After attending a Mother Earth News fair seminar on raising rabbits, my husband and I decided to expand our rabbit operation. Previously only raising meat rabbits for our personal consumption, we decided to expand into the showing and breeding arena. We choose two of the three breeds we have because they are endangered, and we love the idea of preserving these rare bloodlines.
Our original New Zealand whites were housed in a group of hutches inspired from Pinterest, and making use of supplies on hand. If you’ve ever built a hutch from pallets and cage wire, you know what I’m talking about. I had this bright idea to put the compost piles under the hutches, and cover them with grass clippings every time we mowed the law. As time passed I realized there were some serious problems with our setup. I didn’t like having the compost so close to the cages, especially in the heat of summer. I didn’t enjoy dealing with water bottles that took too long to fill and needed regular time consuming cleaning. Finally, and worst of all, rabbits should not have wood as any part of their cage – or within a 3 foot radius – ever. We didn’t like buying bags of pellets, and just felt that there was a better way to raise rabbits.
With the new direction we were taking – becoming official breeders and increasing our herd – I read a bunch of books, visited website, and asked a lot of questions. We came up with a hutch design that had a double row of hanging cages running over a “poop shoot” that was easy to clean and painless to get around. We added an automatic watering system that wouldn’t freeze, and finally had some quality rabbit housing that wouldn’t drive me crazy. After a couple months of buying pellets for 11 rabbits, we devised a way to sprout barley seeds that turned into an irresistable green mat of rabbit heaven that cut our pellet costs in half.
So here we are, enjoying the weird mixture of joy and frustration that comes with raising these lovely little creatures. The benefits of raising rabbits cannot be overstated: an excellent food source, rich plant fertilizer from their droppings, income from breeding, and generally being entertaining little fluff balls of cuteness and curiosity.
We have New Zealands specifically for meat, and American Chinchilla and Silver Foxes for showing and pets. We feed fodder and pellets, and grow specific herbs to keep our bunnies healthy through natural means, without resorting to chemical treatments or supplements. I’ve yet to try my hand at preserving pelts, but that’s the next project we’re going to tackle. Who knows, someday soon you may see a listing for those too!