there is far more info out there these days with the internet for finding basic plans on how to build them than we had back in the 70's. We belonged to a local co-op, which is where we got the plans for building the cages besides looking at others breeding operations and how they built there cages. I honestly don't remember what type of feed we used, that was quite sometime ago.

    One benefit of raising rabbits besides eating them that I enjoyed was the abundance of earthworms I used for fishing. The worms we harvested from the droppings were larger than what you could buy from a somebody selling worms. I caught and ate plenty of rainbow and brown trout on those worms. Not sure if the soil conditions of your locale would produce the same results for raising earthworms, as here but around here it is an added benefit to raising rabbits.

    Anybody else ever used an improvised eletrical prod for summoning the worms? You can buy an electrical prod but we made our own from a bicycle pump and electrical cord.
  12. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    I've got a homemade one in the back of my car, they're pretty amazing.
  13. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    Back to the rabbits. I read an interesting article from some homesteaders once that claimed the trio of rabbits, worms, and chickens was the ultimate in self sustaining food production (along with a garden), and that rabbit droppings are the best worm food there is.

    Here is an article I just searched up about it.
  14. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    Yep! Used to go earthworm hunting with grandpa :D
  15. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

  16. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yeah that is an important point that hadnt really been mentioned. Rabbits dont have enouph of the nesicarry fats needed to be sufficient as an ONLY source of meat. The meat is healthy and an excelent way to supplement your diet but like most foods it isnt all inclusive and if you ate nothing but rabbit you will starve to death basicly since some of the nutrients (mainly fats) you get from other meats just are not there in sufficient amounts. It dose however have healthy calories and are a great reliable and fairly low maintnance source for a PART of a varied diet. If you are able to have the rabbits say 3-4 times a week then use the worms (not to mention the inards and such can be used for bait/chum) to help catch some fish for a couple meals a week and have enouph red meat from deer, bison, cattle or whatever to round out the last couple days of the week along with the stuff from a garden (enhanced by the rabbit fertalizer) then you have a great diet that the rabbits can be PART of, just dont think you will live off of nothing but rabbit meat.
  17. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

  18. zulu54

    zulu54 Monkey++


    Rabbits, chickens....
    How about a Thanksgiving Rabbit.
  19. generic

    generic Monkey++

    My best advice is raise chickens instead. Nothing wrong with rabbits except they produce no food without slaughter(chickens(hens) lay eggs), require more money for food than chickens and to stay healthy over the long term take more space. I can't even fathom a local government allowing the raising of rabbits and not chickens.

    Raising rabbit is for the 'other white meat', not the primary white meat.
  20. hacon1

    hacon1 Monkey+++

    I've got New Zealands. I can say that it was a learning experience in the begining. Now, two years later, I could not be happier. They have paid for themselves!!! I keep my freezer full, sell them, and trade them. I now have three does and one fantasic buck. I am getting five litters out of each doe a year and each doe is having 8-9 kits regularly. When the demand around me went up, I talked a buddy into raising some as well. He is now getting similar results to me and we still aren't able to keep up with demand. I just had a litter that will be ready just in time for Easter and have a buyer for the whole litter. It has turned into a nice little set up. I have several farmers around me that trade for beef, pork, honey, chicken, ect.

    The best book that I have read is, "Story's Book on Raising Rabbits." It's not perfect but it is the best one I have read and it makes for a great reference guide in the begining. Good luck and have fun. The old saying is that, three rabbits will feed a family forever.
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