This page is designed specifically for the new rabbit raiser, whether for pet, fancy, or meat. Even if you have been raising rabbits for a while, take a look at this page, and feel free to give me feedback! Hopefully this will answer some of the questions you may have.
What you feed your rabbit is one of the most important decisions / responsibilities you will come across as a rabbit breeder. It is recommended to feed your rabbit a commercially made pellet feed. There are several things that will need to be taken into consideration when feeding your rabbit.
There are many different brands of rabbit foods. I'll list off the most commonly known, and whether I do or don't recommend this brand.
Kent Feeds - This a very reputable feed (and the maker of the showbloom! supplement) and I would recommend it.
Purina Rabbit Chow - I've never really heard anything good or bad about this feed. However, if you are on a limited budget, this food has a very good price. I recommend asking rabbit breeders in your area about this feed.
PenPal's Rabbit Feed - I wholeheartedly recommend this food! Formulated by ADM Alliance Nutrition. When I switched my rabbits to this feed, within two-three weeks their coats became shiner / softer - and they stopped shedding so much!They also make the PenPal's ShowBoost supplement.
Sprout Rabbit Feed - I do not recommend this food. I feel it does not contribute anything to the rabbit itself, and it costs just as much as some of the very good food brands. I would not recommend buying this.
Heinold Feeds - This is a good food brand. I'm not aware of any supplements they make, but I would recommend this food. They also offer many formulas to choose from.
Nutrena - Good rabbit / horse feed. Recommended.
There are a lot of different things you can use for supplements. There are probably hundreds of commercially made supplements, but showbloom! is the most recommended supplement. Many people who feed it have champion animals and have nothing bad to say about it. I highly recommend it, though I have never fed it to my herd.
Hay is also a supplement. Many people do feed this to their rabbits in addition to their regular pellets, as it adds fiber to their diet. It is completely up to whether or not to feed hay as a supplement, even though most people say this is essential.
Don't forget - regardless of what you feed your rabbit, the most important nutrient of all is...Water! Though rabbits will drink water without eating, they will not eat without drinking. It is especially important to make sure their water is fresh - not lukewarm - in summer, and to make sure your rabbit get's a constant supply or water during the wintertime.
The more you handle your rabbit(s), the less squirmy, the more friendly, they'll be. When you own a small amount of rabbits (five or less) it is often times easy to hold each one individually twice a week, or even once a day. If you have between six and 10 rabbits, I recommend aiming for at least once a week. If you have 11-15, try holding as many as possible once a week. If you have +16, it is best you come up with your own schedule for handling them. But, first, you must know how to properly handle a rabbit without injuring it.
Rabbits have very delicate spinal cords. This is of extreme importance to keep in mind when handling your rabbit. For the complete instructions on this, I highly recommend visiting this site: Precious Pet Rabbits (www.pet-rabbit-care-information.com)
Making sure your rabbits' housing is suitable is extremely important - especially if you own other pets such as dogs or cats, or if there are numerous raccoons, foxes, or coyotes where you live.
Where to Put Cages
If you own hanging cages, they should be at least three feet off the ground to prevent curious by-passers from fatally injuring your rabbit(s). With stackable cages, the first level is often on the floor, and this is okay, as long as there is a tray under the cage wire. Now, where should you actually put the cages? If you own an outdoor building with good ventilation, this is preferred. Wooden sheds are good, low-cost investments. If you have the space and can spend a little bit more (and you have a large, +30-40 hole rabbitry) small pole barns are excellent. Old farm buildings work, too. The last option is for the extremely small (-5 hole) rabbitry, but is not particularly recommended. You can put your rabbits cages in your garage. Why is this not recommended? Reason 1: The exhaust from cars can be fatal to your rabbits. Reason 2: If you want to at some point expand your rabbitry, you will not have space for your cars in the garage. Reason 3: Garages have a tendency to become dreadfully cold in the winter.
What Type of Cage?
This is your own decision to make. The most expensive solution is the wood-framed hutch, then it's a toss-up between the hanging cage or the the stacked cage. If you have limited space, buy the stack cages! If you have a very large amount of space, you could go with the hanging cage, but I still prefer stack cages. Why? Reason 1: They save an extreme amount of space if you have limited space or if you ever want to expand. Reason 2: They keep the rabbitry / garage floors cleaner. Reason 3: They generally cost less per cage than the hanging cages. Flooring: As far as flooring goes, hanging cages and stack cages both have the same options. Hutches, though, are either wood hutches or wood framed hutches. Wood hutches are not the best investment, in my opinion. They have solid wood floors, while hanging / stack cages have wire floors. Wore floors are much more sanitary. There are several sizes to choose from for flooring. It is preferred that the wire mesh is a smaller size opposed to a larger size. As a general rule of thumb...Big enough for droppings to go through, but too small for feet to go through." Always have a wood piece, tile, or E-Z resting mat in your rabbits cage, so they can get a break from the wire to prevent sore hocks. (Most common in breeds with little fur on feet like [Mini] Rex). Walls: For the wiring on the walls of your rabbits cage, you can usually choose from either GAW or Baby-Saver wire. Baby saver wire is smaller and thus provides a safer environment for kits. Usually, multiple compartment cages have metal dividers, so this only needed on the front of the cage.
Here are some helpful rabbit books / magazines: (Not finished)
Domestic Rabbits Magazine - You must be a member of the A.R.B.A. to receive this bi-monthly magazine (and I highly recommend doing so!) This focuses more on the show / fancy / meat than the pet.
Rabbits USA - This is an annual publication, which focuses more on the pet rabbit opposed to show / fancy / meat. However, I've still found useful information in this magazine.
Rabbits: A Kids Guide to Showing & Raising - Though this is designed specifically for beginners, it is assembled in an easy-to-read way, and you still may find it useful. Covers care for both pets and meat / show / fancy.
The A.R.B.A.'s Official Guidebook to Raising Better Rabbits & Cavies - This is a must-have for any rabbit owner/breeder! With over 230 pages about rabbits and cavies, this book covers virtually every topic in rabbit care and breeding. Highly recommended!