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The Hopping Homestead


Getting Started

The First Steps

So you're interested in adding some meat rabbits to your home, what to do next? 

DO begin by investigating your local laws and ordinances. A good breeder is a responsible breeder! Many cities have regulations on how many rabbits you may keep, or how manure must be handled. Local regulations will have the biggest impact on how you raise your rabbits.

DO NOT tell everyone who will listen that you intend to start farming rabbits. Many people see rabbits as "pets only" and refuse to see the benefits of raising meat for personal use on a small scale. While you do not need military-style security when housing your rabbits, "out of sight, out of mind" is a helpful phrase to keep in mind. 

DO set up your housing before acquiring animals. You will need a cage for each breeder, an extra cage for quarantine purposes, and a pen to keep growout rabbits in. 

DO NOT go out and buy all the rabbits you can with the intentions to "figure it out" when you get home. Rabbits need clean, sanitary living conditions. Keeping them in any other conditions, even for a short period, can be detrimental to their health. 

DO have a plan for feed resources and manure management before getting started. Take time to investigate where you will get your feed, since running out of feed and having to switch brands suddenly can have negative impacts on even the healthiest rabbits. Manure, while extremely beneficial in the garden, will add up quickly. 

DO NOT begin breeding rabbits you acquire before having a plan for what to do with the babies. Plan how much rabbit you would like your family to eat, how much you can spend on feed, etc, before the first breeding.

Rabbit Housing

Different Hutches for Meat Rabbits

There are three main types of housing for rabbits: all wire cages, wire and wood combinations, and all wooden hutches. Each one of these housing styles has advantages and disadvantages. 

All wire cages are the most sanitary option, and are the best choice for a beginner. The wire allows feces and urine to pass through and keeps the rabbits in consistently clean conditions, away from waste that can harbor diseases and parasites. Resting mats should be provided to give the rabbit and area to rest that is not directly on the wire. 

Wire cages are the least safe from predators, and can result in large amounts of kit loss from babies being born "on the wire" instead of inside a nestbox. Extra precautions will need to be taken to avoid these situations.

Wood and wire combinations are the most popular hutch design that are required by city ordinances. Many localities will have specifications on how many square feet of the cage needs to be wire, and how many need to be wood. These designs allow for a constant resting area as well as room for feces and urine to fall through. 

All wooden hutches are the safest cage for avoiding predators and kit loss, but they take the most work to keep clean. Using bedding that is changed daily, as well as litterbox training your breeders, will help keep these cages in great condition.