Meat rabbits in the suburbs?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by BirdOfPray, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. BirdOfPray

    BirdOfPray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there!

    I joined here a long time ago hoping to have backyard chickens, and it didn't pan out with my city's ordinances and our lot size. Now we've moved, but the HOA has rules against livestock specifically including chickens. Eventually the goal is to move somewhere else with a larger lot and less stringent rules, but it'll be a while so I'm trying to get creative while we're here. On a careful reading of our HOA rules, there's no mention of rabbits. We can only have up to four dogs and cats with a maximum of two being dogs, but no limit on rabbits. Rabbits aren't listed as a livestock animal, either. I'm thinking maybe we could get away with having an angora rabbit or two for fiber production and a pair of meat rabbits to breed for personal use. We'd want to be circumspect about processing, but technically I don't see anything that says we can't. There's a rule that says we can't have a "breeding operation," but I'd argue that personal use doesn't constitute an "operation." At the very least, I think the rules are murky enough that we could get away with it, especially given the low chances of any neighbors figuring it out and caring enough to complain. Our neighborhood is very ethnically diverse, which I think works in my favor as it means there's a wider view of meat animals. And in the worst-case scenario, the HOA finds out and tells us we can't have meat rabbits, so we eat the breeding pair and just keep angoras as pets who happen to shed a lot and/or require regular haircuts.

    Of course we'd go for an attractively concealed hutch arrangement, and be sure to keep things clean and tidy. Our neighborhood is not a high-class golf-course type place -- just your average hard-working folks. The HOA mostly operates based on complaints, and even then they don't really care about most violations. Technically no one is allowed to park on the street overnight. Realistically, I can count 50+ cars that are regularly parked in the street overnight on my morning walk. I doubt my neighbors would care if I had a few hens (actually, I know of a neighbor who did have some with no problems), but since it's explicitly against the rules I don't want to go that route. Rabbits seem like a reasonable alternative.

    I've been trying to find a good resource on doing this sort of thing in the suburbs and couldn't find it. I figured if such a thing exists surely the BackYard Chickens folks would be able to point me toward it. Any suggestions for me?


    Thanks!
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    That's one of the perks of raising rabbits. Most places consider them small pets, so there are no rules or regulations for them. Most HOAs consider them to be in the same category as hamsters or guinea pigs. Unlike other animals raised for meat, there are no issues regarding noise or manure smell.
     
  3. balloonflower

    balloonflower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Check your local regs about small animals. I don't have an HOA, but my city has a limit of 15 small animals. I'm in the Denver 'burbs. I haven't confirmed personally, but also have read that limits such as that apply to adult animals. For meat rabbits, mature means 3 months at most usually, so you prob would stay within legal limits, as adult rabbits are usually a bit older than that. So then you're just up against neighbors.

    When my DH first proposed raising rabbits, I agreed as long as they would stay in the garage (he would have to give up any hope that the single car garage would actually be used for his car). Might be tougher for you with parking rules. We already have our chickies--really there are 5 and you're just seeing double on a couple breeds. Legally we could have a pair of dwarf goats and hub would love to have the milk for cheese, but I think that might annoy the neighbors more than benefits us, despite what would be our legal right to have them. (One neighbor who loves watching our chooks from their porch has talked to me about a friend with a neighbor who has noisy goats).

    What are your regs on a shed? It might allow for housing without being visible to nosy neighbors--yours now might be fine, but anyone could peek over a fence. House rabbits too depending on space. We chose to go with all wire cages that stack to make the most of the space we have for the buns. The rabbit housing book we got from the library also mentioned a friend who kept 'decoy rabbits--had a nice hutch along the house visible with his two rabbits. And a shed full for breeding that he just didn't mention and nobody saw.
     
  4. balloonflower

    balloonflower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I should also mention that thus far, our buns have not been an issue as far a smelly garage. Our cages have droppings trays, and we use free coffee bean husks from roasting in them that really absorb the smell, plus compost much faster than straw or wood shavings. But not everyone may have access to such.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. BirdOfPray

    BirdOfPray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We're outside city limits -- in a weird little corner between a city and a smaller town, and neither of them wants to annex us and have to pay to provide services to us. We don't mind, because we'd just as soon not pay either of their taxes. So aside from the HOA, we can more or less do what we want.

    We currently have a backyard shed that's in need of replacement, so we could just replace it with something that also allows for rabbits. The shed does require approval by the HOA's architectural committee, but that shouldn't be an issue. We built a backyard fort for the kids last year and it was a pretty straightforward process. Our current shed is set near a corner of the backyard and the roof extends on two sides to reach the side fence (6' cedar privacy fence) and the back stone wall, thus providing additional covered storage. My thinking is that we could replace it with something substantially similar, using some of the covered space outside the shed for housing rabbit cages. We live in Texas, so shade and ventilation are bigger issues than cold. The rabbits would be under a roof, and we could close things off more in the winter if necessary. It'd be hard for anyone to see exactly what we have by looking over a fence -- they might be able to see a rabbit or two, but couldn't tell how many cages we had under the shelter. Or we could even place some latticework or something in front of the entrance so it's still ventilated but not so visible.

    What I really want to do is a couple of dairy goats and a flock of chickens, but I just don't see getting by with that here. Rabbits, though -- no one thinks anything of a pet rabbit or two, and they aren't quite as noticeable as goats or chickens. ;) I guess it's silly, but I grew up in the country and I miss having productive livestock. I'd like the kids to have the experience too, and I don't see why they can't learn just as much with smaller livestock. Probably better, actually. I have not-so-fond memories of being trampled by the occasional cow as a kid!
     
  6. FoodFreedomNow

    FoodFreedomNow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Roasted coffee bean husks - yum! I want some of those to use in my home. [​IMG] Does that mean you roast your own or do you obtain them elsewhere?
     
  7. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! I raise chickens and rabbits in suburbia and it's great. They're quiet, clean, easy to care for animals and very sustainable. Look into your local laws carefully and consider where you're going to butcher them. HOAs can change rules at the drop of a hat, so take care how your operation looks from the outside.

    You may want to consider "fancy" breeds of meat rabbits. Angoras are a good start. French angoras can be decent meat rabbits as they have a commerical body shape.
    Many rabbits that are also popular as pets can be meat rabbits, including some small varieties. Rex, french angora, satin angora, mini rex, florida white and flemish giants are all rabbits that are easy to claim you raise pets instead of meat rabbits but will also produce a reasonable carcass for you. They all have their flaws, but ideal or heritage meat rabbits (NZ, californian, silver fox, american blue, etc etc.) are hard to claim as pets. Standard Rex make great meat rabbits but because of their very popular, ultra-soft fur type they're popular pets even as full sized rabbits. Raising a pet-possible breed may also open up a sales market for you. Take care because many pet or fancy rabbit breeds are not raised with a commercial eye. Source your rabbits with care so you don't end up with rabbits who only have 4-5 kit litters or rabbits that have fertility problems. Those issues run rampant in show, pet and fancy rabbit markets on occasion.

    http://rabbitbreeders.us/rabbit-breeds

    This is a good link to look at with a list of rabbit breeds and their body types. Typically raising rabbits with a commercial body type is best but semi arch or compact CAN also be good under the right circumstances.

    You could even grow some rabbit safe plants on or around the rabbit hutch to help conceal them. Roses are a great choice as rabbits love them and you can grow climbing varieties on trellises to hide the cages. Very tasteful.

    Best of luck!
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  8. balloonflower

    balloonflower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just up north of us is the main Allegro roaster--they do coffee for Whole Foods. They have a huge compost bin where they discard all the husks after the roasting process and promote it for gardening and so forth. You just go around back and grab what you need. We use the husks with the chicken coop too. Every Friday they also put out all the burlap bags for free too.

    Do you have any local roasters you could check with?
     
  9. BirdOfPray

    BirdOfPray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:
    Raising angoras for meat would be very efficient -- I want the fiber, but if my fiber rabbits could also be my meat producers it would mean I don't need to have a separate breeding pair for that purpose. And it would certainly be easier to argue that they're pets if they look fancy and get groomed on a regular basis.

    My long-term goal is to get my kids involved in the process, potentially each with their own rabbit they care for and can market the fiber from (or market products made with the fiber). One of my goals is for them to learn the economics of production and marketing, plus that whole work and responsibility thing. I'd start small, though, and get through the learning curve myself before involving the kids. And we'd add rabbits gradually as I decided each child (we have three) was ready for the responsibility. End goal of four adult rabbits (one for me!) should be a reasonable number to keep around, I'd think. If we staggered our acquisitions so we were adding does a couple years apart (based on the kids' ages and presumed ability to be responsible), we'd have at least one doe at a good age for producing litters for a good a while. (I think we'd be ok eating rabbits we raised for meat, but not so sure we could eat a rabbit we'd been handling and grooming regularly for a few years.)

    I'll look into it some more -- thanks!
     
  10. DutchBunny03

    DutchBunny03 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can raise rabbits almost anywhere, especially if you only have a couple. Even most apartments allow rabbits. Just raising a couple for meat or fiber should give you no trouble at all. As long as the neighbors don't complain, no one will know or care.
    Here is a great place to get started: https://www.arba.net/ . It doesnt have a lot on suburban rabbit raising, but contains information and the link to the breed club of every rabbit breed officially recognized in the US.
    http://www.suburbanhomesteading.com/raising-meat-rabbits-on-a-suburban-homestead/barn
     

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