Article originally posted at www.SurvivalBased.com
Raising Rabbits. Living in an urban area has a few disadvantages, specifically a lack of space. Rabbits make a superb source of lean meat that can easily produce in any setting. They are quiet, fairly odorless when kept clean, prolific and can be quite complementary to a survival situation. Not only do they produce healthy lean meat but also warm fur and some of the best fertilizer out there. Rabbits also can serve as a way to relieve stress and improve your outlook during a difficult time.
Getting started raising rabbits isn’t difficult. They mature fairly early and produce well for a number of years.
Starting with Rabbits
The best way to start home rabbit production is with 2 bucks (males) and 2 does (females). Rabbits will be most productive between 6 months and 3 years of age. After that point female’s litter sizes will decline but they can continue having litters up to about 5 or more years.
You can start with mixed breed rabbits picked up from a farm store or go with purebred animals. Generally crossbred animals are hardier and produce just fine but if you really want the most bang for your buck you may consider a purebred meat-type rabbit. They have smaller bone and more meat. Some examples of popular meat breeds include Californians, New Zealands, Florida Whites, Silver Fox, and American Chinchillas.
Caging for rabbits is extremely simple. You can buy used cages for pretty cheap through classifieds or build them yourself. Proper caging would ideally be a good quality, rust-free wire cage that is the proper dimensions to allow the rabbit to move around, stretch out and stand up on its hind legs.
Wire cages are sanitary, safe for the rabbit and, if you use the right wire, fairly protective against predators. Always provide something in the cage to allow the rabbits to get off the wire. It can be a piece of wood, a plastic mat, etc. This is important for the well-being of your rabbits.
Be sure you keep your cages somewhere sheltered from the weather. Rabbits can handle cold weather but drafts will kill them. Rabbits also can’t take heat well so try and keep them under shade. Also be sure that your location is fairly protected from predators.
The easiest way to feed rabbits is with a store-bought pellet specifically designed for rabbits. These pellets are a complete diet and don’t require supplementation. However, pellets can be expensive when feeding many rabbits and won’t be available if SHTF.
Before the time of pellet feed people fed rabbits grain-based diets. You can also feed your rabbits a good-quality grass hay and vegetation from your garden. If you have a decent sized grassy area you can even keep rabbits out on pasture in “tractors”. If you are able to feed a large amount of vegetation it will drastically cut back on the amount of pellets your rabbits will need. Don’t forget to provide your rabbits with a constant supply of fresh water.
Rabbits are generally easy breeders and it doesn’t take much to get your first litter. First and foremost, you want to be sure your rabbits are in good health and at least 6 months old.
You will want to bring the doe to the buck’s cage, never the other way around. If all goes well the female will be receptive and the mating act will be finished in the blink of an eye. If the doe refuses try again the next day.
After a successful breeding you won’t have babies for about 30-31 days. On day 28 you will want to give your doe her nestbox. You can find plans on building your own boxes online or you can buy one at a farm store. Fill the box with a layer of shavings (pine or aspen, not cedar) and place a few handfuls of soft straw inside.
Depending on the breed you’re working with, the young rabbits will be ready for processing anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks of age. If you prefer a larger rabbit simply grow them out for longer.
Jacob is the editor at SurvivalBased.com. His website offers emergency preparedness products, as well as shares practical and useful prepping tips, tactics and tools. The goal at SurvivalBased.com is to help people be more than ready for any emergency situation—from the hardcore prepper to the family on a budget. You can follow SurvivalBased on Facebook and Twitter, and you can find more great articles on the SurvivalBased Blog