Episode-1286- Raising Rabbits with Rebecca Colvin

Rebecca Colvin has been raising show rabbits for the past 17 years. During this time she has seen and done pretty much everything you can think of with regards to raising rabbits, breeding, showing, heat problems, ventilation, pests, diseases, and so on.

Throughout the 17 years Rebecca has won at many shows and placed well at the national level. She raises Mini Rex for most of that time; they are a small cousin of the Rex rabbit, which is commonly used for fur and meat. The Mini Rex is more commonly used for the pet trade but they taste just as good as any other rabbit.

At the beginning of 2013 Rebecca started keeping her culls and eating them instead of selling them to keepers of big snakes and cats. Other then rabbits, Rebecca has a love all animals. She has three dogs, two finches, a Western Hog Nose, and a Betta fish named Rock Star. She works in Pet Retail helping educate people to become better pet parents.

Join Rebecca and I as we Discuss…

  • How do you start raising rabbits
  • What breed is right for you
  • What is the best set up for a rabbit barn
  • Considerations in choosing the location of your set up
  • How do you breed rabbits
  • How do you deal with extreme temperatures
  • What are the top mistakes people make when starting out

If you have questions for Rebecca you can ask them in the comments below or email here at minirexs at gmail dot com.

Resources for today’s show…

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28 Responses to Episode-1286- Raising Rabbits with Rebecca Colvin

  1. There is no replacement for hands on experience. Excellent information.

  2. JACK! I’ve been looking up information on raising rabbits for a couple weeks now, and just though… hmmm, I wonder when Jack’s going to do an episode on Rabbits. You must be going through my email or checking my trash, because you seem to always anticipate the topics that I really want to hear. Excellent work!

  3. This was good but you should have Rick Worden back on…. he is the Rabbit MAN! Great show though as always. The show you did with Rick is what got me in to Rabbits and I haven’t looked back… I love my Rabbits and they are damn tasty… found out Rick live about 90 mins from me… I am hopeful I am going to have a pair of his rabbits here shortly! We raise different Breeds so we are looking at a swap. That is a great idea for folks to try, swapping with someone nearby.

  4. Jack,
    Great springboard interview on raising rabbits! I have a few years experience with meat breeds and have learned a lot. Mostly from my mistakes. I am also currently working on incorporating my small herd into more of a permaculture design which will include vermacomposting, colony rabbits, and turning a profit for both my pockets and garden. If you are interested in raising rabbits I’d love to share my experiences and plans with you.

    I believe the most potential in a medium scale rabbit production is the vermacomposting. Which is largely untapped in the market. I find it extremely difficult to sell them for meat dead or alive in this area (MS gulf) because so many people are raising them. But you cannot go anywhere on the web and find a lb of worms for less than $20!!

  5. One thing I wish I’d have thought of before I started is cage size. There are different opinions depending on the breed when you consider how much room your rabbits need. None of those recommendations consider that you might actually want to remove your rabbit from its cage when it doesn’t want to come out. It can be difficult to reach the back corner of cages for larger breeds, and impossible to reach the back corner with more than one hand unless your arms are 4 feet long. Measure your reach before you buy or construct cages. Any suggestions on how to reach a rabbit who doesn’t want removed? Best I’ve had luck with is putting a nesting box in the cage and maneuvering it to guide the rabbit closer.

  6. If I remember right Jack did two with him… one with a Rabbit Focus and one with more of a focus of natural feed, plants etc. Rick is a great interview…. I just e mail with him and he told me he has scaled back his Rabbit population… I’m shocked and a little bummed as he was Rabbit inspiration! :) Anyway those two shows are great!

  7. autofabwelding

    On what to do with your old breeders. When I am butchering I use the meat from the belly the liver and the kidneys to make sausage. When I have an older rabbit to butcher I use all of the meat for my sausage and its great.

  8. After listening to several shows regarding raising rabbits and quail in small spaces I’m a little curious if this is just one step away from confinement factory farming? I’m not trying to go all Paul Wheaton, but do the rabbits get to be rabbits if they’re cooped up in a cage their whole lives? I realize they’re domesticated rabbits and rely on human protection etc., but I have to imagine there’s some area in between the rabbit pens and Paul’s rabbit pasture theory. I’m not accusing people raising rabbits in pens of animal cruelty or anything, but I’m just ignorant on this matter. Any incite would be appreciated. Thanks.

  9. autofabwelding

    In the spring summer and fall I put mine in tractors. Depending on how many rabbits I have they may not all get into a tractor everyday but they all get rotated through them. I’m planning to add quail soon and plan on tractoring them as well.

    • Could you go into detail about what your putting in the tractor? I’m interested in knowing the age range and if you mixing sexes. Just anything you can offer. I’m thinking about doing it myself, but I’m gone during the day and we have all kinds of varmints.

  10. I had one of those automatic water systems and, without going into details, I didn’t pay as much attention to things as I should have, and it burst when this cold spell hit. And I’m in Southern Louisiana! Dealing with frozen water bottles before work is a pain! So, the heating cable is something I’m looking into. Much more thought will go into the next watering system,…, this summer,…when this cold crap is over.

    I sat down once with a calculator and tried to work out a plan to make money with rabbits and it seems the best bet is to eat them. But, they’re easy to raise compared to many animals, they’re easy to skin and butcher, and they don’t require much room.

  11. autofabwelding

    Automatic water freezing here too TN. And yes all the bottles and crocks before work is a pain. My plan is to run 1/2″PVC inside of 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 PVC and then spray some expanding foam in the big PVC. Also that chewed into line is even a pain when its not cold. Clamp off the line refill the bucket run a new line or hope you have a connector and all in the mud.

  12. autofabwelding

    My tractors are basically slightly larger cages with the bottom being made out of 2×4 fence wire and I move them every hour or so. Also have a puppy pen that I use and two that are all 2×4 wire. Naturally the younger rabbits can slip through the puppy pen and 2×4 wire so they have to go in the ones with cage wire sides. The 2×4 wire on the bottom allows the forage to not be smashed down and keeps them from digging out also adds protection for when that stray dog tries to break in. The young ones can fit through the bottom but they don’t really try to. I have had a couple of escapes from slipping through but its pretty easy to CALMLY WALK THEM INTO A CORNER THEN PICK THEM UP DONT CHASE THEM. I straighten the puppy pen to a semi circle walk them into it then pull the sides around and just keep making it smaller till I can nab them.

  13. autofabwelding

    This summer going to try a variation on Jack’s quail tractor for quail and don’t see a problem with tossing a rabbit in a slot. Not the same cage as the quail. Thinking a 6×6 tractor with 3 2×6 runs maybe quail rabbit quail or something. Will most likely run auto water from 5 gallon bucket and just use the hose that freezes since its not a winter enclosure. Rabbit nipple and poultry cup in each figure the rabbit shouldn’t chew the cup with fresh forage everywhere. On ages in the tractor if they are weaned and have open tractor they can’t get out of they are in it. Soon as I can sex them males and females are separate. But litters stay together as long as there isn’t crowding. If they can eat pellets they can eat clover and grass and such. More tractor less feed and less lawnmower and free fresh spread organic fertilizer

    • Very cool. How many rabbits do you think you would put in a 2×6 run? I’ve considered doing the tractoring idea because It would be nice for the lawn maintenance.

  14. autofabwelding

    *litters stay together* meaning all boys in here all girls over there.

  15. autofabwelding

    Search puppy pen on the Memphis tn Craigslist and there is one very similar to mine. I’m thinking about getting it cause its 1/2 the price I gave for mine.

  16. I’ve been wanting to do rabbits since the podcast over a year and a half ago that talked about rabbits (sometime around april 2012 I think). I was going to get started about 7 or 8 months ago and just kept having to leave town, so it didn’t end up working out.

    Recently met a person who visits my blog regularly (and lives right down the road) and he has an awesome rabbit setup. Cages hung underneath his house (its raised up because its near the river). The poop falls on unpaved ground that he puts shavings under. He just shovels out the shavings every few days or so.

  17. autofabwelding

    I put them in tractor as they are in cages. To avoid breeding or fights. The young ones normally several per tractor since they are housed together. I’d say though you could easily fit 3 grown meat rabbits in the 2×6 since cages are 30×24 however you may have to break up a fight or end up with a bred doe. Guess if you wanted to breed the for a buck and doe would be fine together in tractor. Where are you located where houses are on stilts? I am in Memphis and thats common around the TN river. I breed American Blues a rare heritage breed. Don’t have any available now but will soon if your close and interested. I will discount heavily to other TSP listeners.

  18. autofabwelding

    My first cages were 20×48 and that didn’t work the 30 depth is working great. Adults are in 30×24 and young and Rex which are smaller are in 24×24.

  19. Good show for beginners. I have commercial experience , so I think I’ll write a more comprehensive article for Brink of Freedom. What you do, or plan has to begin with purpose and size of herd. There are only a few rules that will make all the difference in herd health. Carrying water to small herds in the winter is not so bad, but heating small areas for short periods is not so bad, either. Scheduling breeding affects production, but you don’t want does to kindle in the middle of winter. Urine is not caustic, really. Ventilation under the cages takes care of fumes which can affect a rabbit’s lungs. Ear mites can be a common problem, and it’s important to keep those down, but that’s easy to do. As with most animals, there are myths about rabbits that need to be dispelled.. One is that they produce like crazy. An average survival rate for a litter is five. Yes they can have about twelve, but all may not survive. A doe will often eat her first litter, or stomp them if danger threatens. Without baby wire around the bottom portion of the cage, babies fall out and die on the ground if not found right away. Bunnies are cute, but after a couple of months they can become vicious. I have plenty of scars to prove it. How you handle your rabbits is a skill to perfect to save on bites and scratches. Their toenails can do great harm. For almost any situation, I’d recommend New Zealands because their coats are consistently white, and their meat is consistently tender. Processors pay best for five pound fryers (about three month old) because they sell their hides which can be matched and dyed. Colors bring less. Processors have their own rules and reg. Best to build for optimum production with most efficient methods. Small herds for home usage is another story. Pets and show animals can be anything for fun, but meat and hide production is another story. First decide what you’ll do with the rabbits and go from there. I think I can help here. I’ll get right on an article.

  20. OK, so I’ve fixated on something and I’m not having much luck (yet). WHERE can I get a heat cable that goes INSIDE PVC water pipe?

    Details:

    When I heard mention of heat cable that you run INSIDE pipes, I was intrigued. See, we built this big watering bar for our chicken coop, but we made some mistakes. We used the push-in nipples (which are fine for the bottoms of buckets, but they didn’t work so well in PVC pipe.) The nipples kept leaking and they couldn’t be replaced. And we weren’t thinking and made the thing 10ft long, so it had to be CUT out of the coop when we put in watering bar 2.0.

    In watering bar 2.0, we used the threaded nipples that screw into Ts (so they’d be easy to replace if there was a failure. We also built the bar in two sections so that if there was a problem with one side, we could disconnect it, pull it out to work on it, and put it back in the coop without interrupting the chickens’ water access.

    We used heat cable on the outside of the Sch. 40 1/2″ PVC watering bar, then we wrapped it with insulation (per the directions of the manufacturer), and then we put that whole thing in a 1.25″ PVC pipe that basically functions as nothing more than protection for the heat cable/insulation.

    DH also did some fancy plumbing to have some “vent stacks” (because our old system would get air pockets in it that would keep the bar from filling up with water properly.) THEN, we’re using a bird bath heater (it’s what we had) in a 5-gallon bucket that supplies the water bar, and there’s a an aquarium float sensor in the bucket that cuts off power to the heat cable and bird bath deicer when there’s no more water in the bucket.

    To be honest, it’s really all quite impressive, but it was EXPENSIVE and complicated. (It cost around $175 for 10 feet worth of watering bar w/12 nipples.) If we had it to do over again and could use a cable that just runs inside the water bar (that only comes on when the water’s cold enough), that’s absolutely the way we’d do things, and it’s the way we’ll do things if we have to build anymore IF someone canpoint me in the direction of these cables.

  21. http://www.bassequipment.com/Waterers/Medicator,+Heat+Cable/default.aspx

    and

    46 foot Heat Cable
    other sizes can be special ordered (72ft, 109ft, 146ft)
    $69.00: http://www.bunnyrabbit.com/price/edstrom.htm

  22. I wont grow rabbits because I can’t see myself killing them. A man has to know his limitation and rabbits seem to be mine.

    Thanks
    Robert

    • Modern Survival

      @Robert and dude, there isn’t a damn thing wrong with how you feel nor your decisions that it leads you too. I wish more people were honest about limitations.