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Meat Rabbit Business Hopping
Raising rabbits can put meat on the table and money in the pocket. The easy-to-handle animals require very little in the way of start-up. Tammy Miller started her rabbit business with nothing more than 30 rabbits, cages, a tarp and some rebar.
  "My husband had extra rebar around, so we welded it together to form a framework to hold cages and to support the tarp for an exterior," explains Miller, who lives near Ford City, Penn. "It's great to work with because you can expand as needed when adding more cages."
  After three years of tarp-covered rabbit production, Miller was able to justify putting up a pole barn for her enterprise. The 24 by 40-ft. building will be able to house up to 400 rabbits at a time. She continues to use rebar for the cage racks, with each rack holding 48 rabbits in individual cages.     Currently, she carries water to the building; however, Miller is looking forward to plumbing in water lines and adding heat to her set-up.
  "My biggest problem is water freeze-up," says Miller. "As long as it stays above 32 degrees, I'm in pretty good shape."
  Successful rabbit production starts with having a ready market. Miller raises her rabbits to meet the 5-lb. weight the restaurant trade demands.
  Successful rabbit production also requires understanding the cyclical nature of the business. "The biggest demand is in the winter, when we get as much as $1.10 per lb., but that will drop to 60 to 65 by summer," says Miller, who drives truck for her husband in the summer months. "It's a nice part-time business, but it's no way to get rich quick."
  Understanding rabbits helps, too, of course. When Miller first raised rabbits, she built her cages with wood and wire. Between the rabbits chewing on the wood and moisture rotting it, she learned that metal cages were the answer. Today she builds her own metal cages. She has also found a low-cost and easy-to-clean method for collecting rabbit manure from under the stacked cages.
  "In the past I used Dura-Pan beneath each cage to catch the rabbit waste," says Miller. "Now I recycle old conveyer belts used in mines. One length runs under each row of cages, and I can just scrape the manure off easily."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tammy Miller, RD #1, Box 117, Ford City, Penn. 16226 (ph 412 549-1310).

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2006 - Volume #30, Issue #1