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close this bookBetter Farming Series 36 - Raising Rabbits 1: Learning about Rabbits; Building the Pens; Choosing Rabbits (FAO, 1988, 56 p.)
close this folderLearning about rabbits
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWhat kinds of rabbits can you raise?
View the documentWhat can rabbits eat?
View the documentHow many rabbits should you raise?
View the documentNow you must decide


12. Rabbits are usually very healthy and hardy animals that grow well if you are careful.

13. If you give them a good home and take care of them well they will be less likely to get sick.

14. Remember, it is much easier to keep rabbits from getting sick than it is to make them well after they have become sick.

15. Rabbits must have a quiet place to live where they will feel safe and well protected.

A quiet place to live

16. Rabbits are very quiet animals and are easily frightened. If they become badly frightened, they may become sick or die.

17. So, you must give them a home away from people and noise and animals that may frighten or even harm them, such as foxes, rats, snakes, dogs or cats.

18. If you decide to raise rabbits, the same person should take care of them all of the time

Same person should take care of rabbits all of the time

19. That way, the rabbits will become used to their keeper and will not be frightened.

Sun, wind, rain and fresh air

20. Rabbits may not grow well if they get too much sunshine. They must have a shady place where they can go to get out of the sun.

21. Rabbits may become sick or die if it is too windy or if they get wet. Rabbits should never be wet. So, they must have a place that is protected from wind and rain.

22. However, rabbits need fresh air. So, if you decide to raise rabbits you must give them a place to live that is closed enough to protect them from the sun, the wind and the rain and yet open enough to allow for plenty of fresh air.

23. Rabbits should have clean, dry homes. You should clean their pens every day, in order to keep them clean and dry.

Clean pens, clean food and plenty of clean water

24. Rabbit droppings should never be allowed to collect on the floor of the pen.

25. Rabbits should have clean fresh food and fresh water all of the time.

Brush out rabbit droppings

26. Rabbits should be given food twice each day, once early in the morning and once in the evening, after sunset, and water as often as they need it.

27. You will have to be especially careful that your rabbits have enough to eat and drink at night, since they eat and drink as much at night as they do during the day.

Feed twice a day

28. If your rabbits" food or water becomes old or dirty throw it away, clean their feeders and water containers and give them fresh food and water.

Throw away dirty food; clean the feeder; put in fresh food

What kinds of rabbits can you raise?

29. There are many kinds of rabbits, all with different sizes, shapes and colours and with different kinds of fur.

Different types of rabbits

30. Some rabbits are small and weigh very little. Other rabbits are large and weigh a lot.

31. You must find out the kinds of rabbits that you can get where you live. In most places, you can find several kinds of rabbits.

32. Usually, you can get local rabbits. Local rabbits are strong and hardy and used to living in your area. So, they grow well and do not get sick easily. However, local rabbits are often small and give little meat.

33. Sometimes, you can get improved rabbits that have been brought from another place. Improved rabbits have been carefully mated over many years and they are better than local rabbits.

34. Improved rabbits are larger and give more meat. However, they are not as hardy as local rabbits. So, if you get improved rabbits you will have to take better care of them.

35. Sometimes local rabbits are mated with improved rabbits. When the babies are born, they have some of the qualities both these kinds of rabbits.

If you use an improved male, the baby rabbits will be better

36. Usually, they are stronger, healthier, live well locally, grow bigger and give more meat than local rabbits.

37. However, if you can get them, the very best kind of rabbits for you to raise are medium- sized improved rabbits. These grow more quickly and give the most meat for the amount of food they eat.

38. The drawings on the next page show you three kinds of improved, medium- sized rabbits.

NEW ZEALAND RABBIT (white or red)



39. If you need help, your extension agent will be able to give you good advice on the kinds of rabbits you can get and where to get them.

What can rabbits eat?

40. Rabbits eat almost any kind of plant that is not sour or spoiled. Much of the food that they eat is not needed for anything else.

41. So, you can raise rabbits, using very little of the food that you need for your family or for your other farm animals.

42. Rabbits mostly eat green plant materials such as leaves or stems, or parts of green plants that you do not use. They also eat many kinds of weeds.


43. If you have nothing else, you can feed your rabbits only green plants and weeds.

44. However, if you want them to grow very well and fast you will also have to feed them some richer foods.

45. In many places, you can buy good, rich foods made especially for rabbits. These are called rabbit pellets.

46. Some farmers feed only pellets, and their rabbits grow very well. However, rabbit pellets cost a lot of money.

Rabbit foods

47. There are many other rich foods that you can give your rabbits, which do not cost so much or which you can grow yourself, such as wheat, barley, beans, maize, sorghum, millet or soybeans.

43. You will learn more about what to feed rabbits and when and how to feed them in the next booklet in this series.

How many rabbits should you raise?

49. You can raise many rabbits if you have enough for them to eat, the materials to build enough pens and the time to take care of them.

50. However, until you know more about how rabbits live and grow and what you must do to take care of them well, it is best to start with only a few.

51. A good number to start with is two full- grown female rabbits and one full- grown male rabbit.

Start with two female and one male rabbit

52. With two females, you will get as many as 40 to 50 baby rabbits each year.

53. Later, if you find that you could eat or sell more rabbits if you had them, you can begin to raise more.

Now you must decide

54. In the first part of this booklet you have been told a number of things about rabbits and about raising them.
55. You learned that by raising rabbits, you will always have fresh meat. You also learned that rabbits will grow well if you take care of them well and feed them well.

56. You may also have found that you can get healthy full- grown rabbits where you live.

57. So, now you must decide if raising rabbits would be good for you and your family.


58. If you decide to raise rabbits, you will learn how to begin in the rest of this booklet and in the next booklet In this series.