Rabbits are a wonderful addition to practically any homestead. Due to their small size and quiet nature, they’ll be at home on an urban farm, a suburban homestead, or a sprawling rural farmstead.
We kept rabbits on our small homestead in the city for years. Our neighbors never even knew we had rabbits in the backyard! They provided us with wool, entertainment, and food security for many years.
There are so many benefits of raising rabbits, and they’re one of the easiest animals to add to the homestead.
8 Reasons Rabbits are Perfect for any Homestead
1. They eat cheaply
Rabbits will be healthiest when fed a varied diet consisting of rabbit pellets, hay, fresh vegetables, fruits, grasses, and weeds. You can save money on rabbit food by supplementing with veggie scraps from the kitchen, or even letting your rabbits outside to forage in nice weather.
Many people make rabbit tractors so they can let the rabbits free range safely outside. If you choose to do this, be sure to make it predator proof and dig proof. Rabbits are expert diggers and can escape from tractors that don’t have proper fencing on the bottom.
2. They provide practically free Fertilizer
People pay good money for poop, and you can get it for practically free if you raise rabbits!
If you’re a gardener, you know that supplementing your soil with some sort of fertilizer is a must in order to have healthy and happy plants.
Rabbit manure is some of the best fertilizer available, and if you raise rabbits, you can get it for practically free.
Rabbit fertilizer is top notch because unlike chicken manure, it doesn’t need to sit and age for a year before you use it. Rabbits dine on plants and because of that their poop isn’t high in nitrogen, or ‘hot’ as chicken poop is. Rabbit manure won’t burn your plants and doesn’t naturally have pathogens in it like chicken poop does.
Rabbit poop can be mixed into your compost and then added to the garden, or you can add it directly in when you clean out the rabbit hutch. You can even use it to make manure tea to water your plants and give them a huge nutrient boost.
If you raise rabbits, you’ll never need to pay for fertilizer again.
3. Rabbits can Help with Weed Control
Rabbits, like goats, thrive on a varied diet of greens, flowers, and plants that naturally pop up all over the homestead.
You can easily supplement your rabbits store bought feed with weeds, grasses, and flowers. This not only helps to cut down on the weeds on your property, but it feeds your rabbits for free!
We used to pull these weeds out of our yard and gardens, pile them into a five gallon bucket, then dump the bucket into the rabbit hutch. The rabbits would go crazy for the treats!
You do need to be aware that not all plants are safe for rabbits. Do your research and only allow your bunnies access to weeds, grasses, and plants that are safe for them. Also, please make sure you aren’t feeding your rabbit any plants that have been sprayed with herbicide or pesticide as they will surely be toxic to your bunny.
The following weeds are generally considered to be safe for rabbits.
Top weeds to feed to rabbits:
- Garlic Mustard
4. Meat production
Rabbits are one of the most efficient animals you can raise for a meat source. They grow from babies to adults very quickly, they breed easily, and it takes very little purchased feed to grow them out. Rabbits are also very easy to process, much simpler than chickens because there are no feathers to deal with.
Rabbit meat is delicious and quite hard to come by in stores, so raising meat rabbits yourself is usually the best way to have a steady supply of this lean meat. Not only can you feed your family for little money with this approach, but you could sell the meat to friends and family as well to bring in some side income.
The New Zealand breed of rabbit are a great choice if you want rabbits for meat production. They grow quickly with lots of meat and very easy to care for.
If you want to raise rabbits for meat, it makes sense to buy a breeding pair to start out with. Mate them and let momma take care of the resulting babies until they’re weaned, then raise them up on rabbit feed until it’s time for harvest.
5. Adorable pets
Don’t want to raise rabbits for meat? That’s okay, they make great pets too!
Having a pet rabbit is hugely rewarding. They’re entertaining, sweet, cuddly, and kind. Our bunnies used to come snuggle up next to us when we would sit down on the ground. We could pet them for an hour and they’d still sit there, waiting for more!
Many people don’t realize that raising rabbits can be similar to raising cats. Some rabbits are so intelligent you can even train them to use a litter box and let them roam around your home. Also, like cats, rabbits enjoy playing with toys, and benefit greatly from enrichment.
Many rabbits also love having friends, either with other rabbits or you resident dogs and cats!
6. Fiber rabbits give you wool
Did you know that some types of rabbits are considered fiber animals?
If you’re a knitter, spinner, or crocheter, you may be interested in raising angora rabbits for their fiber. The Angora produces soft and luxurious wool. These beautiful bunnies need to be trimmed and brushed frequently to keep their wooly hair from matting. They’re well known to be quite high maintenance, but the work pays off in the long run.
Angora wool is usually not available in stores, or if it is, it’s prohibitively expensive. Having your own stash of wool is wonderful to use it for your own projects or sell it and make some side income.
We raised an Angora rabbit for 6 years and it was so much fun. She was a spit-fire with a huge personality, and her pure white wool was so incredibly soft and warm. I trimmed her wool every few months and used it to spin with and knit with. Her care was certainly a lot of work but it was well worth it for easy access to this gorgeous wool.
7. Fun 4-H project for kids
Rabbits are one of the most docile, friendly, and easy to handle animals you can raise, which makes them a perfect project for kids! If you invest in a few show-quality rabbits and enroll your kids in their local 4-H club, you’ll be giving your children the opportunity to learn how to responsibly care for animals, make new friends, and take on a fun new hobby.
They might even win some events, which is super rewarding.
8. Rabbits are quiet and non-stinky
If you’re homesteading on a small property or have neighbors close by, it’s important to raise animals that won’t be a nuisance to the neighborhood. Rabbits are one of the best homestead animals in this regard, because they’re incredibly quiet, only making noise if they’re injured.
Rabbits also don’t ‘make a stink’ so your neighbors won’t either! Unlike chicken poop, rabbit poop is surprisingly un-smelly. The only smell that rabbits may produce comes from their urine, which can give off an ammonia smell. So long as you use a super absorbent bedding like wood shavings to absorb the pee and clean their hutch frequently, this won’t be an issue for you!
Raising rabbits is incredibly rewarding in so many ways, they’re the perfect addition to any homestead, no matter what your goal is!