Countless people living in a variety of situations are keeping and rearing animals to make a profit. The list of animals that are kept is huge, but not all of them will achieve a profit. One of the most popular animals to keep for profit in the United States is the rabbit.
So, are rabbits profitable?
Yes, rabbits are very profitable. They can be sold for $15 to $100 for a breeding stock or as pets. Rabbit meat often sells for about $8 per pound. There is also a good revenue that can be derived from selling pelts and rabbit droppings.
Costs and selling prices will vary dramatically according to location, time of year, and how tightly the cost are controlled. The number of rabbits involved will also have a dramatic effect on the profit.
In many cases, profit can be hard to understand and difficult to calculate however, to find out if rabbits are profitable, we have to look at the cost factors involved with keeping these animals, and balance these against what they can be sold for.
We shall look at the costs involved in keeping rabbits, and investigate how rabbits can be sold. However, it is difficult to quantify an exact figure for how profitable rabbits are.
Licensing and Legal Costs of Raising Rabbits
Many people keep a rabbit in a hutch for a family pet. However, rabbits kept commercially will need to be kept in a suitably licensed facility.
Providing they are being kept in an area that is not zoned for residential use then a simple permit will be needed. The cost of a permit will depend on the location. For example, the cost in Portland is a one-off of $31. This cost will vary in different areas.
Rabbits are kept in hutches. The Hutch is probably the highest startup cost item when setting up a commercial rabbit operation. Depending on the number of rabbits that are kept, a commercial hutch could be anywhere between $100 and $200.
A commercial hutch will already have the proper areas for waste management, nursing, and climate control. Climate control, though, will only be about $25, and it will need electricity to work; an important cost to include.
A commercial hutch will be a good home for quite a few rabbits; however, any competent DIY person will be able to make one from offcuts of wood or some old pallets for a fraction of the cost.
The large number of rabbits needed for a commercial operation will require large amounts of food. This is likely to be one of the highest costs for raising rabbits.
Rabbits are not efficient foragers, so you have to provide them with the correct balance of food. They are not particularly fussy however.
A combination of hay that can cost $4-$5 for a mini-bale. Protein-fiber pellets combined with fresh vegetables are the usual food products provided for them.
Pellets can be bought in 10-pound bags for about $10- $15. As a guide to how many pellets a rabbit will eat, a (6-10 pounds (4.54 kilogram)) adult rabbit will need one-quarter cup of pellets every day.
Cost of Slaughtering and Processing the Meat
A few simple knives that would cost around $10 will be needed, however, to be able to process the rabbit meat the equipment necessary could cost between $60 and $150. The cost of packaging the meat should also be considered.
If many rabbits are being kept, there is a certain number of chores that need to be done every day. Although they are a hardy animal and easy to keep, they need to be kept clean, watered, and fed.
These tasks may require staff to be employed, so their salaries will need to be added to the total cost. With the minimum wage being between $7.25 and $15 per hour this could prove to be a significant figure.
Some may decide to undertake all the work themselves. While this is, without a doubt, the cheaper option, the long man-hours should still quantify, and be added as a cost.
Do not forget the IRS, they will require their share of your profits. The cost of an accountant to look after this could cost between $800 -$1000.
What Revenue Can We Expect From Rabbits?
Now that we have an idea as to what costs could be involved in keeping rabbits, we can now look at how we can sell them to generate revenue.
Rabbits are prolific breeders. They are ready for breeding when they are only a few months old. With a gestation period of a month and mothers being able to breed soon after giving birth, they can produce large quantities of animals very quickly.
One doe will have up to 12 kits with each litter, and can produce seven or eight litters per year. Consequently, each doe could produce close to 100 kits in a year.
Selling Rabbits for Pets
Pet stores are often seeking regular supplies of cute bunnies to sell as pets. Although the pet market for rabbits does not demand any particular breed, the cuter the animal the higher price it will achieve.
A normal price would be in the $15 region, although sometimes this can be significantly higher.
Selling Rabbits for Meat
We have seen that a single rabbit can produce large volumes of young, to sell these animals for meat it is best to breed an animal that will grow to a larger size. Breeds such as the Flemish Giant will grow to between 12 and 20 pounds (6 and 9 kg).
Consequently, we could estimate that one rabbit could produce 80 young bunnies that will grow to 15 pounds (6.8 kg). With meat selling at $8 per pound, that would produce an income from one animal of approximately $9,600.
That is an estimate for the production from one female. Scale the numbers to several productive females and the income grows rapidly.
Breeding Rabbits for Show
There is a demand for certain breeds of rabbits for the show industry. A suitable animal can sell for more than $300.
Pelts are in Demand
Selling rabbit meat in volumes will produce volumes of pelts. These pelts are in demand. People who want to practice tanning techniques use rabbit pelts. There are also many people in the craft industry that fashion hats, gloves, and coats from them.
They do not sell for a huge price, normally around $2 – $30 region, but remember the meat has already been sold. The pelt would otherwise be a waste product.
Selling Rabbit Fur
The rabbit’s fur has a soft and luxurious feel. This characteristic makes it a popular product among some craft and commercial industries.
Not all rabbit fur will be suitable for this, and the fur will need more careful attention during the growing period.
Breeds such as the Angora have fur suitable for this market, and can be sold for about $7 to $16 per ounce, and possibly more.
Manure is a Popular Product
Rabbit droppings are rich in natural nutrients that are much in demand by the gardening community. Besides being a rich fertilizer, it is also suitable to be used straight away unlike other manure products that need to be left for some time before use.
Rabbit manure can be sold for anything up to $50 for a 40-pound bag.
Pinkies Can Also Be Sold
As with any animal that is being used for breeding, not every young will survive, and some are even born dead. These young dead are called pinkies. Even pinkies are a product that can be sold.
Pet stores and snake owners will buy pinkies to feed snakes. Pinkies will often sell for around $3.
We have looked in general terms at the costs involved in raising rabbits. Once the initial start-up cost has been accounted for the day-to-day costs are not that high.
Feed and labor costs will be the highest daily cost to consider. However, it is possible to estimate that it would cost in the region of $4.65-$6.30 to raise a rabbit to approximately 5 pounds (2.27 kilogram) in weight.
We can see that multiple income streams are available from rabbits. They can be sold as live animals or meat. It is also possible to sell the fur, the skin, its droppings, and any young kits that do not survive.
The multiple incomes from individual rabbits scaled to larger quantities show that, with care, rabbits are definitely profitable.
Three years ago, I bought an off-grid Cortijo in a small valley in the Andalucian mountains. Although, perhaps the lifestyle is in my genes as my grandfather and his four brothers were Homesteaders in Alberta Canada in the 1900s.
The mountains of Spain are a difficult place to grow many of the flowers that I was used to in the UK. However, veggies grow well year-round. Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, melons and chard all fare well in the Mediterranean climate. Almond trees provide me with a cash crop of around 1 ton while still retaining some to make almond milk and flour.