Rabbits - they're soft and fuzzy, adorably cute, relatively easy to keep, low cost, and a truly multi-beneficial animal for a homestead. One of the biggest benefits of keeping rabbits is their small size and quiet natural; making them a great starter animal or a good addition for the small or urban homestead.
Rabbits can be raised for meat, kept as pets, and some can even be raised for their soft fiber. Since they are small, they are a perfect choice for someone with limited space. One of the truly biggest benefits of keeping rabbits is their poop; which can be used directly in the garden without composting first. Some people even create a vermiculture bin below the rabbit's cage to catch the droppings.
On our homestead we keep 2 angora rabbits that we use for their soft, warm fiber. While many people keep rabbits successfully in cages inside or even house train the rabbits, we've found the clean-up much easier when we keep them in the barn (not to mention it helped my husband who is allergic to the rabbits)! While rabbits do well in many temperatures, care must be taken especially in hot weather since they are used to burying into the ground when it gets hot and can't regulate their temperature well outside. While many people do keep rabbits for meat, our rabbits are strictly pets and are well loved additions to out homestead.
- Produce a higher yield of feed to meat ratio than other animals
- Angora bunnies produce fiber
- Can be kept in small spaces
- Have even been used to help mow the lawn
- Don’t do well in hot weather
- Since rabbits are widely considered pets it may be difficult to slaughter them (both for you and your neighbors and friends)
- May need separate living quarters since a rabbit fight can end quite badly.
Rabbits can be kept in hutches, cages, or pastured; they need a place to escape the elements and be protected from predators. They should to be fed hay and feed, plus have constant access to clean water.
For a few books on raising rabbits check out some of these. You can also visit many of the links below to find out more (if you're reading this on email, click through to see the links):
Over the next few months, I will be exploring the opportunities available to the homesteader and offering thoughts on how to set goals and gain a focus on what you want on your homestead. Many of these thoughts are already available in my ebook: The Modern Homestead, but I invite you to follow along here and on my Facebook page for a deeper look into ideas and thoughts on creating your dream homestead.You can also find a wealth of information at the tabs at the top of the blog about gardening, raising animals, and learning new homesteading skills. If you're looking for experience and examples, check out the Homestead Highlight series for first hand accounts from homesteaders.