Q for Pat and others....

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by MikeD, May 29, 2004.

  1. MikeD

    MikeD Well-Known Member

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    For those near large commercial meat rabbitries - how did/does the local retail communities (within say 100 miles of a rabbitry) react to the availability of rabbit meat? Where in the country have you been able to notice increased availability of rabbits for human consumption? etc....

    Reason I ask is that slowly but surely I am getting closer to being able to attempt a "commercial" venture of up to 400 head provided a few more pieces fall into place.I'm becoming more curious as to how local consumers reacted once it was known that quality rabbit meat was available to them. Interestingly, my primary potential client will not be from the "human" market. I HAVE seen rabbit on the shelves of one major chain supermarket and it never seems to stay there long but to the best of my knowledge there is no real "larger scale" meat producer within 2-300 miles of me minimum. State Veterinarian's office (USDA) says they have no "commercial" entities or rabbit breeders of any measurable scale registered and I know that there are no "commercial" processors handling rabbit within the surrounding 6 states. The closer I get to making this a real possibility the more nervous/excited I am becoming.... Thoughts? Suggestions?
     
  2. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    >I know that there are no "commercial" processors handling rabbit within the surrounding 6 states.<

    Well, Mike.... you sure do have me curious as to what state you are in! Yes, we do have some "limbo" areas (mostly in the west) that are devoid of any known rabbit processors, but certainly not in that wide of an area. And.... since rabbits fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA and *not* the USDA, it is no surprise that there are few USDA-licensed/registered rabbit producers (mostly laboratory providers) and/or USDA rabbit processors. The USDA can only report on those which are USDA licensed and/or registered. All other processors are state inspected processing facilities and not USDA, nor do producers have to "register" with anyone in order to have a large herd and sell to an existing processor (so long as their zoning laws allow it).

    Each area will be different when it comes to demand, and you're just going to have to feel out the market for your own area. Overall, however, the reason you don't see rabbit meat in local markets is due to inability to supply the demand due to a lack of *consistent* year-round producers. The majority of rabbit meat goes to the larger cities for the restaurant trade. Anything left over is then sent to grocery stores. Chain stores, however, usually require large amounts of processed rabbit meat in order to supply *all* their stores in that region. A "region" usually covers several states. A herd of 400 surely is not enough to do this. I maintained a herd of 700 and still had to deal only on a local basis... and I even had to buy more fryers from local producers in order to keep up with the demand. This, however, applies to the for-human-consumption market. The Raw Feeding/BARF market has sprung up only within the past few years. I did sell feeder rabbits for reptiles, etc., but not in the way that Tracy does it. As such, I'm a bit fuzzy on the requirements for that market.

    Please be aware that you will not be able to sell to stores or restaurants for human consumption unless the rabbits have been processed in an adequately licensed processing facility in accordance with your own state laws. Some states require *only* USDA facilities, while others require state-inspected facilities, and still others which have a combination of both. My own state has both, wherein certain counties require USDA only! Go figure, eh?

    Now to blow your mind: A "small" commercial rabbitry generally begins with 200 producing does. A "medium-sized" commercial rabbitry is 500-600 producing does, and a "large" commercial rabbitry is usually 800 producing does and up. There are several with over 1,000 producing does. Naturally, this does *not* include the bucks, fryers, litters and replacement stock.... only the does which are actively producing.

    Let me know what state you are in, as I may be able to give you a much better idea of the situation.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
     

  3. MadWoodsman

    MadWoodsman New Member

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    I am in Texas and have just started looking for a processor, but I am not having much luck.

    Are there any processors in Texas? Or medium to large commercial rabbit farms in the state?

    Most of what I find down here are breeders for the pet or show trades.

    - MadWoodsman
     
  4. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The current "Market Report" listing of participating rabbit processors and buyers is now available for public viewing on the PRMA web site at:

    http://www.prma.org/

    You will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer in order to read it. A free download is available on the PRMA web site.

    Depending on where in Texas you are located, you may be able to sell to Pel-Freez in Arkansas. You will need to have a grower number, first. For more information, go to: http://www.pelfreez-foods.com/growers/index.html .

    Yes, there are several medium to large commercial rabbit farms in Texas. I suggest you visit and join (free) "The Texas Rabbit Connection" at:

    http://www.texasrabbitconnection.com/

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, 2005 ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  5. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    All this USDA/FDA licensing stuff is so complicated. Got a coupla questions for I guess Pat or Tracy or someone who knows what they're talking about! There is a small USDA licensed facility not too far away from us that will custom process rabbit. They also purchase rabbits live for alternative/environmentally friendly markets (i.e. stuff like high end restaurants) in the Washington, DC area. Is it legal to process rabbits in the back yard and sell them to private individuals, or would that require licensing and an expensive processing facility? If the rabbits are butchered, packaged, and labelled at a USDA licensed facilty, can they be sold to restaurants and grocery stores, or would a special meat handling or transportation license be needed? Thanks in advance. :)

    rabbitgal
     
  6. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Each state is different, so you may need to check with your own state laws in regard to direct sales to consumers. Most states do allow a certain amount of farm direct sales to individuals, but you usually can't actually advertise the butchered meat or charge a processing fee without having a licensed processing plant. Most growers get around this simply by advertising "Live Fryer Rabbits" and offering to butcher it for free. Only meats processed in the appropriately licensed processing plant can be sold to retail stores and restaurants. Texas, however, tends to differ a bit but still requires a "permit" to do so.

    Pat Lamar
     
  7. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    In Texas, we also have to process in an approved facility to place rabbit/poultry into the retail food chain. We are not legal to advertise as "live"
    and butcher for free UNLESS the person buying is standing there while the
    processing is being done. I was told by the man in charge that they
    didn't have an objection to someone being shown "how to process"
    the rabbits being purchased :no:

    And with that being said, there are Texas retail outlets marketing animals (rabbits) that have not been processed in a licensed facility. I just know
    that I would be the only person ever prosecuted should I try this! :waa:

    Linda Welch
    http://www.texasrabbitconnection.com
    http://www.texasrabbitconnection.com/forums/
     
  8. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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