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Brown gold! Rabbit manure

Rabbit manureOne benefit to keeping rabbits is the wonderful and rich manure they produce.  While rabbits may not produce manure in quantities that some other livestock will produce, the manure is all produced in a localized area, assuming they are kept in pens/hutches.  This makes it trivially easy to gather and use.  We plan to improve upon our collection area soon so that there will be a plastic or sheet metal catchment that will direct the manure into a basin or barrel.  We have a few ideas on how to accomplish this and it will be an interesting project we can report on later.

Many different sources claim that rabbit manure does not need to be aged.  I have heard this common wisdom for many years, but am only just now ready to start putting it to the test.  The gardening here has been slowing down due to the oppressive heat of mid-late summer, and most recently due to lack of time.  However, Dawn and I will soon be transplanting some citrus trees (Satsumas, Mandarin Orange, Kumquats, Kaffir Lime) once fall is here in full force and we will be using much of the accumulated manure to enrich the soil around the newly transplanted trees.  By the time spring rolls around we also plan to really put the manure to the test when the vegetable garden will be at full throttle again.

Rabbit manure is claimed to have an excellent nutrient content.  I'm no manure expert, but I've seen several sources which list it at an average N2.4 P1.4 K0.6.  We'll have to research which types of plants that ratio is best for but I'd guess it's suitable for most.

Fencing in rabbit manureWe learned early on that we needed to build a fence around the bottom of the cage to keep the dogs out.  They were enjoying digging in and sometimes snacking on the manure.  The barrier also keeps them from nipping and sniffing at the fuzzy bunny feet at the bottom of the cage.  When the rabbits first showed up here the dogs were intensely curious and would stand on hind legs to sniff at the new creatures invading their territory.  Dawn built a handy removable frame which allows easy access to the underside of the cage while still keeping the dogs out.  It may not be obvious from the photo, but the front of the cage pulls out in mere seconds to allow full and easy access making it easy to shovel the manure.

Lately, things have been quite busy here and we haven't been able to keep up with things as much as would be ideal.  Therefore, the manure has been accumulating and there is some grub or maggot that has started invading our precious store of manure on the ground.  It's time for us to get busy with the shovel and make use of the brown gold!  Also in that vein, we started contributing our rabbit posts weekly but quickly had to fall back to every other week.  Things have been quite busy for the last couple of months on the verge of overwhelming due to unfortunate termite discoveries, mechanical breakdowns, and a number of other things including a needed trip out of town all piling up at once.  I certainly have more admiration of the commitment it takes for folks to keep up with a regular blog schedule despite the busy pace that life sometimes presents (I'm looking at Anna and Mark here... ;-) ).

Shannon and Dawn will be sharing their experiences with raising meat rabbits on Tuesday afternoons. They homestead on three acres in Louisiana when time off from life and working as a sys admin permits.

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Ive certainly used rabbit manure straight in the garden with no ill effect. We call those little pellets "bunny pops". My sister in law, a city gal, was horrified. She brought over a lollipop shaped like a bunny head and said "THIS is a bunny pop!" :-)

Comment by Deb Tue Oct 16 19:06:28 2012

I like that. Seems people have lots of names for the manure...

  • Pellets
  • Beans
  • Rabbit Gold
  • "MagicGrow pellets" (play on miracle grow)
  • Zoo-do

And many more that I've read that I can't recall.

Also as a note, I've seen some other references that rate rabbit manure as high as N4.8 P2.8 K1.2 but I used the numbers that were listed at an .edu site as probably the most trustworthy. But in every listing I've seen, Rabbit poop seems to come in second only to Bat Guano with the added bonus that it doesn't have to be composted.

Comment by Shannon Tue Oct 16 23:23:05 2012
I just noticed the nutrient ratings I mentioned above are exactly double the ratings I've seen elsewhere. Are there multiple scales that are in use? Seems strange that it would be exactly double on each of the nutrients.
Comment by Shannon Wed Oct 17 01:38:12 2012
Shannon --- NPK is supposed to give a percent of each component. So, the second NPK you listed would mean that 4.8% of the manure is nitrogen, 2.8% is phosphorus, and 1.2% is potassium. I agree that it's odd that one value you read is double another value, but there should only be one scale out there.
Comment by anna Wed Oct 17 15:07:00 2012
Bunny pops is a good one. As a kid we used to call them smart pills.
Comment by Heath Wed Oct 17 20:00:36 2012

Please be very careful with dogs and rabbit hutches.

As a child, my husband raised rabbits for his magic act.

He was devastated when he came home to live rabbits whose feet had been eaten by dogs. He's never told me much more than that, but I imagine that his father put the rabbits out of their misery. He did not ever keep rabbits again.

Comment by Erin Berry Wed Oct 17 23:46:27 2012
The floor of the rabbit cage shouldn't have large enough holes for the rabbits to stick their feet through, or they'll have all sorts of problems like sore hocks. I keep a plank of wood in each of my bunny cages for them to get off the wire as well.
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Tue Oct 30 22:08:17 2012

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime