Association wants rabbit producers to multiply


Meat demand increasing The Alberta association hopes a new processing plant will entice producers

EDMONTON — Members of the Alberta Rabbit Producers Association want farmers to hop on over to their profitable industry.

Marion Popkin, president of the newly formed association, said 100 does could easily net more than $40,000 a year. The demand for Alberta rabbit greatly exceeds supply, she added.

The 25 members of the non profit society raise about 56,000 rabbits from roughly 2,000 does but have demand for five times that amount for meat and pet food.

Does can produce 28 live rabbits a year in Alberta. A four to five pound rabbit sells for about $6 a lb.

“It’s profitable right from the get go,” said Popkin during the Wild Rose Agricultural Producers meeting.

The rabbit association joined the general farm organization as a way to gain credibility for the industry.

“Now we have some validity. It gives us a lot of confidence,” said Popkin.

The group is also hoping a new processing plant will help streamline production.

A group of rabbit producers and other investors bought a former Saskatchewan packing plant built in a portable railway container last spring. It is expected to be operational in May.

Having a processing facility dedicated primarily for rabbit will help producers streamline their marketing process.

Rabbits are now processed at other plants, but are often bumped off the line by other species.

The new plant, based in Valleyview, Alta., has a mandate to slaughter rabbits first and other species second, said Popkin. The plant is 9,000 rabbits short of being a rabbit-only facility, she added.

“That is going to accelerate our growth exponentially.”

It’s not Canadians’ first stab at rabbit production. The earliest information Popkin can find was about an active group of Angora rabbit producers who supplied wool for boots for the troops during the Second World War.

Plants were established in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the late 1980s, but they have folded.

The world’s growing population and a demand for inexpensive, fast growing protein make rabbit a natural complement to other slower-growing species such as beef, Popkin said.

She “stumbled” into the rabbit business while waiting to sell a pair of Shetland ponies at an Odd and Unusual sale. She sold the ponies and came home with a couple of pet rabbits. It wasn’t long before she realized the potential market.

She bought 60 rabbits and equipment from a retiring producer in 2009 and expanded the flock using more efficient and faster growing genetic stock from the United States.

“There was no source of good breeding stock in Canada,” said Popkin, who hopes to give 10 years to building the provincial rabbit industry.

Focusing on the meat industry is a high priority, but she said producers can’t ignore the profitable pet food market, which uses ground and whole rabbit.

Early trials selling dehydrated ears for dog treats and tails for cat toys have also shown promise.

“I never thought when we first experimented with the idea of ears and tails that it would take off as much as the meat has,” she said.

Rabbit is not found in most grocery store meat counters, but it is available at some farmers’ markets, delis, hotels and restaurants.

David van Leeuwen of Ben’s Meat and Deli in Edmonton said rabbit is popular with his large Dutch clientele.

“It’s kind of an ethnic thing,” he said.

Most rabbit is eaten on special occasions such as Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.

Van Leeuwen said his mostly European customers don’t look twice at the rabbit or horse meat in his meat counter. Van Leeuwen’s grandfather opened the store 53 years ago and rabbit has been a staple for many years.

He said the meat isn’t overpriced: one rabbit costs roughly $30 and will feed a family of five or six.

“It’s not outrageous like lamb or buffalo. They’re through the roof.”

  • sheila hladun

    i am very interested in getting to know more about the rabbit industry. i would like to talk to you about how to get started. if you could please email or phone me at 306-725-7397 cell. thanks. sheila

    • Luc LaFlamme

      I am a major rabbit producer in Manitoba, and I would be more than happy to give you all the information regarding how to start a business with rabbit,,,,,,,please call me at 204-523-3374
      Thanks

      • Clive

        We are looking for a market for our meat rabbits

  • Jack de Kok

    Need information to start rabbit production.
    Purchasing breeding stock, feed and supplements, processing, are they sold on contract?
    Interested in starting at 300-500 does.

    • Luc LaFlamme

      Please call me and I would be more interested to give you more info regarding a production of rabbit…..
      Thanks….
      Luc 204-523-3374

  • Rennie Hanson

    Need information to start rabbit production If you could email me or phone (306)864-3487

  • Deb

    Hi There,
    We are very interested in getting more information on getting started in rabbitt production.
    Please email me at your earliest convenience.
    It seems thats there are many rabbitt sites that haven`t been updated. With yours being the most current im hoping to get a response at least.
    Deb

    • Luc LaFlamme

      Please call me and I will give you all the info you do need….We are a major rabbit producer in Manitoba and we are looking for more breeders at the moment….
      Thanks
      Luc 204-523-3374

  • Wendy Mufford

    I would be very interested in some more information about rabbit production. please email me or call me at 1306 225 2255

  • Les Oakes

    I have a few does and are concerned about processing and marketing, I live in the Strathmore area

    • Luc LaFlamme

      I am a major rabbit producer in Manitoba and I would like to give you some tips….if you call me…..204-523-3374
      Thanks…

  • Robin Roth

    I would like more ifo how to get started,And how soon can i get started
    Robin

    • Luc LaFlamme

      I am a major rabbit producer in Manitoba and I would like to give you some tips….if you call me…..204-523-3374
      Thanks…

  • Laura

    I too am interested in learning more about raising rabbits for meat. Mostly I want to know where the nearest processing plant is to me and how do you sell them; do you need a contract. Very Curious! 403-749-2665

  • Nolan Parker

    Hello, we are very interested in raising rabbits and getting started immediately.
    We are new at this and would greatly appreciate and help and information you could give us. We live in northern Alberta and have some concerns regarding the cold winters. Please email or call us at your earliest convienience.
    phone#780-837-2412
    Thank you,
    Nolan

    • Paul Yanko

      Hi Nolan,

      You can find some contact info (mostly e-mails, one phone number) via the following link on the Alberta Rabbit Producers website:

      http://www.albertarabbit.com/Page_2.html

      You might also wish to contact Luc LaFlamme at 204-523-3374 – Luc has kindly offered his assistance to several other posters seeking information on rabbit production, as you can see in the comments below.

      Cheers,
      Paul – WP web ed.

  • janice irvine

    hi this is a lady in northwestern ontario who is interested in raising rabbit i have been doing pretty good with sales here in the Dryden area but would be willing to expand if interest is there i have flemish giant rabbit as well as new zealand white and crosses of them i trying hard to get more as like i said i have a good clientele here as well. janice irvine

  • Michael McGill

    Would like to find out info on where to buy breeding stock of New Zealand Whites, I use to raise them in Nova Scotia and I am looking at starting it again in the near future. Any info you have would be appreciated, thanks.

    • jen

      Kijiji has several meat rabbits. Mostly Californian here. I cross out with Dutch, since there is no place to have them slaughtered here your doing this for your own supply so the animal doesn’t have to be white. Watch protein content on pellets here.Can suppliment with soy or sunflower seeds to make up for it. Has caused issues with cannabalism among other breeders. Dutch and Calis are better mothers.

  • Michelle

    Too bad you weren’t in the kootenays

  • Peter Wieler

    I’m interested in where to get stock does and bucks to get started providing the Valleyview plant opens in May.

    • Luc LaFlamme

      Please call me and I will give you all the info you do need….We are a major rabbit producer in Manitoba and we are looking for more breeders at the moment….We do have Canadian Contract and US market also……
      Thanks
      Luc 204-523-3374 or at work 204-534-2406

      • http://www.rawforpetz.com Rox

        Looking for info on getting rabbit parts from processer for use in pet treat manufacturing plant.

  • Elaine

    We are a registered rabbitry producing meat, wool and pet rabbits and breeders for the past 18 years and would be happy to get anyone set up in rabbit production. We currently sell purebred New Zealand white rabbits for $20 each for babies and juniors; $30 each for mature breeders. We also sell New Zealand giants which attain a larger size and more quickly than New Zealand but with the same compact conformation and medium bone size. They dress out very nicely and come in a variety of colours as well as white. Good selection for tanning and selling hides. These we are currently selling for the same price as New Zealands. We also sell Giant Angora rabbits which are excellent wool producers as well as meat producers. They are very compact, medium boned and attain slightly larger carcass weight than New Zealand. These currently sell for $100. Pedigree papers included for extra $10. We produce top quality, friendly, well handled, healthy rabbits, and offer followup support. We have many happy customers and return customers. If you’d like more info write us at canadianrabbitbreeders@live.com We are fully behind you in getting this rabbit production going in Alberta, and the rest of the provinces as well. Way to Go!

  • Dave Rose

    We have just purchased some acreage in Northern Alberta (High Level area). Can you recommend a good meat rabbit that will cope with the extreme temperatures we have this far north please. We do not have a land line as yet and do not get a cell phone signal so email is our only option. We are extremely interested in raising meat rabbits for personal use and hopefully when established to contribute to the industry. Also looking for a supply of breeding stock in this northern region.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Dave

  • Frank Reed

    I am retired and am looking for raising a few rabbits for my own use and some to sell to friends of mine , who also love rabbit meat. Where do I buy them and any other input you can give me. thanks

  • linnea

    do you take rabbits for your plant

  • monce

    French Farmer from Reunion island wanting to immigrate to Canada and set up a Rabbit farm.
    Please advise / give leads to be an entrepreneur in Canada.

    Thank you

    Francois

  • Jeff and Rachael

    We are located in the Fraser Valley, BC, and looking to get into rabbitry. Is there a processing facility close by, or an association in BC where we could get more info?
    Thanks!
    Jeff and Rachael

  • farmer brown

    i have a hundred doe unit rabbitry in Ghana and will like to improve my stock by introducing pure breed newzealand white and california bucks. 4 of each. may i know the cost of the stock and freight. thanks

  • Cody Simenes

    id like to know where I can find a market so that I can get into raising rabbits
    email:cosiem12@gmail.com
    text:12042090093

  • Ray Jose Gonzalez

    Need information to star rabbit production if you could email me.thaks

  • Sandi

    How does one get started in this? I am very interested. We have 50+ acres North of Strathmore Alberta.
    How do we sell our Rabbits? How do you line up buyers? Is it really worth the time and investment?
    Please email me.
    Thank you for your time.

  • Analise

    I am in the process of starting a Rabbitry, however I live in the Cariboo of B.C. and find that there is little or no information on buyers in B.C. I understand agriculture policies vary from province to province. If anyone has any information or advice it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you