I need info to help start a Rabbit compost farm

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JRW

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I wish to start a rabbit compost farm with 40 rabbits and need to know the following
No breeding or harvesting of rabbits will take place we just want the rabbit poop
Should I buy does or bucks for this project
Can I feed them purely on grass and vegetable scraps
Is 1metre x.75 metre x.50 cms cages suitable
Please advise as I have no idea about rabbits or farming but have been promsed a lucrative contract for dried rabbit poop with a large family owned group
Am I taking on too much at 78yo and on only 1acre of land
 

ladysown

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You'll need to cut a lot of forage to feed forty rabbits. Just how much manure is this family looking for?
are they looking to sell or to use for their own uses?

If I were doing this and NOT breeding... I would only have male rabbits as they are less moody than the ladies. They will produce just as much manure as well.

I would buy good quality hay, mineral blocks (for trace nutrients), and raise forage that rabbits do well on. You might want to invest in a grain mix of some sort to bump up protein levels and provide some differently sourced nutrition.
 
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At certain times, I bring in more income from rabbit poop than rabbits. I clean out the barn roughly twice a year, spring and fall, and shovel the poop back into feed bags (as my son observed, "New Look, Same Great Product!"). :) This fall I filled 67 bags, which equates, very roughly, to 3,350lbs of manure. Some of this I sold, some we used in our own gardens.

So, I am obviously in favor of producing and sharing rabbit-generated fertilizer. However...

We have 32 cages, an assortment of large and small breeds, and we do breed them throughout most of the year. It is a fair bit of work to care for that many rabbits, shared by two daughters and myself. We use pellets during most of the year; if you are planning to feed them only forage, it will be that much more work to collect and balance nutrition for them (though if you're not breeding, that will be simpler than trying feed milking does and growing kits). Rabbits do NOT like change, especially as they age, so the best plan will include a way to keep what you're feeding them fairly consistent.

There is a pretty good book about feeding natural sourced-feeds called "Beyond the Pellet" by Craven and Warden that lays out a lot of the basic considerations:

Another thing to be aware of is that getting clean, dry manure will require a bit of effort and planning. Our rabbits are in wire cages, from which all the waste falls on the barn floor. Thus it ends up mixed with hay, fur, dropped pellets, wood shavings (from nest boxes, which you won't have) and of course urine. It's not "clean!" That is just fine for compost, but if your buyer wants "dried rabbit poop" you'll probably need to set up a system to keep the manure clean and separate from the urine, which is what smells. On the other hand, urine is an outstanding fertilizer in its own right, so your buyer might be happy with a mix, or you might find an outlet for that if you collect it separately.

As far as your age and land, you'll have to be the judge of the first. If you have an acre, a good barn could house that many rabbits, but you'll have to figure what you could grow and how much if you're hoping to feed forage. Some forage components, like willow, clover and and comfrey, grow well without a lot of TLC. If you're going to have to be haying, in my mind that might put the time and labor investment up too high. If you can find a source for some of their food (barter?) that might bring it back into a reasonable range.

Good luck and God bless!
 

JRW

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At certain times, I bring in more income from rabbit poop than rabbits. I clean out the barn roughly twice a year, spring and fall, and shovel the poop back into feed bags (as my son observed, "New Look, Same Great Product!"). :) This fall I filled 67 bags, which equates, very roughly, to 3,350lbs of manure. Some of this I sold, some we used in our own gardens.

So, I am obviously in favor of producing and sharing rabbit-generated fertilizer. However...

We have 32 cages, an assortment of large and small breeds, and we do breed them throughout most of the year. It is a fair bit of work to care for that many rabbits, shared by two daughters and myself. We use pellets during most of the year; if you are planning to feed them only forage, it will be that much more work to collect and balance nutrition for them (though if you're not breeding, that will be simpler than trying feed milking does and growing kits). Rabbits do NOT like change, especially as they age, so the best plan will include a way to keep what you're feeding them fairly consistent.

There is a pretty good book about feeding natural sourced-feeds called "Beyond the Pellet" by Craven and Warden that lays out a lot of the basic considerations:

Another thing to be aware of is that getting clean, dry manure will require a bit of effort and planning. Our rabbits are in wire cages, from which all the waste falls on the barn floor. Thus it ends up mixed with hay, fur, dropped pellets, wood shavings (from nest boxes, which you won't have) and of course urine. It's not "clean!" That is just fine for compost, but if your buyer wants "dried rabbit poop" you'll probably need to set up a system to keep the manure clean and separate from the urine, which is what smells. On the other hand, urine is an outstanding fertilizer in its own right, so your buyer might be happy with a mix, or you might find an outlet for that if you collect it separately.

As far as your age and land, you'll have to be the judge of the first. If you have an acre, a good barn could house that many rabbits, but you'll have to figure what you could grow and how much if you're hoping to feed forage. Some forage components, like willow, clover and and comfrey, grow well without a lot of TLC. If you're going to have to be haying, in my mind that might put the time and labor investment up too high. If you can find a source for some of their food (barter?) that might bring it back into a reasonable range.

Good luck and God bless!
Thank you for your reply
 

JRW

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Thank you for your reply
I am thinking of creating a laboratory type environment for the rabbits in a 12mx6m fully airconditioned building tiled floor to roof with a drying and packaging area attached. All cages will be stainless steel. Workers will be issued overalls,gloves,repirators,boots etc. I personally will not be physically involved in the operation but will utilise workers from our family businesses to do all cleaning and feeding etc. as I do not like animals of any description (hair, fleas and noise) and this is a hobby and not a survival enterprise.
All poop will be collected on a conveyor under cages and the urine will be disposed of as our family stores only want packed compost in 2kg bags for their customers
I do not want to be involved in growing any crops so pellets may be the best path with vegetable leftovers from the many stores which should be ample each day
What do you think of my thoughts for this project
Regards
 

JRW

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You'll need to cut a lot of forage to feed forty rabbits. Just how much manure is this family looking for?
are they looking to sell or to use for their own uses?

If I were doing this and NOT breeding... I would only have male rabbits as they are less moody than the ladies. They will produce just as much manure as well.

I would buy good quality hay, mineral blocks (for trace nutrients), and raise forage that rabbits do well on. You might want to invest in a grain mix of some sort to bump up protein levels and provide some differently sourced nutrition.
You'll need to cut a lot of forage to feed forty rabbits. Just how much manure is this family looking for?
are they looking to sell or to use for their own uses?

If I were doing this and NOT breeding... I would only have male rabbits as they are less moody than the ladies. They will produce just as much manure as well.

I would buy good quality hay, mineral blocks (for trace nutrients), and raise forage that rabbits do well on. You might want to invest in a grain mix of some sort to bump up protein levels and provide some differently sourced nutrition.
u for your reply
I am thinking of creating a laboratory type environment for the rabbits in a 12mx6m fully airconditioned building tiled floor to roof with a drying and packaging area attached. All cages will be stainless steel. Workers will be issued overalls,gloves,repirators,boots etc. I personally will not be physically involved in the operation but will utilise workers from our family businesses to do all cleaning and feeding etc. as I do not like animals of any description (hair, fleas and noise) and this is a hobby and not a survival enterprise.
All poop will be collected on a conveyor under cages and the urine will be disposed of as our family stores only want packed compost in 2kg bags for their customers
I do not want to be involved in growing any crops so pellets may be the best path with vegetable leftovers from the many stores which should be ample each day
What do you think of my thoughts for this project
Reg
 

KelleyBee

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Thank you for your reply
I am thinking of creating a laboratory type environment for the rabbits in a 12mx6m fully airconditioned building tiled floor to roof with a drying and packaging area attached. All cages will be stainless steel. Workers will be issued overalls,gloves,repirators,boots etc. I personally will not be physically involved in the operation but will utilise workers from our family businesses to do all cleaning and feeding etc. as I do not like animals of any description (hair, fleas and noise) and this is a hobby and not a survival enterprise.
All poop will be collected on a conveyor under cages and the urine will be disposed of as our family stores only want packed compost in 2kg bags for their customers
I do not want to be involved in growing any crops so pellets may be the best path with vegetable leftovers from the many stores which should be ample each day
What do you think of my thoughts for this project
Regards
Before making all of that huge investment, perhaps you should test this on a smaller scale (perhaps 8 rabbits), without all of the automation and human labor. Do it yourself for a while. Properly cared for rabbits don't have fleas, and they certainly do NOT make noise aside from some very quiet grunts that you will likely not even hear at the age of 78. This way, you can actually learn about rabbits and the actual practicalities of raising them, keeping them healthy, and cleaning up after them. Caring for rabbits and managing all of the variables are best understood through hands on experience. Reading and inquiring about them, from a practical standpoint, is all theory until you actually get your hands dirty because "imagining" and 'doing" are two very different things. If you are not willing to at least set up a smaller test run of this scheme, I would suggest you abandon the idea entirely.
 

JRW

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Before making all of that huge investment, perhaps you should test this on a smaller scale (perhaps 8 rabbits), without all of the automation and human labor. Do it yourself for a while. Properly cared for rabbits don't have fleas, and they certainly do NOT make noise aside from some very quiet grunts that you will likely not even hear at the age of 78. This way, you can actually learn about rabbits and the actual practicalities of raising them, keeping them healthy, and cleaning up after them. Caring for rabbits and managing all of the variables are best understood through hands on experience. Reading and inquiring about them, from a practical standpoint, is all theory until you actually get your hands dirty because "imagining" and 'doing" are two very different things. If you are not willing to at least set up a smaller test run of this scheme, I would suggest you abandon the idea entirely.
With regards to your comments I wish to add that the cost of the investment is of no concern as it will come off the bottom line of our very successful chain of stores as will the cost of all labour and day to day expenses for the running of this business
I do not intend getting involved in a messy, labour intensive business as I am pre occupied trading on the stock market
The main aim is to supply our stores with a profitable product.
Regards
 

JRW

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Before making all of that huge investment, perhaps you should test this on a smaller scale (perhaps 8 rabbits), without all of the automation and human labor. Do it yourself for a while. Properly cared for rabbits don't have fleas, and they certainly do NOT make noise aside from some very quiet grunts that you will likely not even hear at the age of 78. This way, you can actually learn about rabbits and the actual practicalities of raising them, keeping them healthy, and cleaning up after them. Caring for rabbits and managing all of the variables are best understood through hands on experience. Reading and inquiring about them, from a practical standpoint, is all theory until you actually get your hands dirty because "imagining" and 'doing" are two very different things. If you are not willing to at least set up a smaller test run of this scheme, I would suggest you abandon the idea entirely.
As a follow up to your comments I suggest you read the text well.
Nowhere did I say Rabbits have fleas or make a noise.I said that I do not like any animal ANY being the operative word Cats and Dogs have fleas and make a noise as do chickens and pigs etc ...........
By the way I have perfect hearing !!!!!! and am not a treehugger or a down and out homesteader
 

Big Mac

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Have you done a market study, and critical analysis, ROI ?
why so much investment in this venture? It doesn’t appear that forty rabbits would sustain the operation or fill inventory.
suggest you hire a person that is very familiar with rabbits and knows how to balance the feed. These animals must be well cared for to perform optimally. You are not in the poop business, you are in the feed business as that affects the bottom line.
oh by the way I don’t know if care what I think, I am one of those ”down and out homesteader’s “.
 

JRW

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Have you done a market study, and critical analysis, ROI ?
why so much investment in this venture? It doesn’t appear that forty rabbits would sustain the operation or fill inventory.
suggest you hire a person that is very familiar with rabbits and knows how to balance the feed. These animals must be well cared for to perform optimally. You are not in the poop business, you are in the feed business as that affects the bottom line.
oh by the way I don’t know if care what I think, I am one of those ”down and out homesteader’s “.
This proposed 40 rabbit project is only a small trial pilot scheme which we envisage will supply one of our smaller branches with about 600 1lb bags of rabbit manure per month. The intention is to increase rabbit volumes eventually to cover all our outlets under the guidance of Chinese business advisors who supply rabbit meat worldwide.
My initial post only questioned my ability to house and run this project initially on my estate until a decision is taken to build a large complex
It was never intended to be my personal project as I indicated I do not like animals and never want any type of farming activity on my properties. I only offered part of my property to the family as a starting point. It seemed a good idea at the discussion time but I do not want to get involved in any animal welfare or feeding matters.
I think I will leave the final decision to my sons and the board of directors in conjunction with their Chinese advisors.
 

ladysown

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nothing wrong with testing out an idea. You'll need a manager just to overall run to project if you won't be hands on, and you'll want to keep the poop as clean as possible. So if you are feeding forage you'll need a screen to catch any dropped forage bits. I've learned from experience that gardeners like clean manure so finding a way just catch the fecals is a priority.

Rabbits need good ventilation so factor that in. You'll need good pellets, and a steady supply of fresh water, and you'll need good sized cages for housing them. For bucks of meat rabbit size (for maximum amount of poop) you'll want a minimum of 24 x 30 inch cages.

Since these will be non-working animals, a 16% protein pellet will suffice.

You will probably want to source most of your animals from ONE place, so if you can find a commercial breeder, that would most likely be your best option.
 

Big Mac

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This proposed 40 rabbit project is only a small trial pilot scheme which we envisage will supply one of our smaller branches with about 600 1lb bags of rabbit manure per month. The intention is to increase rabbit volumes eventually to cover all our outlets under the guidance of Chinese business advisors who supply rabbit meat worldwide.
My initial post only questioned my ability to house and run this project initially on my estate until a decision is taken to build a large complex
It was never intended to be my personal project as I indicated I do not like animals and never want any type of farming activity on my properties. I only offered part of my property to the family as a starting point. It seemed a good idea at the discussion time but I do not want to get involved in any animal welfare or feeding matters.
I think I will leave the final decision to my sons and the board of directors in conjunction with their Chinese advisors.
I think that decision is the better choice all around. In the long run I believe that it would become a matter of contention.
beware of gifts and loans, that are like transgressions, a small transgression always leads to a greater transggression.
peace and blessings
 

JRW

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I think that decision is the better choice all around. In the long run I believe that it would become a matter of contention.
beware of gifts and loans, that are like transgressions, a small transgression always leads to a greater transggression.
peace and blessings
If you say so
 

JRW

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No I don’t say so, I am making suggestions based on what you said you intentions are. In your comments you said you didn’t want to be bothered With the care of rabbits, that is the first indication this is not something you get into, because you will be disappointed. The person you hire will either spend too much on them and you will see that as a waste, or he will spend too little and the results will not be satisfactory.
just a number for your consideration, if you feed a rabbit 4oz of dry feed you get 8 oz of manure, so start with that number and figure how many rabbits you would have to have to meet production needs, , then the cost of bags, and distribution, veterinary services , and bio safety. Now I do realize that there is no problem that can’t be overcome by a whole lot of money, but generally that maxim is for government work, because your working with someone else money. Peace and blessings.
Right
 
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I run a similar operation that I started 6 months ago. I use the dried manure to make byproducts for mushroom growing. The manure makes me FAR more than the rabbits do... and I breed as aggressively as possible to maximize rabbit profits. I don't use a "laboratory setup" as you suggest though. On a large scale it just isn't financially sound. Even if your chain of stores is funding the business they will need to be able to make more off the manure than the cost of building and operating the business. You can get clean dry manure with a normal rabbitry setup that uses manure runoff slides to separate out the urine, then further dry the manure outside in large flat bins. I currently produce, dry, grind, and sell about 50 lbs of manure per day with 40 breeding does. Just make sure you hire someone to manage it that knows how to farm rabbits and isn't afraid of working with manure daily.
 

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Big Mac

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How much are you feeding each doe? It is my understanding that 4 oz of feed produce 8oz of manure , so if you have forty does how do you get 50 lbs of manure, without over feeding?
you mention you are drying the manure so the dry weight would be near the weight of the feed amount.
this operation would be hard on the stock based on the feed amount.
 
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