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I'm in the northeast and have decided to add rabbits to my homestead. I don't know what I don't know so I'm hoping to learn how to house and breed rabbits in a cold climate. I'm hoping to learn which outdoor hutches are good year round, what we need to build for grow outs, whether tractors are good in the summer, and all the other questions I don't even know to ask yet.
 
I'm in the northeast and have decided to add rabbits to my homestead. I don't know what I don't know so I'm hoping to learn how to house and breed rabbits in a cold climate. I'm hoping to learn which outdoor hutches are good year round, what we need to build for grow outs, whether tractors are good in the summer, and all the other questions I don't even know to ask yet.
Welcome, to the forum! What breeds are you interested in?
 
I'm really not sure. I hope to sort that out in the next month, build hutches in March/April, then start searching for breeders to start. I just don't know what I don't know
Fair enough. There are quite a few breeds of meat rabbits out there. Questions:
How much do you want to spend? Does the colour of the fur matter? Will you be selling any of the future kits to 4H?Pets?Show people? Meat to bone ratio is also important. How many people/dogs will you be feeding?

If you choose a breed, search for breeders before you build a hutch (notice I did not say buy). Then the question to ask is "Will you have kits for sell at the end of April or early May?" In my state kits need to be 2 months old before they can be sold. If that is your target date, the timeline can be adjusted a week or two either way. Also how many do you want to start with? A lot of people start off with a trio. Does the breeder run 2 separate genetic lines? If not you might want to buy from two different rabbitries. Define your goal. Ask for breeding stock. Pedigreed or not?

I have New Zealand, rex and satins. I'm not sure I would go with the rex unless you wanted the plush fur. They are not as large (8-10lbs) as the New Zealand or the Satins. Now that's just my viewpoint. New Zealand are most common. The Champagne are sometimes referred to as the Black Angus of rabbits. Silver Fox and American Chins have solid meat bodIEs. The Satin is another rabbit with unique fur, but offers solid meat body as well.

10 meat rabbits: the full grown size is approximate and others on here can offer closer numbers if I'm off.

New Zealand (9-12)
Californian (8-12lbs)
Satin (10-12)
Champagne D’Argent (9-10)
Silver Fox (10-12)
Rex (8-10)
Palomino (8-10)
American Chinchilla (10-12)
Cinnamon (10)
Florida White (6-8)

Some of these breeds offer a range of colours that can be fun, educational (go down the genotype rabbit hole...)and useful depending on your intentions. White fur dyes easiest. Black fur is popular in medieval time reenactments as well as Celtic, kids love spots ... and colours

There are advocates of the Flemish Giants,. I'm simply not sold on the cost/lb meat/bone ratio.They take up more space. Appear to need longer grow out times.However, they are very good natured and offer a larger hide.

I like the TheRabbitryCenter on youtube. I like Bobby's videos. He also has a different approach on his breeding hutches. I've watched a few different breeders. I don't necessarily agree with everything. I like larger cages for my rabbits.
 
I'm in the northeast and have decided to add rabbits to my homestead. I don't know what I don't know so I'm hoping to learn how to house and breed rabbits in a cold climate. I'm hoping to learn which outdoor hutches are good year round, what we need to build for grow outs, whether tractors are good in the summer, and all the other questions I don't even know to ask yet.
Welcome!
 
Fair enough. There are quite a few breeds of meat rabbits out there. Questions:
How much do you want to spend? Does the colour of the fur matter? Will you be selling any of the future kits to 4H?Pets?Show people? Meat to bone ratio is also important. How many people/dogs will you be feeding?

If you choose a breed, search for breeders before you build a hutch (notice I did not say buy). Then the question to ask is "Will you have kits for sell at the end of April or early May?" In my state kits need to be 2 months old before they can be sold. If that is your target date, the timeline can be adjusted a week or two either way. Also how many do you want to start with? A lot of people start off with a trio. Does the breeder run 2 separate genetic lines? If not you might want to buy from two different rabbitries. Define your goal. Ask for breeding stock. Pedigreed or not?

I have New Zealand, rex and satins. I'm not sure I would go with the rex unless you wanted the plush fur. They are not as large (8-10lbs) as the New Zealand or the Satins. Now that's just my viewpoint. New Zealand are most common. The Champagne are sometimes referred to as the Black Angus of rabbits. Silver Fox and American Chins have solid meat bodIEs. The Satin is another rabbit with unique fur, but offers solid meat body as well.

10 meat rabbits: the full grown size is approximate and others on here can offer closer numbers if I'm off.

New Zealand (9-12)
Californian (8-12lbs)
Satin (10-12)
Champagne D’Argent (9-10)
Silver Fox (10-12)
Rex (8-10)
Palomino (8-10)
American Chinchilla (10-12)
Cinnamon (10)
Florida White (6-8)

Some of these breeds offer a range of colours that can be fun, educational (go down the genotype rabbit hole...)and useful depending on your intentions. White fur dyes easiest. Black fur is popular in medieval time reenactments as well as Celtic, kids love spots ... and colours

There are advocates of the Flemish Giants,. I'm simply not sold on the cost/lb meat/bone ratio.They take up more space. Appear to need longer grow out times.However, they are very good natured and offer a larger hide.

I like the TheRabbitryCenter on youtube. I like Bobby's videos. He also has a different approach on his breeding hutches. I've watched a few different breeders. I don't necessarily agree with everything. I like larger cages for my rabbits.
This is a great post! Thanks!

I don't have a budget at them moment, nor do I particularly know what the future holds for them. My immediate intention was to start off with a trio and ease into things. I'm not afraid of being told to do something else. I'll listen to the advice of those who are experienced. I'll use them as supplemental food for the family, but to be honest I hadn't considered using them for dog food as well.


Beyond that I'm not sure what the market is in my area. I don't know anyone else that raises rabbits, but that doesn't mean there isn't anyone. I'd be open to selling meat and kits if there was a market. I also dabble in trapping and while there isn't a market at auction for the fur, I could probably move some pelts locally. I wonder if I could use them for something myself.

I assumed I would build my own hutches unless I found someone on craigslist just unloading things. I'll have to research how to actually keep them, though. Some of the YouTube videos I've watched show them just outside with a board over the cages to keep the snow off. No boxes or anything. That surprised me. I was thinking I'd need to build multiple hutches, but it seems some just build one long one and keep cages in it, then build a grow out hutch for the babies? It's a little confusing. I'll have to continue to research the number of hutches/cages I'll need and what they should look like.
 
This is a great post! Thanks!

I don't have a budget at them moment, nor do I particularly know what the future holds for them. My immediate intention was to start off with a trio and ease into things. I'm not afraid of being told to do something else. I'll listen to the advice of those who are experienced. I'll use them as supplemental food for the family, but to be honest I hadn't considered using them for dog food as well.


Beyond that I'm not sure what the market is in my area. I don't know anyone else that raises rabbits, but that doesn't mean there isn't anyone. I'd be open to selling meat and kits if there was a market. I also dabble in trapping and while there isn't a market at auction for the fur, I could probably move some pelts locally. I wonder if I could use them for something myself.

I assumed I would build my own hutches unless I found someone on craigslist just unloading things. I'll have to research how to actually keep them, though. Some of the YouTube videos I've watched show them just outside with a board over the cages to keep the snow off. No boxes or anything. That surprised me. I was thinking I'd need to build multiple hutches, but it seems some just build one long one and keep cages in it, then build a grow out hutch for the babies? It's a little confusing. I'll have to continue to research the number of hutches/cages I'll need and what they should look like.
I pay $20 a bag for my rabbit pellets..but it's buy 10 get 1 free. My straw runs $5. My hay $5-$13.50. Every litter costs me approximately a bag if food. So I sell at least one to cover that cost.

I actually started out with xl dog crates that I flipped. Then rewired the once top now bottom. These are my favorite because they are 48.0"L x 30.0"W x 33.0"H. I like the 2 door crates but I have both. I call them my condos and the breeding does live in them. I buy the large dog crates at a thrift stores for $6.99. They are still a good size for a single rabbit. I built stands. I covered the cages with tarps and then old sleeping bags that covered the top and the front during the really cold weather. Our lowest temp this winter was -48 with windchill. My rabbits, including kits did just fine. I have made boxes for most of my crates. Either nesting or bigger grow out boxes...filled with straw because it is winter.. This spring I'm building a bigger "rabbitry" section. I currently have my rabbits under a tarped carport.


My new structure is going to have a solid slanted roof. A solid wall on the north side as I want to paint it black. Cover it with glass. And use a solar fan to push the heat through the pvc piping. I'm debating having adding a sliding panel though, painted white to stay cooler in the summer. Rabbits have more issues with the heat than the cold. Count on 1 cage per rabbit. 2 - 3 grow outs. I breed 3 at a time now on the premise that if only 2 take, I still have a foster mom if I need one.

I looked at buying rabbit cages. Then building cages. A lot of the people here use them and the cages look good. I liked the stacked kw? Cages. But I decided to stay with what I have and just build the outer structure. Then I will wire the old rabbit section 20x10 to use as a rabbit play yard.


Yes, Bobby actually offers free plans for his hutch structure/stand. You can buy or make the cages and then pop them in.He has a video on how to make his cages as well. I'm not sure how many cages went into his long hutch. I was looking at it today before I was side tracked. I'm going to build a similar one. Except I want long trips of hutches on the North/South sides and a short section for the bucks at the east end. I have a lot of bigger projects going on this Spring/Summer so I will keep my rabbit space fairly simple. Ideally though,I will run a waterline out there.

A lot of people keep their rabbits in sheds,garages, enclosures - some year around others for winter.They use fans in the summer and heaters in the winter. Do you have your space figured out on your property? Are you intending to feed pellets? Do they sell them at a local feed store? Where will you buy your hay? Timothy, Orchard.. although I feed my kits alfalfa/Timothy in the winter especially. If you buy hay off the field(and straw) it is cheaper. Just have to make sure it is "horse" hay as it is generally cleaner and safer (no mold). You are on the right track...shelter,food,water, rabbits... I hope that you enjoy checking out the various breeds.
 
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I'm in the northeast and have decided to add rabbits to my homestead. I don't know what I don't know so I'm hoping to learn how to house and breed rabbits in a cold climate. I'm hoping to learn which outdoor hutches are good year round, what we need to build for grow outs, whether tractors are good in the summer, and all the other questions I don't even know to ask yet.
For cold climate I love colony raising in family groups. 1 buck lives with several does and the kits until kits are big enough to move to grow out pens. Their body heats help warm the shared housing. Can cuddle together. Bulk feeding and water makes chores easier. After trying different things I now use 3 gallon double wall metal chicken waterers. I can put heat under them for winter. Shelter that has one half closed in more private with permanent den boxes, and resting shelves.Boxes open to inside for rabbits. Doors at back open for me to check and clean.the other side is wired with recycled windows hinged over to open or close with weather conditions. Pellets and water there. I use a solid floor (repurposed doors from dump) covered by vinal flooring and hay. They have free access thru an 8" door to their yard with brush piles they chew on, play in, greens and treats given in yard. I started with a trio of 8 to 12 week old kits in a large tractor and grew from there. 2 family groups (1 buck and his does in each) 2 grow out pens I move large kits into (one for girls, one for boys) my grow out pens are separated by the family group yards. Multiple shelters and hiding places for young bucks. Boys seem calmer that way. A garden to the south is convenient for feeding greens and weeds and to direct compost the rabbit manure.I love the silver fox breed. They seem very Hardy and adaptable. Good parents. I enjoy watching the social interactions. Bucks seem attentive and protective of kits when given a chance to be father's, not just sperm donors. Good luck with your new adventure! We have enjoyed it more than anticipated.
 

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I'm in the northeast and have decided to add rabbits to my homestead. I don't know what I don't know so I'm hoping to learn how to house and breed rabbits in a cold climate. I'm hoping to learn which outdoor hutches are good year round, what we need to build for grow outs, whether tractors are good in the summer, and all the other questions I don't even know to ask yet.
I raise mine in Manitoba Canada outdoors year around. The kits generally start to come out of the hole in early January. I have nine does and one buck. The does control the breeding in the heard and all will take breaks then start again. I never remove the buck from the heard. My warren is 3000 square feet.
 

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A lot of people keep their rabbits in sheds,garages, enclosures - some year around others for winter.They use fans in the summer and heaters in the winter. Do you have your space figured out on your property? Are you intending to feed pellets? Do they sell them at a local feed store? Where will you buy your hay? Timothy, Orchard.. although I feed my kits alfalfa/Timothy in the winter especially. If you buy hay off the field(and straw) it is cheaper. Just have to make sure it is "horse" hay as it is generally cleaner and safer (no mold). You are on the right track...shelter,food,water, rabbits... I hope that you enjoy checking out the various breeds.
I have a ton of land and have an idea in my head where I want them but no formal plan. I don't have garage or barn space for them, so my current research is to see how much shelter they need and then build that down by the garden or chicken coop. I live in the country and we have 3 local feed stores. All of them sell rabbits supplies. We have a ton of places that sell hay, too. I usually buy a few bales from the farm down the road if I keep pigs for the winter. If I help them load it in the barn they usually just let me take what I need. I store the hay and pellets in the chicken coop (I have a separate small storage area).
 
For cold climate I love colony raising in family groups. 1 buck lives with several does and the kits until kits are big enough to move to grow out pens. Their body heats help warm the shared housing. Can cuddle together. Bulk feeding and water makes chores easier. After trying different things I now use 3 gallon double wall metal chicken waterers. I can put heat under them for winter. Shelter that has one half closed in more private with permanent den boxes, and resting shelves.Boxes open to inside for rabbits. Doors at back open for me to check and clean.the other side is wired with recycled windows hinged over to open or close with weather conditions. Pellets and water there. I use a solid floor (repurposed doors from dump) covered by vinal flooring and hay. They have free access thru an 8" door to their yard with brush piles they chew on, play in, greens and treats given in yard. I started with a trio of 8 to 12 week old kits in a large tractor and grew from there. 2 family groups (1 buck and his does in each) 2 grow out pens I move large kits into (one for girls, one for boys) my grow out pens are separated by the family group yards. Multiple shelters and hiding places for young bucks. Boys seem calmer that way. A garden to the south is convenient for feeding greens and weeds and to direct compost the rabbit manure.I love the silver fox breed. They seem very Hardy and adaptable. Good parents. I enjoy watching the social interactions. Bucks seem attentive and protective of kits when given a chance to be father's, not just sperm donors. Good luck with your new adventure! We have enjoyed it more than anticipated.
I thought about doing this as well, but it doesn't seem as common and I didn't know why. I have a raised 4' x 4' chicken coop with attached run that I thought about putting a family unit in to start. I don't use that chicken coop for anything currently. I'd have to add hardware cloth around the border to keep predators out, but this might be a good way to start?

How many does do you keep to one buck? With this set up, I could just add two nesting boxes, food, and water and I'm ready to go. Then I'd just need to get 2 grow out hutches built before they need to be removed.

I use the 5 gallon double walled waterers for my chickens now, but I have some 3 gallon waterers laying around for when I'm growing out chicks.
 
I raise mine in Manitoba Canada outdoors year around. The kits generally start to come out of the hole in early January. I have nine does and one buck. The does control the breeding in the heard and all will take breaks then start again. I never remove the buck from the heard. My warren is 3000 square feet.
That's a huge warren. I have plenty of space to do something similar. 9 does to 1 buck? Do you swap out the does or buck periodically to change the blood line, or is that not necessary? Do you have trouble finding kits to grow them out or do you let them grow out with the family? Do you sell for meat or pets?
 
I raise mine in Manitoba Canada outdoors year around. The kits generally start to come out of the hole in early January. I have nine does and one buck. The does control the breeding in the heard and all will take breaks then start again. I never remove the buck from the heard. My warren is 3000 square feet.
Are you ever able to handle them well considering you don't even see the Kits for a while?
 
I thought about doing this as well, but it doesn't seem as common and I didn't know why. I have a raised 4' x 4' chicken coop with attached run that I thought about putting a family unit in to start. I don't use that chicken coop for anything currently. I'd have to add hardware cloth around the border to keep predators out, but this might be a good way to start?

How many does do you keep to one buck? With this set up, I could just add two nesting boxes, food, and water and I'm ready to go. Then I'd just need to get 2 grow out hutches built before they need to be removed.

I use the 5 gallon double walled waterers for my chickens now, but I have some 3 gallon waterers laying around for when I'm growing out chicks.
I currently have 4 does in each family but that can vary. Lots just keep a trio. 5 gallon would be fine. I bought the heaters when I was using widemouth gallon jars, holes near top, flipped upside down into baking pan. Heaters were only rated for 3 gallon. I use permanent den boxes, 12x20" minimum. Flip up tops on them for easy access for checking and cleaning. I try to have more boxes than does so there is extra space. And they like to choose. Rabbits like to climb and jump. Layers, shelves will give more space in a small footprint. I love Pinterest for inspiration. Rabbit Warren Man was inspiring to us when so many were pushing individual cages. Think there are other colony keepers here with lots of different systems. You can hunt site. I love letting mine live as nature made them, social creatures. They give us such joy. in their yard and on the plate. I love rabbit meat! Info I read on colony raising suggested starting with young rabbits and letting them grow up together. Just putting adults together doesn't always go smoothly. my first shelter was a chicken tractor donated by my sister in law. 4' insulated shelter with 6' attached screen space. It's been modified some. Worked for my first trio well. Now serves 5 as their burrow, now that they have free access yard space. Good luck. Keep us posted.
 
That's a huge warren. I have plenty of space to do something similar. 9 does to 1 buck? Do you swap out the does or buck periodically to change the blood line, or is that not necessary? Do you have trouble finding kits to grow them out or do you let them grow out with the family? Do you sell for meat or pets?
My kits grow out with the heard, I will harvest using a pellet gun while the are feeding on sprouted field pea, black oil seed, wheat, oat mix. I use eves trough to feed out of. I have built a 9x 3 ‘ box with a door and hinged roof that I feed them in. Makes it easy to catch them if I need to deworm or cull.
I feed hay Timothy/alfalfa mix, dry whole oats and black oil seeds. Plus fresh greens, sprouts and tree branches including pine.
I do change my bucks out, however I do keep females for replacements and let them line breed to their father for the years that buck is heard buck.
These rabbits live very naturally with very few problems/
I do use diatomaceous earth on th sprouts as a preventative strategy for internal parasites, the spouts are moist the diatomaceous earth sticks to it. I also use it in the bedding areas and tunnels. I put apple cider vinegar in the drinking water to discourage mites. I have a sitting area in my warren and family and friends love to go hang out with the bunnies.
 

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i used to have long rows of cages for my rabbits and will NEVER go back to that. Trying to clean a cage well usually meant i had to remove lots of rabbits in order to get one cage out to clean it well. Gah... WAY too much work. Individual cages makes it super easy to clean cages cause they do get messy even with regular spot cleaning happening.
 
i used to have long rows of cages for my rabbits and will NEVER go back to that. Trying to clean a cage well usually meant i had to remove lots of rabbits in order to get one cage out to clean it well. Gah... WAY too much work. Individual cages makes it super easy to clean cages cause they do get messy even with regular spot cleaning happening.
We always want to do what fits our lifestyle and what is best for the rabbits in my opinion.
For me cleaning is a fan take because I want all the poop for gardens and tree fertilizer , also use it in my house plants.
 

@Rabbit Warren Man , Thank you for the "diatomaceous earth on the sprouts as a preventative strategy for internal parasites, the spouts are moist the diatomaceous earth sticks to it. I also use it in the bedding areas and tunnels. I put apple cider vinegar in the drinking water to discourage mites."​

I use the "dirt" as I call it for my dogs, yard, and plants when needed. Do you grow your own sprouts? What type of sprouts are you growing? I guess I could probably share mine, except I normally choose broccoli. I gave them pea sprouts and sunflower sprouts last year. Do you grow them year around? I use the rabbit manure in my gardens/yards. I will start selling manure in the Spring if I've finished meeting my current needs.
 

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