Rabbit Ranch

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Dean's Rabbits - 268 Hill Top Drive - Fountain Inn, SC 29644

Start Up and Small Meat Rabbit Growers

The Many Ways To Breed and Grow Meat Rabbits

From 2 or 3 rabbit pets in the back yard or for meat on the table, to a full time business. Growing commercial meat rabbits to supply meat processors. There are approximately 60 plus rabbit meat processors located in the USA. Most are needing new growers to grow rabbits for this market. Yes good profits can be made raising rabbits if common sense management practices are used.

The commercial rabbit business could be a blessing to The USA

World population will double by year 2060; The next 50 years the number of people estimated on earth will increase at a large pace every day. Some areas will be larger than others, but all locations are increasing.

An article in Farm Press August 14 2006, Texas population will double the next 50 years. Available clean water will drop by 17% during this period. This is most likely true in every state of the US. With two (2) times as many people using water and the supply of available clean water drops by 17%. This in itself is a very large formula for disaster.

Six (6) pounds of rabbit meat can be grown with the same amount of clean water and feed it takes to grow one (1) pound of beef.

Summer 2003 Farm Bureau magazine says South Carolina lost 1.2 million acres of crop farmland to urban development from 1980 to 2003. That is 75% of the total land area in South Carolina. That was 7 years ago. How much more farm land has been taken for urban development. This same practice of taking farm land for shopping centers and housing developments is taking place in all states. When all the farm land is taken for shopping centers, parking lots and houses, where will we grow food to feed us?

For years the United Nations have been trying to increase rabbit growing in Mediterranean countries and far east. Rabbits are a meat animal that can be grown with feed stuffs that do not compete for human foods. Rabbits can produce high nutritious meat on plant items not used for human food. Chicken needs grain to produce large quantizes of meat. If you want chicken or poultry you have to give up bread. It takes 2 acres of land to grow a cow. Eight square foot hutch can grow a breeding female rabbit and her liter. This one breeding rabbit will produce the same number pounds of meat as a cow. The same feed to grow one (1) pound of beef will produce 6 pounds of rabbit meat.

Couple this with the fact most areas of the world will not be able to produce enough food to feed the people by year 2020. Will government people wake up to these facts in time to do something so enough food can be produced? Will the urban sprawl be stopped in time? Will our agriculture experts start working to increase animal production that can be grown that will produce enough food? A growing increasing rabbit meat industry is one of the most valuable assets the USA has today. I do not think it is the only answer but can be a big part.

Already so much of our fresh produce is being imported from other countries. How long will the terrorist, that want to kill Americans, wait until they start poisoning our fresh food. With this food being imported, the USA has no control over its food supply.

I encourage any American that has ever given any thoughts of growing commercial meat rabbits. Most will start with thoughts of growing meat for their table and learning the rabbit husbandry. As they learn more and more people will have knowledge to help produce the numbers of rabbits that will be needed. I also encourage all people with rabbit interest to experiment with alternative feeds. We have done some research using Kudzu to feed rabbits. Sweet potatoes are another item. The results have been good but a lot more trial & error is needed. There are many other feed items that could be used. Just need some trials to find out what can be used successful

Grow more rabbits

If Arlene and I were starting a new commercial rabbit meat business today. Reading this could answer a lot of questions a prospective grower may have on getting started.

I have lots of e-mails from people requesting information about starting a commercial rabbit business. 99% of these are directed to www.ardengrabbit.com. posted in April 1996 up through today, this web site has been the largest inspiration to new prospective commercial meat rabbit growers.

The answer to enough good quality rabbits being grown to fill all the orders, will come from growers operating rabbitries with common sense management practices that produce profits high enough to properly pay growers. Arlene and I know it can be done because we are doing it and have been 32 years.

If Arlene and I were starting a new commercial rabbit meat business today. The following is how we would do it. I would personally like to see new growers and present growers give this information some deep thought. Especially if you have been disappointed with a rabbit operation that will not produce enough profits to pay all the bills and pay you too.

Decide what your markets will be. The most sought after is a market of selling to a processor on a regular schedule. One that will and can pay you for your rabbits on every delivery. This can only be profitable in the first year if you are less than an 1.5 hours drive of the processor. Delivery cost and shrinkage from longer hauls will eat up all your profits.

If you are located where there is no processor or is to far away. Ask yourself, do I want to be the processor? Or am I willing to work with others in my area to form a coop to open a small processing plant? Rabbits are regulated under federal food and cosmetic act enforced by FDA and is available by most states at no cost. USDA is not required and is available only if it is purchased for rabbits. The cost of USDA inspection is so expensive you will be doomed before you get started.

Alternative markets are available for small operations. Personally I would not put any money into a rabbit business depending on these markets. Some people have seemed to be successful selling to these markets. As far as I checked into this, I think the markets will fold before you ever get big enough to be very profitable.

Plan and get set up with shelter space before you get rabbits. The rabbits need a place where they can be cared for. A commercial meat rabbit business is a business and should be started and run as one. Name your rabbitry. Open a bank account in that name. Apply for a federal ID tax number and a state ID number. Write a business plan with all the information you have researched. Then you have a legal legitimate operation that will pay taxes or give you tax credits that are worth money.

If you own a time clock use it or at least keep track of all time spent working in your rabbitry. Write down when starting and when quitting each day. Pay yourself a minimum wage for this time. Deduct taxes and FICA and pay the federal and state their taxes due. This can give you tax credits until the rabbitry becomes self supporting and pays all its own way and you too. You would not take a job working for another company for no pay, so do not work for your self either unless you get paid.

If you already have barn space or some kind of shelter. Choose cages large enough (30 x 36 x 18 minimum) to leave the bunnies with mother 8 or 9 weeks and harvest to market off mother. If you need to build shelter, Plan so you can expand in small sections as needed. I recommend not ever stacking cages. This was one of our biggest mistakes when we started. Stacking 3 high to start then down to 2 high and then reworking barns and cages for a single level. The cost of labor to clean will eat up profits. Also the added stress on the rabbits kill profits. Always work for un crowded barn conditions.

Choose a breed of rabbit you have a market for. You may sell to a processor that wants NZW only. Most time this is because they are needed for laboratory biological. If Californians can be sold they have the best tasting meat and can be grown more economically. A big savings on feeding breeders can be had by selective selection from Californians.

I would start with 10 does 10 to 12 weeks old and 2 bucks. One buck same age as the does and a different bloodline. The second buck could be younger from a third different bloodline. The younger buck to use to breed junior does from original 10 does. Sell the bucks and keep the does.

All the information I have gathered shows the 42 day after kindle breeding system the most profitable by a far margin. Some growers use the 11 day and 14 day after kindle breed back. These same people are always talking about 30% of bred does missing. All the information I have gathered shows 2% to 5% misses on the 42 day. I believe this to be true because we run 2% to 3% misses and have been steady with this for over 32 years. When figuring the extra cost of cages, buildings, high performance feed, and extra labor moving bunnies. The faster breed back will eat up your profits.

I am not a feed expert. I do not know of any new rabbit growers that are. I put my time in finding a reasonably priced pelleted feed. This feed must be manufactured by a quality feed company. After I find a good feed company I stay with them.

Actually your rabbits are same as employees. They work for you and you pay them by shelter and feed. I think a lot can be gained by having a set routine that is followed. Decide on a set list of management practices for these employee rabbits and stick with it. Changes like trying a new breed system this week and another next month leaves the rabbits like human employees. Not knowing how to be happy.

Rabbit sale prices are set by market conditions. The best way to increase profits is by more efficient management practices. Lowering cost pennies at a time. A little here and a little there. Lowering stress prevents disease. Medications are very expensive.


Dwan's Rabbits - 268 Hill Top Drive - Fountain Inn, South Carolina 29644 - Phone 864 862 2451

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Last Updated 2/25/2013

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