The business side of Raising Rabbits for profit - Homesteading Today
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Old 03/27/09, 05:56 PM
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The business side of Raising Rabbits for profit

So I was blessed to have the opportunity to sell most of the kits from my last two litters of rabbits to my local animal/farm supply store. It wasn't a huge profit, but selling most of the kits from those two litters paid for my feed bill for the last 3 months, since I only have 8 adult rabbits. I'm not operating in the black by any means at this point, but it gives me hope for the future.

It really has raised a turmoil of thoughts though. First of all, I got into rabbits mainly so that I could raise meat, second for wool from the angoras. I really did not intend to go into "business". The opportunity just presented itself, and here I am. The place where I sold them has said that they will take all the weaned kits I can bring them between now and May, which isn't a lot of time, so I am not going to ramp up production at all, there just isn't enough time. I have already bred every doe I have. If the rabbits I have bred now don't kindle, that'll be it. However, if I sell all my kits, there won't be any meat for the freezer (I kept two, so we would have some meat for the table, but there won't be any for the freezer for at least 10 weeks.I also kept a gorgeous orange bunny with black points. She is so pretty!) I can't decide wether I should sell as many as I can while the opportunity is here, or just glide back under the radar and produce for ourselves, selling angora fiber and rabbits, maybe yarn, where I can.

How do you all handle the business end? I have kept rudimentary books, but do I need a business license? Should I have charged sales tax? Do I look at this as a hobby, or as a business? I really didn't expect to have to deal with these questions right now, having started out with three rabbits a year ago.

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Old 03/27/09, 06:32 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Idaho
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I think you have to have sold $500 worth to have to have a licence. Are you saying you didn't get any meat for your self in the last 3 monthes? So you broke even when you sold the bunnies.
If that is the case you are working for nothing.
We always make sure our table comes first with no expectation of cash profit. If we pay the feed bill that's cool, but we have to eat. If we don't why bother. That's alot of work for some one else to benifit. Around here the feed store pays $2- $2.50 for a mutt rabbit weaner. They sell them for $7.99.
The pet stores only buy small breed pure breds and pay $10. They sell them for $30. So their supplyers do all the work and the store makes the money.
Ny husband takes my extra kits/breeders and sales them for me.
People know I have good stock, so I do alright.

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Old 03/27/09, 07:14 PM
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Location: Huron County, Ontario
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Depends on what you consider making a profit. Feed bills paid for three months... means your next few months your table meat is really cheap.

Can you do without rabbit meat for 10 weeks if it pays your rabbit food bills?
I could.

It's not like you have to sell them everything. You can keep back 2 or 3 for yourself from a litter. just sell what you want to. it will still pay for your feed.

Don't think you need a business license unless you sell a certain amount.

For the spring season, and possibly the Christmas season, why not make a bit of extra cash? Pay your feed bills so the rest of the year the rabbits feed you for free.

As to the pet stores making all the profit...well..consider they have bills of their own to pay. i've talked with pet store people..there is a reason WHY they charge what they do. Something has to help pay the bills and bunnies...hey..it's a quick dollar sometimes. I've brought in bunnies to pet stores that cost me $2 to raise to 7 weeks, sold them for $12 and I walk out the store hearing someone interested in the bunny I just sold to the store, that they will be paying $25-30 for. seems like quick profit, but considering staff costs, cost of stock that comes in sick that you have to treat and such like. the money has to come from somewhere. $30 isn't that easy of profit.

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Old 03/27/09, 08:17 PM
 
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I personally would take the money and run while it's there, IF and that's a BIG IF you are making a reasonable profit after your cost... To pay a feed bill comes first IMHO, without feed you can't support raising the rabbits for your table if that is your desired "profit".

I can raise quiet a few meat bunnies with 3 months worth of feed for everybody without it costing me a penny. I'm no longer interested in making a “cash profit" from the buns like I once was, I simply want free meat and some together time with my kids which requires some form of outside sales to pay the feed bill. Buyers can dry up faster than a salted slug on a sunny AZ afternoon and I'll take their money in a heartbeat while the want to give it to me.

The biggest thing is to know what it's really costing you to raise the bunny that you are selling, I wouldn't consider selling ANY rabbit for $2-2.50 as you can get more at a auction house just for the meat aspects. It was running me roughly 13lbs of feed to bring a NZ to market weight at 9+/- weeks after several years of selective breeding, at today’s feed prices with low end feed that comes to about $2.47 per fryer. Selling a little younger will reduce this a bit but not enough to make a difference...

Can't tell ya anything about a license, most areas this is a DBA type thing and there really is no limit so long as you pay your federal and state taxes on outside sales.

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Old 03/27/09, 10:09 PM
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I guess I didn't understand, I thought she said she paid her feed bill, but had no meat for her freezer. To me that means she did all that work for nothing.
It would be different if she had paid her feed bill and had enough bunnys for the store and 10 or so fryers for her freezer.
It is different in different areas as to what stores will pay for bunnys and I do appreciate the stores over head, but no one thinks that it costs us any thing to raise a rabbit. Like they grow on bunny trees or something.

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Old 03/27/09, 11:11 PM
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Well, when I decided to sell them, I was looking at it this way. The kits were 8 weeks old. I sold them for $7.00 each. (butchering age rabbits go for about $10.00 each here) So, I saved the cost of feeding them for the next month, plus I made enough money to pay for feeding all my rabbits (not just the twelve) for three months. If I just looked at the costs of raising those 12 rabbits, I definitely came out ahead on them. All of my females are (hopefully) pregnant now instead of just the two, so in three months, I will have plenty of meat for the table. And that's fine for now. And I have gotten meat for the table in the last three months, when we butchered rabbits from previous months. Plus I have the one rabbit I am saving for breeding and the two I saved back for butchering. That's two good meals for us, but then it will be a while before I have anything to butcher. I have pretty much decided I won't be doing this again unless I have a lot of kits. Next year though, God willing, I will have a lot more does in production. I was given 4 angora rabbits (two does, two bucks) right at the end of January when these kits were born, and I will have two more meat rabbit does. So next year, I would have more kits available, (but also a bigger feed bill)

Squashnut, I guess I can look at it as breaking even, or making connections for next year that might bring me bigger profit. I guess I need to figure out exactly how much feed it costs me to raise one rabbit to the age of 8 weeks and then to the age of 12 weeks, so I can figure out at what point I am making a profit. I

I can tell you one thing, it sure felt great to tell my nay-saying FIL that I had sold all those babies and that the feed store manager wanted all the babies I could bring him. You should have seen the look on his face!! He has been poking fun of me since I got my first angora, the meat doe and the meat buck!

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Old 03/28/09, 07:41 AM
 
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Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
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No Loose Ends, if you are feeding pellets exclusively, you can lower your feed costs considerably by changing how you feed. Many of us are now feeding hay/grain/greens either entirely or in combination with some pellets. The growth rates for fryers are slower, but if you are selling to the pet market this can be a good thing and in any case it does work out cheaper. There is tons of information in the "sticky threads" on natural feeding and safe plants at the top of the page if this idea appeals to you.

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Old 03/28/09, 08:28 AM
 
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Before next year rolls around, you may also wish to keep track of exactly how much it does cost you to raise the bunnies to selling age. Include not only the feed, but your labor and costs. Charging 15-20% over that cost is considered a good profit. Maybe I am fortunately to be in a high end market, but that is what we do here for all products coming off the farm.

Negotiate with the feed store to get the price you need, but also work towards getting your costs down as suggested by others. Point out to the feed store that they are benefitting by having your rabbits to sell. They are able to sell the accessories and feed needed for people to raise them.

Good luck and congrats on making the contact! Sarah

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