Rabbit Farming in Florida
Rabbit farms vary considerably in size and scope, from a few rabbits for family consumption to large commercial operations. In the United States, approximately 200,000 producers market 6 to 8 million rabbits annually. Many breeds of rabbits are produced commercially in this country. Rabbits are raised for meat, research, breeding, stock, and youth programs, such as 4-H and FFA. Rabbit meat is considered a delicacy. It is white, fine-grained, and delicately flavored. Rabbit is easy to prepare and can be utilized in numerous recipes and dishes. Rabbit meat fits into a healthy diet as it is high in protein and low in fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories.
Florida's mild climate is conducive to rabbit farming, which can provide full-time or secondary income and can be conducted on less than one acre of land. Rabbit production is less physically demanding than large-animal enterprises and rabbit by-products can be utilized in the production of earth worms and other crops, including organic produce, to generate extra income. The initial investment for a new facility and breeding stock can amount to between $70 and $110 per doe unit. Existing facilities can often be utilized to reduce initial costs.
The rabbit industry lacks a structured market system common to most other agricultural enterprises. Consequently, the rabbit producer must develop a market before beginning production. Once a market has been identified, the size and type of potential operation can be determined. When purchasing breeding stock, select for production qualities. A base of superior genetics is the foundation of a good livestock business. Review production/breeding records, herd health and the rearing facilities to determine potential productivity of breeders.
Before rabbit production begins, markets must be identified. A well-planned marketing strategy is essential for a successful agricultural business. When raising rabbits for meat, consideration must be given to the availability of processing facilities, market requirements, transportation costs, and potential buyers. Buyers and processors of meat rabbits may have specific requirements such as breed, age, color and overall quality. Restaurants, supermarkets, wholesalers, custom meat stores, and individual buyers are the primary purchasers of rabbit meat. Other markets for rabbits include the pet industry and research sectors. When marketing breeding stock, it is important to establish a reputation for high-quality animals. Demand for breeding stock is developed by the maintenance of accurate and detailed production records, a consistent supply, and advertising.
- Visit the FDACS Division of Animal Industry Web Site