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Rules and regulations for raising rabbits?

John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
I am planning on raising Florida White rabbits for meat production in the spring.  I can build a 144 sqft shed with not issues as long as it is 5 feet from the property line. The information I cannot find is legality of raising rabbits in MN, a suburb of St Paul, MN.
Do I just have to go into City Hall and sort through pages of zoning laws? I don't want to ask them straight out because if there is not an ordinance against it, they would like one I am pretty sure. Also, how do you find out about local requirements for slaughtering and butchering?
Any advise would be helpful.

Thanks,

John
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 977
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
You could give them an anonymous call, preferably from someone else's phone.  Most cities allow the keeping of rabbits, but often restrict you to no more than three of them.  If you keep things clean, and construct their housing in such a way that no one can see they are there, you probably won't have any problems.  As long as you aren't selling meat, there shouldn't be any regs about slaughtering and butchering your own animals for your own use.  However, with the 'animals are little people in fur coats' mentality that so many people have nowadays, it would be wise to be very quiet about it. 

Kathleen
John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
Thank you for the response. Part of the problem is I would like to sell some of the meat, and I am not on good terms with the neighbor who has a pool fifteen feet from my bedroom. Grant it I will be placing the rabbits in an enclosed shed on the opposite side of that neighbor, I want to make sure everything is legit. I will probably just go down to City Hall and look through the zoning laws. Hopefully the clerk who is sitting at the desk has nothing to do with it anyway. f

John
                            


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
Hmmm, there's a whole world of difference between raising rabbits for your own use and raising rabbits to butcher and sell for meat use to others.  I don't know, but I would guess that you need to be looking not only at your local laws, but also at state regs and FDA regulations.  As far as local laws... is it permissible to run a business from your home with whatever zoning you have (rhetorical)? Also, in our current society, meat tends to come from the grocery store. The thought of someone having to kill an animal to get meat can be really upsetting to some people. If your neighbors are of that mindset, or simply adore those cute, big eyed, bunnies (playing devils advocate deliberately here), simply knowing that you are murdering those poor innocents just on the other side of the fence may be enough to cause open conflict. Not a good thing for either one of you.....

Our laws simply don't give much leeway at all for the small time producer. I was just noticing in WA state that there is an annual fee for anyone egg sellers, if they take the eggs off of their property to sell. I live in a remote area as do most of the people in my county. For those selling eggs, it simply isn't feasible to sell from their homes in most cases. It works best if people bring them to town with them, then swap or drop off, whatever. Wish there was a quick fix to our system!
John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
Went to the library on Sunday and found a copy of the City Code. There is only one city in my County that limits the number of Rabbits you can have to two. My city said nothing about it so I am good there. As far as my research has shown there is a big difference between commercial butchering and local butchering regulations. Either way I doubt I would get in to it anyway, just wanted to read up on the regulations. I will probably just sell them as breeders.

John
                                                      


Joined: Jan 15, 2011
Posts: 18
Location: Portland, Oregon
John,

First off, I'll ask if you've raised rabbits before? If so and even if not  i'll offer a few pointers as to the build you are planning. Great choice on breed by the way the florida whites are a good meat breed You might think about introducing some new zealand or california dna to the mix a few generations down to add to the meat quality as IMO the floridas can be a little bland.
so, back to the build. First thing to remember is to give all your bunnies plenty of room to grow and move. In all my years i've seen some pretty tight quarters for Does and Bucks and Fryers so space space space is what i recommend. A three foot square cage is more than adequate. Try to avoid wooden walls as bunnies can and will chew even when given blocks to chew they still will opt of the wall and bingo one morning you go out and find find two does in together and a lovely new doorway between them. In my last rebuild of hutches (they don't last forever) I opted for expanded steel flooring and walls. Expanded steel is this diamond patterned product that gets used for many different things like trailer flooring for yard care people over cab racks on trucks and stuff. It's a bit of a chore to work with but once crafted as the flooring and walls between hutches it provides a system that is comfortable and supportive and secure. I'll describe my setup as my space is just slightly larger than what you are going for. Imagine  a capitol L setup at the top of the L is a buck followed by a doe then a nest box then a doe then another doe another nest box and lastly another buck. finally we are down to the tail of the L and that whole space is for fryers to age to weight. All the divider walls of the same expanded steel to which I added cut to fit corrugated roofing non painted that I attached to the expanded steel with wire via holes in the corrugated stuff. Works very well overall as the does have their privacy and stuff. You'll notice that the does share a nest box in common in this setup this has never been a problem as the boxes always gets cleaned out between litters. In this way I've been able to keep two does in production at any given time. As to your waste removal I'll assume that you are or were planning to let the droppings accumulate on the ground under the hutches to be removed as needed. I'll offer this solution for you if you would like an easier way to maintain the whole works. To the above described cage setup which was built onto a 2x4 base frame I attached a gray tarp trough. From the top of the run at the fryer cage it slants down to the bottom of the run where it exits the building through a hole that is cut in the wall. from there it drops into a gravel lined waste pit so the urine can drain away leaving the waste to dry and pre-age before going to the compost piles. Every two or three days i simply take a five gallon bucket of water to the fryer cage throw it in and the slant allows for free flow of water to the exit taking with it all the waste. Simple and slick and easy to deal with at your leisure.

Hope the pointers help.


There's a universe of justice and the eyes of truth are always watching
John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
thatchickencoopguy wrote:
John,

First off, I'll ask if you've raised rabbits before?
Only beef cattle and one hog.

  A three foot square cage is more than adequate.
I spoke with Richard Steinberg in Owatonna, MN who breeds Florida Whites exclusively and he told me 2x2x14 is plenty of room. Do you think I need 3x3x16 for a medium size rabbit like the Florida White?

I am using all galvanized steel cages with slanted metal dividers under each cage that will run into a 3 inch pvc pipe cut in half. According to Richard, I can flush the system daily into a five gallon bucket.

I am going to to build the shed like a deck, with (3) 2x10x18 for the header and ledger resting on 6x6 posts on 4 12 inch concrete footings 48 inches deep and belled out at the bottom. The joists will be 2x10x8. The walls will be 2x4 with 2 inch foam insulation in the walls and the roof. I plan on adding 4 shed vents for light and ventilation, and leaving the sofit open for ventilation as well.


I am trying to figure out how to build a rocket mass heater under neath the structure. I will be running full uv spectrum fluorescent lights for the rabbits and maybe for starting seedlings if the temperature is right.

Thank for all the great info. This is a big project and having never even held a rabbit, at least for 20 years, it is good to get real world information.

John

Hope the pointers help.
                                                      


Joined: Jan 15, 2011
Posts: 18
Location: Portland, Oregon
John,

Sounds like quite the build I am assuming that you are building so stout to protect from the disagreeable winters you have in your region. I've seen the PVC waste removal system and have used it as well in the past but as with all things there are weak points to it. Namely bunny turds can clump from time to time and when washing out you can get overflows occasionally from the pvc system. Most of the time the clumping occurs not as a point of the manure itself but rather the amount of shed hair that lands on the base plate. Hence the reason I do the grey tarp sluice system now.
As to your thinking about the RMH for the bunny shed. Sounds like a nice thing indeed however in the winter months I fallow out my bunnies and do hutch share so they can cuddle each other for warmth but again your winters can be pretty severe and as I always err on the side of caution the RMH sounds great. Plus the early starting shed for seedlings would just be an added bonus.
A note on space. Technically Richard is correct in the dimensions he gave you. However let me put this bug in your ear. If you were a rabbit and you had a choice would you rather be in a 3 ft. square cage or the stated 2x2x14 one? I like to let my kids stretch and get exercise and personally I think the smaller version are just glorified veal cages. And veal and the raising of such I have never viewed as very humane. Your choice in the end but trust me they'll be happier to produce for you in a larger setting. Besides at some point you might hit on getting a larger breed and in so doing you already have cages appropriate for their size with no redesign.

All the best in your build
John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
thatchickencoopguy wrote:
John,

Sounds like quite the build I am assuming that you are building so stout to protect from the disagreeable winters you have in your region.
That and for resale if I move I want a very useful shed.

I've seen the PVC waste removal system and have used it as well in the past but as with all things there are weak points to it. Namely bunny turds can clump from time to time and when washing out you can get overflows occasionally from the pvc system. Most of the time the clumping occurs not as a point of the manure itself but rather the amount of shed hair that lands on the base plate. Hence the reason I do the grey tarp sluice system now.

Great point, when he told me about it it sounded great, but I could see it easily clogging.


As to your thinking about the RMH for the bunny shed. Sounds like a nice thing indeed however in the winter months I fallow out my bunnies and do hutch share so they can cuddle each other for warmth but again your winters can be pretty severe and as I always err on the side of caution the RMH sounds great. Plus the early starting shed for seedlings would just be an added bonus.
A note on space. Technically Richard is correct in the dimensions he gave you. However let me put this bug in your ear. If you were a rabbit and you had a choice would you rather be in a 3 ft. square cage or the stated 2x2x14 one?

I would not make it for 48 hours in a 10x10 cage. I don't want to be cruel, I can only go with what others tell me is sufficient, but your point is well taken. Also a wire cage sounds cruel, but as Bennet mentions these rabbits are bred for captivity and there fury feet protect them. I might as you suggest want to crossbreed at some point with New Zealands and I would need the bigger cage any way, so good point.


I like to let my kids stretch and get exercise and personally I think the smaller version are just glorified veal cages. And veal and the raising of such I have never viewed as very humane. Your choice in the end but trust me they'll be happier to produce for you in a larger setting. Besides at some point you might hit on getting a larger breed and in so doing you already have cages appropriate for their size with no redesign.

All the best in your build

Thanks again for all your help.

John

Steve Gagnon


Joined: Jan 26, 2011
Posts: 23
  I am a newbie to this site, but I gotta say that I really like the tone and helpfulness! 
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
Steve Gagnon wrote:
  I am a newbie to this site, but I gotta say that I really like the tone and helpfulness! 


Yup, the tone is very important here at Permies 

---------------------

John - sounds like you've got it all planned out, but I would add that should your set up start stinking - laws or not you will get a visit from animal control  (called in by your pool neighbors no doubt).  So the more manure processing the better with any system.  When your adding water the splash over can turn the ground sour (stink) to fix this use lime on the soil to balance out the PH.

And I echo chickencoopguy about the cage size.

All the best with your project!
John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
Jami McBride wrote:
Yup, the tone is very important here at Permies   

---------------------

John - sounds like you've got it all planned out, but I would add that should your set up start stinking - laws or not you will get a visit from animal control  (called in by your pool neighbors no doubt).  So the more manure processing the better with any system.  When your adding water the splash over can turn the ground sour (stink) to fix this use lime on the soil to balance out the PH.

And I echo chickencoopguy about the cage size.

All the best with your project!



My intention is that no one will even no they are there. I will have a 3/4 inch OSB sub floor so I can't let any urine or water really touch the floor. I was assuming with the 3 inch pvc and a bucket rather than a hose, it should be pretty easy to control. Am I assuming to much? It is much easier on paper than in real life I am sure. I am re-considering building a box like in Bennet's book or like I see on you tube videos, and maintaining it with lime, but it just seems like odor would be completely controlled by flushing the system everyday. Odor is my main concern, besides that no one should think anything other than a storage shed.

Thanks,

John
                                                      


Joined: Jan 15, 2011
Posts: 18
Location: Portland, Oregon
Yes things are always easier on paper vs real world application. Your lime idea is sound but as with my other entries allow me to place yet another bug in your ear. I would rethink your OSB idea. For an area the size that you are talking about structure wise I would not have OSB that close to where a rabbit can breath in the vapors. Yeah I know it's way down there on the floor and the rabbits are way up there in cages but trust me on this. Rabbits are ,even in resting state, rapid respirators. The vapors given off while in human standards are slight for a rabbit are pretty severe. The most common health issue for a rabbit exposed to OSB over a long period of time is a condition we used to call wet lung. It's akin to pneumonia just lots more fatal. Do your self a favor and go with a good 3/4 in plywood for the decking of your floor. Keep your eyes peeled you can get it cheap from construction sites or off craigslist. Now as to your manure removal setup. the pvc is slick but like I stated in a previous post I think you'll find that no matter how diligent you are about it you'll have some clogs and overflows and a few errant turds will skip completely out of the system and land on the floor. With my open gravel lined pre compost pit I've managed to cut down smell to a minimum by just sprinkling the whole works with sawdust much like you would with a composting toilet. That still allows for all the composting worms with out the harshness of the lime environment. After that it's just let it age and compost in place till I am ready to put in finishing bins for further decomposition. Just a thought for you
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
Well, as with all things best laid plans will need tweaking once things get underway.  It sounds like you'll be able to handle any bumps along the road because of all your research.  I like the bucket instead of hose idea.

I prefer not to add water to waste directly, but to cover and compost.  However, other systems can and do work so to each his own.
Be sure and post back letting us know how it all works out.
John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
I had no idea about OSB vapors. Thanks for the heads up. Would you mind either PM or just posting a pick of your waste removal set up? I am having a hard time visualizing it.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
I forgot about the vapor thing, good point.

My friend who butchers rabbits said she can always tell caged rabbits based on their lungs and livers.  I now raise mine in colonies (natural style underground) and she said my rabbits internal organs are the best she has ever seen. 
                                      


Joined: Oct 11, 2010
Posts: 9
Congratulations on your decision to raise rabbits!  Welcome to the fun!  I hope it is not bad form to recommend an additional forum.  This one at Homesteading Today called "Raising Rabbits for Profit" has excellent stickies on natural feeding and you're likely to find local guidance and resources: http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/forumdisplay.php?f=14

And I second the advice to keep quiet about raising rabbits, at all.  When I was first starting out, I was so proud and I thought the ecologically minded would "get it," but I lost friends.  I made the mistake of bringing a bunny in to work with me to be cooed over by co-workers and, enroute, strangers who knew nothing about me except that I had a bunny with me were directly hostile.  I was even asked if I was taking the bunny to be experimented on by scientists.

Finally, I have had great success with a colony.  Most notably, the "rape" stopped. When I kept males and females separately and introduced two in a neutral setting, the poor female's whimpering was heartbreaking.  Keeping the genders in the same space, even just a 4 x 8, the rabbits bonded and breeding became consentual. That's in addition to more frequent kindles and overall happier rabbits.


Good luck!
T. Pierce


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
my cages are 24"X30"  i have a couple that are 24X24"  the rabbits do fine in these.  ive learned over the yrs that they dont need a large area. 

one thing to consider is the side walls of the building. if any where close the walls will be covered in spray.  i used vinyl roofing to cover from ground to ceiling.  you'd be amazed how filthy the walls can get.  they will need to be hosed down periodically. 
John Brenne


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
Had my two breeder bucks and does as well as cages, etc. delivered today. My girls are really excited and could hardly wait till 6:00pm when I let them feed them.
                


Joined: May 03, 2011
Posts: 51
This warms my heart Firecraft.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are of being in the backyard with the meat rabbits.  I have just picked up the hobby again and it feels great to be in the company of rabbits again.  Your daughters are lucky girls.

I have to say that while your rabbits will be okay in the cages you might want to be able to have a run that they can periodically stretch their legs, nibble grass and maybe dig a little.  No reason to reproduce the factory farming practices which crowd to increase profits.    There is something extremely satisfying in knowing your dinner was raised and harvested with respect and kindness.

Lastly, there are a ton of ways people use to limit odor.  If your first method doesn't work check back in.  I use mulch type litter where the rabbits urinate and periodically dig it out and to the compost bin.  I will water it down then fill the little hole back up with mulch.  I second the lye as well assuming the rabbit is not right on top of it.

I
 
 
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