Pros and Cons of Raising Rabbits

 

PROS AND CONS TO RAISING RABBITS

We love our rabbits, all 11 of them. We have them for a variety of reasons and I am going to share with you the pros and cons of keeping rabbits on a small homestead.

Rabbits can be used for Meat

Rabbits can be used as a source of protein. Anyone, no matter where they live, can raise a breeding pair of rabbits for this reason. Of course, in a small apartment, you have to get a bit more creative with space, but it can be done. A good breeding pair of rabbits can easily keep a family with a source of protein.

The downside to this that they can eat a LOT of food themselves to get to butcher weight, and in an apartment situation, that can get expensive. Also, you will need to make sure to get lots of other fats in your diet if rabbit is your only source of protein, as they have virtually no fat in their meat. If you are wanting to raise rabbits for meat, consider the breeds Californians, New Zealander, or Flemish Giants.

Rabbits can be used for Fiber

With the French Angoras we raise, we easily get a pound of fiber from each rabbit 2-3 times a year. That translates into a new hat and mittens for each family member (5) a year, or 5 new pairs of wool socks a year. It’s not hard to shear the rabbits, and spinning the fiber into yarn is a very relaxing project, once you get the hang of it.

The downside to raising rabbits for fiber is that their hair gets very long and can make a mess in the cage, especially in the wintertime. It can get matted down with poop and be useless to you. They require a bit more work daily, as they need to be brushed to keep the mats down. If you are wanting to raise rabbits for fiber, consider Angoras; French, German or English. A good breeding pair can be expensive at the start, but you can easily make that back with the first set of kits you sell.

Rabbits can be used for Composting

Rabbits produce a lot of manure. The round little pellets they drop are easily compostable, and we just add them directly to the garden beds each Spring and Fall. They simply fall apart in the beds, and no fuss, no muss! The manure also makes a great tea for additional fertilizing in the Summer time.

Of course, since they produce a lot of manure, if you live in a small space, you may not be able to keep up with it all. Having a compost pile or 55 gallon bucket outside to place the manure in helps if you can. All rabbits can be used for this purpose, whether a “working” animal or just a pet.

Rabbits can be used as lawn mowers

You can put a couple of stakes into the ground quickly, add some chicken wire and create an area for your rabbit to “graze” in the yard. They can easily eat down weeds and tall grasses. Of course if you aren’t careful, they can also dig holes deeper than a well, and can easily escape any fence you create.

If you want your rabbits to free range on the grass in your yard, you will want to either be with them at all times, or build a pen with wire on the bottom so they can get at the grass, but not escape. All rabbits fit into this category.

Rabbits can be good pets

I wouldn’t recommend a rabbit for a child younger than 7-8 years of age, but once they can clean out a cage (with help) and understand a rabbits need for fresh water and food, a rabbit can easily make a great pet. My kids have raised rabbits since they were 4 and younger, and we had to teach them how to handle the rabbits, care for them, and train the rabbit to trust you. This can take time and patience.

If you are just starting out with rabbits for pets for a child, I recommend that you look into breeds like Netherland Dwarfs, Mini Holland Lops or Mini Rex. They are small and more calm breeds that a child can easily learn to handle.

In short, rabbits can be very useful on the homestead. They require very little on a daily basis, make virtually no noise, and they have fun personalities!

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17 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Raising Rabbits”

  1. Great post, Heather. People really need to think about the reasons they want rabbits (or any animal) quite a bit before they get one. Especially this time of year when the feed stores will be hanging out their “We have bunnies” signs. We recently had a mama bunny make a burrow in our front yard and have babies. I blogged about it today.

    1. If somebody sees my daughters’ cat for the first time and asks it’s name, I reply “We didn’t give it a name, it’s just a
      meat cat.” Creates a really awkward moment.

  2. Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition

    Been raising rabbits for years on our little homestead in a small town. I totally agree with this post.

  3. Jamie @Momma Without a Clue

    Bunnies!! *squee*
    Ok, now that that’s out of my system – great post! I definitely agree that bunnies make great pets, after the age of about 7-8. My step daughter had a bunny a few years ago at her mom’s house and a cat got ahold of it… I still don’t think the poor girl is over it. Once kids can take responsibility of another live being, then pets are awesome.

  4. Kathy @ www.RealFoodandRealFitness.com

    I had these for pets growing up and would love to get them for my boys once they are a little older. Thanks for the post!!

  5. Chrystal @ Happy Mothering

    We tried raising Rex rabbits for a while, but they kept dying in childbirth – like 4 of them in a row. So, we ended up giving up on that and raising chickens instead.

  6. I love this post. I didn’t know any of this! We really want chickens, but not sure if we are allowed on our property, but a rabbit is doable!

  7. I had a pet rabbit once and it was so much fun! They are great pets and they naturally use a litter box like a cat! its amazing! I just wish I would’ve played with mine more when he was a baby. He was a bit skittish with me but got along with my cats and dog fabulously!

  8. Other Cons:
    Fiber Rabbits need frequent brushing if you want quality wool, and it takes a lot of them to make a skein.
    Rabbit Urine strips the galvanizing off cage wire. Even with cleaning cages weekly you’ll replace cage bottoms every other year.
    Poorly managed manure draws flies and smells like ammonia. Plan on cleaning this up a couple of times a week and adding carbon to make it compost. It’s also occasionally sticky enough to thwart many of the “easy” ways to automate this.
    Meat Rabbits need to be processed in a timely manner or the meat is tough.
    Meat rabbits are a very low-margin business. Do the math before investing your treasure.
    People think you are evil if you eat defenseless bunnies.
    Defenseless bunnies bite and scratch.
    Tractoring rabbits is much harder than chickens.
    Hot weather is hard on rabbits. (Tennessee, zone 7.)

    Pros:
    “Tastes like chicken.”
    Rabbits have huge livers and my kids both like them now.
    Fertilizer for your garden that attracts earthworms.
    Semi-socialized rabbits will sometimes return home if they escape.
    After being stuck on pellets and hay all winter long you can see literal glee when you give them their first bunch of spring weeds.

  9. We have been thinking about raising rabbits for a while but I can’t get my husband to agree! Ill send this along to him and see if he is up for it. Do yours live outside or inside?

  10. My husband’s family used to raise rabbits when he was small. Being he was the boy next door I got to come over and play with them. Most they raised to eat but he kept some as pets too. It was a great learning experience.

  11. Jen @ Go Green

    Wow! I never would have thought that so much would have to go into having rabbits but it makes sense!

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