Author Topic: Sustainable Rabbit Farming  (Read 1422 times)

Offline OKCPrepper

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
  • Karma: 3
Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« on: January 01, 2013, 12:50:44 AM »
I am looking for suggestions/recommendations on what kind of crops I should grow to provide a balanced diet for my NZ breeds.

I am storing all the feed I can, but eventually that will run out in a SHTF scenario. My wife is taking care of our herd, experimenting with different greens from the garden to see what they like and don't like. Kayle seems to be their favorite of everything we have tried so far, but they are willing to eat most anything. None have died or gotten sick from what she has fed them so far. We are currently feeding them about half pellets, the rest Timmothy hay and garden greens.

I have plenty of land available, lots of room to grow different grasses or hay. One Aquaponics greenhouse is under construction right now with a second larger dry house waiting in line, so year round greens is not a problem.

I have watched the Poly Face Farms video as well as others, but with the size of the herd I am planning for, tractoring doesn't seem like the best way for me to go. I prefer to grow what ever is needed and feed them in their cages. I laid out my plans for that in another thread. I am not raising to sell animals or meat, not planning to show my rabbits. This is strictly a protein source, one of many, for several families in a SHTF scenario.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Offline Joe in TN

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 189
  • Karma: 4
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2013, 09:13:39 AM »
I'll make up some numbers here for clarity.  If I had 100 acres dedicated to growing food only for my rabbitry and had a separate garden of my own for the family thisis what I would do.

60 acres of alfalfa, 30 acres of timothy and ten acres in a crop rotation that I grew Black Oil Sunflower Seed, root crop and herbs.

I follow Rick Worden's advice and only feed BOSS in the winter as both seed and sprouted.  I would grow the majority of my pasture as alfalfa for the protein they need and have the timothy for variety and to help keep their diet at around 16-18% protein.  Plan the crops how you like but with BOSS being a summer crop and root crops (radish, turnips, mangels, etc...) being mainly fall crops I'd go that way and plant herbs into the mix of the ten acres year around for medicinal purposes.  I feed my rabbits a variety of herbs daily and they stay very healthy.

Anyways, hope this gives a few ideas, just my two cents...

Joe

Offline caverdude

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 774
  • Karma: 16
  • larrydgray.net
    • blog dot Larry D Gray dot net
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2013, 04:17:39 PM »
There are a lot of weeds rabbits will eat as well, I read where one lady was weeding her garden and feeding the weeds to the rabbits.

I wonder if they would like sugar beats. Sugar beat greens and Sweet Potato greens are edible as well. Will rabbits eat potatoes?
http://blog.larrydgray.net My Blog, survival, off-grid, self-sufficiency, energy-efficiency, homesteading, owner buidling
http://larrydgray.net  Off-Grid, Outdoors and other stuff.
http://arksoft.org Java Programming
http://off-grid.net  A good off grid living web site and forum.

Offline OKCPrepper

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
  • Karma: 3
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2013, 04:43:26 AM »
I'll make up some numbers here for clarity.  If I had 100 acres dedicated to growing food only for my rabbitry and had a separate garden of my own for the family thisis what I would do.

60 acres of alfalfa, 30 acres of timothy and ten acres in a crop rotation that I grew Black Oil Sunflower Seed, root crop and herbs.

I follow Rick Worden's advice and only feed BOSS in the winter as both seed and sprouted.  I would grow the majority of my pasture as alfalfa for the protein they need and have the timothy for variety and to help keep their diet at around 16-18% protein.  Plan the crops how you like but with BOSS being a summer crop and root crops (radish, turnips, mangels, etc...) being mainly fall crops I'd go that way and plant herbs into the mix of the ten acres year around for medicinal purposes.  I feed my rabbits a variety of herbs daily and they stay very healthy.

Anyways, hope this gives a few ideas, just my two cents...

Joe

Thanks for the info Joe. I did read that you have to be careful about feeding rabbits Alfalfa, it was ok for the young, but you need to limit it on the adults. I will have to find that article and pay closer attention to the warning. Probably something to do with too much protein.

My wife just harvested the last of our turnips last weekend, the ground was finally starting to freeze. I'm glad the rabbits like them, because I sure don't. They grow great in our soil and tolerate the drought conditions quite well. I don't know if they will eat sugar beets or potatoes, my wife is heading up the rabbit effort so far, I am just trying to help her gather knowledge. I am trying ground nuts this next year, I just planted several rows of them a month ago. They are high in protein and if the rabbit's like them, that is another possibility. I read they are high in carbs so I will be limiting my consumption of them, having gone Paleo myself.

This whole topic will be a big challenge, but learning how to manage it now and get the systems set build now is critical. The herd will vary in size depending on the season, both for their breeding and for the success we can have with crops from season to season. Oklahoma is in a extreme drought condition, my pond is down over 8 feet. I am going to seine it as soon as it thaws out and harvest what is left.

Another part of my plans under construction now is a large Aquaponics greenhouse, so we will have year round greens, could come down to growing enough there to keep just the breeding stock and us alive.

Offline AguangaPrepper

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 16
  • Karma: 2
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2013, 07:28:44 AM »
We have had a lot of success foraging for our rabbits most of the year..grasses, broad leaf plants, mulberry leaves, etc.  I keep a couple cloth bags and garden gloves in the vehicles too so if I'm driving some place and see a big stand of wild oats or other tall grasses or a bunch of mustard, milk weed, thistle, malva etc and can safely pull over, I do.   :D  We have planted more mulberry trees.  Also, are going to start a bunch of Empress trees this month indoors as I've read that their leaves are excellent forage and are fed to livestock in China.  We bought some Comfrey root cuttings too (Russian cultivar) as their leaves are higher in protein than the mulberry and empress leaves.  I read the Paulownia "Empress" leaves are around 20% protein.  Mulberry leaves around 15% protein and comfrey as high as 30% protein.  With the mulberry leaves we include branches up to the diameter of a sharpie pen approximately and they eat those up too.

We keep the pellets in front of the rabbits as a safeguard to make sure their diets are balanced and feel that if they have the choice and I accidentally include some plants that are not good for them that they will just choose the safe pellets instead.  Normally the plants that I forage for the rabbits I can id on sight and keep educating myself so I can id the plants in our area better.

We haven't been to able to exactly calculate how much pellets we are saving when foraging daily..but it cuts their pellet consumption in about half.






Offline OKCPrepper

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
  • Karma: 3
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2013, 11:04:52 PM »
I went back to one of the TSP archives where Jack interviewed Rick Wordon of Rise and Shine Rabbitry. For those that missed it, its episode 875.

I have been doing a lot of reading on Rick's site and started cutting and pasting lots of information into my files. Rick goes into everything from using herbs to treat conditions and maintain health to feeding them on greens / forage. Rick has been focusing a lot of his time over the last 5 years attempting to learn how to create a good balanced diet for his rabbits with things he can grow. I am going to attempt to contact Rick and see if I can get a dialog going with him on this subject. I have a friend who is a Veterinarian and we were discussing this subject this past week. She has a good knowledge of chemistry and she is going to help me analyze the various things that people here on TSP forums recommend, things that Rick says he has been using and the commercial organic feed supplier claim they use in their products.

We will look at what we can grow locally that can be used to make up a balanced diet, then move towards learning how we can process and make our own pellet feed. Everything I am reading tells me we are feeding our rabbits a lot of bad things that are in the pellets we buy. I was rather shocked to find that many pellet feeds contain animal byproducts. Why would you feed a rabbit, which is an herbivore, anything meat? What was that animal's (who's byproduct is in the rabbit feed) feed, how much GMO corn was he fed, what kind of growth hormones was it given to fatten it up for slaughter. The left over's of this kind of animal is now in the feed we are giving our rabbits that we plan to eat?!

It is like anything else, all this bad crap goes down the food chain and eventually ends up in our own stomach. Same with our dogs and other household pets. Wonder why so many animals are coming down with cancer, my brother lost a beautiful golden retriever a few years ago to cancer at a fairly young age too.

Now you know why I want to create my own animal feed! Sorry, I just love to rant sometimes.  :pissed:

Offline AguangaPrepper

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 16
  • Karma: 2
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2013, 09:07:30 AM »
OKCPrepper,

I agree that fresh and simple ingredients are best.  We first raised rabbits 20 years ago to feed our Siamese cats, and Beauceron dogs back then.  We still feed raw to our Belgian Malinois and cats and to many of the dogs at our boarding facility (by some owners' request).  Everyone compliments the muscle, coat and condition of our animals.

The best commercial Organic rabbit pellet we have found still contains soy meal which I'm not happy about, but overall the ingredients are pretty good.  Modesto Mills Ingredients: Organic sun-dried alfalfa, organic wheat millrun, organic oats, organic soybean meal, organic flaxseed, monocalcium phosphate, diatomaceous earth, Redmond conditioner (clay), Redmond salt, organic kelp meal, mineral & vitamin premix, organic garlic, organic thyme, organic anise oil, organic cinnamon, organic anise seed, organic rosemary oil, dried aspergillus niger fermentation product

Analysis: Crude protein min 16%, crude fat min 3%, crude fiber max 19.6%, ash max 12.5%. 

We actually had to become a distributor to get it shipped to our location in order to feed the rabbits and chickens.  I wanted to avoid soy and they do make a no soy and no corn layer pellet.  I really do not understand why they put the soy in the rabbit pellet except that people are looking for the optimum weight gain in the fryers..but rabbits make great gains on greens if the genetics and health are there imo.

This is why we forage and grow for our rabbits.  I'm not at the point where I can forage or grow 100% of their feed as I live in SoCal and need to plant more trees and improve some more of my land and get it under production for the livestock.  We still have a whole list of projects..probably like many others.

Our horses get organic meadow grass hay trucked from Oregon.  Wish my land could produce enough to feed the 2 horses, but that's not going to to happen on my 5 acres of riverbed land (sand and more sand).  However, we have improved our < 1 acre "dog training" field / pasture for the small flock of sheep and rotate them on it.

I am really a fan of "fresh" greens and pasture feeding of the livestock and raw feeding for the carnivors.

Our dogs chowing down after a goat butchering workshop at our ranch.




Offline jlknauff

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 69
  • Karma: 1
  • New TSP Forum member
    • How To Survive It
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2013, 12:46:55 PM »
I grow kale, spinach, and carrots for mine, plus, I've recently planted some marigolds (they like the flowers) as well as sunflowers.

Offline rikkrack

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1191
  • Karma: 36
  • Permaculture Entrepreneur
    • Wolf-Beach Farms
Re: Sustainable Rabbit Farming
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2013, 12:54:07 PM »
 :popcorn:
www.wolfbeachfarms.com

Co-Founder and Educator at www.midwestsustainable.org

Aquaponics/Permaculture Entrepreneur

"You have a moral obligation to screw the government every chance you can." G-pa Wolf