Welsh's HoneyBuns Rabbitry
Colorado Springs, Colorado

lionhead, netherland and holland lop rabbits
in the pikes peak and front range region of colorado
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Becoming a Rabbit Breeder - General Questions

These answers are in the opinion of Welsh's Honeybuns based on our experiences and care. Other breeders may have different opions based on what works for them.

For general health and breeding preparation and 'how to' breed click here

  • How do I register my rabbitry?
  • Do I need to register my rabbitry?
  • Do I need to license my rabbitry with the state?
  • Do you make a lot of money by being a rabbit breeder?
  • How much should I charge for my rabbits?
  • Should I 'rent' out some of my bucks to other breeders?
  • How many different breeds should I raise?
  • What costs are involved in creating a rabbitry?
  • How much space do my rabbits need?
  • What dangers are there to my rabbits when setting up a rabbitry?
  • Do I need automatic watering for my rabbitry?
  • Can I have my rabbits outside?
  • What do I do with all the rabbit waste?
  • How do I control the flies?
  • How do I control the odor?
  • How do I keep my rabbitry cool in the summer?
  • What tattoo should I use for my rabbitry?
  • Where can I get rabbitry building plans?
  • Do I need stackable cages for my rabbitry?
  • Do my cages need to have solid dividers?
  • Do I need to have some sort of foot rest in the cages for the bunnies feet?
  • How often do I breed my rabbits?
  • What kind of records should I keep for my rabbitry?
  • How do I make a pedigree for my rabbitry?
  • Is there any software I can use to keep track of my pedigrees and genetics?
  • What 'naming' etiquette is there for rabbitries and between rabbit breeders?
  • What medications and tools should I have on hand for my rabbitry?
  • How do I register my rabbitry?
    Go to the ARBA website and get a form - or fill one out online.

    Do I need to register my rabbitry?
    No. But you're name will be listed in the national breeders registery for people to find. It shows that you are serious about becoming a reputable rabbit breeder and it's easy.

    Do I need to register my rabbitry with the state?
    No, currently breeders are not required to register with the state for a license. This may change depending on the outcome of the proposed congress PAWS bill. Hopefully that ridiculous piece of poorly worded legislation will not pass. It would be devistating for most rabbitries.

    Do you make a lot of money by being a rabbit breeder?
    Generally no. Most of the money you do bring in goes right back out for food, equipment, cages, medicine, vet bills, showing bills, trips and all the things you need to run a healthy successful rabbitry. Most breeders do well to just break even. But we also love the job/hobby and take great pride in keeping rabbits affordable, healthy, genetically sound and type correct. There is great satisfaction in doing a good job which is why most of us are happy to do it.

    How much should I charge for my rabbits?
    That is entirely up to you. Most breeders are below pet store prices and the quality of rabbits are typically much better. If you have a specialty breed the cost sometimes goes up because the cost of raising the rabbits, and getting good starter stock is much higher. Most breeders adjust the price of the rabbit based on the quality of the rabbit. Many breeders also give discounts to 4-Hers and FFA members. Discounts for multiples or breedable pairs and discounts for brood animals which are no longer needed. As mentioned, most hobby breeders are not in it to make a lot of money but to provide quality animals to others who are as passionate about rabbits as we are!

    Should I rent out some of my bucks to other breeders?
    That is entirely up to you. Some breeders will let other breeders use their bucks for a 'breeding fee'. This can be for money, for a baby exchange, may include pick of the litter, naming the litter after the buck's rabbitry rather than the does etc. Most breeders do not let their bucks leave the rabbitry. They require that the doe come to them so the ownder can look over the doe and make sure she is healthy. You always want to check the doe first for vent disease, signs of a 'cold', sores, injuries and parasites. If you are loaning out your buck make sure the agreed terms are clear and discussed ahead of time. Watch the pair at all times to make sure they are breeding and that they are not injuring each other. If possible always bring the doe to the buck's cage. This way he is not distracted by a new environment. If you are the owner of the buck you will need to provide a 'breeding pedigree'. This gives the pedigree information for the buck so they can have a full pedigree for the litter.

    How many different breeds should I raise?
    That is entirely up to you. Many breeders eventually specialize in a certain breed but have other breeds just because they love them. As your rabbitry grows you need more and more adults from different parents so you do not have to cross 'lines'. You usually do not want to mix breeds unless the other breed has something which will improve your traits. Lionheads are still a developing breed so some breeders will mix with Netherland Dwarfs or other breeds in order to get shorter ears, stockier bodies etc. This is not typically done in more established breeds. Overall your herd will grow in the breeds you are trying to work in.

    What costs are associated with staring a rabbitry?
    This can vary based on your location and size. If you want to register your rabbitry it's very cheap. You buy a registration through the ARBA for around $15. You need to have some sort of shelter. Yes you can keep them in your house but as you get a larger number of rabbits this can become unfeasible. You need to buy cages (called 'holes') for your rabbitry. These can run anywhere from $15 - $70 per cage depending on newness, size, if it's stackable, if it has solid sides, if it has a drop pan etc. You'll need food and some sort of bedding unless you have a flushkleen waste system or somethign else which washes away. Be aware that vet bills will come into play at some point. So will medications and other special care elements. If you plan to show or advertise at shows this is usually innexpensive but it can add up - espeically if you are traveling.

    What dangers are there when setting up a rabbitry?
    Make sure your area is enclosed somewhat. Even if you have rabbits in hutches and cages - dogs, coyotes, badgers and other animals can still get into the cages. Keep your rabbitry free from mice and bugs. This will help keep them healthy. Make sure it allows light to get to the bunnies but make sure they will not get overheated. Ventiliation is key to prevent respritory problems. Keep your rabbitry clean to reduce the ammonia.

    Do I need an automatic watering system for my rabbitry?
    No but it's nice. It depends on your layout. There are many different systems. Water bottles can be tedious to fill and clean as your rabbitry grows. Automatic watering systems also need to be kept clean but can be less of a hassle. They can also be a good way to dispense worming and medication to large groups of rabbits. Watering systems range from a high placed bucket with tubes running out to the cages - letting gravity do the work (kind of like a water tower) to fully automated, timed, pressurized systems hooked to their own water source. You can find many different systems on kwcages.com, klubertanz.com, bassequipment.com and other equipment providers. The key is to always keep whatever watering system you have - clean!

    Can I have my rabbits outside?
    Absolutely. You need to make sure they are shelted, well ventilated and protected from the summer heat. They do fine in the cold. Some rabbitries have 'runs' where the rabbits can run along on the ground. Some are in hutches and other enclosers. Some have heaters / air conditioners. Some are in barns. It all depends on what's available to you. Depending on your situation you can choose to have the births outside as well. But the area should be well protected and sheltered and heated in the winter. Some breeders also bring in lights so the rabbits can have more 'sun' in the winter.

    What do I do with all the rabbit waste?
    There are many ways to keep your rabbitry clean and dispose of waste. The Bass Equipment 'flushkleen' system is amazing. It's easy to clean and can be expanded to any size. Many equipment stores have similar systems. Compost heaps are great but can be a little smelly. But if you have an open are to use this can be a great solution. Rabbit poop is some of the best fertilizer available. We empty the pans on our lawn throughout the winter. The grass grows amazing in the spring due to the rabbit poop. You can sell the waste to organic farmers or gardeners. And you can just throw it out as well. Of course if have hundres of rabbits this may not be the best solution! Advertising in the local paper - selling rabbit waste for gardners can help.

    How do I keep my rabbitry cool in the summer?
    It depends on your setup. If you have a small enclosed hutch, an airconditioner may be an option. If you have large somewhat open barn - large mister fans are great and really reduce the air temperature. These are availble at many farm equipment supply stores like kwcages.com If you have an open hutch outside, an idividual mister system may be useful. These hook to a water hose and can be setup on a timer or on a constant mist. It flash evaporates in each area and drops the temperature sometimes as much as 15 degrees. These are also available at kwcages.

    What tattoo should I use for my rabbitry?
    That's up to you. You can use any tattoo. Some breeders print part of the rabbits name. Some rabbitries just count numbers. We use a 'W' (since we are welsh's honeybuns), then a letter (a specific letter is given to each doe - that way we can look at an ear and immediately know who their dam was), followed by a number (the number counts up for each baby the dam has. For example, if our doe Delilah has a litter...the babies would be WD1, WD2, WD3 etc.

    Where can I get building plans for my rabbitry?
    Besides using the internet as a source, Corrells rabbitry forum has a whole section on rabbitry building plans and questions.

    Do I need stackable cages for my rabbitry?
    That's up to you and your needs. Stackable cages can be a nice space saving way to store rabbits but they can also be more exensive and you have to clean individual trays. Some rabbitries have 'hanging' cages which are suspended above the ground. This allows you to simply scoop up the waste or use another waste system such as 'flushkleen'. Some rabbitries have 'runs' which are not really cages at all. There's many ways to do it.

    Do I need to have solid dividers between my cages?
    If you have cages next to each other you should make sure the divider is either solid or with small enough holes that the rabbits cannot stick their noses in between. This can lead to fighting, torn noses, torn faces and missing fur and sometimes unexpected breeding. Bucks can also spray through the cages. Solid dividers are a big plus for us but in some of the hutches we just have a wire divider with very tiny holes.

    Do I need to have some sort of foot rest for the bunnies feet?
    It depends on what type of rabbit you are raising. The larger rabbits are better with something for them to sit on to keep their feet off the wire. Smaller breeders are usually fine without but they do like something to sit on. Some places say that rabbits get sores if they have wire bottom cages. That is rare and usually due to an overweight or large breed rabbit. Wire bottom cages keep the bunny much much cleaner. Plastic bottom cages get the rabbit wet as soon as they pee. If you're not there to immediately clean the cage every time they pee you're rabbits will not stay clean. As long as the cage stays clean you can buy plastic foot 'rests' for your cages. Available at most supply stores. These sit between the rabbit and the wire. Of ir your rabbit is having problems, or develops sores give them a piece of wood etc in the corner for them to rest on. See our health section for 'sore hocks' treatment.

    How often should I breed my rabbits?
    This is up to you. Rabbits can get pregnant on the day they have a litter. So you want to be careful about where your bucks are. If the rabbits are weaning a litter you probably don't want to rebreed until they are done with the other babies. You can foster off litters to another mom though - and as long as the doe is in good shape and good weight you can breed her again. It really comes down to the condition of the mother. You want to think of her safety and comfort at all times. As far as bucks go - you can breed them to several does per day if you want. Although typically you do not want to breed to more than 3 just because he gets wore out.

    What kind of records should I keep for my rabbitry?
    You should keep the record from ARBA with your registered rabbitry name and number. Keep all the pedigrees of your herd. We keep a paper binder of pedigrees and have a pedigree software program to make our breeding pedigrees and baby pedigrees for sale. Make sure you keep records of all birthdates of your litters. Keep records of all breeding dates and who was bred. Keep medication records, worming records, vet records, sale records. Make sure you note any deformities or health defects that show up so you can track if they are related to a certain line. Keep winning show records. Keep a ledger of money going in and out so you know how much it is actually costing you to run the rabbitry. This can help you become more efficient in your spending and budgeting.

    What medications and tools should I have on hand for my rabbitry?
    This is a broad question. It depends on what type of rabbits you are raising and how big your rabbitry is. Some basic things we always have on hand are: nail trimmers, a small grooming table, unflavored pedialyte (for hydration of sick bunnies), calfmanna and nutrical (for feeding sick bunnies and lactating moms), timothy hay, toilet paper rolls ( to stuff the hay in - cheaper than feeders and more fun for the bun), vanodine (absolute must for disinfectant), brushes and other grooming tools, pieces of wood for chewing, wire brush for scrubbing cages, oral syringes, small needles, wazine, gas-x, children's motrin, terramycin ointment (for baby's eye infections), triple acid pack (for stress on trips and showing), benebac (for stomach balance when giving medications, ivomec (internal and external parasites), some sort of hairball preventer (for long haired breeds), 'litter saver' from kwcages.com for all new litters. There are many other things you can have on hand for convenience and safety. These are the main things which we need in a pinch and are always good to have around.