Rabbit Farming is a relatively new venture for South African entrepreneurs. But the good news is that we have spoken to some experts in the field and we have some much sought after answers for those wanting to start their very own rabbit farm.
For most livestock, you need extensive holding, feeding and living pens for the animals. While this is also the case with rabbits, you can definitely start a sustenance farming operation with rabbits, as well as small-scale farming and commercial farming depending on the space and capital that you have available.
Rabbit farming is the ideal project to start off small and watch as it grows with time. In many rural areas, it has become a great way to not only feed your own family, but keep costs low on meat for the local community. Therefore, the local economy is also boosted by this initiative.
Rabbit Breeds for Farming in South Africa
There are many Rabbit Breeds in South Africa. Each was bred with a specific purpose in mind, Either meat production, or for the use of it’s fur and pelt.
Therefore, you need to know what your goal is before you start purchasing rabbits. Here is a brief overview of rabbit MEAT Rabbit breeds in South Africa:
New Zealand Whites – Requires expensive feeding pellets. Therefore, not suitable for local small-scale farms. Ideal for commercial farming for meat, as the pelts are not of high value. These rabbits can produce 5 – 8 kits (babies) per litter and up to eight litters per year.
New Zealand Reds – Mainly farmed for their pelts. They can be fed on grains and pellets, but prefer vegetable off-cuts and such. Produce 5-8 kits per litter, and average about 4 litters per year.
Chinchilla Gigantas – Mainly farmed for their pelt. Known for their big litter sizes. Like a high roughage diet (scraps of fruit, vegetables, beans etc)
Californians – Similar to New Zealand white rabbits. Farmed extensively for their meat.
Cinnamons – Cinnamons are mainly used for meat productions and are fairly easy to handle. They are used to a roughage diet, which makes them suitable for backyard farming.
Above-mentioned information was adapted from SouthAfrica.co.za.
For an extensive list of rabbit breeds in South Africa, you can visit the Gauteng Rabbit Breeders Association .
Rabbit Farming Costs
So you are thinking about starting this type of farm and you need costings. We’ve got you covered. We will briefly discuss the initial costs of starting out with rabbit farming.
Price per Rabbit
The pricing on rabbits can vary depending on a multitude of factors like which breed is, it’s age etc. But general pricing is as follows:
There are no difference in price between the males and females (does) and males (duck). You can expect to pay anything between R350 – R500.
*Note: This pricing is just a general idea. As mentioned above, prices vary on a multitude of factors like your area, the breeder, the age etc. Therefore, this price should only be used as a guideline for buying form established breeders.
Questions to ask when purchasing a rabbit:
Fun Fact: We do not have myxomatosis or VHD in SA (which is the reason for the ban on importing rabbits), so no vaccinations are required. (Information courtesy of The Natal Rabbit Club)
- Make sure you buy from an registered, accredited, ethical breeder. (You can find these breeders on associations like The Natal Rabbit Club)
- What age is it? (Rabbits closer to breeding age will cost more)
- How big should their cages be?
- Which diet do these rabbits prefer?
These are important questions that will help you to take care of your rabbits properly.
Rabbit Cage / Hutch Plans and Designs
As mentioned previously, getting a hutch or enclosure for your rabbits before you purchase the rabbits, it important! It means you will be bringing them to a safe space where they will be happy and not bewildered.
Luckily, we have spoken to the experts at The Natal Rabbit Club to get some helpful tips on building your own DIY Rabbit Cage / Hutch for farming purposes. We have also gathered a few DIY Rabbit Hutch / Cage plans for you to draw inspiration from.
To get free inspiration and designs for your rabbit hutch, you can follow these links:
Tips and Tricks for your Rabbit Farming Cahe/ Hutch
- Use CCA Treated Timber
Using CCA Treated Timber will ensure that you do not have to rebuild the cages constantly. CCA Treated Wood is insect and water resistant, which means that the environmental conditions will not influence the integrity of your hutches.
- Ensure you have enough space per rabbit
The Department of Agriculture requires at least 80cm x 60cm x 60cm per medium size breed. However, this can vary depending o the rabbit size and breed. Therefore, ensure that you speak to your breeder regarding the space required for your specific breed. Rabbits are small animals. But that does not mean that you can cram them up in a tiny space. Animals that are kept in tight, confined areas are a recipe for disease and unhappy animals. Therefore, always stick to the recommended guidelines for space per rabbit when building a cage/hutch.
- If possible, build raised cage/hutch
For bigger, predatory animals, rabbits are a very attractive meal proposition. Therefore, as the farmer, it is your job to protect them from possible predators in the area. This includes: dogs, snakes, cats and, wild dogs to just mention a few.
Furthermore, it is more hygienic, and more manageable when they are raised.
Therefore, building a hutch / rabbit cage on stilts can keep the rabbits away from the predators, mostly.
Rabbit Hutch / Cage Building Materials:
Some of the materials you will need to build your own rabbit hutch/cage:
- CCA Treated Timber
At Sabie Poles, we have a wide variety of CCA Treated products available to the public and at wholesale. Therefore, we deal directly with farmers all over South Africa to assits them in building their pens, cages, fences and other agricultural construction projects.
We would be happy to talk to you about all your timber needs. Feel free to contact us on Facebook, or leave us an email below with any questions regarding CCA Treated Timber: