The Benefits of Raising Rabbits
Raising rabbits are much cheaper, more efficient, and more productive than raising chickens.
Rabbit meat tastes good too, some people say that it taste much like poultry. Rabbit meat is mild and savory, never gamy. It is extremely lean, making it perfect for cholesterol-reducing diets. Cooking with liquids keeps rabbit dishes moist and tender. If you’re not minding your fat intake, you may want to choose recipes that use oil to maintain juiciness.
Rabbit meat contains 20% protein, which is higher than the protein content of pork (17%) and chicken (19%) although slightly lower than beefs (22%). In texture, odor, color and taste, rabbit meat is similar to chickens and hardly contains fat. It is easier to raise rabbits than chicken or pig.
- A doe (female rabbit) can produce up to 1000% her body weight in food per year.
- Rabbits can be raised in confinement, whereas chickens need much more space.
- Chicken reproduction is “light sensitive”, whereas rabbit reproduction is opportunity sensitive.
- It is much easier to raise food for rabbits than it is food for chickens.
- Since rabbits are raised in confinement, it drastically reduces the threat to your herd from predators.
- You can skin and butcher 5 rabbits to every chicken given the same amount of time.
- Rabbit fur can be a separate barter item.
Besides providing you with meat, rabbits produce dung, which makes a good fertilizer. Rabbit skins and fur have many uses. A rabbit can be a source of instant cash in an emergency.
- For a start, one can raise two (2) females age 2 months (just weaned) and a male.
- Select a good breed like New Zealand White and California White.
- Select a young rabbit from a prolific mother that bears well and nurses her kids well.
- Select an aggressive male, healthy, and without defect for breeding.
- Each rabbit must have its pen or cage where it can stay quietly, not directly under the heat of the sun, about 8×10 sq.ft. or 2.5 ft x 4 ft x 2 ft high.
- Separate the male from the female — the rabbit likes its own private place — undisturbed by others.
Rabbits also eat a number of other foods. My rabbits eats lettuce, carrots, apples and bananas. They also like pears, strawberries, sunflower seeds and a number of other vegetarian food. Fruits and vegetables should be given to yours once a day. Try to vary what you give your rabbits and remember to only let the rabbits eat as much as they want and then take the food out of the cage. If left in the cage it can spoil and the rabbits may get sick. Vegetables are better for your rabbit because they do not have as many calories and are a good source of roughage for your rabbit.
Try to keep your rabbit’s forage dry, especially in hot weather. If your rabbit eats wet forage it may get sick with diarrhea and even die. If forage is wet when you cut it, let it dry for a few hours before you give it to your rabbit.
Your rabbit needs clean water at least twice a day. You should also clean your rabbit’s water container or bowl often. Rabbits are subject to dehydration, so make sure they always have plenty of water.
The rabbit is a vegetarian — feed once in the morning and once toward late afternoon. To supplement their diet, add:
- grains 15-25%, soybean meal 5%, copra meal 4%, ipil-ipil leaves 0.1%, powdered shell or shellfish 125%, salt 0.25%
- green leafy vegetables: pechay, mustard, lettuce, camote leaves, cabbage, young bamboo, winged beans, malunggay, and similar vegetables.
- root crops — camote, gabi, yam, potatoes, carrot, turnip, raddish
- grass — cut from the lawn, stems and leaves of soybean plant, eggplant, mongo, cadios, beans, etc.
- banana peels, melon and watermelon peels (but not papaya or sayote)
- burnt rice from the kettle, bread (no molds) toasted bread, etc.
- always provide clean drinking water, frequently changed, especially if the rabbit is nursing kids.
Healthy and productive rabbits need clean, dry homes. You can keep them in cages raised above the ground on posts or on a fence. The bottom of the cage should be three to four feet above the ground–a convenient height for you to work with your rabbits. Some people save space by building shelves on a wall for the cages. Keep each adult rabbit in its own cage. Each cage should be three feet square, and about two feet high, large enough for a rabbit and its young to move around a little bit. Put the cage in a place that is protected from rain, wind, and hot sun.
Keep the cages clean. Dirt, droppings, and urine from rabbits can contain germs that will make them sick… and a dirty cage will attract flies. You will find it easier to keep a rabbit cage clean if the floor of the cage has holes just large enough for dirt, droppings, and urine to fall through. If the spaces are too large, it is uncomfortable for the rabbit’s feet, and baby rabbits’ feet may be injured by slipping through the holes.
You can make the floor from wire mesh. Thick wire, with holes that are a 1/2 in. square, is best. Do not use old, rusty, or broken wire mesh. And do not use chicken mesh, because it is too thin and will hurt the rabbit’s feet.
The walls should let in plenty of fresh air to keep the rabbits from getting too hot. The walls can have larger spaces in them than the floor.
The door on your cage should be big enough so that you can reach in easily to feed the rabbits and clean every part of the cage. You might want to build a cage with a roof that comes off instead of a regular door.
Rabbits Are Territorial
Rabbits are extremely territorial. In the wild, rabbits’ territorial behavior includes depositing marking pellets at the boundaries of their territory, chinning, urinating, and aggressive behavior such as digging, circling, and fighting. Wild males tend to defend larger territories while females concentrate on their nests. Thus, when introducing new rabbits, territory must be considered. What you are trying to do is eliminate the possibility for there to develop any territorial behavior in the rabbits. Use a water bottle (with the nozzle set on “stream”) to break up any fights if they occur. It’s best to spray the instigator before a fight actually occurs (watch for aggressive body language) rather than work on breaking up an existing fight.
Interpreting Body Language And Behavior
Rabbits have a language all their own. Here are some tips on interpreting your bunnies hops, kicks and grunts.
- Sniffing: May be annoyed or just talking to you.
- Grunts: Usually angry, watch out or you could get bit!
- Shrill Scream: Hurt or dying
- Circling Your Feet: Usually indicates sexual behavior.
- Spraying: Males that are not neutered will mark female rabbits in this manner as well as their territory. Females will also spray.
- Chinning: Their chin contains scent glands, so they rub their chin on items to indicate that they belong to them. Same as a cat rubbing it’s forehead on people and objects.
- False Pregnancy: Usually unspayed females may build a nest and pull hair from their chest and stomach to line the nest. They may even stop eating as rabbits do the day before they give birth.
- Bunny Hop Dance: A sign of happiness.
- Begging: Rabbits are worse than dogs about begging, especially for sweets. Beware of giving the rabbits treats. Overweight rabbits are not as healthy as trim rabbits.
- Territory Droppings: Droppings that are not in a pile, but are scattered, are signs that this territory belongs to the rabbit. This will often occur upon entering a new environment. If another rabbit lives in the same house this may always be a nuisance.
- Playing: Rabbits like to push or toss objects around.
- Don’t Rearrange The Cage: Rabbits are creatures of habit and when they get things just right, they like them to remain that way. Rabbits often are displeased when you rearrange their cage as you clean.
- Stomping: He’s frightened, mad or trying to tell you that there’s danger (in his opinion).
- Teeth Grinding: Indicates contentment, like a cats purr. Loud grinding can indicate pain.
More information available here: fao.org
sources: elgu2.ncc.gov.ph, thefarm.org
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