Raising Rabbits on Grass

The first step is to raising rabbits on grass is to decide what market you want to supply with your rabbits. The market you choose will dictate the best breed to raise (miniature rabbits make good pets, but not the best meat rabbit).

Two good places to research the breed best suited for your circumstances are the American Rabbit Breeders Association and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

We are partial to heritage breeds due to their hardiness. Our rabbit of choice is the American - they have litters of 8-12 and wean an average of 8. They have a wonderful temperament that also makes them a pleasure to work with. I have never been bitten or attacked by any of my rabbits, even when I reach in to work with the babies.

The wonderful temperament of the American Rabbit makes them a good pet rabbit and their beauty and uniqueness makes them good show rabbits. We have sold Americans for pets, show, breeding and meat - a very versatile business plan that has been successful for us.

We seemed to spend a lot of money trying to save money when starting our rabbitry. I would recommend having a plan - what do you want to do with your rabbits? Pet rabbits are not a viable business! You need an outlet for the meat and fur. If you're lucky enough to live near a rabbit processor, they will buy the entire rabbit and dispose of the different animal parts to their many markets.

Do you have to contend with winter temperatures? While the rabbits themselves are very hardy, they are dependent on water which freezes easily. We spent money on the individual heated water bottles which worked fine for a few rabbits, but we still needed multiple extension cords to reach them all.

For keeping a few rabbits during the winter months, these insulated waterers work great.

There are a lot of fancy rabbit hutches available, but as with so many things in life, I believe simpler is better.

A plain wire cage like those pictured here work well when hung. The urine and droppings fall to the floor/ground where they can be easily shoveled up and removed.

Similar cages are available at your local TSC store or online from Bass Equipment.

If your rabbits are to be kept outside, shelter will be required from rain, sun, snow and predators.

A simple frame made of 2x4's is all that's needed to hang the rabbit cages from. Our barn has a concrete floor which is easy to scrape clean of rabbit droppings.

An alternative would be to put a thick layer of straw on the (dirt) floor and keep a small flock of chickens in with your rabbits. The chickens will scratch through the straw and rabbit droppings and eat the bugs that show up.

Not only will the chickens keep your rabbitry clean but you will also benefit from fresh eggs daily.

Check availability of American Rabbits

Moving to Grass

Raising rabbits on grass can be economical but requires a lot more diligence. It typically means maintaining two rabbitries - one indoors, one outdoors. 

For the most part, I keep my does and bucks inside all year round. I do keep a smaller rabbit tractor near the barn where I can give them all time outside when they are not nursing.

My rabbitry is inside a converted two car garage so when the weather is nice, the garage doors can be opened.

Once the rabbits reach 6 weeks of age, they can be weaned from their mother and put out to pasture.

This rabbit tractor has just finished serving as a chicken brooder. Once it has a tarp secured over the rafters and more chicken wire attached to the ends, it will become a rabbit tractor.

It is constructed of 2x4s and wrapped with chicken wire.

This rabbit tractor is only 4 foot by 8 foot - on the small side by most standards. However, the orchard where I typically pasture my rabbits is gently rolling so I find the smaller frame easier to level.

A level rabbit tractor is critical to ensuring rabbits don't tunnel out and predators don't tunnel in. Of course, if predators want in, they will still get in.

I move the 'rabbit tractor' twice a day and have never had a rabbit dig its way out. (NOTE: I can't say this about the mature does and bucks - they do attempt to dig out.)

While in the rabbit tractor, the rabbits still receive pellets and a constant supply of fresh water. Both the water and food supply are hung from the roof, making moving the tractor much easier. The framing is light enough that I am able to pick it up and drag it 8 feet to fresh grass.

Transporting Rabbits

Whether taking numerous rabbits to the processing plant, or just moving them around the farm (from the barn to the rabbit tractor), a chicken crate works well.

Anything that serves more than one purpose gets high marks with me.

Return to Grass Fed Rabbit Meat from Raising Rabbits on Grass

Return to Grass Fed Meat from Raising Rabbits on Grass

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