Thousands of rabbits!!! What for?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by RedneckPete, Dec 5, 2006.

  1. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I don’t keep rabbits, so excuse my ignorance on this one. When I want a rabbit, I walk outside my back door and can usually pop a couple off within 15 minutes. But, the other day.....

    I was driving and saw a pickup truck towing a trailer. The pickup was loaded about as high as it could be with chicken crates. The trailer was probably about 7 feet by 20 feet, also stacked with chicken crates probably six feet high. I figured it was a local farmer bringing a bunch of chickens to the processor. But then, I pulled up beside him at a stoplight and realized the crates contained RABBITS! Probably about 10 per crate! Thousands of rabbits!

    Who the heck raises that many rabbits, and what for?!! Is their that much market for them? What are they worth?

    Pete
     
  2. DocM

    DocM Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,314
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    NW OR
    Meat rabbits are processed and marketed in plenty of areas. Yes, there's a market for it. There used to be a processor in this area and several producers, the producer closed but they still ship the rabbits out monthly to a processor out of state. The last I heard, the commercial rate was about .90 a lb live weight. When I was raising rabbits for the local market, it cost me about .40 a lb to raise and I sold it for $5 a lb dressed.
     

  3. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

    Messages:
    1,508
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    There's actually a number of commercial meat rabbit growers in North America. Rabbit fryers sell for about $0.80 - $1.00 a pound live. Most rabbit farms in this part of the world are just small mom-and-pop operations, but a few are full-time businesses with hundreds, even thousands of breeding does.

    Surprisingly, there seems to be a largely untapped market for rabbit meat. Nearly the whole carcass is white meat. It's lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in protein than beef, pork, and even chicken. It's easy to digest. It's also mild-flavored and very versatile. You can cook rabbit in just about any recipe that uses chicken or pork!

    So, if rabbit is so great, why isn't it catching on faster? To put it simply, the commercial rabbit meat industry couldn't support an aggressive marketing campaign! It's an industry in it's infancy. The supply of fryers is irregular and processing facilities are scattered. (A lot of growers depend on volunteer "bunny runners" to truck their rabbits to market, sometimes crossing several states just to get to a processor.)

    Commercial growers themselves have a high burn-out rate. A lot of folks get into rabbits thinking they'll "get rich quick", but that ain't the case. Rabbits are labor-intensive to raise compared to other species. Each adult animal has to be housed individually, driving up labor and equipment costs. They're sensitive to stress, so even something that seems like no big deal can have bad repercussions in your rabbitry.

    So why do we do it? Well, if you make it past the first "critical" 18 months, things do get easier. You get into the groove and learn how to manage your rabbits properly. You learn how to spot small problems before they escalate into big issues. And...it doesn't take long before you really enjoy working with the critters. :) Mine are almost always glad to see me (ok, ok, they're probably just hungry).

    -Hannah <--really enjoys rabbits and talks waaay too much. :rolleyes:
     
  4. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

    Messages:
    1,326
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern Ontario
    Pete, Where abouts in Ontario are you? Up my way there would be only a couple people raising rabbits, let alone meat rabbits and any processing plants.

    Melissa
     
  5. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,908
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    New York bordering Ontario
    They go to the restaurant trade for the most part around here. Wish I was set up to take that many rabbits to market!

    I'm a dairy farmer and am just getting into rabbits this year. Next to cows they have one really big advantage----they DON'T GET OUT! LOL! I am so sick of trying to keep fences up to keep a herd of cows in! But rabbits are right there in the cages and they aren't going anywhere. They are enjoyable and relaxing to work with and I can see where a large operation wouldn't be any more trouble than a herd of cows.

    Jennifer
     
  6. Russ_NEPA

    Russ_NEPA Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    80
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2006
    Location:
    PA
    Why raise rabbit when you can just go out and "pop off a couple"?

    Why raise beef cattle when you can just shoot a deer?

    Why farm when you can eat nuts and berries?

    The answer to all these questions is the same. Most people in this world can't walk out and "pop" a rabbit. They buy their food at markets and restaurants.

    I happen to be a homesteader, not a farmer. I work outside the home, but raise as much of my food as possible. Next to chickens, rabbits are about perfect for homestead meat supply.

    (Don't worry, I pop a rabbit in my garden every now and again myself. The wild kind.)
     
  7. doodlemom

    doodlemom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,152
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Wild rabbits are more likely to have parasites and diseases. A young tender farm raised rabbit is much more appealing to me than a wild rabbit and the pelt won't be riddled with bot fly holes or ticks-blech
     
  8. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    wild rabbits can have tularemia, which can be transmissable to humans.
    Don't hear much about that disease in domestic raised rabbits. Wild rabbits seem to be more gamey tasting also, probably due to the difference in diet.
     
  9. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

    Messages:
    1,508
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Oh yes, that's right..since they're raised off the ground, they usually don't have many parasites... I don't know if I've ever heard of a single case of tularemia in domesticated rabbits.

    They're also more tender...10-12 week old beefy fryer versus a stringy adult cottontail. No contest. :)
     
  10. MaggieJ

    MaggieJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    11,280
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
    Believe it or not, lots of people enjoy that gamey taste. My older brother, who like Red-Neck Pete enjoys hunting cottontails, found the domestic rabbit meat I gave him disappointing. Too bland. (See if I waste it on him in future! LOL)

    I suspect the incidence of parasites, ticks, bot fly and tularemia increase the further south one goes. None of these are a big problem here im Ontario. I've never even seen a tick or bot fly and the incidence of tularemia is very low.

    Cottontail hunting is a fall/winter thing here, following the old adage about not eating certain foods unless there is an R in the month. Young cottontail is good eating and quite mild. Old ones can be tough and a bit gamey. A lot depends on how the meat is handled once you "pop" them.
     
  11. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Ok... I do understand people raising rabbits for their own consumption, or perhaps for a limited local market. I ate many a rabbit growing up, and don't raise them myself because my time and energy is taken up with chickens and pigs, and the unbelievable ease with which I can hunt them.

    That said, I was expressing surprise that there was a market to ship rabbits in those kind of numbers. I was even surprised that there was someone locally that could process that number of rabbits. What do they do the other days of the week?

    I'm not flaming the rabbit producers. I choose to produce chickens and pigs instead, but was amazed at the numbers.

    BTW I just outside of Hamilton, Ontario for those who asked.

    Pete
     
  12. Tareesa

    Tareesa Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Location:
    TN
    A rabbit processor in our area told us that most of his bulk sales were to nursing homes. Because the meat is so high in protein and very filling because of the density of the meat (so portion size is small), so it is great for the elderly.
     
  13. rcornish

    rcornish Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    78
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Location:
    Central Kentucky
    Not all processing in local. I raise rabbits in central KY. Once every 2 weeks a mutual rabbit grower mets a truck about an hour west of us with our fryer rabbits that are in the right weight range. They end up on a truck with usually just over 1000 rabbits and go to Rogers, AR - which is the NW part of that state.

    At that facility they process rabbits only, 5-6 days a week. With presumably trucks coming in from several surrounding states. I know there is one other pick up in KY for instance, with pretty much same deal - an empty truck that will hold about 1000 - 1500 rabbits.