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
For general health and breeding preparation
and 'how to' breed click hereHow 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.