When you start raising meat rabbits, you will find yourself with an abundance of meat…and a whole lot of rabbit poop. Healthy rabbits produce two kinds of poop: the medium-sized little balls that most people are familiar with and cecotrophes which are tiny grape-like clusters of poop which rabbits usually re-ingest anally (don’t worry, we’re not going to go into further details about that subject right now). The latter is soft and rather unpleasant to clean up, so it’s more likely to end up in your compost bin with rabbit bedding and fur which will undoubtedly cake into it. But those lovely little firm balls of poop that you see even from wild rabbits are ideal not only for composting, but also to throw directly into your garden at any time of the year.
The firm rabbit pellets are a nitrogen-rich natural fertilizer which will not burn your plants. Rabbit manure also contains a large amount of phosphorus which is important for flower and fruit formation. Studies of rabbit manure find the following mineral levels: 2.3% Potassium, 2.4% Nitrogen, 1.26% Calcium, 1.4% Phosphoric Acid, 0.6% Potash, 0.4% Magnesium and 0.36% Sulfur.
Unfortunately, raising multiple rabbits means more excrement to deal with and some find they have too much on their hands. There is a market for those wanting to sell rabbit droppings (about $5 for a five-gallon bucket) and rabbit manure tea for the garden, but there’s one more thing you can do with it which requires very little work at all: feed it to your earthworms.
Instead of keeping pans for droppings under your rabbit cages which will need to be emptied and cleaned frequently, you can keep earthworm bins directly below cages and hutches with wire bottoms. The feces will drop right through the wire holes and into the waiting worm bins. The worms will then gobble up the feces, reducing odor and fly problems, as well as helping to eliminate disease which spreads when rabbits are hopping around in their own excrement.
The worm compost, which will be even richer than the rabbit manure, can then be thrown on your garden or you can sell the worm compost as dry material or worm tea. Much like rabbit manure, worm compost is extremely mild to plants and will not harm them. In fact, the plants just take the nutrients they need and the rest goes into the dirt.
Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, will require a small amount of extra time and attention from you (feeding the worms, keeping the compost moist, harvesting worms or compost) but it’s a minimal time investment given the rewards. And you will be spending less time scraping rabbit droppings out of trays.
This type of arrangement works best in open well-ventilated rabbitries located in moderate climates. Worm beds need to be kept moist and rabbits prefer low humidity. If you live in a cold climate or your rabbitry is enclosed without good ventilation, you may experience more problems until a proper balance can be achieved. Instead you might also choose to keep the worm bins just outside the rabbitry so rabbit manure can be dumped into the worm bins conveniently and quickly.
So when you find yourself sick of scraping up rabbit poop, remember that there are other great alternatives for getting rid of the manure. And if you end up with way too much worm compost, you can usually get a better profit margin on it versus rabbit manure. Covering the costs of running your rabbitry is always a big plus.