Would a Rabbitry be Profitable?& lots-o-Q's Bottom Line Please

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by qtkitty, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. qtkitty

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    I have a LOT of questions about starting up a Meat Rabbit Farm. I am an animal Lover, however i know the difference between livestock and pets very well. I used to own an Australian Giant buck when i was younger. I presently have Netherland Dawrfs and a Holland Lop, which one of the Netherland does has had 2 large viable litters, both accidental, both nice pet store quality babies. I am side tracking.

    I am interested in becoming a rabbit farmer, i can read all the information on the internet i want, but i know it does not equal talking to people who are out there caring for their rabbits every day. I also plan on visiting a large rabbit farm before i get into buying a farm, i have seen a small scale rabbit farm at the college i went to ( really wish i would have went into farm management instead of math science now *lol* hind sight is 20/20) 4 rows of 10 i believe. I would like to see if Rabbit Farming would be practical and profitable.

    Getting buyers?
    I live in North Carolina aprox. 45 minutes directly east of Charlotte. I would need to find processors out if there are processors near us. I have been reading that the demand for rabbit meat has grown in the southern US. Is that true and in general are tehy looking for NewZelands or Californians ... or some other type.

    Shockingly from the information i have gathered it seems profitable IF you are close enough to a processor who has a demand and also with minimal labor if set up correctly. When i talked to my fiance he was actually excited about it .. and called our local Ag. Extension office to ask around. Of course he found that this area has no market for rabbits ( which i alrady knew). So that would mean moving which neither of us have a problem with. Although if you have a processor with a high demand will it keep a farm above water to just farm rabbits and their "sub crops" of worms and compost?

    Start up Costs?
    I have read and seen meat rabbit farms where they used single level wire cages, which are hung from a support beam in a barn.I think the cages were 36 long 24 wide 18 tall .. or maybe i am messed up on some of those totals. Aproximately 3-4ft off the ground in rows, so that it makes for easier clean up. ( Do grow out cages differ from breeders cages?)

    I have seen nice mass watering systems, which can be made. It was i believe PVC with sippers in them connected to 5-10 gallon buckets for each row.

    I think i would prefer cement floors that would need mucked, just because i believe getting the poo away fromt he rabbits will lower the attractability of flies to the building.

    Then the traditional feeders and nesting boxes.

    Disinfectants ( i would prefer to use GrapeFruit Seed Extract, however i do not know if that would be appropriate. It is an anti-fungal, bacteria, microbial, and viral)

    Not to mention the bunnies.

    How does feeding differ from pet rabbits?

    Obviously the feeding of vegitables and fruits to growing out bunnies would create losses. So it would be down to a basic rabbit pellets ... and hay? Right now i get 50lbs at a time of Rabbit pellets 19% protien at Approx $8.50-9 a bag from a local feed store. I also get Orchard Grass square Hay bale for $5 a bale from another Local Feed store. Would those prices still be apropriate for rabbit farming until i have more stock, or would i need to look for better before even starting.

    Do you feed your breeding does differently then the growing out and bucks? Other then just feeding them more pellets? Do you suppliment their diet with calcium or other items?


    Preference on breeding?

    How long do you wait from the time a doe has had one litter till the next time you breed her with a buck? How long til you retire a good doe and what are your reasonings ( number of litters, lessening number of kits per litter, high mortality)?

    Realistic Possible Profit?

    Realistically can one make a profit from a rabbit farm?

    What is the normal amount per rabbit that they will consume til they are at weight?or amout of feed to grow our per lb of end weight rabbit? What is the usual average for pay out per lb of rabbit?

    How large of a start up would you have to have to start with?

    How hard is it to skin a rabbit?

    I have helped skin deer before and i did disection of a cat in anatomy1 and 2 in college, however i have never really skinned a rabbit. Is it very difficult?

    How many of you have sub-"crops" to your rabbit farming to help profits?

    I was reading that Red Earthworms really like rabbit waste compost piles, as well as composting the rabbit waste dramaticly lowers odor. Does anyone sell fishing worms and compost on the side?

    Does Diversifying your rabbit population to fill more then one need help your rabbitry succeed?

    I would also like to do angora wool( eventually getting a spinner and producing yarn as well) .. i would have to start that small .. i do know of a market of people who would be interested off the internet. Some which are hand spinners and some who would love the quality of the spun wool to make their own garments. I have read that if selling direct you can expect to sell fibers for $4/ Oz. ($2 /oz for middle men) and a rabbit per year can produce anywhere from 8oz to 3 lb of wool or more depending on the breed. However they are more difficult to care for and take much more time per animal.

    Show/pet quality bunnies .. Easter would be the #1 time .. but if you sell to wholesalers or petstores you Must abide by Animal Welfare Act and be inspected( if you do over $500 in sales), the question there would be would they also be inspecting the meat rabbits as well, which would increase them finding something one day to fine for?
     
  2. Caelma

    Caelma Well-Known Member

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    Check out
    www.ARBA.net
    click on processors and there is a current list
    with names, numbers, what they are needing, prices paid.
    Not all processors in the US are on this list only ones
    whose permission they got to list them on the site.

    also check out

    www.PRMA.org

    I know it is labor intensive. To keep up on things. It is not just
    and watering but breeding, pullung kits, putting in litter boxes,
    taking litter boxes out. Record keeping, regular ear checks and
    nail trimmings.
    If you're like me and you find feeding, cleanning and caring for
    critters relaxing and not work then you may be fine.
    If a processor pays 1.00 a lb live weight for a 4.5 to 6.0 fryer
    figure you will make between .25 to .75 per rabbit profit
    after all costs.
    Want a decent living?
    Figure you're going to need 450 to 800 does.
    And figure on not seeing a profit for at least the first year or two.
    What you make will go back into feed, cages and paying yourself
    back for the initial investments.
    Luckily as I build up my rabbitry I have another business to support
    myself.
    Oh and make sure you meet and talk to a processor before you go
    in big. I know people who have lost their butts when a processor
    didn't come through. And they had to sit on their bunnies which ate up
    all profits.

    As to timing: I breed, let her have her babies, wait till the kits are
    4 weeks old and breed her back, then taking her current kits out at
    6 weeks old to give the doe 2 weeks to rest and get ready for her next litter.
    It is a matter of personal prefer. Many breed back right away, I have no desire
    to wear a doe out like that.

    Rabbit poo will be easy to get rid of, it is cool and does not need to be composted, rabbit and goat are both like that where you can apply to your
    garden without composting

    I would suggest also getting to meet local nurseries.
    If you have clean stuff and can take it to them, they will take all you can
    give them.
    I build a holding area I could back my truck up to.
    I cemented a 6 wide x 8 deep and used cinder blocks 5 high (in which I inserted rebar and drpped cement down into the block holes.
    A great place store rabbit waste until it is time to back the truck up
    and haul it away.

    Best Wishes
     

  3. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    My utmost strongest suggestion is that you make the market before you try and sell to it...................do your research dont buy lots of bunnnies first then try and sell, find out what the demand is, the waiting time for some meat buyers is over one year to get on their supplier list. and unless you have other people to sell to it could be a disaster.

    But yes there is definately a profit to be made, or there wouldnt be as many people doing this.


    _N
     
  4. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    Along with the physical inspections, there are strict rules about
    the size of the cage, etc. One inspector may interpret something
    differently than another inspector. They can also decide something
    that has been *okay* for years may need to be changed.

    I have two friends who service the lab market (under the same rules).
    Those rabbits are housed in their *USDA* barns. The rabbits
    being sold for other purposes and not under USDA regs (housed in
    different barns) are not affected by rules and inspections.

    As suggested, have your market in place. Keep meticulous records
    on your feed costs and revenue. For those wanting to grow, I suggest
    looking at the difference between feed costs and revenue. If you
    can't, at least, make a profit over feed costs, it will be extremely
    difficult to have a profit when the other items are factored.

    Linda Welch
    http://www.texasrabbitconnection.com
    http://www.texasrabbitconnection.com/forums/
     
  5. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    Try the book "Rabbit Production". It's a humungous book, haven't read it yet, but heard that it's pretty good. Hopefully it can answer some of your questions. Another good book covering showing/backyard meat raising is "Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits" by Bob Bennett. Also, join the Professional Rabbit Meat Association if you haven't already. (www.prma.org) The PRMA is an organization for folks involved in commercial rabbit production. Membership includes subscription to a big fat, informative newsletter, a guidebook to raising rabbits commercially, a yearbook listing other members, etc. You also have access to an online message board where you can communicate with serious rabbit people.
     
  6. qtkitty

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    thank you all very much .. all of this information is very helpful.. and being able to talk over all of the information i find with people who know what i am talking about and have advice teaches me so much!! I told my fiance i want to get research on feed prices and on going processor buying prices... as well as actually talk to the processor .. maybe even visit the processing plant to talk to the people in charge .. see what they are looking at for the future .. make sure they are not retiring in 2 years or something as well as see what kind of need they actually have how many more rabbits they could handle on a regular basis ... not to mention talk rabbit talk and talk about where they get their feed if they also raise rabbits .. ect.

    I also want to get a book called Rabbit Farming by Arlene & Dean Goforth. They run Blue Chip Farms & Blue Chip Processing in SC and use computers to help them run the business and compile data to make their business sucessfull. To run a rabbitary i would definately HAVE to use the computer, just my feelings, because it would enable me to quickly recover data and chart my progress instead of having to flip through books of paper work. I would also have a computer reminder program with a calender to write notes in to remind me of events like when it is close for certain mothers to be due, when it is time to take babies from their mother, breed back dates, Ect. I think that if i were to start growing an opperation quickly i would need these reminders since timing is everything. Keeping exremely oganized, Keeping supurb records of EVERYTHING, Keeping clean environments, Keeping an eye out for great (bulk) prices on good items you need (feed, wire, disinfectant) are some of the keys that i have been reading over and over as researching. When i was in Farm and Lifestock Managment in HS those were the same keys the book stressed as well.
     
  7. qtkitty

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    I was reading the regulations of AWA and the rules are so vague that it is impossible to know for 100% what would be appropriate, so it would be 100% in the hands of the individual inspector to decide what is appropriate and what is not. :bash: I understand that if they go with a minimum everyone will go with the minimum of care to make a profit,but you need to know the rules so you can follow them.

    That is a very putting what inspectors di not need to inspect into different buildings.. that way they only see what they are there for .. not that i am saying that i would go against regs or anything... i just wouldnt want to get fines for something silly that they were not even there to inspect to begin with.

    BTW kutos to your friends .. i would not have the guts to do that.. there are to many activists that try and make problems.
     
  8. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Washington
    Unfortunately, the ARBA web site is having a problem with the programming software, which is preventing them from updating anything. As a result, the processor list on the ARBA web site is at least six months old, whereas the list is updated every other month. You'll find the most current listing on the PRMA web site, but you'll need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. A link to a free download for the Reader is on the PRMA web site.

    I would also suggest that you visit the "Commercial Rabbit Industries" web site at: http://www.3-cities.com/~fuzyfarm/ for an overview of the rabbit industries and suggestions on obtaining the best pricing for feed, as well as alternative markets.

    Please note... you could easily stretch yourself too thin by trying to cater to too many different markets. By so doing, you can easily lose track of the details and profitablility of each one, since each unique market would be a separate business of its own. Please be aware that the profit margin for raising specifically for the rabbit meat industry is somewhat slim and would require large numbers of producing does in order to make a living at it. I'm not trying to discourage you, but rather, be honest and truthful. Raising rabbits just isn't for everyone and will require dedication. Do NOT expect to get rich from it! It is an occupation, the same as any other. Please figure in a minimum of 25% mortality rates into your figures on paper to start with. You can always work to lower it as you learn.

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

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    Tucker~ HI!! You must live darn close to me .. Siler City is ALmost 2 hours away and newton is about an hour and a half.

    That you for all the extra selling information and the information of feed prices ... i definately need to find a feed mill close by or atleast a better price. I know some farmers sell direct for a much lower price on hay. I will definately keep in mind that some people try to cheat yah and to protect my assets, thank you for letting me know.

    I was reciently given a 6 ft long 33 inches wide and 32 inches tall rabbit cage made purely out of metal. metal framing metal cover and chicken wire for the sides. They were going to pitch it and i asked if i could have it. Even if i have to take the wire off the frame is still sturdy and put wire on the bottom ( and they wondered why their dogs got the rabbits :bash: pet rabbits mind yah) and divide it in half and i have my first 2 cages. It came with a metal feeder with mesh on the bottom and a water bottle. They also have a smaller 24X24X24 i believe cage which is tossed off towards the woods, its in better shape, but i think they will be using it for one of my baby bunnies when they are ready IF they can prove to me that they can keep their dog from eating a pet bunny.

    ranchlady43 ~
    Thank Goodness . i was starting to think i was some sort of a freak for crunching numbers like a fiend.

    I did this calculation when someone told me that a book they read said that 100 does and two people full time might make $30k a year. I knew that wasn't correct. So i crunched numbers .. the person said that they only had 3 cycles per year i heard others say they had 5 so i calculated for both. You earlier said that 450 does would be a decient living. I also found a site that said that a full time operation for 1 person is concidered 400does. Here is what i got:

    "okay you have 100 does each doe has lets say 5 live babies by time to go to the processor.

    That is 500 babies.

    Perfect market weight for fryers is usually 4.5-6lbs.. so lets say the average was 5 lb.

    That is 2500lb of meat... lets say you have a regular contract with a processing company for $1 a pound .. which if the demand is high in the area then thats a GREAT price.

    So over all you have made $2500

    Lets take your 3 litters a year .. so that would be $7500 per year.

    My 5 litters per year it would be $12500 her year.

    okay well we have yet to take out the cost of feed.

    To feed a rabbit out it takes 4lbs of food to 1 lb of rabbit meat. People who are really good at getting amounts perfect can go as little as 3.1-3.7 lb per lb rabbit.

    Lets go with the 4 to one ... 2500lb rabbit fed 4 pounds of food to get to weight. That is 10,000 pounds of food for each batch.

    Then you also have to feed the does during their lifetime ... lets just say it takes the same 4 pounds of rabbit food per female bunny per pound per litter to keep the doe. Does are grown out so they weigh what about 7lb depending on the breed. So that would be 2800lb of food per batch. ( Let's say that also keeps the bucks all feed as well to make it easier )

    Rabbit food goes bad with in 3 months so basically every breeding you start over new. One breeding you would have 12800 lb of feed. At a feed store you would be paying about $8-7 per 50lb bag of feed. $1792-2048 just for feed each breeding.

    3 breedings per year would cost $5376-6144
    5 breedings per year would cost $8960-10240

    Let make that tons since you can get better bulk prices per the ton at feed mills. 6.4 tons.. which i dont know so i will not go there *lol*

    3 Breeds per year you would make $2124 per year.
    5 breeds per year you would make $3540 per year.


    "A 400-doe rabbitry is generally considered a full-time operation for one person. " http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/alt-ag/rabbit.htm

    At 400 does you would probubly be able to get better feed prices out of sheer volume alone, however you would have to have a regular High volume of rabbits at a processor.

    It would be something like:
    400 does
    2,000 rabbits per cycle
    6,000-10,000 rabbits per year
    30,000-50,000 lb of rabbit a year
    $30,000-50,000 for rabbit meat per year
    25 tons per cycle
    76-128 tons per year
    $7168 of feed per cycle ( probubly could get it lower because of volume)
    $21504-35840 of feed per year
    And you make $8496-14160 per year.

    Of course those prices do not incluse other sales of manure nor brackage of equipment wear and tare on vehicles and gas.
    " That also does not include start up costs or other needed items like disinfectants.


    I also found a site where they said that they were using a 42 day breed back system from the time of kindle to the time that they breed back and they are having a 2-5% miss rate (http://www.hoppingstart.net/) Basically with removing mother from kits at 5 weeks old .. then it gives the mother a week to rest and recuperate from birthing and nursing her litter for a week before getting her pregnant again. That method makes since to me. But even still i agree with your loss rates .. i like to total to my loss, just to be realistic.

    BTW OUCH on the milage .. i do not think that my car even has a quarter of that on there and i have made several 400mi one way trips.

    Sometimes i think that people that are trying to tell me that farming is a hard business do not understand how i grew up. We were always frugal and made the most of every dime. I am very used to that type of penny pinching life. To me making it rich at farming would be making enough farming and maybe working off the farm if need be to pay the bills and get things we can not get from farm animals and a garden. Even if it means getting clothes at a consignment shop and selling them back when we are done .. or getting fabric and sewing our own. I do that now so *lol*.
     
  10. Cray

    Cray Member

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    Growing up we had a rabbitry running 200 does. It took my dad about 2 years to get up to that number. We started out with just 10. He would just keep buying bucks for breeding. They really were not that hard to take care of. My brother and I would water and feed them every day before and after school. On Saturday mornings we would clean the cages and haul the manure to the manure pile. Dad always had people coming by to purchase fresh manure. Never had any problems getting rid of it. We lived about 100 miles from Pel-Freeze in Springdale AR. A guy would come by once a month to pick up the ones that were at butcher weight. My dad made ok money on this but since he had to give the guy transporting them a percentage it really cut into the profits. If we would have lived closer we may have done better. All of our cages were made out of Wire using J clamps to hold them together. We could build a two sided cage in about 30 minutes. Before you purchase your rabbits check with your processor to find out which breeds bring the best prices. We raised New Zealand and California Whites. White rabbits brought more money.
     
  11. qtkitty

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    Cray~~What is a 2 sided cage? I will definately look to see what kind of rabbits the processor closest to us prefers.
     
  12. Cray

    Cray Member

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    By two sided I meant two compartments. Our cages were 30" by 60" with a center divider so each compartment was 30" by 30" and 2' tall. The cages were stacked two high with a piece of sheet metal between the top and bottom cages that was angled toward the back so that the manure and urine from the top cage would not get into the bottom cage. The same thing was done under the bottom row of cages so that the manure was not directly under the cages. This made cleanup much easier. We did have to spray the metal with a garden hose from time to time so that everything flowed into the manure bin behind the cages. The manure bin was about 4' wide. On Saturday's we would start on one end with a shovel and a wheel barrow and haul the manure out of the rabbit barn to the manure pile. My dad used the fresh manure on our garden and always grew the best looking tomatoes in the area.
     
  13. qtkitty

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    *lol* i bet he did ... When i was little(maybe 5-6) i had an Australian Giant Rabbit, just one. Or atleast someone said Australian Giant.. but since i can not find that breed anywhere he most resembled a Flemish Giant, and was a good 15 lb although he looked like he weighed 20 or more because of his fur. But that boy could sure put out manure my grandfather used to till that into the garden every year. Needless to say we had some VERY nice crops with very little outside fertilizer.

    My fiance Kevin and i have had discussions over which manure is better rabbit or chicken. He grew up on a chicken farm when he was young so guess what kind of manure he thinks is best *LOL*.

    Today i am going to be washing that rabbit cage and disinfecting it.. and seeing if i am going to be replacing wire.. i am 100% sure i am going to have to .. the wire is looking rusty in spots. I might take the 4 week old baby bunnies and their mom out and out them in there for a little romp since the inside temp and outside temps are about the same today. They will enjoy that( expecially the mom, Our Disy Dot, who keeps getting bounced on), but since there is no bottom to the cage i do not dare leave them in it unsupervised.
     
  14. Tucker

    Tucker Well-Known Member

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  15. qtkitty

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    Tucker~ Yes it is definately a long term investment.

    I know if we go into farming we will definately have to hire an accoutant. I do not see how farmers could possibly keep up with livestock and crops and all the new tax deductions and changes ... Although my FFA advisor and Ag Teacher He ran a farm and his wife was an accoutant and tax preparer *LOL*. Every tax season he was about ready to rip his hair out because he was stressed, because she was so busy.

    OMG Kevin will flip hearing the words Chicken barn :haha: .. At least you do not cram rabbits into a chicken barn like you do chickens .. that is a HUGE plus.
     
  16. Lauriebelle

    Lauriebelle Well-Known Member

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    I love this thread! I love it! I love it! I love it!!!!

    ~Laurie ...who wants to have rabbits...and goats..and poultry...a jersey calf...possibly a camel..hehehe..and of course...horses... yup... I want it all :haha:
     
  17. qtkitty

    qtkitty Well-Known Member

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    Hehe with reviews of my farm ideas/plans ... i have actually been thinking of using multi species per acre field. Now that i know rabbits will not make to very much.

    Something like Rabbits on one acre

    One acre Max 6 Cashmere goats and 50 free range chickens with movable Nest/roosts ( 1/2 grow out calf)

    One acre Max #? Sheep / and 50 free range chickens with movable Nest/roosts if needed (1/2 grow out calf)

    One acre Sweet Corn/ Produce Garden and 50 Free range Chickens with movable Nest/roosts ( rabbit waste used on garden)

    Basucally the goats eat the Spurg and weeds and Sheep eat some spurg .. cows like alfalfa and grass, so i can use them together. Also cows need more then one acre per cow if you want them to forage most of the time .. so i read.

    The cow would provide beef for the year for us, bought as a calf and allowed to forge to grow out .. maybe fattened with some sweet meal and grains. Free Range Chickens would provide us eggs and chicken, and also give us eggs and chickens to sell. Rabbits to sell as meat .. perhaps to eat if i can talk that into Kevin *lol*( as much as he talks about making rabbit stew out of our baby bunnies or chicken wings *LOL* he is not sure rabbit is really a good white meat.. he is a pork eater.. so i guess that means pigs somewhere). Also some angora rabbits for angora fur. Sheep for the wool and to sell lambs for pets or meat.. also for lamb for us.Goats for the milk, cashmere, and kids to sell. Then The garden section to feed ourselves and can for winter, then extra to sell at a farmers market or in a roadside stand.

    I had thought of alpacas, but they do not seem to be worth it. *LOL* i am sure of we ever got a farm Kevin's middle daughter would be begging her butt of for a horse, but we are NOT getting one. She hasn't cared for any of her other animals so there is no way she can take responsibility for that big of an animals care that takes that much time and effort .. not to mention $.