Once an old-world favorite, rabbit is making a comeback as a protein of choice in the homesteading world due to its high protein content. Whether you want to raise rabbits for meat, for extra cash, or for the fun of it, there are a few things to keep in mind. Use this quick start guide to have a hoppin’ good time raising your own rabbits.
Most farms have the space to raise rabbits in larger colonies, but they must be managed effectively. Remember the old saying: rabbits breed like, well, rabbits! A female rabbit can have three litters a year, with an average of seven babies in each litter. Decide if and when you’ll separate males and females to keep herd size manageable. Otherwise hasenpfeffer will be on your menu for months!
When building a hutch for your rabbits, design with space in mind. Rabbits need plenty of space in their hutch to jump, run, and be comfortable. Estimates vary depending on who you ask, but for the happiest hoppers, shoot for providing ten square feet per adult rabbit. You can save on space and make your rabbits happier by giving them ramps and leveled hutches for exploration. If you have the space, consider creating a simple rabbit run out of wire. Let the rabbits stretch their legs and explore green grass while staying protected from predators.
It goes without saying, but a colony of rabbits is only as healthy as their environment. Encourage your rabbits to do litter training to keep cage cleaning as easy as possible. Always provide fresh hay for comfortable bedding. As an added bonus, female rabbits will use this fresh hay when it’s time to build a nest–no extra work is required on your end. Just make sure the rabbits have enough to stay warm in the winter!
Rabbits have a reputation for being docile, but rabbit breeders know these little creatures can get feisty and competitive, particularly in a group setting. The last thing you want is a fight. Keep the peace by providing ample food and water for your colony in multiple locations.
Raising rabbits is one of the easiest and low maintenance homesteading activities you can do. Provide a better quality of life for the animals and know where the meat on your table comes from by raising it in your backyard.