4 Reasons to Consider Getting a Bunny for Your Homestead

Are you considering getting a bunny as a pet or raising rabbits on your homestead? Make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A cute orange baby bunny on a fluffy rug with a bright blue background.

Bunnies are wonderful creatures. They have so much to offer, and they require very little care in the grand scope of things.

Rabbits can be kept indoors or in a hutch in the backyard. They come in all sorts of sizes and colors. The fur can be long or short.

The reasons for getting a bunny fall into four major categories. Today I’m going to talk about those reasons. I will also briefly discuss one bad reason for getting a bunny for someone.

Getting Rabbits for Fiber

Rabbits are the perfect choice for backyard farmers who want to start producing their own fibers for either resale or crafts. Typical fiber farm animals include sheep, goats, or alpacas – some of which can top out at 200 pounds or more – not always practical for someone farming on under an acre of land. Rabbits need minimal space and don’t require special farm vets; almost all suburban vets will have experience treating rabbits. In addition to less land and less feed, rabbits are wooly powerhouses!

Choosing an Angora

Angora wool is amazing for fiber artists. It is excellent for spinning and weaving. Angora wool can also sell for a pretty penny. So which breeds are best for fiber production?

  • English Angora  One of the smaller of the angora breeds (at 5-6 lbs), this angora produces ample quantities of wool. It does tend to be a high-maintenance rabbit.
  • French Angora  This rabbit produces wool that is a bit coarser than its English cousin but requires less maintenance. The French weigh in at 7.5-9.5 lbs.
  • Giant Angora  This is “the big one” in the angora world, as the name implies (at about 10 1/2 lbs). The Giant is white with ruby eyes.
  • Satin Angora  About the same size as the French, this angora’s wool has a silky sheen to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t produce nearly as much wool as the others.
  • Jersey Wooly  Although not actually an angora breed, this rabbit produces angora wool. It’s a dwarf breed (only coming in at about 3 1/2 lbs), but it is a great starter rabbit.
A gray angora basking in the sun outdoors.

Angoras require frequent, sometimes daily, grooming to keep them in pristine condition. You collect the wool by shearing or plucking three to four times a year. There is a bit of controversy regarding plucking. Many people say it is painless since the hair is being shed, but some disagree. I did some homework and have found no real scientific backing for either school of thought. You can learn more about fiber rabbits in Raising Fiber Rabbits: What You Need to Know and Raising Angoras: The Perfect Dual-Purpose Rabbit.

Getting Rabbits for Showing

You can show any recognized rabbit breed, with many to choose from. The important thing when showing is that you get your rabbits from a reputable source that knows the standards and breeds accordingly. These higher-quality rabbits often come with a hefty price tag. If you plan to breed show-quality rabbits, there is a chance you may see a return on your investment.

Below are some of the most popular show rabbit breeds and the average cost for a show-quality specimen. All show rabbits should be purchased from a reputable breeder.

  • American Fuzzy Lop $100-200
  • Dutch $90-100
  • Holland Lop $100-400+
  • Jersey Wooly $100-150
  • Mini Lop $100-500+
  • Mini Rex $100-250
  • Netherland Dwarf $90-400

Show rabbits can be friends in the home when not in the shows. With short-haired breeds, maintenance is minimal, but they will need some sprucing up for the big day.

Getting Rabbits for Meat

After the initial investment, rabbits are a great way to produce your own meat on a small budget. A trio can provide meat for years and years since they… for lack of a better phrase… mate like rabbits. The best part about rabbit meat is that it is low-fat, has low cholesterol, and offers high-quality proteins.

Californians and New Zealand seem to be the front-runners of the meat rabbit world, but any breed can be raised for meat. I’ve heard great things about the Giant Chinchilla if you want to support a heritage breed.

Care of meat rabbits is minimal. The important things are maintaining a healthy diet and a clean environment. Most rabbits are ready for slaughter at 13 weeks. You can send your rabbits away for this, or you may learn to do it yourself. You also have the option of selling the skin/pelt. Learn more about selecting and breeding meat rabbits in Choosing Breeding Stock for Rabbit Meat and Raising Meat Rabbits: How to Breed Your Bunnies.

Meat rabbits in an outdoor hutch.

Getting Rabbits for Companionship

Rabbits can make wonderful companions. They have great personalities, and each one is unique. Some are playful and enjoy using toys, others are curious, and many are affectionate. 

Companions may cost a bit more in the long run than other rabbits. You can often adopt them relatively cheaply from an animal shelter, but since they are meant as “forever friends,” they should be seen by a veterinarian regularly. Pet male rabbits should be neutered, and female rabbits should be spayed.

Companion rabbits also require a bit more maintenance beyond grooming and general care. Homes with bunnies must be rabbit-proofed to protect the bunny and your belongings. Electrical cords are the biggest obstacle we’ve dealt with in our home.

If that is not something that interests you, you need to provide a comfortable containment area for your bunny, like a cage or exercise pen and let it out for supervised play daily. Learn more about Why Rabbits Make Great Pets.

A rabbit eating bunny pellets.

And did you know you can litter box a rabbit really easily? I have a guide to show you how.

Rabbits are NOT Gifts

One thing that is not a reason for getting a bunny is this: A GIFT

This is my big Easter P.S.A. As cute and adorable as little bunnies (chicks, ducks, puppies, and kittens) are, they are a terrible gift. Unless it is a pre-discussed gift for someone who already has a rabbit and has expressed interest in getting more, please do not gift animals.

Easter Bunnies Tend to Get Abandoned

According to the Utah Humane Society, “Within the first few weeks of Easter, an estimated 30% of all Easter “pets” die and another 60% to 70% are abandoned or turned in to shelters.”

My friend Angela England (from The Untrained Housewife) wrote this great first-hand-knowledge post called Your Easter Basket Chicks a Year Later. It is a very informative post that applies to chicks and all animals.

If you do decide on getting a bunny (or three) for your homestead, be sure to check out What To Feed A Rabbit: Hay, Pellets, Fruits, Veggies & Treats.

Rabbits for Dummies by Connie Isbell & Audrey Pavia
The Everything Pet Rabbit Handbook by Sarah Martin
Homesteading Animals: Rearing Rabbits for Meat & Fur by Norman J. Stone
Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits by Bob Bennett

A pinterest-friendly graphic for reasons why you should consider getting a bunny.

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17 Comments

  1. Rei Garnet says:

    You left out rabbit poop! Rabbit poop is great for your garden and they produce a LOT of it every day. I have a large breed rabbit and it produces 0.76 lbs. poop pellets in one day. Now I only used rabbit poop as my fertilizer which saves me a ton of money!

  2. Dave Anderson says:

    It would be awesome to have a nice rabbit to have for shows and such. That is something that I would want to have and get into at some point. If I were going to get a rabbit to enter into shows then I would want to have a good rabbit grooming service.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This listicle has my wife and I in tears…from laughing πŸ™‚

  4. This is horrendous!!! Makes me really angry people do this to these poor creatures! ? ? How can anyone do this to their pets! Sickening

    1. Anonymous says:

      FUCKING CRY BABY RABIT IS DELICIOUS

  5. Lydia Noyes says:

    Love this! I’ve just started keeping meat rabbits myself and am loving the whole process so far. Just be careful who you tell that you plan on eating some of your bunnies. I made the mistake of making that information public and some people took it very badly. http://livingechoblog.com/rabbits/

  6. Raccoons will grab and gnaw your bunnies feets if they can (use hutches with trays; empty directly to garden/plants as manure is not ‘hot’. Fiber bunnies can get mites very easily, even with cleaning and burning out their hutches regularly (portable butane torch for burning out hair in hutches) so you may need to know subscanious (sp?) injections. A wet bunny is a dead bunny — give good winter/rain protection. Put down drop boards so bunnies can get off wire cage bottoms. Remember they are rodents and need to chew! nutritious fruit wood clippings are great treats. Watch their butts and back hocks for trouble spots (matting, manure … ). Some does will eat their young especially if stressed or dogs/cat about the hutch too much. Bucks can and will mate with does through wire. Every bunny has a different temperament/ personality: some are biters, some object to strong smells (be fragrant free and no strong odors on your hands when handling bunnies because they may aggressively lunge at you/bite/scratch), some are high strung, some are snugglers, others struggler … get to know your fiber bunnies because a happy bunny is a healthy bunny.

    1. Wow, thank you for all of the great information!

  7. The PSA is appreciated. I agree that rabbits are not suitable pets for small children, especially not the angora breeds. The French Angora is perfect for my dual purposes of meat and fiber. Ours are raised in a colony which makes less daily work. There is, however, the periodic “big clean” that takes time.

    1. That is the breed I was planning on getting when I start rabbits. Of course I’m going to do my homework and research, not making any impulse buys πŸ˜‰

  8. Rebecca | LettersFromSunnybrook says:

    I used to help out with a Bunny Rescue group in our area. We would set up a display at the mall before Easter to educate people about house rabbits. Rabbits are so delicate and easily traumatized, so they are not good pets for young children. They have to be held and supported properly, and never dropped.

  9. Mike @ Gentleman Homestead says:

    Rabbits are definitely on my short-to-medium planning timeline. Apart from (respectfully and humanely) raising them for meat, I’m most excited about their manure. Their pellets are a “cold manure” and can go directly on the garden, unlike most other manures which should be aged and composted first.

    I plan to hang elevated rabbit hutches over an area our chickens have constant access to, so they can scratch and process the manure.

    1. I never knew that rabbit poop was garden safe! I’ve been debating about getting a rescue cat or rabbit for my sister but now I’ve got some more positives in the rabbit section!!

  10. Angi@schneiderpeeps says:

    Great reminder. We had neighbor who was raising rabbits and decided to stop. So, he just released them all. Now, we have rabbits running all over the front of our property, which is fine since I don’t have my vegetable garden out front. But they’re starting to multiply…

    1. We had a neighbor who had cats, ditched them and they multiplied like mad. I feel your pain…