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Commercial Rabbitry

From vermiculture and selling rabbit manure to rent-a-bunny for Easter photographs, this forum is a place to discuss other ideas for making a profit from rabbits.
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Re: Commercial Rabbitry

Post Number:#16  Unread postby Demamma » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:01 pm


I have a email from California dept. food and agriculture. It tells about selling rabbit meat in California. If you would like me to send you a copy send me a message.
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Re: Commercial Rabbitry

Post Number:#17  Unread postby WallTenter » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:38 am


I do not have experience with a commercial rabbitry, but I do have some rabbit experience, livestock business experience, and schooling in ag business.

I think the cheapest way you could start is to buy four pedigreed purebred does, breed to a purebred buck or two. Raise them in whatever kind of caging you can find (even if it is a "colony" with just some basic wire cages separated for does kindling). Use the proceeds from your first litter or two to start buying cages. You started with quality animals so a) you will be able to charge a premium for exceptional kits as breeding stock to other growers and b) you will not have to buy future breeding animals, except bucks, which I would suggest replacing every generation - they are cheap and an easy way to continue improving your herd genetics. Then you will keep a handful of "terminal" bucks - these are for your purely meat litters, you will not keep any replacement kits from these litters.

That's the animal side of it, now to the business side.

Unless you plan to hire help or be married to your work for little pay, you better bet on integration of some sort. You're already integrating your seedstock and your production stock. You have built up your herd, keeping about 10% as breeding animals and the rest are being sold as either breeding stock to other producers or as meat kits. By this point each new litter is paying for a cage, feed for the litter, and a little bit of money in your pocket (though not much).

The point is you are slowly using proceeds from each litter to get your infrastructure (cages, etc.) built up. Depending on the size of rabbitry you're wanting a building could cost very little or a whole lot (a simple hoop house structure that you made yourself you could do a very good sized one for under $2500 vs a pole barn building you have to hire out for is going to be much much more).

Rabbits reproduce very quickly so if you stay on top of it you could build up a nice sized breeding herd in only a year or two starting with just four or five doe kits. And if you are buying a cage with each litter no you're not making any profit those first couple of years but soon you will have all the cages you need, you will be feeding enough rabbits to buy your feed in bulk and save money there, and hopefully have learned what you need to tweak to make it work better.

I would HIGHLY recommend investing in an automatic water and feed system (even just a simple slide-pipe would help a whole lot).
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Re: Commercial Rabbitry

Post Number:#18  Unread postby Madpiratebippy » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:52 am


(sorry for this post being a bit rambly, I'm Pre-Coffee)

If you have some time before you're going to get started, there are things you can do today to dramatically cut your feed bill.

Since you have some space, I'd suggest planting some trees for fodder. Rabbits can do fairly well (not as well as on a mixed diet, mind you, but they'll do OK) on a diet of 100% mulberry leaves, so if you plant a few rows of mulberry now, you'll have a good supply of them later. Your profile just says California so I'm not sure what climate zone you're in, but you could also probably grow some hybrid poplars (just no black poplars, they'll kill the rabbits) and some willows on the lower parts of your land, and some apple trees.

That'll supplement your feed, if not replace your commercial feed, for most of the growing season and drop your costs considerably.

You might also want to find the nearest SCORE office, they're a group that gets retired executives and they'll go over your business plan with you, and tighten it up, as well as possibly help you find grants.

You will make more money if you sell direct to restaurants, and in California there are areas where there's not enough supply right now. If you are serious, I'd also suggest contacting some of the reptile clubs (dead on the wire and cull kits can be sold as snake food), raw dog feeders, and heck, these days I'd go to the local Crossfit gyms that suggest people follow a paleo diet and see if I can't arrange group buys of organic rabbit meat. Successful agricultural operations need diversified income. See if there's a local-to-you primitive skills group that will buy your furs, or a local boy scout group. There are workshops being held right now for $100 a head to teach suburbanites how to kill their own food, do you have the space to set up for a workshop like that, walk people through dressing out their own animals? You could partner with someone else who has rabbits to supply them for the workshop and use that money to build your cages. Do you have the marketing skills to pull that off, or could you spend the next year learning those skills?

Breeding stock- you can sell high quality rabbits. This will probably require you to go to a few shows to get some champion bunnies to up your price and create demand, or buy from known lines. Do you have connections with the 4H/Future Farmers crowd for producing meat pens? Now would be the time to start making those connections.

There are also grants available from the Slow Food guys, and lots of agricultural grants available if you do something with, say, a heritage breed. Do you want to raise, say, American Chinchillas, Blanc do Hotots, or Silver Foxes?

To raise revenue to build the cages, you can offer a rabbit subscription CSA, where people pay you a certain amount now to get a rabbit a month, or a rabbit a week, at a discount later. That might help with the up front cashflow issues, and you might also be able to piggyback on other CSA's that are in your area. They might be willing to put out a call to their members to raise seed money for you, and handle your distribution at a much, MUCH better return than the large processor will give you. I'd also see if I could find a cowshare group in the area, since those are people that are already paying up-front to get high quality, clean meat.

You've mentioned your son is Autistic. A lot of parents with kids who are not neurotypical are trying to feed them a diet as free from chemicals as they can, since it so dramatically helps some of these kids. Are you a member of any local support groups, or email lists, where you could offer the rabbit meat direct to consumer?

Some cardiologists suggest their heart patients eat rabbit meat. Could you produce a good looking brochure to give to cardiologists about the low cholesterol in rabbits, that they could hand their patients, with your rabbitry's information on it? A REAL, good looking brochure- have a graphic designer tell you if it really looks like crap. I've seen a lot of nearly useless, bad marketing materials out there because the business owner didn't have anyone to tell them it looked bad, or they wouldn't listen. You can get a decent logo for five bucks of Fivver, there's no excuse

Have several paths to revenue. Think of it like prepping- one is none. If all you do is sell to the commercial processors, what would happen to you if they went out of business, or dropped their prices? You'd be over a barrel.

You might want to also plant something to attract people to your location. A few rows of you-pick berries, some fruit trees, heck, some rare garlic varieties,

If you really want to do this, the thing that will make you money isn't the rabbits. It's going to be the rest of the business. There are some books you should read, the E Myth by Gerber is a good starting point. Your local library has lots of books on business, they're going to be worth looking into.

Edit- double post.

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Re: Commercial Rabbitry

Post Number:#19  Unread postby Demamma » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:02 am


Thanks for all the information Mad..... I'm slowing down my pursuit of going big at this time. I'm having some trouble driving more than a hour. Until I'm able to get my health under control all else is on backburner. I will look up some of the stuff you mentioned in the meantime. Thanks for the information.


Walltenter good advice. I've been working on improving my herd. If it doesn't produce well it doesn't stay unless it's a pet. I recently got a awesome buck who I'm looking forward to keeping some daughter's from and replacing other rabbits. Right now meat rabbit sales are down. I quit doing pet sales as I don't have the patience to deal with the idiots that come for rabbits from me. I'm working on building a good reputation in my small town as someone who has good rabbits. 8 of the meat pens at our county fair in May will be from me. I'm making good connections with people in the community which will help in the long run. Bonus is meeting nice people. The local animal control came with his kid and bought a meat pen. He had good remarks about my rabbits. My friend is going to fix up a evaporative cooler so I can breed through the summer. I'm working slow but steady towards my future goal.
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Re: Commercial Rabbitry

Post Number:#20  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:18 am


There used to be a truck from a procsesser, who stopped in Orland on wed. about 6 am , I used to sell to 20+ years ago-- the price was $1.86/ lb for whites back then.[feed was $5.75/ #50 NSC - and a little less from the mill bulk.]
You will need a biulding, with shade trees, [eucalyptus grow fast in your area, and need little water after the first 3 years]planted on the west, and south side for sure [and maybe on all sides-, you also need 2 swamp coolers with thermostats, to keep the rabbits cool, and well ventilated, the reason for 2 swamp coolers is -if one breaks down , you have time to get it fixed before the rabbits die. also--you can hook the water pump up the the thermostat on one ,and let the fan stay on to keep ventilation at night. [The pump will start when the temp gets too high and run water on the pads, and cool the house] -put the swamp coolers on the end of the rabbitry with the "pure breedstock" in it-- so the air will blow past them then on to the rest of the building, so no disease can blow back past/on the breedstock.
The small amount it costs to keep a swamp cooler blower running is not much when compared to the cost of respiratory problems from too much amonia in the house, --[you also need a back-up generator large enough to run your well and power your coolers]
-- When you buy breedstock, you need to quarentene them and have them screened for pasturella, and maybe EC, before you put them in your herd,[unless you are absolutly sure they are clean] --because when you have 50 rabbits it is not a huge problem to repopulate after an epedemic-- but-- when you have 400 does it will destroy you. [and keep outside rabbits and "un-washed" rabbit people out of your rabbit houses.]- when you buy breedstock, buy at least, 2 separate lines of NZ and 2 separate lines of Cali [or what ever breeds you choose]- that way you can keep a "closed" rabbitry for at least 10 years at a time- [if you pay attention to breeding programs]
--When you set up your rabbitry have it compartmentalized, with about 6 feet between sections, so-- if you get a problem in one section you have a chance to see it, and fix it, before it is spred to the whole house.[I had my pure NZ in one section, the pure Cali, in one and the main production divided into 4 sections. [this also can help with breeding programs]
These are all problems you will not see / deal with, until you have a bunch of rabbits in a house, but when they show up, the learning curve is steep and expensive. -
meat-mutt rabbits, a few laying hens.

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Re: Commercial Rabbitry

Post Number:#21  Unread postby Demamma » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:30 am


Thanks Michael for the information and advice. I was thinking of trying to get land in Fruto and build there. Great advice about having different sections. I already was planning on keeping my Hobby, show Cremes seperate from my production rabbits but see now how important to separate even production animals.
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