The first animals I brought onto my homestead were rabbits and years later I’m still raising them. They were and still are one of the best livestock options for my property and the benefits are many.
Here are 9 reasons they may be the perfect livestock for your permaculture homestead too.
1. Rabbits Are Easy To Raise
For the most part, rabbits don’t require much attention. As a matter of fact, they just seem to prefer being left alone. Good food, clean water, and protection from the elements and they seem pretty happy. Occasionally you might have to deal with a bout of ear mites or some other problem, but generally, they don’t have too many issues.
One issue that adds a level of difficulty to raising rabbits in some places is temperature. Rabbits handle cold very well but extreme heat can be a real problem for rabbits. There are some breeds that adapt to high temperatures better than others but you will need to have an adequate setup for your rabbits to survive hot weather in many areas.
Generally a fan moving air through your rabbitry is enough to keep your rabbits cool in the heat of summer but in extreme situations more might be necessary. On the hottest of days a frozen water bottle can be placed in a cage with your rabbits to help them cool down but in locations where extreme hot weather is the norm rabbits may need a climate controlled room.
Coccidiosis can be another issue that can plague rabbits in certain situations. I won’t go into detail here about this but will instead point you to a podcast episode I did on this topic here – Homesteaders Need To Know About Coccidiosis.
2. Rabbit Meat Tastes Great
If you have substituted raising chickens for rabbits you will find you can pretty much use rabbit meat in any dish that calls for chicken. Rabbit usually requires a little more cooking time but most of the time you can’t tell the difference in a dish if it’s cooked correctly.
Rabbit meat is a common ingredient for dishes in many places throughout the world. There are literally thousands of recipes for rabbit and I have found it to be fantastic in any way you choose to prepare it.
3. Rabbits Are Easy To Process
The only animal I’ve processed that was easier than rabbit was quail. You can cull, gut, and skin a rabbit in just a few minutes and have it ready for the freezer or the oven. Depending on the breed you can even make fine use of the hide for crafts or garments as well.
There are a few tools that make processing rabbits easier and quicker but the thing that will make the biggest difference in this process is just practice. You will find that every time you do it the job gets easier and faster.
I will refer refer you to the website of a family owned business with the best tools on the market for making the job of processing rabbits easier. The website is https://theoriginalhopperpopper.com and they make some great products for this job.
4. Rabbits Don’t Take Up Much Space
Rabbits are content confined to a standard rabbit cage or a hutch. It’s always great if you can provide them with more room but you can raise a lot of rabbits in a fairly small area without overcrowding or being cruel.
There are of course alternatives to raising rabbits in cages such as colony raising rabbits in a large outdoor pen. The first few years of raising rabbits this is how I did it. There are many pros and cons to raising rabbits in a colony and in the end I found the cages to be a better option for me and the rabbits. However, there are many successful rabbit breeders raising their rabbits in colonies who believe it is the best way.
Whichever way you decide to raise your rabbits the fact remains that you can raise an abundance of rabbits in a fairly small space. With a proper breeding and harvesting schedule you can produce an amazing amount of meat in the small space they take up.
5. Rabbits Don’t Draw Attention
Many urban homesteaders find rabbits to be an exceptional livestock because they don’t disturb neighbors. My thought has always been if they can’t see them, smell them, or hear them, they may as well not exist as far as your neighbors are concerned.
It’s common for cities to not allow livestock, but it’s also common that many of those cities operate on complaint-driven enforcement. If they don’t get any complaints, they usually don’t care. To be clear I’m not advocating for you to break the law but if the laws aren’t enforced unless someone complains then rabbits might be a great option for your situation.
6. Rabbit Manure Is Garden Ready
One of the best things about rabbit manure is that it is a cold manure. This means it can be added directly to the garden without composting it first. Skipping the composting stage offers you a quicker garden amendment and rabbit manure is garden gold.
An article published by Michigan State University Extension points out many of the qualities of rabbit manure for garden. The fact that rabbit manure is packed with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, minerals and micronutrients as well as containing beneficial trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, sulfur, copper and cobalt, all of which can be a great benefit to your garden could be reason enough to raise rabbits.
7. Rabbits Are Inexpensive To Raise
Once you get past the initial cost of building cages and buying feeders and water bottles, rabbits are very inexpensive to raise. You can even provide much of there feed through forage from certain weeds like dandelion and plantain and tree leaves like mulberry. I grow a lot of comfrey so the rabbits get a fair amount of that for their fiber and protein needs as well.
Obviously in the winter months when backyard and garden forage isn’t as readily available your feed bill will go up but even then I find rabbits to be a very affordable livestock to feed. I like to keep my rabbits on a balance of forage and commercial alfalfa pellets so as to not shock their system if their diet gets shifted in balance one way or the other.
8. Rabbits Are Perfect Doomsday Livestock
Rabbits breed like rabbits, without any help from you. They just breed and keep creating more rabbits, no incubators, artificial insemination, nothing extra whatsoever. This makes them an ideal livestock in an emergency situation. I’m not a doom and gloom guy but if things ever did get bad, I think having rabbits for a meat source would be better than anything else.
9.Rabbits Can Be A Great Income Opportunity
Whether your selling baby buns, breeding stock or rabbit meat, rabbits can be a good money maker. Depending on the breeds you raise, selling live rabbits can sell for quite a bit.
A Few Popular Meat Rabbit Breeds I Like
|New Zealand||Fast Growing |
Great Meat to Bone Ratio
|Rex||Good Meat to Bone Ratio|
Great For Fur Production
|Cinnamon||Crossbreed From Other Popular Breeds|
Great Meat To Bone Ratio
|American Chinchilla||Beautiful Fur|
Great Meat To Bone Ratio
|Californian||Good Meat To Bone Ratio|
Good For Fur Production
|Florida White||Smaller Rabbit But Still Great Meat to Bone Ratio|
Climate Tolerant, Hardy Breed
There are some other breeds that I know less about but are popular among some rabbit breeders. Whichever breed you choose, the simple fact is that the differences are minimal though the small differences can matter.
There you have it, 9 great reasons to raise meat rabbits on your permaculture homestead. After several years of raising rabbits I can tell you that I have no regrets and couldn’t imagine my homestead without them. The journey hasn’t been perfect and I have had to overcome a few challenges and learn a few things along the way but raising rabbits has been a real benefit to my homestead and It might be for you also.
This post has been shared on the Homestead Blog Hop