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Farm Sideline Keeps Illinois Farmer Hopping
That's no ordinary shed standing in Dan Schwartzkopf's barnyard near Woodhull, Ill. The 20 by 65-ft. insulated building is a rabbitry that houses more than 300 purebred rabbits.
The rabbitry contains approximately 360 wire cages stacked 3-high in four rows. Pens range in size from 20 to 32-in. for does to 16 by 30-in. for growing bunnies.
Schwartzkopf raises primarily Californians, Cremes, and Dutch rabbits. He says rabbits usually bring $.60/lb. for fryers (between 4 and 5 1/2 lbs.) and $.25/lb. for roasters (anything over 5 1/2 tbs.).
Although Schwartzkopf sees an increasing demand for rabbit meat because of its low fat and low cholesterol content, he makes more money by selling breeding stock to other breeders and 4-H club members than in selling the animals commercially. He will receive $10 apiece for 3-month-old rabbits to be exported to China.
Schwartzkopf feeds the rabbits a pellet feed that he buys for about $218 per ton. He feeds them each evening. Depending on the breed, one animal may eat between 5 and 8 oz. of feed daily with a 3-to- l conversion ratio.
One buck can service between 10 and 20 does. The gestation period for rabbits is 30 to 31 clays, and after giving birth, the does can be re-bred immediately. Litter sizes vary according to breed, but commercial breeders work toward litters of 8 rabbits that will reach 5 lbs. in 8 weeks, explains Schwartzkopf. He artificially inseminates rabbits year-round but says, "Anything you get between Thanksgiving and the first of Marc h is a gift."
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dan Schwartzkopf, RR, Woodhull, Ill. 61490.

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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #2