Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why Raise Rabbits? (for Sammi)

What do you do with that many rabbits??!! What do you do with them in the winter time? Do they bite? What do they eat? Do you ever let them run loose on the ground? I have been asked these and similar questions several times, especially in the last few months. I will try to answer from our perspective.

Rabbits are a very good high-quality meat, high in protein and low in fat. (Did you know you can buy rabbit meat in many Wal-Mart stores??) The meat can be subsituted for chicken in most any recipe. They also produce the absolute best garden fertilizer, and it can be applied directly to the garden and flowerbeds without burning the plants. Their feed-to-meat conversion ratio is higher than chickens, meaning you get more meat per lb. of feed that it takes to grow them to processing weight. They are very easy to care for, utilizing the right housing conditions, whether raising a few rabbits or hundreds.

After moving to Kentucky, we found we had landed in an area where there are several people raising rabbits to supply a research and rabbit meat processing company. ( at the time, I had just wanted a few rabbits for meat for us and fertilizer for the garden) After visiting a local rabbitry and talking with the owners several times about the potential for a semi-large operation, we decided to purchase breeding stock, namely New Zealand White rabbits. What we learned, and what inspired us to go into production on a commercial level, is that rabbits are, and have been for many years, used for research. Research to help develope new medicines and vaccines, used to prevent and /or treat diseases. That really inspired me: a home business and a contribution that benefits society.

As far as do they bite? Only if they feel threatened. When reaching into the cage I always watch the eyes and ears of the animal, and much like a horse or other animals they will lay their ears back in warning. Sometimes they will growl, especially if the doe has just kindled (given birth)
Do I let them loose on the ground? For sake of disease prevention, even though I have my favorites, I would not put them on the ground, as one may well do if they have a pet rabbit.
What do they eat? They are fed an 18% pelleted rabbit feed. Once in a while I will give a carrot piece or an apple piece as a treat. And what do we do with them in the winter? Feed them and care for them, make sure there is fresh air but no drafts on them. This is it, in a very tiny nut-shell. I have always enjoyed working with animals and this is just the next step for me in a long line of animal ventures. I hope to enjoy it for a long time.


~GweN~ said...

Well Thank you Mom for educating me at least. As you know I had none of these answers for Sammi when she asked. I will make sure she reads this so she knows. It's so neat having these blogs because even though we are miles away from family members, it's a way to keep up and feel close in some way. Thanks again! Love ya!

Tina. said...

Walmart???? I didn't know that! Now I am going to have to go and see if ours carry's it!

Rose said...

Very informative.... things I didn't know!!

Anonymous said...

we live in texas and are wanting to raise rabbits again commercialy but cant find any processing plants in texas. we are looking to locate and find buyers on a commercial level with pick up points for texas can u give us some advice

Anonymous said...

Hello, I live in Kentucky and want to start a commercial rabbitry as well, however I'm not sure of where to market them in the state. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jared (