Deciding whether you are breeding your rabbits to sell for pets or consumption will decide which department of agriculture you will need a license from. Pet breeding licenses may be obtained through your state while food consumption licenses may need to be obtained through state and federal resources. U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture) regulates any processed meats including rabbits, while your state department of agriculture usually monitors the treatment of the animals on the farm. Humane treatment should be everyone's utmost priority no matter what you may be raising your rabbits for.
There seems to be a bit of a gray area in the state of Georgia . . . depending on where you plan to sell your rabbits from may decide which type or how many licenses you require. Selling your rabbits from your personal rabbitry will require a license through the Georgia Department of Agriculture (or your state's department of agriculture), and in the state of Georgia a $100 fee for every $5,000 in gross sales per year is required. These licenses must be renewed annually prior to the expiration date of your license in order to avoid paying additional fees for license lapses. Typically, a $100 license that you allow to lapse will cost you $200 to renew for a $5,000 in gross sales per year provided your renewal is for the same location. This type of license allows you to sell from your rabbitry or to pet stores throughout your state because the pet stores are required to have a license as well.
If you decide your rabbitry is in a poor location and you are having difficulty making sales even through pet stores, you may decide to sell your rabbits at flea markets or other venues. There is one drawback to these types of sales . . . you will be required to obtain a license for each flea market or venue you decide to sell your rabbits at. The fee for these licenses are the same as if you are selling from your personal rabbitry, $100 for every $5,000 in gross sales per year per location in the state of Georgia (your state's fees may vary). You may find it more lucrative to contact licensed vendors in these markets to sell your rabbits to, rather than take on the additional costs of obtaining an additional license per venue, as well as additional time, effort, and money involved in renting space from these venues.
It is easy to see why starting a rabbitry is actually a growing process . . . in other words, it's not something that you suddenly decide you are going to do for a living because it takes a lot of time and thought to see in which direction you want your business to grow. I originally wanted to raise rabbits for meat, but soon found out the market for rabbit meat in my area would not substantiate the sales I needed to make in order to make it a profitable business. The nearest rabbit processing plant was over 500 miles from my location, and would not accept less than 500, 5 to 7 pound rabbits per order. This left me trying to sell my rabbits to individuals who enjoyed rabbit meat in their diet, but rather than try to sustain the burden of bringing these rabbits to market size with feed and housing costs, I soon found the costs involved were more than my budget would allow due to local markets. I began looking for other markets to sell my goods, but when you take into consideration, my animals have to be cared for twice a day, seven days a week . . . Housing costs per rabbit is initially $150 . . . The cost of the breeders, medications, advertising, office supplies, feed and water . . . It's easy to see why making a profit is essential to make my business successful, but it is also just as important to understand my limitations.
I just passed the first quarter of my third year as a business, and even though I have seen substantial growth through sales and my personal marketing abilities, at $500 per month, I have pretty much maxed out the abilities of my available space. Five hundred dollars is actually the gross amount I have managed to acquire through 15 breeders. When you multiply the housing for these breeders, you can see that I have $2250.00 in the housing for these 15 rabbits alone. That does not include the separate housing I have to have for all their litters waiting to be sold, which is an additional $1500.00. The feed costs for 60 to 80 rabbits averages $80.00 to $100.00 per month, and any rabbit sales made have to cover my operating costs each month no matter what. There are times when I wonder if I will see any profit at all from my seven day a week regimen, but I really enjoy the fact that my pet rabbits bring so much joy to so many lives.
In order to become truly successful in this business, it takes time, patience, diligence, determination, and a true love for animals. Don't expect this type of business to be an immediate income relief for any financial difficulties you may be having at the current time, because it takes several years to grow a successful business. Making the right decisions at the right times, placing your income in the appropriate direction you wish for your business to proceed in is always a good idea. Creating a budget which includes all your costs will ultimately help you create a successful business, but the input for your data depends on your personal expenditures and income.
Any experience you may have in business or home finances is very helpful, because this is not just about pets, it is a business. Deciding when and where to spend any money you may make through this business, will ultimately decide the success or failure of your business.
Proper licensing could very well avoid complications down the road as far as fines, fees, or any other regulatory expenditures that are unnecessarily adjudicated through your decisions. In order to find out any information that may be critical to your goals and needs, perhaps it's best to contact your county extension agent, state department of agriculture, or United States Department of Agriculture to explain what you hope to accomplish through your rabbit breeding program. By contacting any of these departments with your inquiries, they should be able to point you in the right direction once you have described your basic wants and needs.