Rabbit Manure

Rabbit manure info below. Don't read if you are about to eat dinner...consider yourself warned!
I have been raising rabbits for over 15 years and have a herd around 75 in the winter and up to 250 in the summer. The feces that rabbits eat, they eat in the morning, it is produced during the night as they sleep and it is much softer than the normal pellets that they produce. It doesn't appear to be wrapped in mucous...but it could be. It is much darker, and much softer than normal feces, also much smaller and is about the consistency of the clay that you use for throwing pots in art class. They produce this to re-introduce bacteria to their guts much like humans eat yogurt cultures.
As a matter of fact, when bunnies are given antibiotics they should also be given yogurt as the antibiotics kills off the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria and rabbits, especially young rabbits, can die VERY quickly without it. This is also the main reason that most Easter bunnies die a horrible death (by diarrhea literally POURING out of them...painful rapid death within hours). When you change their diet (go from pellets to grass or lettuce) quickly, it will most often kill young bunnies. ANY changes in their diet should be made over at least a week...and lettuce is way to wet for them unless they are VERY used to it...or older rabbits that can handle the change a little better. (I don't care if you had one when you were a kid that you only fed grass...they can't handle changes made quickly and it will kill...especially young bunnies) Yes, they can eat an all grass diet, IF started on it SLOWLY when they are young, adults can handle quick changes better, but they get an upset stomach and lose weight. I can actually force a moult by switching feed brands for a week in the fall and spring to bring in the new coats.
I have heard, that rabbit manure can actually be used raw on a garden. I don't remember where I read it or why they said it was ok...something to do with it breaking down quickly if I remember right. (Maybe it is because the bacteria is already in the manure???) I do remember reading that it is excellent for roses, and put it raw on my roses, and had no problems with it burning the plants at all. I have been putting about 4-10 wheel barrel loads in my garden for the past 4-5 years with no problem. (garden is about 20x20 ft) The only time that I have seen a large problem was when the manure was mixed with wood shavings. That wasn't good.
Last year, I dumped 2 big loads in a very small area that was a strip of clay through the garden about 3x4 ft, and put potatoes there. I had TONS of potatoes last year...they grew better than I have ever had them grow. I had plants (in far north Mn) that were almost chest high with foliage in that spot...and even in the fall, you could still see the solid manure pellets around them.
I do till it in before planting, and perhaps it has something to do with the feed I use, but I haven't had any problems with it burning even seedlings. I have TONS of tomatoes every year...and the flavor is amazing. Everyone around me asks for tomatoes...and last year was a horrible year for most people in our area as it was very rainy with little sun, but I still had more tomatoes than I knew what to do with.
I plant zucchini, corn, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, and petunias and other flowers in my garden and I have a spot for irises and lillies in the front garden...all are fertilized with rabbit manure yearly...and my poor yard downhill from the rabbits...my husband HATES mowing there because he has to mow twice as often there as the rest of the yard.
One more hoopla for it, I spread it REALLY thick on my horse pasture (about 20 loads in an area about 14x60 along with ash from our wood stove. Before, that area of the pasture was fairly barren with lots of clay bare spots. By fall, that area of the pasture was a good 8-10 inches taller than the rest (I kept the horses off of it to see what would happen) and it had super thick vegetation and was a deep dark green with super broad leaves.
I will say...that I had my rabbits under pine trees for about 8 years...and it did kill the pine tress directly overhead over time...but the urine was also leaching into the soil, and I only put the dry manure on my garden...the urine leaches away, and I scrape the pellets off the top with a wide shovel. Perhaps the urine is what burns, or that it was just too much nitrogen for the pines??? I plan to take pictures next year...of my plants with and without rabbit manure...so check rabbit sites for that next fall through google. I am not going to post my website because the last time I did that...the junk mail was horrible.
In my book, rabbit manure has been the best thing for my barren wasteland of mainly clay based soil. And to think...I used to give it ALL AWAY!!! Check for a rabbitry in your area...they will likely give theirs away too...but remember to ask for it in advance with NO pine shavings...or take it from the far side of their manure pile. I hope this helps someone anyway (either with their garden or to save a baby bunny from a horrible death. Sorry this is so long. :)
Oh, two more things...worms LOVE rabbit manure. They can be grown along with rabbits in special setups....worms are advertised in rabbit books. My garden is full of them. Down side is, when it gets really really wet, like last year, the slugs seem to flourish in it too...but, I just pulled the lower leaves that cover the ground (like on brussel sprouts, and cut the lower leaves of tomatoes and thick vegetation, and this seemed to help. Slugs don't like sun.
I think I may post this very reply on my website...Thanks for readin it!
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How common manures measure up
Manure Chicken Diary cow Horse Steer Rabbit N 1.1 .257 .70 .70 2.4 P .80 .15 .30 .30 1.4 K .50 .25 .60 .40 .60
Sheep Alfalfa Fish Emulsion N .70 3 5 P .30 1 1 K .90 2 1
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