New guy in Arizona

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Tom Bergstrand, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. Tom Bergstrand

    Tom Bergstrand New Member

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    Jan 20, 2018
    Location:
    Kingman, AZ
    Greetings all. My name is Tom and I live east of Kingman Arizona just off Route 66 and 120 miles south of Las Vegas. I am retired and have a really big garden. When researching organic ways to produce food "just in case" I discovered worms. It has worked out very well. I then began searching for a meat source and it looks like it will be rabbits. My wife wants chickens also so I see that in my plans as well. I was "thinking" goats but that's on the back burner. Back to rabbits. The manure will feed the worms very well so I see a symbiotic relationship there. Now I'm agonizing over which rabbit to raise. Just by coincidence we have an Alpaca ranch down the road and the You Tube videos I have watched are saying that a combination of Alpaca fur and Angora wool would produce some very good yarn. I have my eye on Satin Angoras but nothing is "carved in stone" as of yet. Californians for meat and manure is always something to think about instead . The process of harvesting the wool from the Angoras seems rather time consuming BUT .... being retired time is not a problem. Since worm castings have a market of about $1 a pound I can raise rabbits for about .40 cents a pound all things considered. With some additional income derived from the fur I see myself having all the natural fertilizer I could possibly need and meat perhaps for free. I still have more research to do . ANY input is more than welcome. Thanking you in advance.
     
  2. a7736100

    a7736100 Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting. Who buys worm castings and how do they use it? As for rabbits I think their poop is pretty much the same. Large breed will have bigger size poop but the make up is probably the same. I don't know Angora fur quality but I know some long hair rabbits tend to mat pretty easily and requires constant grooming. I would get a breed that is relatively mat free.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018

  3. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have raised Rabbits for many years. I raised meat rabbits, New Zealand and Californian's--mainly crossed. We eat some of the rabbits and sell some---all the poop is either used in the worm bins or in the garden---big garden. I never sold any castings---I am not sure but do not feel there was any market in my area even though shipping could have been done, BUT I used it all. Even the worms---I sold some but mainly feed them to the chickens. My goal was/is to be somewhat self-sufficient. If you Have time---Go For It.

    Fed the rabbits, collected the poop for the worms and the rest for the garden(some for the wifes flowers). In a electric cement mixer I mix the worm castings with rabbit poop and a little dried chicken poop(ratio)---grow many vegetables--1 to 2 acres most of the time for gardening and usually 3 acres of field corn(not enough fertilizer for the field corn)---a lot is grown/fed back to the animals. Even the hogs get something out the garden. I use a garden tub to throw worm castings into---the chickens jump into the tub and collect the worms and worm eggs---the castings are collected out the tub for fertilizer, repeat as often as I need. I have about a dozen worm beds---not real big--- a couple in the 100gallon range. When I need it---I use the worm castings to make compost tea and give the vegetables some on the side---so to speak---but in a Bigger scale----it does boost the vegetables. This is a pic of my Compost tea---I usually try to make up about 200 gallons at a time----I had already used most of it when I thought of taking this pic.

    Keep in mind--if you have time---raising crickets can be done mainly for your chickens. I am not doing that right now but thinking about restarting. I was raising probably close a Million a year for the chickens, fish in the aquaponics, etc
     

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    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
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  4. Pyrpup2016

    Pyrpup2016 Well-Known Member

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    Good vermicompost usually goes for $2 a pound - I have a 4'x8' heated bin that I use to produce it. I suggest you look into the "wedge" system of vermicomposting - makes separating the worms from the compost much easier - they follow the food sideways, along the leading edge of the pile, instead of feeding on top. As they move with the food, the starting edge of the pile will be comparatively worm free.
     
  5. Trixie

    Trixie Well-Known Member

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    'Californians for meat and manure is always something to think about instead . '

    Showing my ignorance - when it comes to rabbits, I only know cottontails and jack, so when I saw this, it gave me pause.

    Also just saw a video about the influx of Californians into Texas and AZ - sorry just ----
     
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  6. ladytoysdream

    ladytoysdream Expect the unexpected Supporter

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    A Californian rabbit is very similar to a New Zealand rabbit to raise for meat purposes.
    I prefer the Californians. I raised quite a few but mine were sold for breeding animals.
    We did not eat our rabbits. I only ate a domestic rabbit once and thought it tasted
    very good, but nobody wanted to do the deed here, and certainly not me who fed them.

    Rabbit manure is called a cold manure and can go straight into a vegetable garden
    or into a flower bed. I have sold some bags of rabbit manure but never a large amount.
    My drop pans have hay and sawdust mixed in with the poo, and trying to get the poo
    separated as clean as possible is quite the challenge. I have also used the poo on
    my house plants. Makes potted flowers grow real big. My husband could not figure
    out why the flowers I bought were nicer than the ones he bought. I didn't tell him why :)
     
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  7. Tom Bergstrand

    Tom Bergstrand New Member

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    Jan 20, 2018
    Location:
    Kingman, AZ
    It seems that I'm in Luck. After joining the ARBA I also found 2 Facebook pages associated with them. One of them let me know about a big show right here in Kingman AZ. . Free parking and admission sooooo I can wander around and see how much useful information I can gather. It's Friday evening, all day Saturday and most of Sunday. It's Feb. 16, 17 and 18. So I only have to wait 2 weeks. Maybe I can see what breed I want to settle on.
     
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  8. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    I raise New Zealands. Was up to 19, but harvested (or a friend did for me) this past fall and am now down to six, enough to breed again, for sure.
    I really like the manure they produce. I don't use anything in the drop trays, and collect the manure (liquid and solid) and dump it in the garden. Last season, I used it directly on top of an area that was lawn, and planted directly into it. I got nice tomatoes from transplants. Since then, I've dumped the continuing supply of manure in the garden also. Oh, I forgot, I used the manure half and half with soil in raised beds, planted potatoes, and they did well...another post tells the amounts harvested for 6 different varieties.
    If I should need feed after a current supply is gone (as in a SHTF situation), I'd collect hay from the field by hand, grow some wheat and oats (they love oats) and also other vegetation. the other vegetation can be fed in season and more saved and dried for off-season feed.
    As far as chickens versus rabbits, I like to have both. The chickens are mainly for eggs, but when the hens have reached the end of their productive time, then they become meat. Although not "meat" chickens, their eggs will provide a full protein and newer hens will produce for a year and a half or two...or longer if you don't mind feeding them during the second winter when they don't produce many eggs. I also have ducks, another dual purpose bird. Eggs are good, and then the meat when they finally stopped laying eggs.
    If you are keeping birds or rabbits for long range use in a SHTF situation, I'd suggest two males of each kind (roosters and drakes) in case the first one is shooting blanks. In normal times, you can usually get a rooster or drake free or cheap on Craigslist or similar, or from friends who have too many. Or buy a dozen eggs from a neighbor who has a rooster/drake and incubate them for chicks/ducklings.
    Also in SHTF times, there is always the vegetarian way to get full proteins by combining legumes and grains in the diet. Growing dry beans is easy, just like green beans, but must be left on the plants until things turn brown. Grains range from corn, rice, wheat, oats, barley, etc.
    Good luck with your plans.
     
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  9. Bluehare

    Bluehare Member

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    Mar 16, 2008
    Location:
    Arizona
    Welcome to the neighborhood! I am just down the road near Lake Havasu City. Do be sure you plan on at least a swamp cooler as you will be at least a couple of months living in a thermally leathal zone for rabbits. Also you might check with weavers (not just breeders). I believed that what gives satin angoras that nice sheen is the reduction or absence of the mico-barbules on the hair shaft that actually makes the hair fibers stick together to male thread properly. Their hair may be too slick to be as desirable to actually weave well.
     
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  10. LuckySpotFarm

    LuckySpotFarm Active Member

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    Sep 11, 2016
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Hello :)

    We raise standard rex rabbits as we were looking for a good dual purpose breed. So they're slightly smaller than other meat breeds but in my experience they are great producers and along with getting the meat you'll also get very nice pelts. I'd be worried in your area with the heat and angoras. You'll need to make sure you have a good system in place to keep them cool. In the summers here in Ohio my rex rabbits struggle some! We use the frozen bottle method for our guys which works well. We just save any bottles and have friends and family save their bottles. We fill them with water and freeze them.

    We give each rabbit a bottle mid morning or lunch time when the heat is going to be higher than about 80 degrees. Really hot and humid days we will go out and change them out a few hours later. Just keep in mind often the rabbits like to play with the bottles so don't be surprised when they chew holes in them. I usually have to recycle about half the bottles each day. I have a couple who are notorious for chewing holes in the bottles. Depending on how big your cages are you could always do this with big 2liter bottles to keep the rabbits cool longer. You may have to look into a fan system to keep them cool as well.
     
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  11. Tom Bergstrand

    Tom Bergstrand New Member

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    Jan 20, 2018
    Location:
    Kingman, AZ
    A swamp cooler is already in place. I intend to build my own cages but with a twist. (Yeah, I know, the newbie wants to re-invent the wheel LOL). I want to make a small enclosure inside the cage that is only accessible from the outside into which I will insert a frozen bottle when needed. It will be against a sidewall so MR or MS Bunny can settle as close or as far as needed BUT cannot touch the bottle due to the wire enclosure. I won't be using just frozen water. I have a bunch of 2 liter bottles with a mix of water and Ice Extender. I won't want them to eat it or waste it. Hence the enclosure accessible to only me. I already have these bottles due to the worm bins are also vulnerable to heat. I am also looking into a unit like my neighbor uses in his house. It is a combo A/C and heater. Set the temp you want and it cycles. I will use a solar set up to power it as I DON'T need a power outage to destroy my hard work. As for breed. Angoras are an "idea". Satins also BUT I think however, that a simple meat type will wind up winning the prize. The ARBA Show is weekend after next so I will have a LOT of questions. Thank you for your input.
     
  12. LuckySpotFarm

    LuckySpotFarm Active Member

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    Sep 11, 2016
    Location:
    Dayton, OH

    That's an interesting idea for the bottle enclosure. I have a few of my breeders (especially pregnant or just delivered mommas) and they'll actually lay on top of the bottles on really hot days. Its really humid here on some days tho, if I remember right Arizona is more a dry heat which will probably be better.

    Depending on the breed you choose you could also look into a misting system with fans. I've thought about doing something like this but Rex are not ideal to get their fur wet so we decided against the idea. We were going to collect rainwater and do a set up like that.

    One thing I'd look into with choosing a breed is making sure it fits all of your needs. One important thing for us when we made our decision was temperament but also we wanted to be able to sell some of the babies to help offset the cost of feed. Which has worked out very well for us, we sell a decent amount each spring and that money covers almost all expenses for our rabbits making it a completely self sufficient source of meat for our family and we raw feed our dogs. One big downside to rex is that they are slightly smaller than most standard breeds but the other pros outweighed the size issue.

    Some of the things we noticed in our decision:
    -Flemish Giants: These seemed like the obvious choice to a newbie like myself as they are HUGE. Perfect for meat....or so I thought. Then I researched further to find that the cage sizes have to be bigger, they eat more, grow slower, and they have a really high bone to meat ratio so for all the extra work of them you don't actually get additional meat.
    -New Zealands: The big turn off for us with them was just that there was no desirability in my area for them. So we wouldn't be able to sell any live (we don't sell meat we process, I don't want to deal with USDA requirements or risk someone getting sick). We actually ended up getting a bunch due to a friend getting out of rabbits and ours were HORRIBLE parents. I didn't get any babies out of them. If I could get them pregnant they ended up eating them or not taking care of them. I believe it was honestly just the ones we had but scares me to try again.
    -Meat mixes: Particularly Cali/NZ crosses are supposed to be super ideal for production but again we knew we wouldn't be able to easily sell the babies so we decided against it.

    Those were really the only good meat options around us at the time of us deciding to get into rabbits.
     
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  13. Bluehare

    Bluehare Member

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    Arizona
    I have Rex down here for about 20 yrs and they get warm inspire of short hair ( it is also exceptionally dense). The first couple years o was here o lost about 30% of my herd to heat. Now my friends joke ( or I think it is a joke) that my rabbits vwouldn’t die on a crockpot let alone a swamp cooler barn at 90 degrees that would give most rabbits a fit of the vapors. But it did take natural selection a couple of generations to adapt the gean pool.
     
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