Raising Rabbits

Redthistle(8)December 21, 2008

There is probably a "Raising Rabbits" forum on here somewhere, but those folks most likely aren't in Texas where you could cook a rabbit in our hot sun without much extra.

Does anyone here know much about raising rabbits? Do you currently raise rabbits?

I'm thinking about raising meat rabbits just for me and my family. I've got plenty of space and could use the rabbit droppings for the garden.

My stepdad raised rabbits when I was a kid so I've eaten them and remember him even slaughtering them. (Killing them will probably be the hard part for me.)

If you have any tips to pass along including size and location of a hutch, breeding boxes, number of animals, breeds, etc. please do.

I've also read that for small meat animals, the cost/lb of rabbit meat is significantly higher than what you'd pay in a grocery store. Think this is true?



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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I've not raised rabbits, but a good friend of mine, that used to live in the Florida panhandle, used to raise them. They were very good. But, I know that I couldn't kill them. I remember my dad made me hold a cottontail rabbit by the hind legs while he dressed it out. I would have to be a vegetarian if I had to kill animals.

Here is a website on raising rabbits.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 12:54PM
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patsy_b(z8 Tx)

I used to raise rabbits but gave them up due to fire ants. The end for me was when a doe was due and I had been watching her closely as she had been pulling hair(to make the nest). Had checked on her before going to bed and all was well. Early the next morning when I checked on her she had given birth during the night and the fire ants had eaten the poor babies. I had some just bones and others in different stages of being eaten. She had 8 babies and all were dead. Even putting the legs of the hutch in pails of water had not stopped the ants. The hutch was touching the outside wall of the house and that was the way they had gotten in. The amount of meats per cost of food ratio is wonderful and the meat is suppose to be very healthy so if there is some way you can keep the ants at bay go for it. The fertilizer is wonderful. I have never gotten better results in my vegetable garden than I did when I had rabbit manure to use.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 7:54AM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

Go girl! Homesteading and raising your own meat isn't for the faint of heart (me). I've raised rabbits in extreme heat. It's a bit of a pain but it can be done.
I put a wood house inside the rabbit hutch that was big enough for a rabbit and a 2 liter frozen water bottle. It doesn't melt as fast as a bottle just put in the cage. I didn't want rabbit mess all over my freezer so I'd rinse the old bottle off really well and wrap it in a trash bag before refreezing it. I kept 2 bottles for the cage. One being frozen and one in the cage.

Fire ants are the bane of any type of animal husbandry. I tried to go all organic but had to use Raid on the lower legs of my chicken coop to keep the ants out. I finally got tired of betting bit to hell while gardening and now use amdro. PJ

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 12:48PM
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I never even considered the fire ants. I am SO GLAD patsy mentioned it. I had heard about fire ants eating baby deer and birds in the wild, but didn't even think about the baby rabbits.

I read some about the effects of heat on rabbits, and I can definitely do the frozen liter bottles, pj.

I think I will locate the hutch at the very back of my property under (but not touching) an OLD live oak that provides very dense shade. What do you all think? Of course in the winter, this area will probably be a bit colder too, but heck, people raise rabbits in Canada.

Not sure whether to build the hutch legs of wood and then set them on small concrete blocks/bricks in a metal bucket filled with water or to put metal legs on them and set the metal legs directly in buckets of water...

Thanks again. This is good information that is Texas specific, so it makes a difference.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 3:11PM
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patsy_b(z8 Tx)

I had my bunnies in a hutch between the house and a row of trees. They were in bright shade and did not have any trouble with the heat even in the August heat. They were on the south side of the house so the north wind could not reach them in the winter but were able to get all the south winds in the summer. I loved raising then even tho I did not eat them. I just gave the bunnies away for pets. At that time we were also raising registered pigs to sell the babies. The ants attacked one litter that was born during the night. They had made tunnels in the flesh of the babies. I was able to save some of them by filling the holes with vasoline to smother the ants. After many stings I was able to kill the ants. Needless to say that was the last of that project. So far our cattle, horses, llamas, donkeys, etc have been able to survive the ants from hell. They also enter our bird's eggs when they start trying to hatch. Just wonder how any of the wild animals and fowl can survive them.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 6:46AM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

There are native,slightly less aggressive, fire ants in Texas. The native animals have developed around them and can somehow survive them. PJ

Here is a link that might be useful: Native fire ants

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 6:19PM
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patsy_b(z8 Tx)

There used to be alot of the native red fireants in Central Texas. As a child it was not uncommon to find their trails and large mounds. As a child I used to love sitting and watching them as they hurried along their trail carrying many times their body weight in seeds and foodstuffs to their mounds. I can never remember their attacking anything that was not harming them. I read somewhere that the imported fireants were the cause of their disappearing. They were also the main source of food for the horned toads. Therefore, no red ants (as we used to call them), no horned toads.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2008 at 6:07AM
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I raised rabbits in Colorado and had to protect them from summer heat and winter cold, but they were really not very much trouble. I sold the babies as pets and took a few of the better ones to rabbit shows. Never won anything, but it was fun. I never killed a rabbit but I wanted to kill a couple of the meaner ones. Being fuzzy, they are much harder to kill than a mean old rooster. I can kill a rooster without too much heartache.

On the subject of horny toads, we still have the long-tailed variety. But I haven't seen the ones like we used to catch when I was a kid, that had round, flat bodies and short tails. When we first moved into this house we had one large red ant hill in the front yard and I tried to protect them from the fire ants, but I walked out there one day and all the red ants were gone and the fire ants were living in their hill. The disappearing Texas red ants are just one more reason to declare war on fire ants as far as I'm concerned.

On the subject of the fire ants, fortunately we didn't have them in Colorado so not a problem there. I was thinking about getting some rabbits a while back, but hadn't thought of the threat to the babies. I would like to call myself an organic gardener, but I use poison on the fire ants because they use poison on everything around them and they are dangerous.

I have also used the vacuum cleaner to suck up an entire nest of fire ants. I slightly disturb the very tip of the nest and hold the vacuum wand about an inch above it. As they pour out the vacuum sucks them up with a minimum of soil. When the first wave slows down, prick them again. Takes patience and finesse, but offers a lot of gratification when you can't find anymore to suck up and then take the bag out of the vacuum cleaner and burn it. I really hate fire ants.

Another trick is when you find a hill put a four gallon bucket over it and leave it for a couple months. The ants will build their entire nest above ground inside the bucket. When the bucket is full, pull it up from the hill and immediately douse the hill with orange oil. They die, Die, DIE!!!!! Mwahahahaha!!! They and all their devils spawn!!!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:11AM
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Yes there are some good yahoo rabbit groups out there. And yes, I raise meat rabbits to eat. Last year we consumed around 200.

I highly recommend you get on one of those yahoo groups and start lurking for information. You should also get a copy of "Rabbit Production". It doesn't matter what year, breeding is still the same! I think I paid around $4 for mine from Amazon.

Where in TX are you located? What do you know? What do you want to know?


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 9:10PM
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I've been meaning to get back to this post all week, but because I was sick for a few days (not sure what I had) and because it was the first week of the new semester, I've just come home after work and gone to bed early every night. I feel fine now.

Cheryl, your post made me laugh.--You are SO funny. I do use orange oil, and it really works. I've killed a whole nest of wasps underneath a porch table with it but have not used it on fire ants that much.

Trish, I'm located in Austin but in an older neighborhood with big lots. Most of what I "know" I've garnered either from my stepfather or from a "Raising Rabbits" book I ordered from Amazon.

What I'm looking for is what I'm getting here, tidbits about how important it is to keep the rabbits cool in the summer with frozen plastic liter bottles and about fire ants being a problem. These are the things that might be overlooked in a rabbit book written by someone who lives in Canada. I've read it's very important to keep the rabbit pens clean and that you don't want to use just any kind of wire to make the pens because you could cause their paws to be sore.

I've been in contact with a woman from Bryan, Texas and I think this is where I'll buy my meat rabbits from unless I can find someone closer.

I'll check into the Yahoo groups as suggested. Thanks, everyone!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 12:20PM
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