More and more homesteads across the United States are choosing rabbits for their homesteads. Some are choosing rabbits as pets, some for the collecting of manure for gardening, some for meat, and some for fiber.
Rabbits are very simple and inexpensive to keep. They don’t take up much space, they make great pets, and they are affordable animals to purchase. They are another source of food when trying to become more self-reliant. There are some things to consider when deciding to raise rabbits though.
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There are really three types of rabbits to choose from. First are pets, second are meat rabbits, and third is fiber rabbits. Understanding your purpose for wanting rabbits will help you to decide which type of rabbits are right for you.
Rabbits as Pets
Choosing rabbits as pets for your homestead is a great choice, especially if they are to become a pet for a child. Rabbit breeds best suited for children include Lionheads, Netherland Dwarf, Mini Lop, Mini Rex, and Mini Satins.
These rabbits are cute, small, and easy to care for. They only eat about 2 to 3 oz. of food per day.
Choosing Rabbits for Meat
Choosing rabbits to provide meat is a great way to supplement your family’s diet with a healthy dose of protein with almost no fat. Meat rabbit breeds include California Whites, Flemish Giants, Cinnamons, English Lops, Giant Chinchillas, and Rex Rabbits.
These rabbits are very large ranging from 8 to 20 lbs. They eat about 5 to 6 oz. per day. These larger rabbits have litters of 9 to 12 young 2 to 3 times per year.
Rabbits for Fiber
Rabbits bred for fiber include the Angora rabbits and Jersey Woolies. These rabbits can be dual-purpose rabbits as they can be slaughtered for their meat also.
These rabbits produce about 1 pound of fiber 2 to 3 times a year. They eat 4 to 5 oz. per day of food. These rabbits generally live between 9 and 12 years. Fiber rabbits are generally more expensive to start as a breeding pair can cost $300.00. There is a lot more maintenance to these rabbits as they must be brushed on a regular basis.
Supplies Needed When Choosing Rabbits
The basic supplies for rabbits remain the same as far as general supplies for all breeds of rabbits. The exceptions come into play when choosing fiber rabbits as they need more grooming than the other breeds of rabbits.
General supplies include:
A resting board is simply a piece of plywood or carpeting that allows the rabbits to get their feet off the wire cage flooring to avoid what is called “sore hocks”.
Food and hay
A rabbit’s food consists mostly of hay and food. Do not feed alfalfa hay unless you will not be feeding pellets because it would be too much protein. Timothy hay is a good choice. As far as the food goes you have 2 options.
Option one is to feed commercialized pellets which provide everything they need.
Option two is to provide real food in the form of carrots and dark leafy greens and hay.
This choice is up to you. The common way to figure out how much real food and hay is to allow 1 quart of raw food per day per rabbit.
Treats are okay in moderation and include the following:
- Black oil sunflower seeds (in moderation)
- Nuts (in moderation)
Rabbits can be a great addition to the homestead. When choosing rabbits make sure you research each breed and their care so you can make an informed decision that’s right for your homestead.
Check out The Rabbitry for more information and sales of rabbits.