Six Reasons To Start Raising Rabbits at Home

Raising Rabbits

A little over a year ago, I got a text from my mother. It read: “I have a question to ask you. Don’t say no.” I replied with a no, of course, because I’m such a sweetheart. She ignored me and asked it anyway – she wanted to know if we’d be interested in taking in a half-grown rabbit from a woman who couldn’t keep it anymore.

After a lot of deliberation and several conversations with my husband, I decided that we could take in the bunny. Her name was Maggie, and my girls fell in love with her instantly. Since having Maggie, I’ve realized that while rabbits are uncommon pets, they really make great additions to the household.

6 Reasons for Raising Rabbits

Here are a few compelling reasons to have rabbits in your household:

1. They produce great compost.

One thing rabbits are very good at is making fertilizer. That’s a pretty way to say it, really.

There are a few different ways to use rabbit waste in your garden. You can use the pellets they produce as fertilizer, or you can compost it first. I’ve even seen rabbit pellets sold in jars at homesteading fairs before!

2. Raising rabbits for meat.

Our rabbit is a pet. She has always been a pet, and she will always be a pet. But if you’re looking for an animal that can make a big contribution to your homestead, you should consider rabbits as a meat source. They are small, take much much less food and space than cattle or pigs, and they multiply like…rabbits.

(I’m pretty sure I could never do this. But I do think it’s a really practical, reasonable way to produce meat for your family.)

NOTE from Matt & Betsy: We apologize if butchering/eating meat is offensive to you, but DIY Natural is not a vegetarian/vegan website, so please do not leave comments about how it is cruel, etc. Thank you.

3. Kids love them and can learn responsibility.

Our rabbit lives inside, and that’s great for us. My daughters, at three and five years of age, are almost totally responsible for her. They feed her and give her water, bring her treats during the day, and play with her. There’s little chance of the rabbit hurting them or escaping, and they’re learning to take care of an animal. If we wanted to make a real hobby out of rabbit-keeping, our kids could eventually show the rabbits with a 4-H club, too.

4. Rabbits as pets, they aren’t messy as many small pets.

Did you know that rabbits can be litter-box trained? Our rabbit has a litter-box in the corner of her cage, and as long as we clean it regularly, she always goes in there. That’s great because it is a simple process to collect the compost material, it is easy to keep her cage clean, and she has an easy time keeping herself clean, too. Having had hamsters and guinea pigs as a child, I can say that the rabbit’s cage doesn’t smell nearly as bad as other small, indoor pets’ cages do.

5. They eat vegetable scraps.

I buy celery fairly often for recipes like soup and chicken stock, but no one in my house eats much celery by itself. We get to use the extra stalks for rabbit treats. Same with flimsy carrots, brown-spotted apples, and wilted kale. It’s hard to throw food like that in the compost, but it’s nice to be able to share the food with our pet (who will eventually turn it into compost, anyway!).

6. You can turn their fur into fiber.

This is not something that I personally have experience with, but there are several breeds of rabbits that produce enough hair that they’re considered fiber animals. There are a few different types of angora rabbits, and their wool can be harvested and spun just like sheep’s wool. Again, you’re getting the benefits of a much larger animal without the cost and necessary space.

We sort of lucked into this whole rabbit-owning thing, but I’m always glad that we did. I’m not sure we’ll take it further than having one rabbit as a pet, but I like knowing there are many benefits if we choose to do so.

Do you have rabbits on your homestead? Have you enjoyed raising them? Share about your experience in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Rabbits are brilliant pets and work pretty well for younger kids depending on personality – one of our was friendly and cuddly, the other distrusted people from day one and was very occasionally tolerant of being touched. Handling was unacceptable, full stop. Ideally check that before you choose an animal. Well raised kittens are curious, not frightened of you. Pick those ones.

    Litter training was pretty easy, stopping the chewing, not so much. We fenced off the plants section of the yard and let them out in the other part during the day – the bouncing is adorable, decide beforehand how much digging you’re prepared to allow. They go a long way down…

    If you’re thinking of raising them for meat, it’s typically a heavier breed than pet shop rabbits (like guinea pigs) and you might need to slaughter them yourself or find a small breed abattoir. It varies, but a lot of normal ones don’t handle small animals.

    Also make sure it’s legal to own a pet rabbit. Not an issue in the US maybe but illegal at least one state here in Australia – they’re feral animals and there’s a $3000 fine for owning one.

    Rabbits can get pregnant again within an hour of giving birth, if not earlier. Not ideal, and definitely something to be aware of in the post baby bunny discovery period, if you’ve been keeping male and female separate and lose track of him in the excitement. Guess how I know!

    And go easy on the sweet treats – apple/carrot/fruit in general. Lots of grass and hay, lots of vegies, less tooth/gut issues. Sugary foods can cause an imbalance of bacteria in their gut and make them sick. More a long term thing, and apparently carrots are on the treat list, not every day.

    Long comment, but rabbits are fun. I miss my guys.

  2. Thanks for the great article showing rabbits as pets then eating them. NOT COOL. I will no longer be following your site.

    • It’s an option not mandatory. You probably need to understand the scope of the article. And many many people raise rabbits for the sole purpose of eating them. It’s a brilliant article!!! :D

    • Linda, many animals are used for their meat and by-products… Give up a great site of DIY just because they talked about rabbits as meat? We had rabbits raised for their meat and as a child I knew that. We also ate wild rabbit, squirrels and pheasants, chickens, etc – that is what you do on a farm to produce food for the table. Deer is a big hunting animal in our area and both my kids got one this last season. No different from fish etc. It’s a way of life to feed one’s family…. Are you a vegetarian?

    • If you were starving you would likely eat the person you love the most in this world, let alone a food animal like a delicious rabbit!

    • Linda,

      We’re sorry to see you go over this one article. However, I’m afraid maybe you’ve mistaken the purpose of this post. It was to show MANY different reasons to raise rabbits so that readers with different needs could find one (or more) reason that fits them. Also, Emry states in the article that her rabbit is only a pet and she doesn’t think she could ever use it for meat. She’s simply covering all the different possibilities for raising rabbits.

      Additionally, this is one of our last articles from Emry, whom we’re VERY sad to see move on to other things, and it’s too bad this is the comment you left for her as we send her off, tipping our hats to her wonderful work here. Furthermore, please see the Note from DIY Natural at the end of point 2 in the article, and also our Comment Policy below. I was going to delete your unhelpful comment, but some of the responses your comment generated are so good (and helpful) that I’m leaving it.

      Betsy

  3. I grew up with rabbits at home for the meat, and then I had rabbits as pet for myself. Your article is very true and I totally agree. I’m sorry for the people who can be shocked by that, but producing your own meat is being sure of the quality of it without spending a fortune. I do it again for the health of my children.

  4. How funny to see this post now! My son’s school “loaned” us their rabbit for a weekend last month and we instantly realized this is the pet for our family at this time! We are already planning to go get a baby rabbit the week before Easter. It’s a fun coincidence to see this article in my inbox this morning! Incidentally, by brother also raises rabbits in Washington for meat.

  5. We have raised rabbits for meat in the past. Although there is some very good reasoning for doing so in this article I will tell you why we stopped. Rabbits ďo not like the heat. We had to freeze plastic bottles of water to keep them cool. When mating, they sometimes got injured and it was time consuming caring for the injuries. They get mites. Even tjough we had mesh floors to allow the droppings to fall through for composting, their cages still needed regular cleaning. They can bite and scratch if not handled regularly and I found that if I did handle them I got attached. Therefore as you know, rabbits breed like flies and we had too many. If you have the time and commitment then yes rabbit for meat is for you. Just beware that it is not as easy as it sounds.

  6. We are sort of urban homesteaders, (grow our own veggies in summer, grow light greens and herbs in winter, compost and only have organic crops.) For 9 years we had a yard bunny Titus, who was best friends with our dachshund cross and “helped” my husband with the gardens. Inside I had Giddy, a miniature angora cross, who had free range of my office ate all the spines off my textbooks and got me through a degree. He and I were cuddle and study buddies for 10 years. He had a great sense of humor and was a wonderful pet. I miss having a housebunny but we are gone to work all day.

  7. I raised rabbits as a young wife. Started w/New Zealands, Satins and Dutch. I enjoyed their individual characters. I had to learn how to butcher and dress out rabbits. There are so many recipes you can sub rabbit for chicken. Sometimes you can sub pork too.
    I miss going to the shows, fairs and nationals too. I even had a National champ in Wht NZ fur. You can’t find rabbit in the supermarkets anymore. They are wonderful animal to care for and even love.
    Melissa