Thursday, March 20, 2014

Keeping Rabbits

This post is part of the series: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Homestead.  If you missed the other posts in this series, you can get caught up here. If you're looking for some great resources for planning your homestead, check out some of the books here.  

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.




Benefits
  • 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
  • Quiet
Cons
  •  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.

Requirements

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. 

2 comments:

  1. We've kept rabbits for many years as pets. We used to have three outside rabbits that we kept in what we called the resort. It was a large hutch attached to a 10' x 10' pen. They made tunnels inside the pen where they would sleep at night. They never tunneled out of their pen and we would occasionally let them roam the gardens. We now have two rescues that are house rabbits. They are box trained and are free to roam around with our cats and dogs, but go back into their cages at night. Our second rabbit showed up on our doorsteps yesterday afternoon. She is an adorable black and white short hair with velvety fur that someone abandoned. She looks like a little cow and is extremely friendly and gently. Rabbits and ducks are my favorite pets and they are both extremely beneficial to the garden.

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  2. Thanks for this lovely post. Your rabbits are adorable. We had a lovely buff/honey colored French Angora rabbit which we named Honeybun. I had quite fanciful notions of harvesting the fiber and learning how to spin it into lovely yummy yarns with which I could then knit. I did harvest the fibers without trouble as Honeybun was quite even tempered and calm, however the spinning didn't quite pan out for me. The angoras do need a lot of maintenance to avoid knots though, so we had daily grooming sessions to keep him looking fluffy and lovely. We plan on having some meat rabbits as livestock once we make the permanent move to our homestead. I'd recommend them highly as bothpets and homestead livestock.

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