Using Rabbit Manure

Waste not! Even rabbit manure can benefit your hobby-farm garden.

by Samantha Johnson
Rabbit manure makes great fertilizer for organic gardens
Put your pet rabbit’s manure to use by composting it into organic fertilizer for your farm garden.

If there’s one thing that most pet rabbit owners have in abundance, it’s rabbit manure. Let’s face it—those adorable bunnies produce their fair share of droppings, so look on the bright side and make a positive impact on your hobby farm by utilizing rabbit manure in beneficial ways.

In terms of organic fertilizer for your garden, it’s hard to top the quality of rabbit manure. Some gardeners go so far as to say that it’s the best fertilizer you can find. Rabbit manure is extremely high in nitrogen and phosphorus, both of which are necessary in your garden soil. Many other types of manure are also high in nitrogen, but not all are good sources of phosphorus.

Composting Rabbit Manure
The No. 1 rule of using rabbit manure: Compost it before use. While some individuals might tell you that rabbit manure can be used fresh, it’s always best to fully compost any manure before adding it to your garden to avoid contamination.  So let it sit, let it rot, and then wait to be amazed by the results in your garden.

To compost your rabbit manure, you’ll first need to prepare a compost bin or select a site for a compost heap. Mix the rabbit manure you’ve collected from underneath your rabbit hutches with other organic material such as hay, grass clippings or straw. If you regularly feed hay to your pet rabbits, you may already have plenty of hay intermixed with the manure. In this case, you might not need to add much in the way of additional organic matter.

As with any type of composting, you’ll need to regularly stir the compost pile, and you may need to add water on occasion. When the rabbit manure has fully disintegrated, you can proceed to use it for your garden. Autumn is a great time to add compost. Wait until your garden is finished for the year, and then add your composted rabbit manure, tilling it into the soil before winter. When spring arrives, your soil is fertilized and ready to produce bumper crops.

Earthworms, Anyone?
You might also consider the possibility of using your rabbit manure to raise earthworms as you make compost. Some pet rabbit owners begin raising earthworms on the ground directly underneath their rabbit hutches, but you may prefer to raise the earthworms in a compost bin. The earthworms are helpful in the composting process, and they can also be harvested and sold. By raising and selling earthworms, you are tapping into another potential source of income from your hobby farm, and the income comes as a direct result of your rabbit manure. Does it get any better than that?

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About the Author: Samantha Johnson is the author of The Field Guide to Rabbits (Voyageur Press, 2008) and How to Raise Rabbits (Voyageur Press, 2009). She has been a rabbit enthusiast for nearly 20 years and resides in northern Wisconsin.

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