Started Baby Quail Available!
Five Left! Hatched 2/1/23, variety of colors-unsexed. $5 each or all 5 for $20.
More eggs in the incubator now.
Cage with feeder and waterer and manure catch pan and egg roll-out: $35
Complete setup for 10 hens and 2 rooster breeder cage or 12 hen layer cage.
Fertile quail eggs for hatching (1-3 days from being laid) $25 for 50 eggs.
Eggs for eating (over 3 days or refrigerated eggs) $10 for 50 eggs.
Text your order now (507) 306-3929.
Adorable Bunnies for Sale
Introduction: Welcome to our bunny farm, where you can find the cutest and healthiest bunnies for sale. Our bunnies are well-cared for, with plenty of love and attention from our team. We breed different varieties of bunnies, from lop-eared and dwarf lionheads to meaty New Zealands, so you’re sure to find the perfect rabbit for you.
Benefits of Owning a Bunny:
- Low Maintenance: Bunnies are clean and easy to care for, making them ideal pets for busy families or first-time pet owners.
- Affectionate: Bunnies are social animals and love to be cuddled and petted, providing a source of comfort and joy.
- Kid-Friendly: Small bunnies are gentle and safe around children, making them great pets for families with kids.
Available Bunnies: Here are some of the bunnies we have available for sale:
- Casper (Lionhead, REW) – Bigger brother, more active and outgoing
- Cotton (Lionhead, REW) – Smaller brother, more shy and timid
- Teddy (Lionhead, vChestnut) – This guy is WILD-loves to run around like crazy!
- Rusty (Lionhead, vChestnut) – This guy is small and shy-much more reserved than his brother.
- Tripp (Lionhead, vJapanese) – This guy is super active and friendly, always the first to want to know what’s going on.
Pricing: Bucks are $30, or get two for $50. Does are $50 each. If your interested in breeding, let us know so we can help you select unrelated bunnies.
Contact Us: If you’re interested in adopting a bunny or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us through the following methods:
- Phone: (507) 306-3929 [Text Preferred]
- Facebook: DVLionheads
- Email: MysticElegance@yahoo.com
- Address: PO Box 21, Ostrander, MN 55961
Thank you for considering our bunnies for adoption. We look forward to helping you find the perfect furry friend!
Business Opportunities in Iowa
There are many different types of businesses that can be successful in Iowa, and the best option for a money-making business will depend on factors such as the individual’s skills, interests, and resources. However, some industries that have the potential to be profitable in Iowa include:
- Agriculture: Iowa is a leading agricultural state and is known for its production of corn, soybeans, and pork. Starting a farm or agribusiness, such as a grain elevator or feed mill, could be a profitable venture.
- Manufacturing: Iowa has a strong manufacturing industry, particularly in the areas of machinery, food processing, and chemical production. Starting a manufacturing business in one of these areas could be a good option.
- Renewable Energy: Iowa is a leading state in the production of wind energy, there are more than 100 wind farms operating in the state, and it’s also a leading state in ethanol production. Starting a business in the renewable energy sector such as a wind turbine or solar panel installation company could be a profitable option.
- Healthcare: The healthcare industry is consistently growing, and starting a business in the healthcare field, such as a home health care agency or medical equipment supplier, could be a profitable venture in Iowa.
- Food and Beverage: Iowa’s food and beverage industry continues to grow, with a strong emphasis on artisanal and locally-sourced products. Starting a business such as a craft brewery, restaurant, or specialty food store could be a successful option.
It’s worth noting that before starting a business, a comprehensive market research and feasibility study should be done to analyze the industry, competition, target market, and projected income.
Economics of Raising Rabbits
Welcome to Farm-Store.org! Today we are going to talk about the economics of raising meat rabbits on a small scale. Meat rabbit breeding is an efficient and rewarding way to produce healthy, delicious meat for consumption. Even in a small back yard or corner of your garage, anyone can produce enough rabbits to both feed their own family, provide starting breeding stock for others, and generate enough income to cover all your feed costs.
Plan to build or buy two large cages for each doe, and one smaller holding cage for each buck. Each doe will need a cage for her and her younger litters, and another cage for her older litter from weaning at 7 weeks to processing at 8 to 12 weeks. Having this extra cage also allows you to hold on to the best of each litter to evaluate for breeding stock or sale. Ideally, bunnies are weaned by removing the mother and leaving them in the same cage, this is not at all stressful and they will continue to eat, gain, and grow the best in their birth cage with their siblings. Removing bunnies at a tender age to an unfamiliar place often results in losses, as stress causes some of the bunnies to stop eating or drinking, become sick, and often die. If you want to try to move them, or try a rabbit tractor or other type of housing, wait until the bunnies are 8 weeks or older.
Identify a source of feed for your rabbits as soon as possible. You need to find a local farmer who will sell you small numbers of small square bales of hay, and hopefully offers delivery if you don’t have your own pickup truck. Your also going to be looking for a feed store, not a department or pet store. Look for a co-op if at all possible, and ask them if they carry rabbit feed, oats, and black oil sunflower seeds. When you visit, ask for a feed tag and compare the price, ingredients, and quality of the feeds offered locally. When you find a feed you like, sign up for a membership, and let them know that you will be using this to feed your MEAT rabbits, then they will not charge you sales tax. Also, with an account, you can call ahead if you can’t make it to the location before they close, they can leave your feed out on the loading dock for you to pick it up, this will make your life a lot easier. You will also need hay, any type of clean fresh hay suitable for horses or dairy cattle will work, and get small square bales weighing 40-60 pounds. Often you can keep a few bales on a pallet covered with a tarp and have it delivered, or haul individual bales in the trunk of your car.
The ideal start is to begin with 4 large cages for your females with litters, two smaller cages with a solid divider between them for your males, and “J” feeders with a screen bottom. You will need two solid wooden nest boxes that will fit into your bigger cages. Water can be provided with crocks, bottles, or ideally with an automatic watering system. Your rabbits should be minimally related or unrelated stock, pure bred, pedigreed, and preferably two males and two females. Purchase young healthy rabbits, or if possible two bucks and a doe that are young and a proven doe which is around 1 year of age and is bred but not due for a couple weeks. If you are completely new to rabbits, I recommend a experienced bred doe because she will most likely do a perfect job raising her litter, sparing you the heartache which can oftentimes occur with a doe’s failed attempt at raising her first litter. Also, this means you will be seeing output fairly soon after your start, and are less likely to lose interest in breeding and raising rabbits.
The breeding process begins with selecting a buck and doe for breeding. The buck should be healthy and of good size, with a solid frame and thick coat. The doe should be of similar size and build to the buck, with a good temperament. These two rabbits should be introduced to each other through placing the doe in the buck’s cage. If they mate successfully, the buck will mount the doe, who will lift her hind end, and the buck will fall off to one side and often even squeal. Allow two or three mating’s and then the doe should be returned to her own cage. After a few hours, return her briefly for another breeding or two, then put her back into her cage again.
After 28 days, the doe is ready to begin building her nest. Give her a wooden nesting box stuffed with straw, hay, or wood shavings. Any dry fluffy bedding will work, as she will make her nesting cavity and line it with fur from her belly. You will probably not notice her delivering her litter, you will hopefully just see a pile of fur one day 30 to 32 days after the breeding date. Once the doe has given birth, the kits should be left with their mother for seven weeks. During this time, the mother will provide them with the nutrition they need to grow. After five weeks, the doe will begin to wean the kits, so the doe can be rebred at 5 weeks, and removed to a new cage seven weeks after delivering the first litter to begin preparing for her next litter.
Rabbit raising can be a profitable enterprise, but it requires a thorough understanding of the market, proper management, and a solid business plan to ensure success. Ninety percent of your expenses will be feed, so finding an inexpensive, quality feed for your rabbits should be your top priority. Research indicates that rabbits require 4.4 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of live rabbit. Most producers feed a blend that is 75% pellets, 20% oats, and 5% black oil sunflower seeds. It is important to feed a good quality hay, generally a 75% grass and 25% alfalfa or clover hay works the best. Feed alternating days, feeding hay every day and pellet blend only every other day. Feeding a small amount of treats, including garden produce, bananas, carrots, turnips, and grass clippings from the yard is a great way to reduce feed costs and the rabbits enjoy them. Another important treat is any leafy twigs and tree trimmings from any type of tree, except black walnut.
Here are some key economic considerations for a rabbit raising business:
Costs: The cost of feed, housing, and equipment is a significant expense for starting up a rabbit raising business. Feed accounts for the largest portion of the costs and prices can fluctuate depending on the location. Veterinary care is not generally a large consideration for meat rabbits, and there are no vaccinations required. Health-related expenses should generally only be taken into account for pet rabbits. The cost of land, building, and equipment to house the rabbits should also be considered, but in the beginning please don’t spend too much money until a year or two in and your positive you are going to want to continue on with rabbit raising.
Generally, used cages can be picked up very reasonably compared to new equipment, consult Craig’s list and Facebook marketplace to find used cages, or even post your own ad for cages wanted. Cages will be fine as long as they are not rusted out and have smooth wire floors. Cages can be suspended by old pallets and covered with tarps initially, until you decide how you want to set your rabbitry up. Manure removal is the main consideration as rabbits produce an incredible amount of droppings. Airflow is also much more important than keeping the rabbits warm. Rabbits do fine in a wide variety of temperatures, and as long as they are kept dry they will thrive outdoors, even in winter.
The revenue generated by a rabbit raising business comes primarily from the sale of live rabbits, rabbit meat, and rabbit droppings. In order to generate a profit, the revenue generated by these sales must be greater than the costs of the business. The price of live rabbits, rabbit meat, and rabbit fur can fluctuate depending on the location and the demand. If your raising your own meat supply, the value of your rabbits can be priceless if there is no meat available in the stores. Looking for markets for secondary products can be extremely profitable and monetize what would otherwise be a complete loss. Many people sell young bunnies lost to exposure for snake food, ears and tails can be dried for pet treats, feet can make keychains, and skins and hides have many uses.
The market for rabbit meat and fur is growing, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 3.5% from 2020 to 2027. The demand for rabbit meat is increasing as more people seek out alternative protein sources, while the use of rabbit fur in clothing and accessories is also on the rise. It’s important to conduct a market analysis to understand the demand for rabbit products in your area and to set prices accordingly. The manure from rabbits is the absolute best fertilizer in the world. it can be used directly without composting, and you cant use too much, any amount is fine directly onto any garden plants or trees. It has very low odor if kept dry, and the small hard round pellets are very easy to handle and spread. The urine is also a eco-friendly insecticide and fertilizer, with high levels of crystalized calcium that directly kills many insect and nematode garden pests, and repels slugs and snails. Earthworms thrive in rabbit manure and can be effectively fattened for sale as fish worms. Maggots can be raised and fattened effectively in moist rabbit manure either in separate beds or directly under the cages. If you have a few chickens, they can be fed directly from foraging under the rabbit cages.
The profitability of a rabbit raising business depends on several factors, including the cost of feed, housing, and equipment, the demand for rabbit meat and fur, and the number of rabbits that can be raised per square foot. Additionally, the prices at which the products are sold will also affect the profitability of the business. It’s essential to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the demand, competition, and costs in the area you plan to operate. Starting with purebred, pedigree stock expands your marketing options greatly. Crossbred rabbits generally cannot even be given away while pedigreed rabbits are generally in the $30 to $50 range. Even though you can’t eat a pedigree, it does provide a lot of information on the color and size of the bloodlines you are working with, and provides guidance for your breeding program so you can avoid accidently inbreeding your rabbits.
With five litters per year and using two cages per doe, meat rabbit breeders can produce a significant number of rabbits for butchering. Select your starting stock from rabbits with tested and proven production lines, not top show animals, and not with crossbreds obtained from just anywhere. A productive rabbit from a proven bloodline should produce 5 litters of 7 to 9, so a total of 40 bunnies per year. Any doe who does a good job with two or three litters can be considered for saving breeding replacements. When a doe has raised three good litters of 8 to 12 young, makes a good nest, produces lots of milk and is a good mother, it will be advisable to save 2 exceptional males and 5 exceptional females for keeping as replacements or selling as breeding stock. These 7 breeding quality rabbits, with pedigrees, as well as the expected 33 meat rabbits will be worth a total of $530 at todays prices. However, at todays prices again, to produce these rabbits the doe and bunnies will eat $150 of hay, $200 of pellets, $40 of oats, and $30 of black oil sunflower seeds for a total feed cost of $420. Also, the cost of equipment and supplies must be amortized, not leaving anything for the producers time in the care and feeding over the course of the year. Rabbits clearly can NOT be considered a get rich quick endeavor.
In conclusion, rabbit raising can be a profitable enterprise, but it requires a thorough understanding of the market, proper management, and a solid business plan to ensure success. It’s essential to conduct a feasibility study and to have a good understanding of the costs and the revenue in order to set prices and make a profit. Additionally, keeping the rabbits healthy, clean and well-fed, and adhering to regulations and best practices are important factors for the success of the business. For example, keeping track of your expenses carefully, and comparing several different feed sources and systems can help you find the best system for you. Feeding one group of growing rabbits a straight rabbit pellet feed and feeding another group only hay and grain, you can track weight gain and growth rate against your expenses. The difference in this data can make the difference between success and failure raising meat rabbits.
Rabbit showing is a popular hobby that allows rabbit enthusiasts to showcase their animals and compete against other breeders. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced breeder, rabbit showing can be a fun and rewarding experience.
Before you start showing your rabbits, it’s important to understand the basics of rabbit showing. First, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the different rabbit breeds and their standard of perfection, which is a set of guidelines that outline the ideal characteristics of each breed. This includes things such as size, weight, fur type, and color. You’ll also need to understand the different classes of rabbits, such as junior, 6-8, senior, and grand champion, as well as the different size groups.
Another important aspect of rabbit showing is preparing your rabbits for the show. This includes grooming your rabbits to ensure they are clean and presentable, as well as training them to be handled and displayed properly. Your rabbit needs a clear legible tattoo in it’s LEFT ear, many breeders can help you out with this if you don’t have a tattoo kit yourself. You’ll also need to make sure your rabbits are healthy, free from disease, and have the appropriate healthcare can nail trimming.
When you arrive at the show, you’ll need to check in and register your rabbits with the show superintendent. You’ll also need to have all the necessary equipment, such as cages, feed and water dishes, and grooming supplies. Once the show begins, your rabbits will be judged on their conformation, or how closely they match the standard of perfection for their breed. The judge will also evaluate the rabbits’ overall health and condition, as well as their disposition and behavior.
When the judging is complete, ribbons and awards will be given out to the top rabbits in each class. Even if you don’t win, rabbit showing is a great opportunity to learn from other breeders and improve your own rabbits.
Overall, rabbit showing can be a fun and rewarding hobby for rabbit enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. It’s a great way to showcase your rabbits and compete against other breeders, as well.
Selling Rabbits for Breeding Stock
Selling rabbits for breeding stock can be a profitable aspect of a rabbit raising business. Rabbit breeding can be a profitable enterprise if you are able to produce high-quality, purebred rabbits that are in demand by other breeders or hobbyists.
There are several ways to sell breeding stock, including:
- Wholesale to other breeders
- Retail to individuals through a company website or physical store
- Online sales through marketplaces such as eBay or Craigslist
- At rabbit shows and events
To be successful in selling breeding stock, it’s important to have a good understanding of the different rabbit breeds and their characteristics, as well as the market demand for those breeds. It’s also important to produce healthy, high-quality rabbits that are suitable for breeding, and to provide accurate information about the rabbits’ lineage, health, and any show or performance accomplishments.
Additionally, it’s essential to have proper facilities, equipment, and practices in place to ensure the health and welfare of the rabbits, as well as to comply with any applicable laws or regulations.
In summary, selling rabbits for breeding stock can be a profitable aspect of a rabbit raising business, but it requires a good understanding of the market, the rabbit breeds, and the best practices for breeding and raising rabbits.
Can you make money raising rabbits?
Rabbit raising can be a profitable enterprise if done correctly. There are many factors that can affect the profitability of a rabbit raising business, including the cost of feed, housing, and equipment, the demand for rabbit meat and fur, and the number of rabbits that can be raised per square foot.
One of the advantages of rabbit raising is that they reproduce quickly and have a high feed conversion rate, meaning they convert feed into meat and fur efficiently. Also, they have a low environmental impact and are easy to care for.
Rabbit meat is considered a healthy and lean alternative protein source, and the demand for rabbit meat is increasing as more people seek out alternative protein sources. The market for rabbit fur is also growing, especially in the fashion industry.
However, it’s important to note that starting a rabbit raising business requires significant investment upfront, and it’s essential to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the demand, competition, and costs in the area you plan to operate. Also, it’s crucial to have a good understanding of the market, including the prices of the products, the demand, and the target audience to be able to set the prices and make a profit.
Selling rabbit manure as a fertilizer can be a profitable aspect of a rabbit raising business. Rabbit manure is considered a high-quality fertilizer due to its high nitrogen content and low odor, making it a valuable addition to any garden or farm.
There are several ways to sell rabbit manure, including:
- Wholesale to commercial farmers and garden centers
- Retail to home gardeners and hobby farmers
- Online sales through a company website or marketplace
- At farmers markets or through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program
It’s important to note that the sale of rabbit manure requires adhering to all federal, state, and local regulations, including properly storing and packaging the manure to prevent contamination and properly labeling the product to inform customers of its contents.
Additionally, to ensure the best quality of the rabbit manure, it’s essential to keep the rabbits’ living area clean, use proper bedding, and manage the manure properly to avoid any disease or parasite.
Selling rabbit manure can be a profitable aspect of a rabbit raising business, and it’s important to follow regulations and best practices to ensure the quality of the manure and customer satisfaction.
In summary, rabbit raising can be a profitable enterprise, but it requires a thorough understanding of the market, proper management, and a solid business plan to ensure success. Selling rabbit manure can be a profitable aspect of a rabbit raising business, and it’s important to follow regulations and best practices to ensure the quality of the manure and customer satisfaction.
You CAN raise your own meat and eggs!
Welcome to Mystical Springs.
At Mystical Springs, we are dedicated to helping you create a sustainable, low-maintenance system for providing your family with a steady supply of healthy, delicious meat. We specialize in raising rabbits in urban environments, providing you with everything you need to create a successful, self-sustaining system. We provide comprehensive guides and advice on housing, nutrition, and care for rabbits, as well as a selection of top-quality feed and supplies.
With the right knowledge and supplies, you can easily create a successful system that will provide your family with a steady supply of delicious, healthy meat. Rabbit meat is high in protein and low in fat, making it a healthy and nutritious choice for your family. Our rabbits are raised in a safe and humane environment and are given the best possible care and nutrition to ensure they stay healthy and productive. Thank you for visiting Town Rabbit Raising. We look forward to helping you create your own self-sustaining system.
Why Are Eggs So Expensive Today?
Eggs are one of the most widely consumed food items in the world, yet they remain one of the most expensive items in the grocery store. Why are eggs so expensive when they’re so widely available? The answer is a complex combination of factors that influence the egg industry.
The price of eggs is largely determined by the cost of production. Most egg producers use large-scale, automated facilities to raise and process their eggs, and these systems require significant investments in equipment and labor. Additionally, the cost of feed and bedding materials, which vary greatly based on the season, can also drive up the cost of egg production.
In addition to production costs, the egg industry is also subject to government regulations. The government sets minimum prices for eggs, which can drive up the cost for consumers. Additionally, the Bird-Flu scare allowed the government to destroy millions of birds and stop egg imports, which has lead to higher prices for eggs.
Finally, changes in consumer demand can also affect the price of eggs. As more consumers become aware of the health benefits of eggs, the demand for eggs has risen, leading to higher prices. Additionally, the popularity of organic and free-range eggs has driven up the cost for organic eggs.
Large producers are under contract on prices, so the recent feed price increases were not immediately expressed in the egg cost to the consumer, but this increasing is being felt now, as egg prices have shot up from $0.99 a dozen to well over $8 per dozen now!
What can you do?
Even if you live in town, you can raise quail for eggs. Enough eggs can be produced in a 10 gallon aquarium for the average family. There is generally no government regulations or ordinances preventing raising quail, the way there generally is on chickens and other larger fowl, such as ducks, geese, or turkeys.
The Pros and Cons of Raising Chickens: Raising chickens has become increasingly popular in recent years, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons before taking on this endeavor. While there are many benefits to raising chickens, there are also some potential drawbacks that you should consider before making the decision to raise your own flock. One of the biggest pros of raising chickens is that they can provide a steady supply of fresh eggs. Depending on the breed, chickens can lay up to 6 eggs per week, providing a sustainable source of nutrition for your family. Additionally, chickens can provide valuable manure for your garden, as well as pest control around the yard. However, there are also some potential drawbacks to raising chickens. Chickens require a significant investment of time and money to maintain, and they are vulnerable to disease and predators. Additionally, some breeds of chickens can be loud and messy, which can be a nuisance to neighbors.
Quail can produce small but nutritious eggs in an incredibly small space, and extremely efficiently. They make noises few people can identify, and generally are not as loud and messy as chickens and are easy to conceal in a home, garage, or yard. Ultimately, raising any animal can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before taking on this endeavor.
We can provide you with live birds, proper equipment, and the know how you will need to provide fresh nutritious eggs for your family today! Visit our farm store at MysticMorels.com.
Catching Swarms of Bees Equals Free Bees!
Ever have the desire to start beekeeping? Was this desire killed when you looked into actually ordering bees and beekeeping supplies? Yes, bee prices are going through the roof, and honey prices just haven’t kept pace. To start brand new in bees, two hives and new equipment, two packages of bees, extraction supplies, and the basic protective gear….you could easily be down $1000! All this with no guarantee you will get any honey or your bees will even survive or make it through the winter.
So what is a good way to start? Catching swarms! Catching swarms is not as hard as it seems. You don’t need anything fancy, but generally brand new wooden wares are not likely to attract a bee swarm, and specially designed swarm boxes can work great but have no other use.
The easiest, least expensive way to get into beekeeping is to just purchase some used equipment and set it out and up and wait. If you do catch a swarm, just leave them entirely alone and see if they make it through the winter. If they do, perfect, if not, you can scavenge any leftover honey in the spring without any type of protective gear. Your equipment will still be worth the same, and your not out anything for bees.
The bees can take care of themselves, and generally any manipulations a beginning beekeeper does only causes more harm than good. In the spring, if your bees make it through, you can split your hive and if you still enjoy the hobby, you can keep with it. If you decide beekeeping isn’t for you, you can sell everything and generally make money over your initial investment.
The key to swarm catching is to have used frames with drawn wax. The size of the box is also important, you need a full size box to catch a full size swarm, large enough to be likely to make it through the winter. Setting up a full deep box and a medium super above seems to be the perfect size. In the late spring, the medium box can be put on a new base for a walk-away split, and a new super put on your main hive. Mixing new and old frames keeps your hive fresh and clean. When you extract your honey the cheapest way (scrape) you renew your wax.
Most everything you need to know about the condition of your hive you can tell from watching the bees come and go from outside, in fact, it is easy to watch the bees for hours-most relaxing time ever! If the bees are outside the hive is clumps, they need more space. If there not very active and are not bringing in any pollen on their legs, you have a problem. If your bees are annoying you and getting into everything, you just may need to feed them.
If your lucky enough, you may see scout bees checking out your box, and if your really lucky, you may get to watch the swarm come!
The Rabbit as a Meat Producing Animal
By – Nephi M. Patton* and Peter R. Cheeke
*N. M. Patton, Rabbit Research Center, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331
Reciprocal Meat Conference Proceedings, Volume 34, 1981
Contribution of the Rabbit Research Center and the Department of Animal Science, Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, Corvallis, OR 97330
Rabbit production is now a minor agricultural enterprise throughout the world. It is most highly developed in Western European countries such as France, Italy and Spain. Rabbits are also raised in large numbers in China, which is the main exporter of rabbit meat. Increasing quantities of Chinese rabbit meat are being imported into the United States.
Rabbits have a number of attributes which may result in their importance increasing in the future. They have the potential to become a major livestock species. This article will briefly review some of these attributes, and present some of the problems which currently prevent this potential from being realized.
Some of the attributes of the rabbit as a livestock species are:
- Rabbits can be fed high forage, low grain diets that are largely noncompetitive with human food requirements.
- Rabbits utilize forage protein very efficiently.
- Rabbits have a high feed conversion efficiency, with feed/gain ratios of 2-2.3 on high grain diets, and 3-3.8 on high forage, grain-free diets.
- They have a high growth rate, similar to that of broiler chickens, reaching market weight (4-4.5 Ibs) at 8 weeks of age.
- Rabbits have the potential of being in a constant state of reproduction; they can be rebred within 24 hours of parturition.
- There is a high degree of genetic diversity for productive traits, so that selection and breeding programs have the potential for a rapid rate of improvement.
- Rabbit meat is a high quality, nutritious product.
- Rabbits are suited to both small scale (backyard, self sufficiency) and to large scale commercial production.
The ability of rabbits to utilize high forage diets efficiently is shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Performance of weanling rabbits fed high alfalfa diets (Pote et al., 1980)
Mortality % 0 0 31.4 a 84.2 a 2.7 310 20 10 10.1 44.0 b 107.5 b 2.4 374 20 20 21.7 36.6 ab 105.3 b 2.9 350 10 30 36.2 40.1 ab 110.4 b 2.8 349 70 40 50.7 36.4 ab 115.8 b 3.2 344 10 50 65.2 41.l b 130.9 c 3.2 365 10 60 79.7 37.3 ab 134.3 cd 3.6 349 10 74 100 38.2 ab 147.6 d 3.9 346 0 Means followed by different superscripts differ significantly (P < 0.05)
In this study (Pote et al., 1980), the complete replacement of grain with alfalfa did not reduce average daily gain. Gain was best on the low fiber, high energy corn-soy diet with no alfalfa added. Even with a diet containing 74% alfalfa, the feed/gain ratio was less than 4:1. Values for poultry, swine or cattle fed a grain-free high alfalfa diet would probably be much higher, and in the case of growing swine and poultry, performance with a 74% alfalfa diet would be extremely poor.
The ability of rabbits to use high forage diets may be particularly important in tropical developing countries. American Meat Science Association et al. (1981) have shown that rabbits can grow as rapidly and efficiently on diets containing several tropical forages as when they are fed diets containing alfalfa. An additional benefit of the use of high forage diets is that the incidence of enteritis is markedly reduced. Enteritis is a disorder of the digestion tract, causing diarrhea, dehydration, toxemia and death. It is responsible for the death of a high percentage of all fryer rabbits produced. Cheeke and Patton (1980) have suggested that it is caused by carbohydrate overload of the hindgut (cecum and colon). Feeding high grain diets allows undigested starch to enter the hindgut, where it supports the proliferation of pathogens which produce endotoxins. Absorbed endotoxins are responsible for the death of the affected animals. The use of high forage diets reduces the dietary starch level, and likelihood of carbohydrate overload.
Producing rabbit meat from forage is the biggest benefit to using rabbits to produce human food. Although rabbits may grow faster on a high ratio concentrate diet, this increases the proportion of young rabbits that may die of digestive upset, up to 70%. Conversely, growing rabbits on a primarily forage diet not only reduces cost and preserves valuable grain, it results in 0% mortality. Rabbit meat is a high quality nutritious product. Results of a recent study on its composition are shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Nutrient Composition of Rabbit Meata
Crude Protein (%) 18.5b Thiamine (mg/100g) 0.11 Fat (%) 7.4b Riboflavin (mg/100g) 0.37 Water (%) 71b Niacin (mg/kg) 21.20 Ash (%) 0.64b Pyridoxine (mg/kg) 0.27 Unsaturated fatty acids as a % of total FA’s 63 Pantothenic acid (mg/kg) 0.10 Cholesterol (mg/100g) 136c Vitamin B12 (micrograms/kg) 14.9 Folic acid (micrograms/kg) 40.6 Minerals Amount Amino Acidsd Amount Zinc (mg/kg) 54 Leucine 8.6 Sodium (mg/kg) 393 Lysine 8.7 Potassium (g/kg) 2 Histidine 2.4 Calcium (mgikg) 130 Arginine 4.8 Magnesium (mg/kg) 145 Threonine 5.1 Iron (mgikg) 29 Valine 4.6 Methionine 2.6 Isoleucine 4.0 Phenylalanine 3.2
aData taken from Rao, D. R. et al., 1979. Nutritive value of rabbit meat. pp. 53-59 in: The Domestic Rabbit: Potentials, Problems and Current Research. Published by OSU Rabbit Research Center, Corvallis, OR 97331. 34th Meat Conference. bWet weight basis.
cDry weight basis.
dArnino Acids expressed as % of protein.
Some of the problems which currently limit the profitability of rabbit production are high disease losses, and the high labor intensity of rabbit raising. If these problems can be overcome, rabbit production may become more important in the future. Because of their ability to efficiently utilize high forage diets, rabbits have the potential to become a major meat producing livestock species.
Dr. Lewis: Do your processors make many biological products from the rabbits?
Patton: The processors here in Oregon are quite small, however, 70% of our rabbits are shipped to California, where they do make biological products. Pel-freeze, in Arkansas, has a huge biological division. Some of our producers might be up to 1000 rabbits a week, but our major production is going into California where the major market is. We do not have USDA inspection of rabbit meat unless you buy it since it is not mandatory. Pel-freeze is the only slaughter plant in America that has USDA inspection so they can ship all over the country. In Oregon, however, we must ship on the paw into California to be able to get the product to where the people are.
Dr. Lewis: Do you distinguish the price of your rabbit by color of coat?
Patton: Processors pay less money for the colored skin or the colored rabbit. The reason for this is that the price of white fur has just skyrocketed. We are now getting 60¢ a skin for white fur. It used to he sold for 50¢ a pound. Now we are getting $3.60 a pound for white, but the colored fur is considerably less. By-products of the rabbit industry include biologicals and the fur market is increasing rapidly.
Question: Don’t you feel that if that’s the case, then why would this industry not become competitive with the poultry industry!
Patton: I think the price of fur is going to help, but that 62¢ a pound we’re paying for rabbits live includes the coat, so we are not in the same ballgame. One of the things the research center is interested in is automation of rabbit production. We are now handling them by hand. They are bred by hand and are very sensitive to feed. One of the problems with our enteritis syndrome is if you full feed a rabbit continuously, they‘re liable to die. So the things we are studying are methods for feeding a rabbit so you can automate and not be concerned with death loss.
Kinsman: What has been the acceptance of the term, cunie meat?
Patton: Not very well. Most people still refer to it as rabbit meat, even though we have suggested that the name be changed a number of times. You may recall that before the truth in selling laws came in, the rabbit coat was called a CONIE. Cuney might be a take off from that same idea, but people are still calling it rabbit meat.
Kauffrnan: I would like to know your philosophical answers to the animal rights people concerning this issue of rabbit for food?
Patton: I guess I would ask you what your philosophical comments concerning beef for food or chickens for food.
Kauffman: I asked first.
Patton: Well, certainly if you view it from a livestock point of view, it’s the same. If you view it from a pet point of view, then, of course, it’s different. We are desperately trying to promote this from the standpoint of livestock. As I mentioned, that picture we used for promotion actually didn’t do us any good.
Zobrisky: Whatever happened to this company called FUNK Incorporated here in Washington state.
Patton: They have gone out of business. They had some very interesting ideas, but the person who had the ideas didn’t know how to raise rabbits.
Cheeke, P. R. and N. M. Patton. 1980. Carbohydrate overload of the hindgut: a probable cause of enteritis. I. Appl. Rabbit Res. 3(3):20-23.
Harris, D. J., P. R. Cheeke, L. Telek and N. M. Patton. 1981. Utilization of alfalfa meal and tropical forages by weanling rabbits. 1. Appl. Rabbit Res. 4:4-9.
Pote, L. M., P. R. Cheeke and N. M. Patton. 1980. Utilization of diets high in alfalfa meal by weanling rabbits. J. Appl. Rabbit Res. 3(4):5-10.