Raising Rabbits 101: A Homesteader’s Essential Guide

One of the most rewarding aspects of the homesteading lifestyle is the ability to raise your own livestock. Rabbits are a popular livestock animal for many homesteaders, but if you have never kept these animals, you may not know their benefits or how to take care of them.

Rabbits are a versatile livestock option for homesteaders. The large variety of rabbit breeds means there are rabbits to suit most climates and homesteading needs. Rabbits offer homesteaders meat, manure, pelts, and breeding options to increase self-sufficiency and potential income generation.

In this guide, we will investigate the ins and outs of raising rabbits on the homestead, covering everything from their nutritional needs to setting up a proper rabbit run to keep them safe and secure. Whether you’re an urban homesteader attracted to the space efficiency of raising rabbits, or a rural homesteader interested in the potential of rabbit breeding, you will find value in this guide.

Keeping Rabbits On the Homestead

Rabbits offer numerous benefits to the homesteader. From their high-quality meat to their beneficial manure, these small creatures pack a big punch when it comes to contributing to a self-sufficient homesteading lifestyle.

Why Choose Rabbits For Your Homestead?

When it comes to the important decision of choosing livestock for your homestead, rabbits stand out for several compelling reasons.

Rabbits are known for their endearing companionship. They are social animals that can form strong bonds with their human caregivers. Their playful nature and gentle demeanor can bring a sense of joy and tranquility to your homestead, making them a delightful presence.

Rabbits are a source of high-quality meat. Rabbit meat is lean, high in protein, and has a mild flavor that can be incorporated into various dishes. Raising rabbits can be an excellent option if you’re looking to diversify your homestead’s food sources or reduce your reliance on store-bought meat.

Another significant benefit of raising rabbits is their manure. Rabbit manure is a rich source of nutrients and can be directly applied to your garden without the need for composting. This makes rabbits a valuable contributor to your homestead’s ecosystem, helping to improve soil fertility and boost your garden’s productivity.

Breeding rabbits is relatively straightforward and quick. A single pair of rabbits on the homestead can produce several litters of kits per year, ensuring a steady supply of new rabbits for meat, companionship, or even sale.

Understanding The Basics Of Raising Rabbits

Raising rabbits on your homestead can be a rewarding experience, but it does require some basic knowledge and preparation. We will cover the essentials of rabbit care, including their food and water needs, the importance of a clean living environment, and the basics of rabbit breeding.

Food And Water Needs For Rabbits

Rabbits have specific dietary requirements that must be met to thrive. The following list is a basic breakdown of some of the dietary requirements for keeping rabbits.

  • Hay. This should make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet. It’s essential for their digestive health and dental care.
  • Pellets. A small amount of high-quality rabbit pellets can provide additional nutrients.
  • Vegetables. Fresh vegetables can be a healthy part of your rabbit’s diet but should be given in moderation.
  • Water. Rabbits must have access to fresh, clean water day and night.

These requirements should make up part of a balanced diet and should be supplied to your rabbits with the following frequency.

Food TypeAmountFrequency
Pellets¼  to ½ cup per 6 lbs of body weightDaily
Vegetables1 cup per 4 lbs of body weightDaily
WaterUnlimitedAlways Available


Keeping Rabbit Cages Clean

Maintaining clean cages is crucial for the health and well-being of your rabbits. A dirty cage can lead to diseases and pests.

Keeping any livestock on the homestead will require daily chores to care for your animals, and rabbits are no exception.

  • Clean the cage thoroughly at least once a week.
  • Remove soiled bedding daily.
  • Always provide fresh hay and water after cleaning.

Breeding Rabbits On The Homestead

Rabbit breeding is a significant aspect of raising rabbits on a homestead, especially if you’re raising them for meat or for sale.

The following is a brief outline of the breeding requirements for rabbits.

  • Female rabbits (does) can start breeding at about 6 months of age, and males (bucks) at about 7 months.
  • A doe’s gestation period is typically 31 days.
  • It’s important to provide a safe and comfortable nesting area for the doe to give birth.

By understanding these basics, you’ll be well on your way to successfully raising rabbits on your homestead.

One of the most crucial aspects of keeping rabbits on the homestead is providing them with the appropriate housing.

Setting Up Your Homestead Rabbit Run

A rabbit run is an enclosed outdoor space where rabbits can exercise, explore, find shelter from the elements, and enjoy outside space. Setting up a proper rabbit run is crucial for your rabbits’ health and happiness.

The following are some key considerations when setting up your rabbit run.

  • Location. Choose a location that offers both sun and shade, so your rabbits can choose their comfort level throughout the day. The run should also be in a quiet, peaceful area to minimize stress for the rabbits.
  • Size. The run should be spacious enough for your rabbits to hop around freely. As a general rule, the run should be at least three times the length of your rabbit and tall enough for them to stand upright on their hind legs, and their ears cannot touch the top when they are in this position.
  • Security. The run should be secure to keep your rabbits in and potential predators out. The enclosure should have a sturdy roof, and the walls should be buried at least a foot into the ground to prevent rabbits from digging their way out and predators from digging their way in.
  • Access to food and water. Your rabbits should have access to “Fresh Water” and “Commercial Feed” within the run. Make sure to refill the water and food daily.
  • Enrichment. Include toys, tunnels, and hiding places in the run to keep your rabbits entertained and stimulated.

By setting up a proper rabbit run, you’ll ensure your rabbits have a safe and stimulating environment where they can thrive.

The Benefits Of Meat Rabbits On The Homestead

Raising meat rabbits on your homestead can offer a host of benefits. From providing a sustainable source of protein to contributing to your homestead’s self-sufficiency, here’s why meat rabbits are worth considering.

  1. Sustainable source of protein. Rabbit meat is a high-quality lean meat, high in protein, and has a mild flavor, making it suitable to be incorporated into various dishes. It’s a sustainable source of protein that can help reduce your reliance on store-bought meat.
  2. Efficient and productive. Rabbits are known for their reproductive efficiency. A single pair of rabbits on the homestead can produce several litters annually, ensuring a steady meat supply.
  3. Easy to raise. Compared to larger livestock, rabbits are relatively easy to raise. They have fewer needs, require less space, and are generally less susceptible to diseases.
  4. Low feed costs. Rabbits can be fed various foods, including hay, vegetables, and commercial rabbit feed. They also have a high feed-to-meat conversion rate, making them a cost-effective choice for meat production.
  5. Easy self-processing. Processing rabbits for meat is a relatively straightforward process that can be done on the homestead. This allows for complete control over the process, ensuring the highest standards for the welfare of your animals and meat quality.

By raising meat rabbits on your homestead, you can enjoy a sustainable and efficient source of protein while contributing to your homestead’s self-sufficiency. The ease of raising rabbits and the meat quality provide many advantages for including rabbits in the plan for any homestead, including urban homesteads.

The Advantages Of Rabbits For Urban Homesteads

Urban homesteading presents unique challenges, particularly when it comes to raising livestock. However, rabbits offer several advantages that make them an excellent choice for urban settings.

The following are the main advantages rabbits provide for urban homesteading.

  • Space efficiency. Rabbits don’t require a lot of space. They can be comfortably housed in hutches or cages, making them a great choice for smaller urban yards. This space efficiency is a major advantage for urban homesteaders who may not have the luxury of large outdoor spaces.
  • Quiet livestock. Unlike roosters or dogs, rabbits are quiet animals. They won’t disturb your neighbors with loud noises, making them a good choice for urban environments where noise can be a concern.
  • Low maintenance. Rabbits have relatively simple needs. As long as they have access to fresh water, commercial feed, and a clean living environment, they can thrive. This makes them less labor-intensive than some other types of livestock.
  • Versatility. Rabbits are versatile animals. In addition to providing high-quality meat, they can also produce excellent manure for your garden and soft pelts for crafting.
  • Legal considerations. In many urban areas, regulations around keeping livestock can be strict. However, rabbits are often classified as pets rather than livestock, making them a more feasible option in some cities.

Other Uses Of Rabbits On The Homestead

Beyond their role as a homestead or backyard livestock and providing high-quality meat, rabbits offer several other benefits to the homesteader.

These benefits can offer income-generating opportunities for the homestead and benefit other operations, such as growing your own food.

  1. Manure production. As mentioned earlier, rabbit manure is a fantastic, nutrient-rich addition to your garden. This top-quality manure can be applied directly to your plants without the need for composting, providing a valuable boost to your soil’s fertility.
  2. Fur and pelts. After rabbit processing, the fur or rabbit pelts can be used for various purposes. They can be crafted into clothing and accessories or even used for insulation. This adds value to the process of raising rabbits and promotes a zero-waste approach on your homestead.
  3. Companionship. Rabbits are social animals that can provide wonderful companionship. Their gentle nature and playful antics can bring both adults and children joy, adding a unique dimension to the homesteading experience.
  4. Education. Raising rabbits can be an educational experience, especially for children. It teaches responsibility, the cycle of life, and the value of self-sufficiency. It’s a hands-on way to learn about animal care and sustainable living.
  5. Income generation. If you’re successful in rabbit breeding, you may have the opportunity to sell rabbits to other homesteaders or pet owners. This can provide an additional income stream for your homestead.

As you can see, rabbits are a versatile addition to any homestead, offering a range of benefits beyond their role as a source of meat.

Rabbit Keeping FAQs

1. What do rabbits eat on a homestead? Rabbits primarily eat hay, which should make up the majority of their diet. They can also eat a small amount of high-quality rabbit pellets and fresh vegetables. Always ensure they have access to fresh water.

2. How much space do rabbits need? Rabbits need enough space to hop around freely. The run should be at least three times the length of your rabbit and tall enough for them to stand on their hind legs without their ears touching the top.

3. How often should I clean the rabbit cage? You should clean the cage thoroughly at least once a week and remove soiled bedding daily. Always provide fresh hay and water after cleaning.

4. How often do rabbits breed? Rabbits are prolific breeders. A female rabbit (doe) can have multiple litters per year, with each litter consisting of up to 12 kits.

5. Can I make money from raising rabbits? Rabbit breeding can potentially provide an additional income stream for your homestead. You can sell rabbits to other homesteaders or pet owners. Additionally, rabbit meat, fur, and manure can also be sold.

6. Are rabbits a good choice for urban homesteading? Absolutely. Due to their space efficiency and quiet nature, rabbits are an excellent choice for urban homesteads. They require less space than other livestock and won’t disturb neighbors with loud noises.

7. What are the benefits of rabbit manure? Rabbit manure is a fantastic, nutrient-rich addition to your garden. It can be applied directly to your vegetables and garden plants without the need for composting, providing a valuable boost to your soil’s fertility.

8. How long does it take for a rabbit to mature? Rabbits typically reach maturity at around 4 to 6 months of age, although this can vary depending on the breed. It’s at this point that they can begin to breed.

9. What are some common health issues in rabbits? Rabbits can be prone to a variety of health issues, including dental problems, gastrointestinal stasis, and respiratory infections. Regular check-ups, a proper diet, and clean living conditions can help prevent many of these issues.

10. Can rabbits be kept with other animals? Rabbits can sometimes be kept with other animals, such as chickens, but it depends on the individual animals and their temperaments. It’s important to monitor their interactions closely to ensure there’s no aggression or stress. Remember, rabbits are prey animals and can become stressed if housed with certain types of animals.

Remember, every homestead is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. It’s important to consider your own circumstances and needs when deciding whether to raise rabbits on your homestead.


Raising rabbits on the homestead is an activity that offers numerous rewards. From their high-quality meat to their beneficial manure, from their delightful companionship to the potential income from rabbit breeding, these small creatures can make a big impact on your homesteading experience.

Whether you’re an urban homesteader making the most of limited space, or a rural homesteader looking to diversify your livestock, rabbits are a versatile and valuable addition to any homestead. They require relatively little space and care compared to other livestock, making them an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced homesteaders alike.







Recent Posts