DID YOU KNOW...

Things to consider when planning a fur production:

  • You will have to breed rabbits.
  • Rabbits will have to age at least 5 months before being viable for harvesting.
  • You will have to sacrifice
    the rabbit.
  • You will need to cure
    the pelt.
  • If marketing the product, you may need to obtain
    a permit.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Industries Using Market Rabbits - Fur Production
From your previous experience with rabbits, you should already be familiar with the coat types of the different breeds and the varieties that occur in each. To review coat types go through the Coat section in Activity1: My Rabbit Profile of the Show Rabbit Project.

In fur production, the Rex rabbit is the most commonly used breed. Rex fur is very unique in its structure and texture. A soft and plush type of fur (comparable to velvet), this fur is highly desirable and demands high market prices. Its popularity in garment production stems from the various colors available throughout the breed’s different varieties.

Normal fur and Satin fur are also used in the production of various fur items and trim, but they are not as common. There are not many stable rabbit fur markets
in the United States. Small garment manufacturers, craft makers or toy manufacturers offer the highest demand for fur production. This type of
production harvests the rabbits pelt and the rabbit must be scarified. In this
type of production, the fur is the main (primary) product and rabbit meat is
seen as a by-product, a product that is produced but is not the primary product. In the By-product activity you will learn about sustainable agriculture and the
use of many rabbit by-products, such as the meat in this case.  

As with any enterprise, prior to producing rabbits for fur, you should establish the demand for the products and locate the markets available in your area.

Producing quality furs
The major concern in harvesting quality pelts is the age of the animal. In order to acquire a pelt that is large enough to use and has fully matured (a winter coat), the rabbit must be an adult. Raising the animal to that age takes a lot of input from the producer - you have to feed and care for this animal for a long period of time before you see any return on your investment. It is a risky process, because you can lose the animal before you have a chance to harvest a high quality pelt. The flexibility of the market also makes for constantly changing prices, meaning that a profit is not always guaranteed.

Within this industry, crucial times in the rabbit’s development include molting times, because these affect the quality of the pelt. These include juvenile molts for growing rabbits and seasonal molts for adults. In addition, the fragile guard hairs can break off easily and patchy growth of hair that can occue during adult seasonal molts create major defects that can greatly lower the selling price of the pelt. Rex rabbit fur does not contain guard hairs, which is one of the advantage that places Rex furs at the top of the list for market fur production. This breed also has a better tolerance for heat than the other breeds due to its short fur.  

Molting can be controlled through production techniques. Using these techniques and a careful harvesting procedure can open the doors to many other fur types, given that you have demand for them.

Choosing a breed
When choosing a breed for your fur production, the three main factors you should consider regarding the grading of quality of pelts are the coat type, color and size.
Color is mainly dictated by the fashion of the times. There are a variety of broken patterns and solid colors that can be achieved. Many breed white rabbits because the fur can always be dyed.

Large pelts are the most prized. Standard sized rabbits can give a good sized pelt in about 5 months of age. Using Giant breeds, though they would give a larger pelt, would mean that they would have to be kept for much longer. The increased cost of feeding the giant breeds does not outweigh the benefit of a larger pelt. Dwarf and miniature breeds should not be used.

The structure of the coat defines its texture. The type of coat used is determined by the demand you have. Whichever type you produce, your batches should be homogeneous, very similar in color, size, thickness and overall quality.
The three most common breeds used for fur production are:

Rex
Satin
Silver Fox

After finding a viable market and identifying how much demand exists, you should choose a breed accordingly. Choose a breed that will produce the type of fur that is required by your market and the fashionable colors it demands. There are various standard sized rabbit breeds all which produce large litters and grow relatively fast.