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Cash Crops for Small Farms: Rabbit Manure

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Family farmers, homesteaders, and even suburbanites can earn extra money with packaged rabbit manure.

Rabbit manure is considered to be one of the best manures for gardens.

It has one of the highest levels of nitrogen of any animal manure (typical N-P-K ratio: 2.4 – 1.4 – .60), yet it can be applied directly to plants without the need for aging or composting to prevent it from burning the roots.

Rabbit manure, like all animal manures, is also high in organic matter, which improves soil structure and drainage and provides food for earthworms and other beneficial animals.

It is dry and almost odorless, so it is pleasant to store and handle, and it packages easily in plastic bags, or can be sold (less profitably) by the truckload.

Buyers include gardeners, nurseries, earthworm farmers, and more. Now is a particularly good time to get into the business. Thanks to the economic crisis, there has been a surge in home vegetable gardening. Many rabbit farmers are able to market their manure with nothing more than a sign by the road.

Rabbit manure is an especially good source of income for small farmers because it combines easily with several other forms of income.

Although it is possible to keep rabbits exclusively for manure, very few farmers actually do.

In addition to producing manure, rabbits also produce a delicious all-white meat that is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol.

Rabbit fur is also valued for its softness and warmth, and the hair of the Angora breed is spun like wool.

Finally, rabbits can also be raised for the pet trade, although this is better for relatively small rabbit operations, as the young rabbits should ideally be well-socialized before being sold.

Not only do rabbits produce multiple sources of income, they also combine well with other sources of income, including earthworms, chickens, and pigs.

Rabbits and Worms

Although some rabbit manure farmers simply pile their manure somewhere and let it sit for about six weeks to compost, it is possible to speed the process up and gain another stream of income by using earthworms to do the composting for you.

If you have wire bottomed cages, simply place a worm bin under the rabbits' cages and allow the droppings and urine to fall directly into the worm bin. Otherwise, keep the bin nearby to shovel droppings and bedding into when cleaning cages.

The worms will turn the manure into a delightful, rich compost, and can be harvested along with the manure to sell to fishermen, gardeners, pet stores, and other buyers. Worm castings also fetch a high price from gardeners.

Rabbits, Chickens, and Pigs

Other farmers, including sustainable agriculture guru Joel Salatin, keep rabbit cages in chicken coops and pig barns.

This works best with deep bedding systems for chickens and hogs. Rabbit urine and droppings fall to the floor , where they mix with the bedding materials of the chickens or hogs. Scatter treats such as handfuls of grain over the bedding and the chickens and pigs with turn over and aerate the bedding with their scratching and rooting action, producing beautiful compost within a few weeks and keeping the whole system virtually odor free.

In addition to the compost, this system produces high quality meat and/or eggs to sell.

Some farmers also combine rabbits with aquaculture systems - securely suspending wire bottomed rabbit cages over fish ponds and using the rabbit manure, which is high in protein, to feed the fish - but this system does not produce rabbit manure for sale.

Photo by ewen and donabel.

Photo by ewen and donabel.

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Virginia Allain from Central Florida on October 17, 2019:

We raised rabbits in 4-H when I was a kid in Kansas. Since rabbit manure won't burn plants like other manures do, we put it right into our garden with no aging. It worked wonders and we won many prizes at the county fair for our great vegetables.

Shane Peed from Ft. Dodge, IA USA on June 30, 2017:

Great idea about the worms composting the manure. Just looking at adding a worm beds to our farms even though they are large hectares any amount of worms or manure we can get on the fields is great for us.

Heather on August 31, 2012:

I have been using (my own) organic rabbit manure (pure gold!) in my veggie garden for a year now, and it's absolutely fantastic. I have run tests (mulching with rabbit fertiliser, direct from the cage, on one half of a spinach bed, and not on the other), and within 7 days, I can see a huge difference. The plants mulched with rabbit manure are visibly greener and bigger. The earthworm population has exploded, I can lift the mulch and find 4 or 5 worms in a hand-sized area and I have small hands! The ground I started with a year ago was just dry dust, hard and compacted, and although I dug it over initially, and added cow manure, I have not had to dig it over ever again. My plants seem to be stronger and, as a result, pest resistant, although I couldn't stop the hungry birds from shredding my peas and spinach through winter. I have had spontaneous rocket and coriander seedlings sprouting all through winter, from plants which went to seed in autumn, despite some frightening frosts, and snow. (I live in the Eastern Cape, South Africa - we have extreme heat in summer, and extreme cold in mid-winter.) I believe that our no-till approach, using rabbit manure to mulch, provides a blanket to keep soil moist, and retain water, both huge considerations as we went through drought conditions last year (and the year before). I could rave on here for days, but let me end by saying that we look after and love our rabbits, and they provide meat and manure for us, which in turn grows fabulous veggies, for our table, and for rabbit feed! All in all, it's a win-win situation.

Crazy_Redneck on June 25, 2012:

Please don't keep your rabbit in litter unless you change it daily.

Soiled litter and hay creates a warm, damp climate which is a perfect egg laying environment for the green bottle fly. This leads to an infliction of rabbits called "flystrike" in which the female green bottle fly lays eggs in the fur around the rabbit's damp rear end. The eggs hatch and the maggots literally eat the poor rabbit alive.

Wire bottom cages are far more humane. We provide 18x18 ceramic tiles for the rabbits to lie on to get them off the cage wire and it also helps keep them cool in the summer months.

sweeney on March 23, 2012:

where in southern ontario can a body buy rabbit manure. we're in toronto.

J Pizzle on February 01, 2012:

I raise tilapia in an aquaponics garden, and tilapia do eat rabbit droppings. A word of caution, though, all warm-blooded creatures can carry e. coli and such in their manure, and the manure must be hot-composted for a minimum of 4 months before legally used to grow produce, or sterilized in some fashion. I rinse my rabbit poo and desiccate them, which is probably safe, though still not legal.

Jason Graves on October 16, 2011:

I'm wondering why you would bother composting it with other manure. What's the benefit? Is it more profitable that way? please email if you have an answer to this. Thanks for any feedback.

Hiskimann from Texas & Worldwide on June 11, 2011:

You just gave me a great reason to buy my son some rabbits! I had no idea; I just thought bunnies were cute and fluffy.:-) Thanks for sharing...

Erin Eisenman from Montana on April 14, 2011:

This is a great hub! My boys raise rabbits for 4-H! I think I've stumbled over a great money making idea for the kids this summer! They can bag up the manure and sell it at our farmers' market! Thanks again!

Rabbit Breeders on February 20, 2011:

Feeding Fish with rabbit manure?? Wow what a creative idea! I would love to see this in action! Anyone have pictures?

About wire cages on October 02, 2010:

Wire cages are allright to use as long as you let the rabbits out every day and play/cuddle w/ them I have 17 rabbits at the moment and almost all of them are in wire cages, and they are all happy, healthy, and strong. I've never had any sore hocks or dieses. I did have some rabbits in big wooden cages and two of the caught a diesese and had to be put down.

mrfluffy from Northamptonshire on July 13, 2010:

A few weeks ago my partner surprised me with a new hobby for me yes cleaning out the rabbits she had acquired and making hunches and runs for them. So I am glad that there will be another use for them. I didn’t realize how much came out of them I need a bigger Bucket.

emeraldkell on May 22, 2010:

Thanks for writing this post. My husband and I own a Holland Lop Rabbit Farm. We have been thinking of selling their manure for awhile now. We even want to try it in our own garden.

DdraigX from Boston, VA on May 12, 2010:

What are some things that you can do with Rabbits other than manure. I can't eat meat, and I don't think my wife or I could kill one of the rabbits. What options would be to sell them off? No pet stores in our area etc.

Random farmer on April 14, 2010:

Put a sign by the road, bag it in burlap or something

make sure you specify it is rabbit manure.

in the past ive just gone driving through the country looking for one of these sure im not the only one

AA Rabbits on March 10, 2010:

I have lots of Rabbit Manure could you recommend to me a way to go about selling it for fertilizer. Thanks

Rabbit Raiser on March 07, 2010:

Yeah I have collected some much rabbit manure over the years it is not even funny! Good post.

concerned on January 31, 2010:

Rabbits should not be kept in wire bottom cages. Its cruel treatment of these highly emotional creatures. Proper care of your rabbits should be in a litter or hay lined cage, with frequent time outside to run and stretch their legs. Caged rabbits build up stress, which makes for unhappy animals and bad quality meats.

Debra Allen from West By God on July 08, 2009:

Kerry this is great news and rabbits are easy and economical to raise. They are good for 4-H clubs and to show at AG Fairs and also to have just for furry pets. I added you hub to my hub:

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