Friday, October 5, 2012
Day 6 - Raising Rabbits for Meat and Money
31 Days of Homestead Living!
Today I want to talk about raising rabbits. I was at a farm meeting at a local college a few years ago. At that class they discussed ways small farms could make money during their off seasons. They mentioned that rabbits could be raised for little money, with little space. The rabbit cages could even be built single space along the edge of your fields, and not take up a lot of room needed for your main money crops.
I went home and told my husband about what I'd learned. We began to look at it a little, but not really seriously. We had always had a rabbit or three since our girls were little. But the rabbits raised for meat are different. There are several types but most are all white. They grow larger and are heavier, and they grow quickly. We started buying a few rabbits here and there. Then I read about a rabbit farm that was going out of business in the next county. My husband gave his blessings, and I bought all their cages, rabbits, feed, and what ever else they had. I think I paid $400. We were in the rabbit business!
Our state had a group then who would buy the meat rabbits live and take them to the slaughter house. We got paid per rabbit. A large truck made a route and would meet farmers to pick up the rabbits. Then a few years ago the slaughter house was taken out by a hurricane. So that kind of slowed down and never really got off the ground again. We still grow our rabbits. We butcher them for our own needs. We sell to the public live rabbits. These people come to our house and knock on our door to see what we have for sale that day. We sell live rabbits at Easter time. And we sell rabbits to petting zoos, and other situations like that.
People love to come and see them. They stop by and look at how we have ours set up so they will know how to raise them too. Rabbit meat is like chicken. It is very lean and healthy. Rabbit is a popular fresh meat to purchase where we live because the international population is higher than in outer towns.
There are other ways to make money while growing rabbits. You can sell the manure. Some people use the manure and raise worms to sell. Some people sell the furs, and some sell the wool to be woven and spun for yarn.
Rabbits can't be too hot or they won't breed. We keep heaters on them in the winter when needed, and fans on them in the summer most of the time. We buy rabbit feed at the feed store, but we feed them other things as well. They can eat the same feed as the cattle if we need them to. We give them hay, grass, vegetable and fruits, what ever we have. They love bread. They are not really picky. If a rabbit stops eating, he probably doesn't have any water.
Rabbits are very quiet, small, and non-destructive. I've known people to raise them in their garage in neighborhoods that didn't allow pets. Lot's of people are interested in independent living now. Rabbits are a meat source anyone can raise. That is why I became interested at first. I knew if anything happened to my husband, I could raise rabbits myself. I may not be able to tend the cows alone, but I could do this! I know that we will never get rich off rabbits. It's just another piece of the puzzle. Another thing we put together to support our family.
We let our rabbits run free in fenced areas at times. Rabbits are great editions to your homestead.