If you have decided to start raising rabbits as a means of extra income, you will find that you have to develop a market for your particular breed of rabbit in order to become a successful Rabbit Farmer... The best tool you will ever find to help you build your business is right in front of your eyes... Your computer !!!
Using "Free Internet Advertising" is probably the best way to reach thousands of potential customers that are looking for what you have to offer. EBay Classifieds, Oodle.com, and Craige's List are some of my favorites to use, but creating a free listing in "Online Yellow Pages" is a good idea as well. In order to develop a market for your rabbits, any "Free Advertising" you can find on the Internet should be used to help get your name out there so people recognize you are serious about your business.
Knowing the breed of your rabbit or the bloodline in which it comes from is important but not essential to become a success. There are so many varieties of mixed breeds flooding the market today, it is impossibly to tell what breeds have actually been used to develop your particular bloodline. Starting with registered stock is the only way you will ever know exactly which breed you own, and starting your rabbitry with these types of rabbits can be a bit expensive in the beginning, but will pay off in the long run... But you will have to be willing to do all the extra paperwork and record keeping in order to continue having a registered breed to sell.
I have discovered that most people that want to buy a rabbit really don't care about the bloodline or paperwork involved... They just want a cute pet with a good disposition, so I use mixed breeds to get a wide variety of colors and pelt textures for the pet rabbits I sell. The size of the rabbits your are raising has a large impact on your sales as well. Many people want a smaller breed for their pet, rangeing from 3 to 5 lbs. so they can keep it indoors... Developing a breed that is small and colorful may make all the difference in the measure of your success because these types of rabbits are so popular with the "Pet Industry" side of the business.
By mixing Havana, Dutch, and Rex breeds, you will develope unique colors and pelt textures over time, but the size will remain a little large for a pet rabbit ranging between 5 and 10 lbs. . In order to reduce the size of your colorful breeds, you will need to introduce a Dwarf Buck of some type to reduce the overall size of the rabbit to 3 or 4 lbs. . A rabbit in this size is normally called a "Mini". This is how Mini Rex, Mini Lop, and a wide variety of other Mini breeds are developed. When it comes to pet rabbits, "Mini" or "Dwarf" Rabbits are the ideal size for indoor pets, and may well be worth developing in your overall stock to help you land more sales in the "Pet Industry".
Many times a female rabbit that doesn't sell right away as a "Pet Rabbit" will be raised on out as a breeder. There is a good market for breeder rabbits both proven and unproven, but you have to take into account of the time and money you have invested in these types of rabbits. I typically raise the price of each of my rabbits $2.50 per month after they reach 2 months of age to insure I don't take a loss when it comes to the feed cost involved, but once the rabbit reaches breeding age, the price goes up even more because these rabbits are ready to breed and start earning their keep. I charge $25.00 for an unproven breeder between 5 and 6 months of age, $30.00 after the first litter and I can tell she is going to be a good breeder, and $40.00 for a proven breeder if she is carrieing a litter when purchased.
When I raise rabbits for potential pets or breeders for that matter, I try to spend a lot of time with them each day. Getting them used to being handled and petted on a regular basis helps to tame them down and they actually start looking forward to your visits. People that buy these rabbits fall in love with them because they already seem so tame. If you are raising them for breeders, this process will make it a lot easier for you to handle your adult breeders when you have to transfer them from cage to cage, and the trust you have built will allow you to handle the newborn kits without the fear of the mother's rejection of the litter.
You have to keep in mind that "Pet Rabbits" are only one side of the "Rabbit Industry" and this can be a seasonal business that is most popular around Easter. From personal experience, the majority of "Pet Rabbits" I sell are in the first 5 months of the year starting in January, and falling off sharply by June. In order to make your business a success on a year-round basis, you will need to explore different avenues and uses for your rabbits to keep the money flowing.
You may find that breeding "Pet Rabbits" alone will cost you money on a year-round basis unless you breed other types of rabbits as well during the "Off Season" which typically starts in June. Although you have choosen to raise "Pet Rabbits" because they are so cute and cuddly, there is a good market for rabbits in the meat industry, and tapping into this side of the market may keep your business profitable on a year-round basis.
Typical meat rabbits are New Zealand, American, American Chinchilla, and San Juan for their size and relative quick growth. By the time these rabbits reach 4 to 5 months of age, they are ready to harvest. Your main concern when raising rabbits for meat will be the feed cost for raising the rabbits to market size. You have to figure in the feed cost so you can be sure to turn a profit. It costs between $6.00 and $8.00 each to raise your rabbits to market size, so the larger rabbits I sell usually go for $12.50 to $15.00. This helps to insure I make a profit, and helps to buy the feed for all my other rabbits housed on the farm.
Usually the rabbits that I raise for meat are sold to individuals that are looking for a good deal. Rabbit meat is very popular in Europe, but in The United States it is still considered "Exotic" or "Speciality Meats" and the prices in the supermarket reflect this. A rabbit that I sell for $12.50 to $15.00 will cost you $25.00 in the grocery store when you can find them, and they are always frozen solid to extend the shelf life of the meat. Many people that like to eat rabbit will prefer fresh over frozen, and you can use this tactic to help you sell your meat rabbits.
Another market I have recently tapped into is the "Hunting Industry"... Rabbit hunting is an old sport, and Beagles are typically used to flush out the game. People that raise these dogs are always looking for rabbits to help train thier dogs when they have depleted the population in their immediate area, so raising Brennal colored or "Standard" rabbits like I have, is growing very popular with this group of clients. San Juans are an excellent choice as well for hunters because of their quickness, agility, and overall size. By advertising to the "Hunting Sector" , you may develope a market to help you move some of your rabbits as well.
In order to please your customers, your prices will probably have the greatest influence of all when they are deciding to make a purchase, and by raiseing "Mixed Breed" rabbits, you eliminate much of the paperwork involved in raising "Registered Breeds". I try to keep my prices very low ($7.50 and up) in order to keep people coming back for more. I sell hundreds of rabbits every year, and many to repeat customers because my prices are so low. At times it is very difficult to keep up with the demand, but that is the measure of a truely successful business... Even when the demand is low, I manage to sell a lot of rabbits through several different markets other than the "Pet Market". People don't seem to mind driving a few extra miles out into the countryside as long as they know they are getting a great deal on a healthy rabbit... No matter what the purpose of their purchase is.