Meat Rabbits, what should a newb know?

Discussion in 'Homesteading' started by SnowRooster, May 29, 2020.

  1. SnowRooster

    SnowRooster Space Shuttle door gunner & Cosmic Castaway Supporting Member

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    So, I’m going to start raising meat rabbits. I know absolutely nothing about keeping them. I have hunted them 100s of times, cleaned them & cooked them, never raised any.

    So I’m asking those of you that have, what should I know that I don’t know?
    I’ve ordered a few books, I’m digging out all my old Mother Earth news mags with rabbit articles. Etc.
    Thinking I’ll start small, 1 buck and two Doe.

    I think my biggest predator problem would be cats and skunks. We are really don’t have many raccoons around. I don’t think I’d have to go too crazy in Fortifying The Rabbit hutch.

    anyway, would love input, tips & tricks.

    thanks
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  2. BBD280

    BBD280 God, Guns, and Guts Supporting Member

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  3. MacEntyre

    MacEntyre Shoot on Sight! Charter Member Vendor

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    You can attend my class on Raising Rabbits at Prepper Camp in September... jus' sayin'!

    I like the Colony approach, no cages, rabbits on the ground, metal roof, all does and kits in one big run, bucks in small isolation runs. Make sure it's rabbit-proof, as well as 4 footed predator proof, raptor proof and snake proof. No ants and no mice. 4' rabbit wire (1"x 2") on the walls, welded wire (2"x 4") on the ground, 2' rabbit wire on the ground around the preimeter and welded wire from the top of the rabbit wire up to the roof. 2' Nylon Wildlife Netting around the perimeter will keep out snakes. Keep it clean and keep the perimeter clean. They need shade and good ventilation... they love any cold temperature, can't stand heat above 95F.

    If you want to eat rabbit twice a week, get one buck and two does. Alternate breeding them every two months. Both does in the Doe Run, buck in a separate, smaller run of his own that shares a wire with the does. Make sure the three breeders are unrelated.To breed 'em, put the doe in the buck's run, watch him cover her three times, then return her to the doe run. One month later, you'll have 5 to 8 kits. Doesn't matter the breed, but choose one that's a decent size. I like French Champagne D'Argent and American Silver Fox rabbits. It helps if you like the breed and learn something about them. Champagne D'Argent were developed for meat in the 1600s. Silver Fox were developed in the US during the last century and are somewhat rare. Both are beautiful.

    Check the newborns for problems, remove dead kits. Make sure momma takes care of 'em, feeds 'em so there are no wrinkles on their bellies. Check all rabbits for ear mites, dust 'em with diatomaceous earth to get rid of ear mites. Clean out all rabbit pellets periodically so you can avoid coccidia.

    Spend time in the runs with the rabbits and get them used to being held. If you do this with the kits, then they will be easy to handle. Otherwise, they will rip your forearms to shreds when you try to hold them. The kits grow up in the Doe Run. When the kits get to be 12 weeks old they are sexually mature, so remove the males to a separate Grow Out run. To sex them, you have to turn 'em over, dig through the fur and look at the genitals. On males and females, it looks like a tiny hot dog. If the hot dog has a longitudinal slit, it is a female. When they are 20 weeks old, harvest 'em.

    You can buy rabbit food, but that's expensive. They will eat lots of high protein greens that are common... what we call weeds. Red and white clover, wild violet, wood sorel, dandelion, wild grapes, mulberry leaves and branches, kudzzu, thistle, buckwheat, alfalfa. Six bales of alfalfa will last through the winter. During winter, we make fodder by sprouting 1 lb of wheat every day, and feeding it to the rabbits when it's seven days old and weighs 6 pounds.

    Consult the forum RabbitTalk.com.
     
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  4. Bailey Boat

    Bailey Boat Senior Member Benefactor Supporting Member

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    Cheaper/easier to just buy them..... consider cost per pound....
     
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  5. MacEntyre

    MacEntyre Shoot on Sight! Charter Member Vendor

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    With 4 breeder does we are able to produce 250 rabbits per year at about 8 pounds per rabbit. At $8 per pound that's $16,000 per year. Even if you only get half that much per pound, it's cheaper to raise them.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  6. Infamous1

    Infamous1 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Don't name them.
     
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  7. SnowRooster

    SnowRooster Space Shuttle door gunner & Cosmic Castaway Supporting Member

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    that’s a lot of great info that’s exactly the kind of stuff I’m looking for. And I am definitely interested in taking that class.

    trying to become a little more self-sufficient. Don’t mind the work of keeping them. And there’s a peace of mind of knowing exactly what went into my food.

    Definitely no names, these are going to be food only.
     
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  8. JimB

    JimB Picking it up slowly. Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    How many litters to a doe before you swap in a new doe, and do you buy new does for genetic diversity?
     
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  9. VA_GENTLEMAN

    VA_GENTLEMAN Gone Galt Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    What about worbles? As I grew up hunting them, I always checked for them (as I was told too...) but I never saw one or knew what they were... LOL.

    I just skinned them out, looked and fried them up... Is that an old country tale?
     
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  10. JimB

    JimB Picking it up slowly. Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Warbles are a parasite, they live under the hide, nasty looking, but not dangerous. Familiar with them on squirrels and cats.
     
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  11. VA_GENTLEMAN

    VA_GENTLEMAN Gone Galt Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I knew to look for them.. never found any... ate a LOT of wild rabbit growin up.... Not that I had too.... but I liked it!
     
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  12. Tim

    Tim I am....an enchanter. Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I have pretty much stopped hunting deer. But, man, I REALLY miss rabbit hunts.
     
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  13. MacEntyre

    MacEntyre Shoot on Sight! Charter Member Vendor

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    Does can have 8 or more litters per year for several years.
    They go into the pot when they stop giving you what you want, which includes:

    get along with other does
    submit to the buck
    become pregnant
    make a nice nest
    have a litter of 5 to 8 kits
    lose no more than one or two kits, normally lose none
    feed 'em 'til they are weaned
    have kits with no problems or defects

    When you replace a doe, get one that is unrelated to the bucks you be breeding to her.
    Don't do line breeding until you Really Understand It! (No WV line breeding)
     
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  14. Infamous1

    Infamous1 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    My maw maw always had a hutch around with a few rabbits in it. We ate alot of rabbit growing up. She would pick up wilted veggies from local grocery and flea mkt vendors(she kept a booth) and she kept a huge garden to feed em. She had switched to a 10x10 lot and free ranged the rabbits by the time she lost her mind and was moved to an assisted living home. That was when we realized it had gotten out of hand. The rabbits would tunnel out of the lot. Sometimes 25 or 30' and pop up out in the yard or the hay field and maw would lay a piece of tin and a rock over the hole. We gave away over 150 rabbits out of that lot when we cleaned up and I am certain we did not locate several. I miss messing with them and really enjoyed it but I could never get comfortable with raising them myself for consumption. Just had it forced on me from childhood and it soured me.
     
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  15. SnowRooster

    SnowRooster Space Shuttle door gunner & Cosmic Castaway Supporting Member

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  16. MacEntyre

    MacEntyre Shoot on Sight! Charter Member Vendor

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    If'n you do a very good job with the pelts, you would probably be disappointed by what they bring. So, no, not much of a market. But some people like it, and it is nice, soft fur.

    I like to do it quickly... lace 'em to a hoop, pressure wash the inside and rub in two egg yolks. The key is to keep the hair side from getting matted, so if can end up fluffy.
     
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  17. Car0linab0y

    Car0linab0y Active Member

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    Heat is a killer. Put frozen water bottles in for them, or ice cubes in a bowl. If you have wood hutches they will chew... take chunks of non-treated 2x4 about 4 inches long. Soak them in a salt brine, let them dry out, and put them in as chew toys.

    Make sure cats or dogs cant get under or next to their cages or runs. Freaks the rabbits out, we had one die because the neighbors dog got under it and kept trying to nip its feet. We weren't home, and they thought it was fun to watch the dog "play" with the bunny.
     
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  18. SnowRooster

    SnowRooster Space Shuttle door gunner & Cosmic Castaway Supporting Member

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    Thanks, I’ll definitely make some of those chew toys. Probably going to go with the rabbit hutch/tractor. Move it around the yard so they can get fresh grass and greens, and have their little hutch on top of that. I was also looking at this little solar fan at Walmart. It’s made for car windows but if I took it apart and put the solar panel on top of the roof of the hutch, and the fan portion in the sidewall will definitely give them cool air inside the sleeping area.
     
  19. SnowRooster

    SnowRooster Space Shuttle door gunner & Cosmic Castaway Supporting Member

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    That’s disappointing, I figured somebody would be buying rabbit pelts.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  20. Crazy Carl

    Crazy Carl seriously? Life Member

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    Yummy, tasty little creatures.
     
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