How to Raise Backyard Rabbits

Rabbits are a great multi-purpose addition (or beginning) to any 21st century homestead.

| August/September 2007

Don't let their small size and cute reputation fool you, rabbits are a great multi-purpose addition (or beginning) to any 21st century homestead. From pets and 4-H projects to terrific sources of wool, meat and manure ? backyard rabbits make a fun, easy project that fulfills a variety of needs. With minimal time, space and financial requirements, raising rabbits is a great introduction to homesteading, or, for the more established, a simple way to make a little extra money.

As with most animals, different rabbit breeds are naturally suited to different purposes. Mini rex is the standard for pet rabbits, followed by Dutch, Mini-Lop and Netherland Dwarf. Famous for their luxurious fur, Angoras are an excellent breed for wool while Californian, New Zealand and Giant Chinchilla are bred for their tasty, high-quality meat. Regardless of their purpose, rabbits in general produce potent, relatively weed-seed-free manure. The average rabbit will generate 1 pound of manure per week, or about 50 pounds each year! Less likely than some other manures to burn your plants, it makes great fertilizer and is a good choice for plants that need heavy feeding, such as roses and azaleas.

Rabbits have basic needs ? shelter, food and water, and a cozy place to nest. If you're adopting a couple of pet rabbits, the most economical approach is to purchase a hutch, since you'll need just one habitat. Building two or more, however, generally costs less than purchasing multiple pre-made models, and building is as quiet and simple as the critters you're building for. Basic carpentry skills are sufficient for constructing the feeder, nesting box, watering device and wire hutch (wire is light and durable, and the rabbits will soil and gnaw on a wood hutch). With a few materials and regular household tools you'll be well on your way to a successful rabbit enterprise!

You can learn more about building a wire rabbit hutch in this e-handbook from Mother Earth News. It offers detailed hutch-building instructions, plus tips for creating the best living space for your rabbits and a great guide to additional sources.

Do you raise rabbits for food, meat, manure or even just for fun? Share your tips and stories by posting a comment below.

9/5/2013 2:20:32 PM

this really kills me, For one,,, this is like religion,,,, If you dont agree with that religion, dont try to convert others to your religion because evidently, thats why they have their own belief anyhow.... same goes for eating meat, or eating greens all the time,,, Ive tried some vegetarian food, some of it isnt bad,,,, but, meat just tastes better to me and others,,, So, in conclusion, Im raising my own rabbits, and hope to start a nice large rabbitry one day... There has been talk about letting people raise horses for meat.... and really, I stand by it,,, and if they do, I will.... If it SUSTAINS my family from having to eat this other crap sold in stores,,, so be it,, MY CHOICE, NOT YOURS... or other animals,, food is food when your hungry even for vegetarians. its wrong to force your beliefs onto someone else,, whether it be vegetarian, religion, or whatever the case may be,,, FREEDOM OF FOOD..... This situation plays in all ways of life,,, so,,, if you want your veggie's, dont put down farmers... If you wanted too, raise the ingredients to make your own tofu... if thats even possible... but, no one should put you down for it either,,, and i would respect you for wanting to do so,,, I appologize to everyone else in this post.. but thanks for the good article... it will come in handy,,,, FREEDOM OF FOOD !!!!!!!!

7/11/2013 10:42:17 AM

Could someone please help?? We have 1 each male and female rabbits. The doe has given birth twice now and all of the babies died during the first day both times. We separated them when she started pulling out her hair. Not sure what happened. The first time she did not seem to be taking care of them; the 2nd we were not home so not sure although 2 were still in the nest and 2 were other places.

7/6/2013 11:38:35 AM

     Im really suprised that peolpe think that eating rabbits is cruel! lol! Peolpe eat cows all the time, but oh yea, thats some how different... Any ways, I got two pregnat does from a friend of mine for about $40.00. One had 8 babies on June 21 2013, and they were due July 4th 2013. At first I was worried, but they are all now 2 weeks old, and big and healthy, except one that got squised by the mom. So right now, I have 1 pregnat doe, one mother, and 7 plup babies! I have been feeding the nursing doe and pregnat doe all the food they can eat. So for sure, the mother wont eat the babies. And now, the bunnies are almost ready to eat there own food, and i will start to ration the mother 6 ounces of food per day. 

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