I grow tomatoes every year. They’re delicious plucked straight off the vine. But 3 years ago, I tried a new kind of fertilizer and frankly, I’ve never looked back. That fertilizer? Rabbit manure. I have never had a more bodacious crop of tomatoes in my life than the years that I used rabbit manure as a fertilizer. It was so awesome that I wound up getting myself a pet rabbit not just for the bunny cuddles but that sweet, amazing manure too.
Since this revelation, I’ve come to realize just how easily permacultural systems can be deployed even in small gardens. Grow a carrot, feed it to your pet rabbit, return the rabbit’s manure to the soil, and grow a new carrot in it. In my view, rabbits are a key part of a healthy backyard farm. Let’s talk about what’s in rabbit droppings and how to use it in your garden.
What’s in rabbit manure?
Rabbit manure is pretty straightforward. Pellets go in, pellets come out! Okay, there’s a little more to it than that. Rabbits eat a completely plant-based diet comprised primarily of hay, grasses, vegetables, and fruits as a snack. The manure they produce is loaded with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as minerals like boron, zinc, manganese, sulfur, copper, cobalt, and calcium.
How to use rabbit manure in the garden
Rabbit manure is what’s called a “cold manure.” Cold manure is a manure that does not need to be composted before it can be safely used in your garden. Other types of manure, like horse, cow, chicken, and pig are hot manures. Because of this, rabbit poop can be very easily applied to your garden any way you like. Rabbit poop also tends to have a very mild odor which generally is not unpleasant.
Rabbit droppings can be safely mulched directly into your soil at time of planting or spread overtop your garden soil. You can also make a rabbit poop tea, which will provide immediate nutrition to your soil. Your plants will eat it up!
How to store rabbit manure
Rabbit manure can be stored for a long time, especially if you’ve taken the additional step of drying it. If you were to pour rabbit manure into a bucket and put a lid on it, it would likely begin to compost and break down and could produce some pretty offensive odors when you reopen the bucket. However, if you spread the manure out on, say, a black tarp or something similar and leave it in the sun on a warm day, that will help extract some of the moisture out of it and help it keep longer. When I do this, it allows me to store the manure in a tub with a lid for weeks at a time.
Making rabbit poop tea
Rabbit poop pellets are a bit like fertilizer ice cubes. With time, they will slowly melt away, leeching their nutrients into the soil. You can hasten the process of melting your rabbit poop down by making rabbit manure tea. It’s a pretty simple process. All you really need to do is put rabbit poop in a bucket of water, set it in the sun, and let nature take its course. But you can be a bit more elaborate than that.
One option is to fill a cloth bag, like an old cotton pillowcase, with the pellets, tie it off, and steep it like a tea bag in a bucket of sun-heated water. However you choose to do it, you’ll find the water slowly turns a sort of translucent brown as the nutrients from the poop leech out.
When finished, dump the raw fiber of the poop into your compost heap and pour the manure tea over your garden.
How to compost rabbit poop
As we’ve mentioned already, rabbit manure is cold manure, meaning it doesn’t need to be composted. I generally recommend mulching it directly into your soil, but it can be added to your compost as well. No special care is needed to compost rabbit manure, just add it to your compost heap and then turn and water your heap as you otherwise would.
If you do worm composting, it’s been my experience that worms go bonkers for rabbit manure. It’s a really easy source of food if you have a large worm compost bin. They will eat through it and produce their usual worm casings. This is an ideal option for you if the idea of handling a bunch of manure doesn’t really work for you.
Read More: How Long Does It Take To Make Compost?
Are rabbit droppings safe for humans?
When dealing with any kind of manure, it’s important to understand the risks involved. When handling rabbit manure, it’s best to use gloves or avoid directly handling it all together. Rabbit poop can carry parasitic diseases, like roundworms and tapeworms, but at this time, rabbit waste is not known to transmit pathogens directly to humans. Still, it’s better safe than sorry. If you are keeping rabbits as pets and are concerned about them transmitting parasites, take them to your veterinarian for a checkup and dewormer.
Where to buy rabbit manure
If you don’t have a pet rabbit, getting your hands on rabbit manure can be an expensive challenge. Rabbit poop can be found in most garden stores, but I actually advise against purchasing it commercially. It’s hard to know how those rabbits were treated, what they were fed, and so on. Instead, do some research on where you might find rabbit pellets locally. Search around a bit on Craigslist or Facebook’s marketplace. You can often find people with pet rabbits who sell the manure by the bucket at a pretty low cost.
Should I keep rabbits?
Rabbits make great pets, and if you subscribe to a plant-based lifestyle, they’ll fit right in being herbivores themselves. The decision to keep rabbits yourself isn’t one to take lightly, however. Rabbits can live 7-12 years, or even longer, so they’re not a temporary commitment. But if gardening is a major passion of yours, as it is mine, keeping a couple rabbits might be a good call. A single rabbit can excrete more than 100 pellets of poop in a single day, so you won’t be left wanting for a fresh supply of manure, that’s for sure.