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SBulletin No. 6 New Series September, 1921
J. F. ALMOND
State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, commissionerr
Introduction . . . 5
Fundamental Values..... . . . 5
Cost and Revenue .. .... 8
B reeds . . . . . 9
Hutches . . . . . 13
Feeding . . . .. .. 20
Breeding . . . . . 22
Diseases . . . 25
Preparation for Market . . . . 29
Marketing . . . . . .... .30
Conclusion . . . . . 31
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture ..............Tallahassee
T. J. Brooks, Director, Bureau of Immigration ......... Tallahassee
Phil. S. Taylor, Advertising Editor................................. Tallahassee
John M Scott, Agricultural Editor....................................... Gainesville
Domestic Rabbit Raising In Florida
By J. F. ALMOND
T HE information given in this bulletin is based on actual
experience in handling and dealing with domestic rabbits
in Florida during the past three years. While it is prac-
tically a new industry in our State, it has merit, and our con-
stant contact, observation and study convinces us that while it
is not a get-rich-quick pursuit, the farmer especially can add to
his income in the breeding of rabbits. Here we want to remind
the reader that our subject is not on the wild or cotton tail, but
the domestic rabbit, which is a fur bearing animal with very
nutritious white meat.
It has been found that in some respects breeding rabbits in
our State will slightly differ from other climates. Conditions
in the North and West call fo'r some different housing and care
than is necessary in Florida. It is well for the beginner or
breeder to read some of the magazines and best literature on
rabbits, but he must make deductions for varied conditions.
Often enormous profits are shown the prospect by dealers and
breeders offering high-priced stock for sale. Sometimes very
exceptional instances of profit are portrayed. Too much theory
cannot be relied upon. Some differences of opinion may also
be found by writers and breeders in sections where climatical
conditions differ; however, in this bulletin we have conscien-
tiously tried to outline conditions and care applicable to Flor-
ida, based upon practical experience and study of rabbits with-
in the State.
MEAT.-Comparatively few people are acquainted with the
delicious taste and nutriment of domestic rabbit meat in con-
trast with the wild hare. The domestic rabbit is usually kept
in hutches and is better fed. Its meat is very digestible in
both summer and winter.
Various health authorities give us comparisons with several
of our other meats, as follows:
Chicken .... ............. ............ 50% nutriment
B eef ............................. ......... ........................... 5 5 % n u trim en t
M utton ................. ........ ....... ....................... 65% nutrim ent
P o rk ...................... .................................................... 7 5 % n u trim en t
RABBIT ................ .............. ...... ..... 83% nutrim ent
6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The United States Department of Agriculture gives the fol-
lowing analyses of certain meats:
Percent Percent Percent Percent perlb.,
Water Protein Fat Ash Calories
RABBIT .............................. 67.86 25.50 4.01 2.13 627
Chicken, broiler ......... 74.80 21.50 2.50 1.10 505
Beef, hindquarter ...... 62.20 19.30 18.30 .90 1130
Veal, hindquarter ...... 70.90 20.70 8.30 1.00 735
It will readily be seen that domestic rabbit meat is a nutri-
tious, tasty and year-round item of meat which can be eaten
by both the healthy and convalescent without fear of injury
to even a delicate stomach. It can be prepared and served in
many ways, such as fried, stewed, baked, salad, pie, soup,
omelette, hash, sausage, canned, or pickled; in fact, there are
nearly fifty ways in which it may be palatably prepared.
FUR.-The United States Department of Agriculture further
shows us that rabbit pelts are used more extensively by the fur
trade than any other kind. More than 100,000,000 pelts, valued
at approximately $25,000,000, are used annually. Of this
amount, about 98 percent are imported from Australia, New
Zealand, Belgium, France, England and other foreign coun-
tries. The United States at present produces less than 2 per-
cent of its consumption.
Rabbit fur is used in the manufacture of fur coats, gloves,
wraps, felt hats, etc. In this connection, we are also told that
65 percent of all our furs are manufactured from domestic
rabbit pelts, under such names as: Artic Seal, Australian Seal,
Baltic Black Fox, Baltic Brown Fox, Baltic Leopard, Baltic
Lion, Baltic Red Fox, Baltic Seal, Baltic Tiger, Baltic White
Fox, Bay Seal, Beaverette, Belgian Beaver, Black Hare, Bluer-
ette, Castorette, Chapchillas, Chinchillette, Coast Seal, Cony,
Cony Leopard, Cony Mole, Electric Beaver, Electric Mole, Elec-
tric Seal, Ermiline, Fox Hair, French Beaver, French Chin-
chilla, French Cony, French Leopard, French Sable, French
Seal, Imitation Ermine, Mendoza Beaver, Meskin Beaver, Me-
skin Ermine, Meskin Moline, Meskin Seal, Minkony, Molin,
Moline, Muskratine, Near Seal, Northern Seal, Nut-riette, Polar
Seal, Red River Seal, Roman Seal, Russian Leopard, Sable
Hair, Sealette, Sealine, Squirrelette, Squirreline and Visonette.
A large pelt is more valuable than a small one. One of the
most important considerations in the value of a pelt is the
quality and texture of the fur. Another important considera-
tion is the caution exercised in removing the fur and the care
it is given after taken from the a'rcass.
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING
In New York City alone there are 5,000 or more fur dealers.
The white fur seems most in demand, as it can be more readily
dyed and manufactured to sell under a greater variety of trade
names. Improved machinery, coupled with the furrier's art,
plucks, dyes, and puts together these furs into very stylish
and expensive garments, the real origin of which is seldom
realized by the wearer.
The wild animal furs are becoming less and less plentiful,
giving way to domestic production of our fur supply. The
demand for furs, on the other hand, is increasing yearly; there-
fore, the domestic rabbit, which is a fur bearing animal, prom
ises an increasing possibility in the production of furs. Ordi-
narily we consider fur production in connection with a cold
climate, but our established breeds of domestic rabbits have
proven that they will grow as good a quality of fur in Florida
as in other sections of the United States. While the returns
from fur are less than from the meat, it is a valuable income.
An exceptionally good Chinchilla pelt will bring the most
money, though the percentage of these is very small and, on
an average, the pelts from white rabbits can be dependably
counted on for good year-round profits.
FERTIIwZER.-Rabbit manure has a good value. The compara-
tive analysis given by the United States Department of Agri-
culture is as follows:
Potash Nitrogen Acid
Percent Percent Percent
RABBIT Manure, fresh .............. 1.85 2.60 2.50
Cow M anure, fresh ......... ... ........... .45 .50 .30
H orse M anure, fresh ............................. .50 .60 .25
Sheep M anure, fresh ................ ..... .60 1.00 .35
Hen Manure, fresh ..... .... ......... .85 1.75 1.25
Hog M anure, fresh ................................ .30 1.00 .40
Two hundred grown rabbits will produce approximately one
ton of fertilizer per month.
In California, where rabbits are possibly 'raised to a greater
extent than in any other State, the manure is eagerly sought
for use in the groves, and has a commercial value of about
$15.00 per ton. The rabbit raiser who does not himself have
use for the manure should have no difficulty in finding a profit-
BREEDING STOCK.-The domestic rabbit industry throughout
the United States, and particularly in Florida where it has
only gained noticeable interest since early in 1927, will un-
doubtedly continue to enjoy a demand for good breeding stock
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
at prices somewhat higher than can be secured from meat and
fur. However, the prospective rabbit raiser should not deceive
himself by assuming that all the stock he raises can be sold at
high prices as breeders. In many instances very high prices
have been paid by beginners who later find they cannot sell
all they raise at these fancy prices. On an average, only a
small percentage of our production will go on the market as
breeders, hence the prospective rabbit raiser must base his
expectation of returns principally on meat and fur.
In securing breeding stock, the beginner should not imagine
he needs all show animals. It is more essential to select a strain
of rabbits that has a good record as producers. Some of the
prize winning show animals are not profitable producers. Espe-
cially is this true in our Florida climate with the White Flem-
ish Giant. Experience with this variety is that it is more the ex-
ception rather than the rule for as many and as large litters to
be raised each year that come up to the standard weight as can
be done with other varieties. The domestic rabbit, having been
"bred up" during the past few years, makes it possible to pro-
duce "show" stock from good breeders. It is, on the other
hand, impossible to produce all "show" stock from a show
animal; therefore, the beginner, as many make the mistake of
doing, should not deceive himself by imagining that in starting
with high priced, prize winning stock, all of his sales will be
on the basis of prize winners. The most successful rabbit
raisers are those who secure good quality, productive breeding
stock, and figure their revenue on the basis of meat and fur
with an occasional sale of choice individuals for breeders.
COST AND REVENUE
BREEDERS.-Good breeders, in the popular varieties, can be
bought at from $5.00 to $15.00 each. Higher prices should not
be paid except in rare cases where, generally for advertising
purposes, an unusually good stud or fine type animal is wanted
to head a herd.
INCOME.-Properly taken care of, does should breed four times
a year, six being a conservative average per litter except with
the Flemish Giants, which should be killed down to about four
to the litter. If alfalfa hay and grain are bought at prevailing
high retail prices, the cost of feeding a breeder will often
amount to one and one-fourth cents per day; however, if rab-
bits are adapted to green feed, this cost can be reduced to
three-fourths of a cent per day or less. On this basis youngsters
can be raised to a marketing age of three months at a cost of
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING
about forty cents each. While youngsters should nurse until
at least six weeks old, they may begin eating when four weeks
of age. When three months old they should average four
pounds or a little better. The price being paid on the Tampa
market for rabbit meat at this time, which is a fair average,
is twenty-five cents per pound, live weight, making a three-
months-old rabbit weighing four pounds worth $1.00. There-
fore, the yearly production from one doe at this weight will be
about $24.00, of which approximately $9.60 will have been
spent for feed, leaving $14.40, from which must be deducted
the mother's feed and about one-tenth of the stud's feed for
the year, both amounting to around $3.00 per year. Then,
assuming the breeder cost $10.00, about $3.00 yearly should
he charged against stock depreciation, as three years or a little
over is a conservative average breeding life for a doe. This,
then, leaves $8.40 for labor and hutch rent. Assuming that the
owner is hearing for his stock, about ninety cents can be charged
to hutch rental, leaving an income of $7.50 yearly from each
breeding doe. In addition to this, an average of one breeder
should be raised and sold from each litter, which should bring
the net income per doe per year in round figures up to $15.00.
NEw ZIAI.AN)S.-The New Zealand Whites and
Reds have proven as good, if not the hardiest,
Florida. Bucks weigh approximately 9 pounds
pounds each. The Whites are inclined to attain a
and does 10
No. 1.-New Zealand White Doe.
-Courtesy E. H. Stahl.
DEPARTMENT OF A(GRlCULTURE
No. 2.-New Zealand Red Doe.
-Courtesy E. H. Stahl.
average weight than the Reds, also the demand and marketable
value of the White fur is a little greater. The flavor and
quality of the New Zealand meat is that of the best.
The American White is very much like the New Zealand
White, possibly running a little lighter in weight. Very few
of the American Whites, however, have so far been raised in
No. 3.-Litter of White Flemish Giants.
-Courtesy E. H. Stahl.
FLEMISH (iANTs.-These come in (rays, Steels, Sandys,
Blacks, Blues, Checkers and Whites. While the required
weights are 11 pounds, there are very few Whites which weigh
that nmch, especially if the litters are not cut down very low
and given extra care. However, in the colors exceptional
specimens are found weighing 15 to 18 pounds each. The
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING
Sandys possibly make the heaviest weight. As the name im-
plies, the Giant family is the heaviest. However, this breed is
of the long frame type and they are big eaters. The meat is
also somewhat coarser and the rabbits do not uphold their
standard as well without greater care than is necessary with
other popular breeds. Our experience so far in Florida does
not give this breed any favorable argument from a practical
money-making point of view.
No. 4.-Gray Flemish Buck.
-Courtesy California Extension Service.
While the Flemish can be made to pay, it is advisable to give
them extra care, especially in the matter of feed; and the young
should be marketed between two and three months of age, as
they eat more than other varieties and if kept too long will
soon absorb the profit they would otherwise show. When the
Flemish breeder puts on too much fat, she is soon knocked out
from breeding, especially in warm weather. On the other hand,
if not fed enough they are apt to get raw-boned, and it is
frequently hard for them to regain their weight. Experience
has proven that the Flemish, especially the newer variety of
White Flemish, unless given exceptional care, does not produce
as well in a warm climate as the medium weight domestic
rabbits. This is somewhat the case in the large producing
State of California, where the majority of White Flemish
Giants are underweight.
DEPARTAIEN'1 OF AGRICULTURE
No. 5.-Standard Chinchilla Buck -Courtesy E. H. Stahl.
CHINCHILLA.-On the argument of the original chinchilla fur,
many beginners have been induced to pay high prices for Stan-
dar(d Chinchilla rabbits, to become disappointed eventually
when these pelts are sent to market and, in the majority of
eases, their fryer pelts bring only ten to twenty-five cents
apiece. Some will represent in their sales arguments to the
prospect, prices of $2.00 to $3.00; however, such prices for
rabbit pelts are realized only in very 'rare cases. The Chin-
chilla pelt is harder to catch prime than most others in our
climate. The Chinchilla is a comparatively new breed not yet
bred up to a point of perfection as a whole.
('lilii ,lil.': i are rated as Standard, weighing 51/, to 61/,,
pounds for bucks and 6 to 7 pounds for does; Heavyweights,
weighing 71! to 9 pounds for bucks and 8 to 11 pounds for
does; and Giant (hinchillas, weighing 10 pounds for bucks and
11 pounds for does. The Chinheillas do not always breed true
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING
MISCELLANEOUS BREEDS.-The above constitute the principal
breeds. However, there are many other varieties in the fancy
or semi-fancy class, such as Belgians, Champagna de Argents,
Dutch, English Spots, English Lops, Goudas, Havanas, Hima-
layans, Imperial Blues, Polish Silvers, Beverens, Sables, etc.
These are, for the most part, in the light, middle weight or
fancy classes and are not extensively bred for utility purposes.
No. 6.-Himalaya Rabbit. Courtesy California Extension Service.
SANITATION.-The most important item to consider in hutch
construction is sanitation. It must be borne in mind that the
domestic rabbit is a fur bearing animal and must not be
penned up in a tight hutch in our warm climate if greatest
vitality is to be had. Even in our winters open hutches are
practical. Tight hutches and triple or double tiered hutches
are not the most sanitary. Even with self-cleaning floors,
filth traps or drafts will be found, either of which are detri-
mental to the rabbits' health and vitality in our salt air climate.
Many beginners have patterned elaborate hutches after very
practical northern or western types, then lose their rabbits,
especially the young ones, due to drafts or ammonia gas which
eventually develops -iOfl't or coccidiosis, either of which is
contagious and practically incurable.
GENERAL CONSTRUCTION.-After some three years' experience
with many different types of hutches, the open air, self-clean-
ing type has proven the healthiest and most sanitary. Rabbits
will stay healthier in these, breed better and produce young
with greater vitality. We have in mind rabbits that had been
kept in open, self-cleaning hutches that weathered the storm
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
of 1926 without a casualty, as well as the cold and freezes of
January, 1927, when we had about 165 breeders in open, self-
cleaning hutches. About one-third of these were with young
litters and had their breasts partially bare of fur because they
had pulled so much to nest their young, but there was not a
single sick rabbit.
Therefore, in our Florida climate we can only recommend
as the most successful type, the open-air, self-cleaning hutches.
An open-air hutch is one containing only a single deck and
with sides, front and back all covered with one-inch poultry
wire. In places very open and not protected from strong,
driving north winds, the backs of the hutches may be made
The self-cleaning type is best made by using for floors one-
half inch hexagonal wire, or what is sometimes known as hard-
ware cloth, or ordinary plaster laths spaced about one-half
inch apart and so nailed to the bottom of the hutch that no
filthy corners are possible to catch and hold urine or droppings.
A good plan is to make these floors removable so that they can
be taken out once or twice a month and sunned.
SUNSHINE.-Too much of our sun is disastrous to domestic
rabbits. Experiments have developed that 67 minutes is the
average life of a rabbit whose bare head is exposed to direct
rays of our summer sun. A little sunshine, however, is mighty
good for sanitation and it is wise to so arrange hutches that a
little morning sun can penetrate them. The heat of our sum-
mer sun must be kept a few feet, preferably five or six feet,
above the rabbit. A good plan is to place hutches under shade
trees, then the roof can be placed directly over the hutches;
otherwise, where no shade is available, a shed or higher roof
is most advisable. Don't use tin roofing, especially if the sun's
rays during the heat of the day will beam directly on it. The
heat which metal gathers will have a detrimental effect on the
Too much dampness must also be avoided, as colds will often
develop if rabbits are kept in a very damp place. It remains,
then, that our rabbits should be housed in open air, self-clean-
ing hutches, protected from the rain and heat of the sun, where
there is a free circulation of air and not too damp.
Fig, 1,-Construction Details of a abbit Hutc wi Wire Floor, (Courtes Buro, Bioo, Sur. , D. A.)
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BILL OF MATERIAL FOR RABBIT HUTCH WITH WIRE
FLOOR SHOWN IN FIG. 1
Four 2-inch by 2-inch by 4-foot: 6-inch legs.
Four 1-inch by 4-inch by 8-foot: rails.
Six 1-inch by 4-inch by 2-foot: 6-inch eross pieces.
Four 1-inch by 3-inch by 2-foot: 6-inch cross pieces.
Eight 1-inch by 3-inch by 1-foot: 6-inch braces.
Two 1-inch by 10-inch by 1-foot: braces.
Six 1-inch by 8-inch by 2-foot: feed sections.
Two 1-inch by 8-inch by 2-foot: 6-inch feed sections.
Two 1-inch by 2-inch by 2-foot: feed sections.
Three 1-inch by 4-inch by 2-foot: 6-inch feed troughs.
Four 1-inch by 1-inch by 3-foot: cleats.
Sixteen 1-inch by 2-inch by 1-inch: 8-inch doors. (This may be
changed for one door to each hutch if desired.)
Six 1-inch by 2-inch by 2-foot: 6-inch flooring.
Four 1-inch by 2-inch by 3-foot: flooring.
Six and one-half linear feet 1/2-inch mesh special twist hexa-
gonal wire, 2 feet 6 inches wide. (This may be changed
to ordinary plaster laths if desired.)
Two pieces galvanized metal, 9 feet by 2 feet 6 inches.
Four pairs 1-inch hinges. (Only two pairs if just two doors
Four door fasteners. (Or two.)
Six linear feet 1-inch poultry wire, 18 inches wide.
Eighteen linear feet 1-inch poultry wire 24 inches wide.
Eight linear feet 1-inch poultry wire 32-inches wide.
PRACTICAL HUTCH.-A very practical type is that shown in
Fig. 1, showing each hutch 21- by 4 feet. Each breeding doe
or stud needs approximately ten square feet of floor space.
While the hutch in Fig. 1 calls for one-half inch mesh special
twist hexagonal netting for floors, a cheaper practical substi-
tute in the way of ordinary plaster laths, spaced about one-
half inch apart, seems to be more comfortable to the rabbits.
Single instead of the double doors shown can be used if de-
This makes a light, sanitary and healthful hutch. If kept
in a barn or under a shed where the rabbits are protected from
driving rain and hot rays of the sun, no roof, other than top
of poultry wire, is needed. If kept in a grove or under shade
trees, a roof projecting enough to protect them is necessary.
They can be built in units of double hutches or extended as
many as desired. If built in units of double hutches with roof,
they can be moved from time to time in the grove, thus the
grove will benefit from the droppings.
I Aa, l 1
1 i I
B 6 Ai> i
Pe (ov fl- B Stw I I
Fig, -Contructlon Details of a Rabbit Nest Box, (Courtesy Bur, Bolog, Sur,, U. S, D A,)
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BILL OF MATERIAL FOR RABBIT NEST BOX SHOWN
IN FIG. 2
Three 1-inch by 6-inch by 8-foot: tongue-and-groove sheathing.
One 1-inch by 4-inch by 6-foot: batten.
One 1-inch by 2-inch by 8-foot: batten.
NEST Box.-A dark, removable nest box, about 14 x 14 x 20
inches, is practical. It is necessary to put a nest box in the
hutch at kindling time. An ordinary apple or other similar
box will do. In Fig. 2 is shown a nest box that will give good
results. Regardless of the kind of nest box used, care should
be taken that no cracks are in the bottom large enough for the
babies to get a foot through, as this will sometimes cause a
broken leg and death of young.
BILL OF MATERIAL FOR RABBIT COLONY GROWING
HOUSE SHOWN IN FIG. 3.
Eight 1-inch by 6-inch by 12-foot: tongue-and-groove for
walls, roof, floor and trough.
One 1-inch by 4-inch by 8-foot: batten.
Three 1-inch by 2-inch by 12-foot: battens and troughs.
One 2-inch by 4-inch by 4-foot piece.
Two 31/2-inch hinges for roof.
Six 2-inch hinges for vent and clean-out.
Four 1-inch hinges for side vents.
One 4-inch by 3-foot 33/-inch galvanized sheet metal.
1-inch mesh poultry wire, 2 feet 6 inches by 4 feet.
Roll roofing, 3 feet by 5 feet.
One 2-inch by 2-inch by 4-foot: legs.
Six 1-inch by 4-inch by 8 feet: sides, braces and ties.
Fifteen 1-inch by 2-inch by 12-foot: slats for floor and frames.
(Plaster laths may be substituted if desired.)
Four 11/-inch hinges.
Two 1/8-inch by 34-inch by 3-inch strap iron angles.
Fifteen linear feet 1-inch mesh poultry wire, 2 feet 6 inches
COLONY HousE.-After the young are weaned it is essential
to have some kind of growing pen for them. The Colony Grow-
ing House shown in Fig. 3 is very practical.
In addition to the details of this construction, we have found
it beneficial to enclose the lower part of the colony growing
41 ra B
RE #M004 E tfotlQA
Fig, I.-Comsructo Ott l s f R Cot ny Growig Hus for abbitS, Courttsy Bur. Bolog. Sur, U, S. D. AD )
ENO M~tATION FRONT CLEWTIM
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
house from the ground upward so as to form an enclosure on
the ground. Then half or all of self-cleaning floor portion of
platform can be taken out, allowing the youngsters to run on
the ground as well as jump up on the floor. In this way the
colony house can be moved from one grass plot to another.
The young need exercise and with such quarters they have
ample opportunity to get on the cool ground or in the pro-
tected house as desired. Older rabbits kept on the ground in
this way will burrow out, but youngsters are not as bad, espe-
cially if the colony pen is moved occasionally.
Fig. 4.-Improved Outdoor Self-cleaning Hutches, Includ-
ing Development Pens. (Courtesy Bur. Biolog.
Sur., U. S. D. A.)
COMBINATION HUTCHES AND COLONY HOUSE.-In Fig. 4 is
shown a combined breeding hutch and development pen ar-
rangement used in colder climates. A similar plan may be
used in our climate except that it should be constructed so as
to permit free circulation of fresh air the year round.
WATER.-At all times fresh water should be before the rabbits.
Water vessels should be cleaned out daily.
REGUULARTY.-Feeding at a regular time, morning and eve-
ning, is essential. It is better to feed half an hour before the
regular feeding time than half an hour after.
CLEAN.INESS.-All feed must be clean and fresh. Musty or
sour feed will sometimes upset a rabbit, especially young ones,
almost as quick as it will a human baby, and is usually more
disastrous to the rabbit.
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING 21
GENERAL.-Rabbits eat more at night than any other time.
One rabbit or breed may eat more than another. A good plan
is to feed a little in the morning, whatever will be cleaned up
in half an hour, and then feed heavier at night, giving an
amount that will allow the rabbits something to eat on during
the night and yet be cleaned up by morning.
Different rabbit raisers use different feeds, the most common
being grain and hay, possibly because they are most conven-
ient. Grain and hay, however, are usually more expensive
than certain other feeds. To the beginner we cannot recom-
mend any feed better than that to which his rabbits have been
accustomed. Get the party from whom you buy to tell you
what he has been feeding them, and if you want to change, do
so very gradually. Sudden changes of feed are often disas-
trous. The best way to change feed is to give a small amount
of the new feed about half an hour after they have had their
regular breakfast, gradually increasing the amount but at
the same time watching droppings. If no ill effects appear
within a couple of weeks, the morning meal may be turned into
the new feed entirely. In another week or two the evening
meal can also be turned into the new feed. This process is
especially applicable to changes from d'ry to green feed.
It is best to buy rabbits that are adapted to green feed, as
these are usually the hardiest animals. It is not advisable to
make drastic feed changes with does suckling young. For in-
stance, if it is desired to raise young on green feed, this should
be started with the mother at least two weeks before she
kindles. Green feed is a good milk producer, and this practice
also adapts the constitution of the young ones for the green
feed. Our experiments along this line in a number of in-
stances where one-half litters were turned out in the garden
on green feed at six weeks of age, and the other half kept up in
hutches principally on dry feed, has shown from 12 to 15 per-
cent greater gain in weight at four months of age among the
green fed youngsters.
DRY PEED.-This is more expensive where the most common
feeds of clipped oats, rolled oats and alfalfa hay alone are
used. Clipped oats for the older rabbits and rolled oats for
the younger ones, mixed with alfalfa hay and barley, are the
principal rabbit feeds in some sections of the country. It is
not advisable to feed clipped oats to young rabbits, as too
much clipped oats frequently produces diarrhea or scours in
youngsters. There are not enough of these crops raised in
Florida, however, to make it practical from an economic point
of production to depend on them entirely for feed.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
MASHES.-While mashes can be fed, using beet pulp, alfalfa
meal, corn meal, ground oat meal, bran, etc., or a more con-
venient form being any good hen laying mash, these are also
expensive for feeding exclusively with alfalfa hay. If mashes
are fed, they should be slightly dampened or wet into a
HAY.-Hay in some form, either well cured or in the shape of
green feed, preferably cured "pea-green," is very essential.
Rabbits need roughage, but they must not be allowed to eat
it moldy or sour. For cured hay, alfalfa is most commonly
used. We have also found clover, timothy, pea vine, peanut,
etc., of value and usually less expensive than alfalfa.
GREEN FEED.-Florida has a wealth of green food from which
by adding a little grain or mash with the evening meal, we can
most profitably raise rabbits of the greatest vitality. Caution
must be exercised by beginners when buying show stock, which
are often grain or dry fed and do not have the vitality to stand
sudden changes of feed as well as green fed animals. Many
beginners have paid fancy prices for rabbits, only to soon lose
them because of poor feeding, and then they become disgusted
with their venture.
When a rabbit is adapted to green feed, we have pea, bean,
and peanut vines, rape, clover, kudzu, begga'rweed, and in, fact
most all of our tender native grasses that cattle will thrive on.
As cattle will thrive economically on grass, so will the domestic
rabbit, and with a little grain or mash added once a day,
breeders of the greatest vitality can be raised and rabbit meat
and fur most economically produced. Green pea and bean
vines have proven beneficial feed for breeding does in summer
when dry feed has a tendency to make them miss production.
RooTs.-Carrots, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc., can also
be fed where a cheap supply is available. Regardless of what
is being fed, roughage in the form of green or cured hay is
SALT.-Salt should always be available so that rabbits can
get it at their pleasure. It is best offered in rock form, as to
MATING.-Does may be bred at 7 to 8 months of age. Period
of gestation is 31 days. The doe is usually in heat several days
about every two or three weeks. At this stage an examination
of the sexual part will disclose a somewhat swollen, deep
reddish or purplish appearance. Rabbits should be healthy
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING 23
and not moulting when bred. Take the doe to the buck's
hutch. Do not bring the buck to the doe's hutch, as she is
very likely to fight and injure him. Stand ready to take her
out in case of fight. Two o'r three minutes is long enough to
leave them together. If service is effected, the buck will fall
over to one side as soon as the doe raises her hindquarters.
One service is all that is necessary. Then take the doe back
to her hutch. If service is not effected in two or three minutes,
the doe may be returned to the buck every couple of days until
it is accomplished. Never leave breeders of either sex together
in the same hutch.
KINDLING.-About 25 to 28 days after a doe has been bred, the
nest box with four or five inches of clean straw should be put
in her hutch. Loud noises will often cause them to miscarry.
They should be kept quiet and when anyone approaches' care
should be taken not to frighten her. Do not molest or move
the nest box for about a day after she has kindled. She will
pull fur from her breast to nest the youngsters in the straw.
It must be remembered that the doe is the best caretaker of her
young in every respect except discarding any dead or surplus.
About a day after she has kindled, attract her attention with
some feed or by stroking her with one hand, using the other
to examine the nest and take out any dead ones. It is also ad-
visable to take out and destroy all over six or seven, which is
as many as the doe can raise to best advantage. In the Flemish
variety the young should be destroyed down to about four.
The doe has only eight nipples and that many young should not
be left with her, because if she is allowed to try to nourish too
many, runts and weaklings will be the result.
Just before time to kindle, the doe may eat very little. Be
sure there is plenty of fresh water for her, and after she
kindles she should be fed sufficiently to supply the necessary
nourishment for herself and milk for the young. In addition
to heavier feeding of regular ration, carrots, rolled oats, or
sweet milk if economically available, will be found beneficial.
NURSING.-Do not imagine because you don't see the doe nurse
her young that she is not feeding them. It is customary for
her to go into the nest box early in the morning and in the
evening about one minute to nurse, when the young get all
that is necessary. When about a week old they will be getting
their eyes open, by which time they will also have their fur
WEANING.-When three or four weeks old they will be coming
out of the nest box and in a day or two will be eating with the
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
mother. At this time, if the nest box does not have a top, it
should be turned so the doe can jump up away from the
youngsters, as they will worry her too much before they get
to eating well.
Soon after the young ones are six weeks of age, start taking
them away from the mother at the rate of about two per day,
putting them in the developing pen.
The doe should be allowed to 'rest about a week and then
BUCKS.-A sturdy, well boned, good type buck full of vitality
should be used. Do not use a buck oftener than three days
apart, and keep your buck where he will not be next to or
see too much of the does.
RAISING YouNG.-After the young have been put in the de-
veloping pen, feed them all they want of the same food their
mother has been accustomed to. When three or three and a
half months old, the young bucks should be put in another pen,
as they will soon try to begin breeding. Any that are to be
kept as breeders should be tattooed in the left ear and a record
kept of the tattoo number given each one, together with sire
and dam so that permanent "record of pedigree can be main-
tained. A regular tattoo outfit can be purchased for about a
dollar. Each proposed breeder, either buck or doe, should be
put in an individual hutch at three to four months of age.
Others that are to be slaughtered can be kept in large develop-
ment or meat pens, but the does should be kept separated from
the bucks. A little fattening feed, such as corn meal, should
be given along with their regular ration. These youngsters
should not be kept too long, but slaughtered at three to five
months of age.
BREEDING FAILURES.-This is mostly caused by the doe being
too fat. When this is the case, the doe may accept service but
fail to kindle. The doe, therefore, should not be too fat at the
time of breeding, but fed up heavier after she is bred.
Excessive heat, especially during our summer months, is
very hard on does that kindle regularly, unless they are kept
cool and properly fed, and not allowed to get too fat. By keep-
ing them in cool, open hutches, and with judicious feeding,
they can be kept breeding during the summer months without
Occasionally a doe will eat her young. Sometimes this is
true in eases of young ones born dead, but if the doe is receiv-
ing good, wholesome, well balanced feed and kills and eats
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING 25
her young, making a habit of this, she is usually not worth
keeping as a breeder.
Sometimes a doe will be found that is a poor breeder. In
most cases this is either an abnormally large doe, which may
be an excellent show specimen, or in culls or overbred stock
with low vitality. In the latter cases it is best to realize on
the meat and fu'r of such animals.
OVERBREEDING.-Four litters per year are all a doe should be
called upon to produce, and she should never be allowed to
raise more than six or seven to the litter. If overbreeding or
too large litters are permitted, it is bound to shorten the pro-
ductive life of the breeder and, at best, produce youngsters
which if allowed to grow up will be of low vitality and more
or less worthless as good breeders. Even when allowed to
breed, frequently their offspring will die from lack of vitality.
We have had does to kindle with as many as 16 or 17. Aver-
age litters over a three-year period have been 101/2, so it will
be seen that the beginner must make up his mind to do away
with the excess above six or seven.
CoIDS AND SNUFFLES.-This is the most troublesome and easily
contracted disease in rabbits. It is usually contracted first in
the form of a cold which can, in most cases, be cured if handled
promptly. Invariably it is caught in shipment or from damp,
dirty hutches without proper ventilation. Where double or
triple deck hutches are used, ammonia gas from droppings and
filth in a lower hutch is productive of this disease. Cold is
the first stage while snuffles is the final, and usually the in-
The first symptoms are shown by the rabbit sneezing, a wet
nose and a little discharge of white mucus. The rabbit will
wipe its nose with front paws. It should be isolated from
others immediately; put in a clean, dry hutch and given warm
food, such as hot bread and milk, with a few drops of sweet
spirits of nitre twice a day. Vick's salve put in both nostrils
every few hours, or the following preparation which your
druggist will prepare, is very effective:
Oil Tar, Minims xii.
Camphor, grains, 8.
Menthol, grains, 8.
Chloretone, grains, 8.
Liquid American Mineral Oil Qs. ad. Ozs. IV.
Directions: Hold rabbit by nape of neck with right hand,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
turn over on back, holding firmly under right arm so head
will be inverted. With left hand, using medicine dropper,
drop four or five drops in each nostril every two or three
hours, holding rabbit in this position twenty or thirty seconds.
This treatment should be continued at less frequent intervals
for several days after the -rabbit appears cured. If given
prompt and careful treatment when colds first appear, a cure
is usually effected, depending somewhat on the vitality of the
animal. If allowed to run into snuffles, usually evident by
discharge of thicker yellow mucus, running eyes or running
eyes and fever, the same treatment can be used and will some-
time, but not always, cure. If a rabbit seems to linger with
snuffles any length of time, it is usually better to kill it and
get it out of the way. Snuffles will often kill in a few days,
though sometimes the rabbit will linger indefinitely, in which
case it is better to kill the animal rather than take chances of
contagion, which can be carried to healthy stock on the hands
or feed vessels. After treating such an animal, always disin-
fect the hands.
SCOURS OR DIARRHEA.-This is usually caused by improper
feed, impure drinking water, sudden changes of feed, giving
excessive green feed to rabbits not fully adapted to it, or to
low vitality. Green feed given too wet, as with rain or dew
on it, is also bad. In adult rabbits, this is usually easily reme-
died by putting six to eight drops of tincture of aconite
(poison) in drinking water, not allowing them to have any-
thing else to drink until droppings are normal. Another good
remedy is ordinary weak tea instead of water.
In youngsters this is the most dangerous disease, and is
usually incurable, often killing the affected ones in a few
hours. Youngsters should be watched for loose bowels and
when this occurs, treat the mother, also the youngsters if old
enough, following the directions given above for adults. Dis-
continue any green food temporarily and feed sparingly other-
wise. A doe should not be bred if not in good health, as sickly
youngsters are thereby often produced.
COCCIDIOSIS OR SPOTTED LIVER.-Dirty hutches, filth, wet green
food, or ammonia gas from manure usually cause this ailment,
which is a microscopic parasite and somewhat contagious. This
disease is hard, especially for the beginner, to distinguish.
Young ones will sometimes die without noticeable cause, others
may appear rough coated and weak. It is very hard to dis-
tinguish and cure this ailment, although the animal may live a
long time. Usually it is more fatal to youngsters. When de-
tected, green food should be temporarily discontinued and
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING 27
feed some warm boiled cereals such as rolled oats or rice, also
good clean hay, carrots and warm mashes. Internal examina-
tion will disclose large white spots or lumps in the liver.
-SLOBBERS.-This is a form of acute indigestion and paralysis
of the salivary glands, principally in young rabbits. It is gen-
erally caused by feeding oats or coarse grains at too early an
age, and some times by overfeeding. It is evident by wet fur
on the chin due to saliva running from the mouth. If promptly
treated, it can usually be cured by giving a little ginger water,
and rubbing table salt well on the wet part of the chin and also
on the front feet, every few hours. The ginger water may be
prepared by mixing a small pinch of powdered ginger in a
teaspoonful of water, and it can be applied by a medicine
dropper into the mouth of the rabbit.
POT BELLY.-Here we have a more aggravated form of in-
digestion, mostly found in youngsters, though sometimes in
older ones. Usually it is due to wet green stuff or some im-
proper feeding. Damp, badly ventilated hutches are also con-
tributory. This ailment is evident by a very large belly with
skin stretched. Good, dry feed should be given, but no green
food. A soap water enema, at the same time making the
animals take plenty of exercise, is usually effective. Every
half hour give a teaspoonful of lime water with 2 to 5 drops
of aromatic spirits of ammonia, depending on the age of the
VENT DISEASE.-Seldom is this trouble found. It is usually
caused by dirty hutches or mating with diseased bucks. The
organ presents scabby, inflamed sores and in extreme cases
yellowish pus is discharged. Unless of too long standing, it
can usually be cured by bathing about twice a day with warm
water in which has been put a little disinfectant to soften. Then
treat well with some good healing salve and iodine.
SORE HocKS.-This is more prevalent with the heavier rabbits,
especially the Flemish Giants. Hard floors where the hocks
are bruised in kicking, filth that permits bacteria to infect the
hock, etc., are general causes. This ailment, if untreated, will
run through the entire system and sometimes kills the animal
in the course of time. As soon as detected, the rabbit should
be put on a soft floor, either straw or on the ground. If put
on the ground, it should be in a grassy, dry place. The sore
should be bathed daily and wrapped with absorbent cotton
treated with iodine. It may take some days to cure, but if of
not too long standing the above treatment is usually effective.
28 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
EAR CANKER.-This is caused by a small mite which finds its
way into the rabbit's ear, burrows and causes scabby sores in
the bottom of the ear. It does not occur often, but when it
does about ten drops of the prescription recommended for colds
and snuffles, dropped in each ear daily, usually cures this ail-
ment in several days. It is also necessary to pick out the scabs
each day after they are softened.
SORE EYEs.-While this is not very common, it is sometimes
caused by colds, snuffles, damp or badly ventilated hutches.
The eye becomes inflamed, sometimes the lids gumming to-
gether or running water. Bathe the eyes twice a day with a
warm solution of water and abouf two percent boric acid, then
apply any good eye medicine.
WoaMs.-They are seldom found in domestic rabbits, but when
affected the rabbit will appear languid and small white worms
will be found in the droppings. Feed should be reduced and
the stomach well cleaned out with one or two heavy doses of
Epsom salts. Give any good worm medicine that you would
give a child. Carrots afford an excellent feed during this time,
but should be fed lightly.
BoILs.-Occasionally low vitality traceable to other diseases
may develop boils, though they are usually caused by being
bit by another rabbit. In the latter case, if treatment is
given the injured part to prevent infection, there is little
danger from boils. Where boils are allowed to get under
way, large lumps will occur, sometimes forming a pus pocket
as large as a hen egg. When this is "ripe," it may be lanced
and the pus squeezed out. It should then be well cleaned with
peroxide, and absorbent cotton or gauze wet with a weak solu-
tion of iodine packed in the pocket so as to hold the opening
from healing together. This packing should be renewed daily
for a few days, and when the infection seems well cleared the
packing may be discontinued, and the lanced place allowed to
grow back together. One must be careful that no foreign
matter is left to renew infection. In cases of chronic boils or
very bad cases, it is usually advisable to kill the animals, for
they are no good as breeders, meat or fur.
FAILURE TO BREED.-While this is not a disease, it is very dis-
couraging when litters do not come along as expected. The
cause may be due to over-fatness, too much dry or starchy feed,
poor vitality, or occasionally a doe is a stubborn breeder. If
a doe will not accept service from one buck, often she will from
another. Green fed, particularly pea vines or dry peas soaked
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING 29
in water about twelve hours, is sometimes helpful. In very
hot weather they do not breed as well, unless kept cool.
GENERAL.-From the above, the prospective breeder might
imagine that rabbits are very susceptible to disease. To the
contrary, for if given proper care, disease is seldom found in
a well-kept rabbitry. The outline is given with the idea that
it may be of service to the breeder, but especially to emphasize
the importance of care and sanitation, plenty of fresh air, and
good clean food after one secures healthy, vital breeding stock.
There are many rabbit remedies on the market; however, the
simple remedies usually kept in every home or that may be
secured from the local druggist are generally more effective
PREPARING FOR MARKET
KILLING.-With the left hand hold the animal by the middle
of its back and with a stick strike at back of neck. A gambril
hook, or two large nails, points out, in a board secured at a
height of about five and a half or six feet from the ground,
should be ready and the rabbits hung up by their hind legs
the same as when skinning cattle. With a sharp knife cut off
head and front feet. This should be done as quickly as possible
to enable immediate bleeding. Then cut fur around hind legs
at hock and down inside. Pull pelt down both hind legs to
tail. Cut free on back at tail and see that it is well started
on belly, then with both hands a firm, quick downward pull
will take the pelt off. A stretcher can be made from a piece
of No. 9 wire by wrapping it in the middle two or three times
around a broom handle, allowing the ends to spring out. The
pelt should be stretched, fur inside, on this and after all fat
is scraped off it should be hung in a shady place, preferably a
screened room, where flies cannot get at it. In four or five days
it is usually well dried.
With a heavy knife cut bones on either side of the tail, and
slit skin on belly, being careful not to cut intestines, all the
way to breast. Cut out organs between hindquarters and pull
out all intestines and stomach, cutting jugular at breast.
The kidneys and liver should be left in the animal, which is
now ready to take down and place in water, rinse well and
place in a pan or tank of water to "bleach." It is well to
change water a couple of times, allowing the meat to soak for
ten or twelve hours, which tends to improve the flavor and
30 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BREEDERS.-When good breeding stock is raised, a little ad-
vertising will usually find buyers. Be very careful to sell only
animals which have been well cared for, whose blood is pure,
and whose parents were healthy, vital breeders and not over-
MEAT.-Frequently a local trade can be built up in your
vicinity, which will bring you the greatest returns from your
meat. This is the best market if proper sales efforts are put
forth. It must be remembered that nearly everybody eats
meat, and rabbit meat is of the best. The problem is in educat-
ing your neighbors to its value. In starting, it may be neces-
Single Compartment Shipping Box.
sary to get your markets to handle your meat on consignment
for a while, helping them by furnishing posters and sending
customers to them. A small advertisement in your papers will
help. Give your local physicians the data on rabbit meat and
get them to recommend it, which they are usually glad to do.
Where rabbit meat is raised in large quantities, sometimes
an outside market is also desired. Great possibilities exist in
the larger cities for the consumption of rabbit meat. A recent
survey in New York City disclosed a comparatively small
amount offered to the trade. Commission merchants reported
approximately 2,000, mostly alive, domestic rabbits, coming
in weekly from all parts of the United States. This is a very
small number and many more could be handled if they could
be secured. Prices reported on the New York market for a
year or more have run from twenty-two to thirty-eight cents
per pound, live weight, f. o. b. New York. Express from
Florida to New York is approximately six or seven cents per
pound for live animals.
We understand that practically the same condition exists in
other large cities as was found in New York, and we are im-
pressed with the possibilities of selling large amounts of rabbit
meat if a supply is available. The demand seems to keep well
ahead of the supply. We are advised in the Los Angeles dis-
trict, which possibly enjoys the greatest supply of any section
in America, that from 20,000 to 30,000 are slaughtered weekly
and practically all used on that market. Hence it can readily
be seen that this meat can easily be sold, but it should first be
available before it is offered to the market. In attempting to
ship to another market is it necessary to get in touch with
those merchants specializing in rabbit meat, as others do not
find it well worthwhile to handle rabbits because of the scant
',Rs.-Very little, if any, local market will be found for pelts.
If large quantities are available, usually a better price is real-
ized. Possibly St. Louis, Chicago and New York are the most
likely markets to be considered. Get in touch with some re-
liable fur and pelt buyer and he will take all you can ship.
Satisfy yourself that you are shipping to a concern that is
specializing in rabbit pelts, as they will usually pay more than
With proper housing, feed and care, domestic rabbits do not
require so very much work. While one man can handle one
hundred breeding does, it is advisable, where experience is
lacking, to start with a few. Study them for three months,
and then increase, if desired. Usually too large a start places
the owner in a position of not knowing what to do at the proper
time, and on the other hand he does many unnecessary things
that are detrimental. Study and learn the habits of your rab-
DOMESTIC RABBIT RAISING
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
bits, and do not leave their handling to hired help, especially
in the beginning. As long as rabbits are not put out in the
sun in Florida, we have an ideal climate for their production.
Here we should never be troubled with the disease of rickets,
and acclimated "rabbits kept in open hutches are less liable to
colds, snuffles, and many of the other diseases than if kept in
colder climates. We can also raise an excellent quality of fur,
as has already been demonstrated by the number marketed
u's'^^i ~ rs)
w . *