I'll be getting a breeding trio of Silver Fox rabbits this spring, and I'm looking for some advice on feed. Here's the backstory:
My big thing is trying to keep ongoing cost down. I don't mind a bit of start-up cost as long as the ongoing cost can be controlled. After all, raising livestock and growing vegetables and fruits is very labor intensive, and therefore should see some return in the form of cost-saving. (I realize that on the hobby scale, breaking even is all one can hope for, and that's all I'm really hoping for as well.) Our three laying hens would have just paid for their feed IF we would have sold every egg, which we didn't. From what I've been reading, raising rabbits for meat is a feasible way to make it worth the upkeep/feed cost. SO for the sake of argument, let's forget about the cost of building the rabbitry and the original price of the breeding stock. Let's also assume with a little luck and good motherly does the meat produced will pay for the feed consumed. Now, I'm looking for ways to decrease the feed cost, so raising meat rabbits actually saves me money on meat (not to mention the intangible benefits of raising your own meat.)
I guess I'll start by asking about a rabbit's diet. I've read a range of things regarding this, from someone who uses 100% pellets to someone who grows their own hay and suppliments with kitchen scraps. There are several sources of good inexpensive Timothy and mixed hay where I live, so I'm hoping the answer is "it can be mostly hay" but I'll see what you all say.
Regardless of your answers on that question, I also want to know more about growing hay on a small scale. I thought I read somewhere on BYC that a fryer can be fed up to butcher weight on a 5x5' plot of hay. Can anyone comment on this? I've never grown grain nor do I know anyone who ever has. Where can I get small ammounts of seed? Is the seed easily saved? How many cuttings do I get out of a season (in MN zone 4a)?
Thanks for any input!