The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Other => Rabbits => Topic started by: Beewyched on March 09, 2011, 09:07:06 pm

Title: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: Beewyched on March 09, 2011, 09:07:06 pm
We are thinking of having a few meat rabbits on our small holding, west of Glasgow.

Is there anyone out there who could show us their set-up & advise us if this is a good idea ... ?

Thanks folks

 :pig: :chook: :dog: :bee:

Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: CameronS on March 09, 2011, 10:27:36 pm
I think if you are looking to raise/breed rabbits for personal eating, or friends etc, then they are a good venture, though how big a commercial enterprise they would be i don't know.
I think the most common method of keeping meat rabbits in in wire cages allowing thorough ventilation(correct me if i am wrong somebody), i have even read some people having mesh floors to cages allowing any poo&wee to fall through so the rabbit is not sitting in it. Having never reared rabbits for meat i cant guarantee being correct.

When i was breeding rabbits, i had several breeding "pens", and birthing "pens" in one shed, then another shed divided in two, with females on one side, and males on the other. I did not feed ad-lib, and do not believe you do with rearing rabbits, provie them with a high protein diet, allowing them to grow slightly faster, and be healthy, supplemented with greens etc.

Sorry i can't show any pics, or offer much advice, someone else out there will most likely correct what i have said, but hey, it's a start
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: Beewyched on March 10, 2011, 01:41:58 pm
Thanks Cameron  :wave:

Just looking at something small-scale for personal/possible local butchers to supplement income from our small holding.

Not sure if I like the idea of the wire cages - sounds a bit "battery henish" - I'm afraid I'm a real softy where animals are concerned, never make a  :farmer: living from holding me - too soppy  :'(  all our animals are spoilt rotten!

 :pig: :chook: :dog: :bee:
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: princesspiggy on March 11, 2011, 07:02:34 pm
i prefer breeding rabbits keep in 3 tier wooden hutches. ours were temporarily in a wire cage but they were peeing down the wall and spraying, which stunk.
we made a large indoor run for the youngsters with wood and chicken wire (6ftx6ft) which we kept in garage and used heat lamp during winter (massive elect bill tho!!) and had deep shavings bed.
i thought about selling to a butcher but was told they mite only pay 1-2 each. so complete loss 4 me. but mine arent meat breed so u may do better.
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: confused on June 03, 2011, 05:04:26 pm
I am breeding a few , i recently got back into them after many years , i find i get a better return when i sell them to mates , work mates etc , i get 2 each, but most guys take 2 and give me a 5, i also barter a few with with a couple of mates one of whom makes cider , the other is a baker.
 I keep mine in an old garage 16ft long  x 10ft wide , i have made 2 runs on each side of the garage 8ft x 3 ft which is where i keep the youngsters , above them i have 5 cages each side 3ft x 2ft6ins where the does are kept , my  2 bucks live outside in a double tiered hutch this eliminates the problems of spraying  urine and the smell that goes with it, at present i have 8 does and two bucks , i think i might up the does as and when demand proves necessary, i intend to use a couple of ark type hutch's on grass to rest the does in between pregnancy's, fortunately i manage to "glean " a lot of feeding from an allotment site ,a greengrocers,fruit from a school, and my baker mate, only feeding corn to the does when nursing youngsters, and in the 7 days prior to mating.   
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: OhLaLa on June 08, 2011, 05:40:17 pm
To house my rabbits, I have three 'houses' making one house of three sections per rabbit. I have housing of similar size for the offspring, and two secure galvanised mobile runs outside which can be moved about on the grass. Result: Happy bunnies.


Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: cuckoo on June 11, 2011, 08:05:33 pm
We are in East Yorkshire - we have 2 does and 2 bucks and various young stock (all NZWx Californian).  We tend to breed in the winter as reduced risk of myxomatosis. We have 6 6ft hutches in the garage, 2 6ftx3ft runs for the lawn and also a number of other 5ft hutches with permanent access to runs.  In my opinion the wire acges donot meet the welfare requirements of rabbits.  However, rabbit have provided us with ample meat over the last 8 years.

We are considering giving up on the rabbits to concentrate on our other animals if you are interested in some stock / hutches.
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: OhLaLa on June 12, 2011, 09:18:48 pm
In my opinion the wire cages do not meet the welfare requirements of rabbits.

I don't like the look of the wire cages either, have never used them (remind me of battery hen cages).


Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: confused on October 03, 2011, 07:07:41 pm
I have just been given the use of two old wooden garages, 16ft x 12ft, they are bit rough ,and the owner wants to knock them down in 3years time and build a wooden chalet on the site when he retires . In return i will just keep an eye on his bit ground for him and grow some greens on the ground to help feed my bunnies , i have run a wire net around the inside of the garages to stop any ideas of chewing an escape route , and have  split the sheds in 3 giving me 12ft x 5ft pens and run my rabbits deep litter , i have made a 6ft x 5ft wire framed door inside the original doors , and a wire framed panel the same size at the other end, hopefully giving me plenty ventilation, and i can close the doors on the one end if the weather is rough, at the moment i have 11 does but next year i would think with this set up i could go to maybe 18, my problem has always been somewhere to fatten them , but that should be solved next spring , in the meantime i have 20 young bantam cocks  residing in one of them getting ready for the freezer !
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: oldwolf on December 04, 2011, 12:50:12 pm
I think the idea of wire cages is a spin off from mink farming na dcommercial furfarming.  The droppings would pass through the bars as a by product but as far as I am aware the real reason was to circulate air to maintain coat density, don't want them getting to comfy! :bunny:
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: AllenFrost on June 07, 2012, 12:46:35 am
I have never raised rabbits so have no practical experience but am considering it.  From what I have read, it seems raising them on wire is the most sanitary and healthy way for the rabbits.  Even wood framed wire cages absorb urine and collect manure which can cause some diseases.  Sometimes the wire cages are suspended from the rafters by wires in order to avoid that problem.  This may be a project for next spring. :bunny:
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: Mel Rice on June 07, 2012, 06:40:39 am
Here in Germany there are no wild rabbits, but lots of people keep bunnies for meat (some use the fleeces too)
Most bunny houses are blocks of flats! ie a set of 6 or 9 cubes , wooden with wire fronts(doors)
Most people (as I do) feed purly grass, a few bits of veg leftovers/peelings too. And them suplement with a bought in pelleted feed in the winter or around birth. They have access to hay all the time in little hay racks (the local shops sell them) I give water daily but mine do not have access to runs....except when they get out! (then they rarly go far as the outside world is a bit strange!)
They cope with the cold (and it gets VERY cold here) well its the wet that harms them, My boxes are covered in a couple of layers of waterproofing with a big overhanging roof.
The coats seem fine as long as the bedding ...or at least the top layer of bedding stays dry.
Bunnies are only pregnant for 28 days and then produce fairly big litters. Lots of people eat bunny near me but have given up keeping their own. I get 5 euros at least each. but I mainly keep them for my own use. Make sure you can use/sell all the meat as numbers can grow very quickly.
They are an easy meat stock. I would recomend can have fun playing with coat colour combinations too....they taste nice even the smaller ones!
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: colliewoman on June 07, 2012, 09:55:25 pm
Rabbits are extremely clean animals and take to a litter tray easier than a cat does!
For a retiring diurnal burrowing animal I personally think it is downright cruel to keep them in wire cages, especially for the sake of cleanliness :'(
People have campaigned for years to abolish the battery cage for hens, rabbits are no less sentient.
Meat rabbits lives may be short but at least give them the benefit of an enriched enjoyable one.
I am a self confessed rabbitholic, but have no issues with other people eating them so please don't misunderstand me. I will however beg people to shun wire cages.
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: in the hills on June 11, 2012, 08:51:45 am
Agree totally, Colliewoman. And given the chance to be clean they will naturally be so.
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: confused on June 12, 2012, 12:30:40 pm
I have mine deep litter , and i have plastic trays (old drawers from  school desks ) about 400mm x 300mm and i find that they use these great for litter trays .
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: MAK on June 12, 2012, 01:54:29 pm
Like Beewyched I have gone thru the question of housing and am using the breeding rota advised on a previous thread.
After building the typical French concrete cage with wire door, 2 wooden equivalents then  converting a large oak,2 draw,2 cupboard sideboard into a hutch - guess what ? They used neither.
The Female rabbits have moved in with the ducks. We wanted the females to be able to run around ( the buck is lifted in and out of his run). So after exstensive tunnelling under the "sideboard hutch" a mole kept popping up in the tunnel entrance and has evicted the rabbits. 2 days ago a female was plucking fur to make her nest and chose one of the duck hutches becuase the mole lived in her tunnel . Her fur nest was made overnight in a duck hutch next to a clutch of eggs. we moved the fur to the "sideboard hutch" at 08:30 and by noon she had had 10 babies. She pops in and out of the small hutch door and still sits and feeds with the ducks and the other female. The buck watches from the other side of the garden.
So I guess our plans for housing were scuppered by us wanting to have them free range witin the duck compound. However the mum and babies now use the large " sideboard" hutch as we had planned.
Rabbit is popular in the supermarket here at about 8.5 Euro each. I gather that 2 females and a buck can yield 200 pounds of meat a year.
Why are there no wild rabbits in Germany ?? Any clues?

Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: Mel Rice on June 26, 2012, 10:30:27 am
No wild bunnies??? The hawks are very plentiful....We see far more, and bigger ones than in the UK..mainly buzzards here rather than the kestrel that was the most often seen(by me) in the UK. Hawk perches are put up everywhere esp by newly planted trees. We do also get RHD. Rabbit/rappid hemoragic disease. A virus that is fly borne in the heat...and fatal. You can innoculate but as its viral that is not always sucsessful.
 And I did once read that the Uk had very few wild bunnies once. They were kept in controlled warrens (the warrener was a popular job, hence sirname with variations) Only at the mid 18th Centuary were they released/escaped and became the pest that they are.
Title: Re: Meat rabbits in Scotland
Post by: MAK on June 26, 2012, 01:32:59 pm
They say that a buck and 2 females can yield 200 pounds of meat a year. Not sure if this weight includes the heads that are eaten with some relish by the old dears up the road.
We keep ours in wooden cages with wire doors and the buck has one of the concrete hutches that we lift him into at night. All run free in a penn or in a wire cage that we move acroos the lawn. We chuck them broad leaf weeds, grass and carrots and we gathered hay ( made 12 bales)  after the council cut the verges of the minor lanes here.
We have 10 kittens just now and will sell 5 for 5-7 Euros each ( a big dressed rabbit can cost 9 Euro a Kg in the supermarket).
It all seems quite straight forward and is low cost - we have evn used an old sideboard for the mummy hutch and have given it a roof.
Oh females regularly jump up on top of the duck hutches so make sure you do not put hutches too near a fence that they can jump over. Oh and we stopped their tunneling ( they only seemed to want to tunnel into the chickens penn) by puting wooden boards then rocks infront of that lenght of fence.