Welcome to the Rabbitry!

Rabbits play an important part on our farm. As livestock that are easy and relatively fast to raise, they provide a large portion of our family's meat. Our rabbits are are a combination of crosses of a few different meat breeds, including Californian, New Zealand, Silver Fox, and French Angora.


Just like our other animals, our rabbits are raised holistically. We care for them completely corn, soy, and chemical free. For more information, continue scrolling down this page.


RABBIT SALES


Since we breed year-round, we almost always have rabbits available (or will soon!). If you would like to purchase a rabbit, please e-mail me at [email protected] with the option you are interested in.


Meat Rabbit Kit - 6 Weeks-----------$15.00

Meat Rabbit Kit - 12 Weeks*--------$30.00


*A 12-week-old kit is ready to butcher. If you are not interested in processing your rabbit yourself, we can do it for you at no additional cost after you purchase the live rabbit. Please keep in mind that we do not have licensed or inspected processing facilities. 

WHY RABBITS?

Rabbits are an excellent choice of livestock for the small farmer, homesteader, or someone simply looking for a more sustainable lifestyle. Rabbits are easy to house (even in populated areas) as they can be kept in your backyard, garage, or even the basement. They have a minimal smell and make very little noise. 

Rabbits are fast and easy to raise, providing a very rapid return on your investment (which is typically quite minimal). If you start with young rabbits, you will still have your first litter within a year. After that, we expect our does to produce about 4 litters per year. At about 8 kits per litter, we average 32 kits per year, per doe. With just a couple brood does, you can produce a large number of products.

Rabbits supply several different useful products. Of course, there's the meat. Rabbit meat is lean and high in protein, making it a very healthy choice. Plus we have the knowledge that our meat is humanely raised and processed, is healthy, and contains no corn, soy, or chemicals (including antibiotics). Rabbits are easy to butcher yourself, you don't need any special equipment because of their small size. We use rabbit meat anywhere you would use poultry, and we experiment with adding it to other dishes: with potatoes, in soup and pot-pies, or ground in lasagna or spaghetti. We typically use two rabbits per meal to feed our family of 10.

When we butcher, we save our rabbit's pelts. We are experimenting with different tanning methods, hopefully we will be able to make our own fur products soon! If we won't be able to use the fresh hides immediately, we freeze them in Ziploc bags (a couple hides per bag). Occasionally we sell the frozen hides.

Rabbit manure is valuable as fertilizer for plants and gardens. It is one of the few manures that can be put directly on the plants without composting first, it does not "burn" the plants. It is nutrient-dense, decomposes quickly, and produces very rich soil!  

The parts of the rabbit that we do not use after processing (entrails, bones, heads) we feed to our Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs). We feed our LGDs raw or holistic as much as possible, and our extra rabbit provides a nice source of food for them.  

RABBIT MANAGEMENT PRACTICES


Housing


Our rabbits are kept in areas safe from the elements, but with a large enough area for them to be happy and healthy. In the winter months, they are housed in cages in a barn. During nice weather, we keep as many as we can outdoors in hutches or rabbit "tractors" (large, yet movable cages that sit directly on the ground allowing the rabbits to graze). For brood does and litters, we keep them in cages that are a minimum of 32" by 36." Single rabbits can be housed in slightly smaller cages, but we prefer to have them in as large of an area as our space allows.


Breeding


We breed our does for the first time at 6 months (so the litter is born when she is 7 months old). We feel that breeding at this point allows the does to reach proper size and maturity, but yet stay as productive as possible. A buck can be bred as soon as he is physically capable, as he does not need the maturity to raise the kits properly.


When we breed a doe, we bring her to the buck's cage (does can be territorial, so it's not usually a good idea to do that the other way around). Watch them until you're certain that they "did the deed" at least once, and write down the date. We typically leave them together for 30-60 minutes, then return the doe to her cage. We have had excellent conception rates, so we do not put them together more than once. 


For 1 day every month, a doe will not be willing to breed. If she is an experienced brood doe and adamantly refusing the buck, it's typically best to try again the following day (most times, it's successful at that point).


During the winter when daylight is limited, sometimes a doe and/or buck aren't interested in breeding. If you leave a light on in their area for 2-3 days before you plan to breed, the added light will usually stimulate the proper hormones.


Kindling/Kit Care 


28 days after the doe was bred to the buck, it's time to put your nesting box in. We prefer wooden boxes, and you can find many plans online to make your own. Make sure it is clean, and add straw or hay to the box for your doe to make a nest. 


Kits from our meat rabbits are usually born on day 31-33. During the delivery process, the doe may hop in and out of her box, the baby bunnies may not be well covered, and there may be blood in the box/on the doe. Just give her some time, and usually once all the babies are delivered the doe will get everything neat and tidy and her attitude will be relaxed.


Once we're pretty sure the doe has finished kindling, we will check on the kits. We count them, and make sure there are no dead kits (they should be warm and wiggly). If there are any dead kits, we remove them immediately. We continue to check and count the kits on a daily basis. Our does have easy-going temperaments and are used to us, so they have no problems with us checking on their kits. 


When the kits are 1 week old, we clean the nest box out completely. We take the kits out of the box, remove all the bedding/fur. We sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom of the box to help absorb any odors. Then we add fresh hay or straw, put the kits back in the box, and return it to the Mom. We have found that if we put too much bedding in the box the kits can climb out and get too cold, so we usually press it down and make a little nest for them in the back of the box to keep them in. 


When the kits have reached 2 weeks old, they have fur, their eyes are open, and it's time for them to move out of the nest box! They are strong enough to handle being "out" and the extra room strengthens them and helps them to grow.


Weaning 


We wean the kits at 6 weeks old. They are not nursing much anymore, and are eating/drinking on their own. To be less stressful on both the kits and the dam, we wean the kits gradually. On day 1, we will take half of the kits (rounding up if they have an odd number) and put them in a separate cage. Each consecutive day we will pull one more kit and put him/her with its siblings. 

Finishing


Once all the kits have been weaned, we give the dam a 1 week break. Then she is re-bred. If your doe is not holding her weight well, you will need to give her a longer break to allow her to put the weight back on (that is a trait we breed for, as it is not profitable to have to wait to re-breed the doe).


The kits are raised until 12-16 weeks. We've found that's a good time to butcher, as they are large enough to be worth the effort and provide a nice amount of meat. If we wait longer they don't grow at as fast of a rate and the cost for the meat goes up significantly.

OUR HOLISTIC RABBIT RAISING METHODS


Our rabbits, like our other livestock, are raised on grain we mix ourselves. They are given absolutely no corn, soy, chemicals, or conventional dewormers/medications.


All rabbits have water available free choice. During the summer we give them fresh cold water twice a day (especially the Angoras, to keep them cool). In the wintertime we give them hot water twice a day.


The rabbits also have continual access to quality grass hay. We do not feed alfalfa hay to our rabbits as it can cause fatal bloat.


We give each rabbit enough grain that they just finish it by the following feeding (we feed our rabbits twice per day). Our rabbit grain recipe is:


-2 parts Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

-1.5 parts Oats

-1.5 parts Barley

-1 part Wheat

-1.5 parts Alfalfa Pellets

-1 part Wheat Bran


To provide the minerals they need, we top-dress each rabbit's grain with about 1/4 tsp of an herbal mix. For a doe with kits or an entire litter, you will want to increase the herb mix proportionately. Our herbal mix is:


-3 parts Flaxseed

-3 parts Kelp

-6 parts Vitalerbs

-2 parts Fishmeal

-1 part Salt


We deworm our rabbits 1-5 times per week. As a general rule, we deworm kits that are 6-12 weeks old more. During the wet times of the year, we deworm everyone 2-5 times per week. During dry spells we do not have to deworm as frequently. To deworm the rabbits, we simply sprinkle a little bit of the following mix on their grain ration.


-1.5 parts Diatomaceous Earth

-1 part Fir Meadow's DWorm A (we add 1 part by weight of each Black Walnut and Male Fern Root)

-1 part Fir Meadow's GI Soother