Raising Rabbits

People are raising rabbits for lots of reasons. Some people like to compete in shows, while others raise meat for their families. Rabbits are also raised for business, fun, fur and their droppings, which can be used as garden fertilizer or to produce fishing worms.

It is not easy to make a profitable business from rabbits; most people do it as a hobby. If you want to start raising rabbits, it is a good idea to join the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). They offer a lot of great information that will help you with rabbit husbandry, finding markets for your rabbits and showing.

You'll be better off in the long run if you buy healthy, pedigreed rabbits. This will help ensure you begin with fewer problems. You can find breeders at shows or on the ARBA website. Get to know some rabbit people before you buy. They can often recommend the best breeders to talk to in the breeds you are interested in. The breed you choose will depend on why you want to raise rabbits and what catches your eye.

You'll need to invest in some quality cages, feeders and water systems. A water system can be as simple as water bottles or crocks you fill every day to an automatic system. Rabbits need about one ounce of quality rabbit feed per pound of weight. This means a 4 pound rabbit needs about ½ a cup of feed per day, while an 8 pound rabbit will need 1 cup of feed and so on. Fat rabbits are not healthy, they don't breed well and they won't do well on the show table.

Hay is also an important part of your rabbit's diet. It provides extra fiber to help keep their digestive system flowing. If you're feeding pellets, use orchard or timothy hay. The pellets are made of alfalfa. Rabbits will enjoy some fresh treats, but don't overdo it. Clover, blackberry leaves, dandelion leaves and so on are full of nutrition for your rabbits as long as they are not sprayed with fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides.

Cages should be easy to clean and sturdy for raising rabbits. Most rabbits are raised in wire cages that allow the droppings to fall into a tray below for easy cleaning. Rabbits easily chew through plastic and wood, so metal is the most durable surface.

Cages should be at least 18 inches tall to allow the rabbit room to stretch up. The general calculation for figuring cage size is to multiply 0.75 by the pounds your rabbit will be at maturity. So, a 10 pound rabbit would need a minimum of 7.5 square feet. Bigger is always welcome; just make sure you can easily reach all areas of the cage for cleaning.

Breeding isn't difficult, but you'll want to follow tried and true methods to get the best results when raising rabbits. Does are always taken to the buck's cage. Does are very territorial and may harm the buck if he is taken to her cage.

Babies are born about 30 days after breeding. You need to provide a nestbox and some hay for the doe to use as bedding. Check the babies after they are born so you can remove any that have died. The doe will not abandon her babies if you touch them. She is already used to you.

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