Organic fertilizer is a proven way to improve your soil composition long after your plants have obtained the nutrients they need. But organic fertilizer is more expensive than inorganic fertilizer. If you have rabbits in your yard, you may be wondering if you can use rabbit poop as manure.
Rabbit manure is available from rabbit farmers or in prepackaged bags. It’s odorless, dry and in pellet form. It breaks down slowly in the soil, so there is no risk of it burning the roots of your plants.
Is Rabbit Poop Good Manure for the Garden?
If you’re already raising rabbits, rabbit manure can be a game-changer for your garden. Not only do you have an endless supply of rabbit dung at your disposal, but you’re also dealing with a type of dropping that doesn’t have to be processed before use.
Rabbit manure is among the richest sources of nitrogen out there. It’s packed with potassium and phosphorous, two essential nutrients for plant health and growth.
Rabbit poo is also rich in beneficial trace elements such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, sulfur, boron, and cobalt, according to a study published in Environmental Study and Pollution Research.
Unlike other manures, rabbit droppings do not have to be composed. Rabbit poop can be immediately applied to your garden soil and won’t hurt your crops. You can use it on its own or mix it with topsoil before applying it to your garden.
As rabbit poop decomposes, it builds the structure of the soil and slowly releases vital nutrients and microorganisms that will promote faster and healthier plant growth.
Furthermore, unlike cow, pig, or horse manure, rabbit dung is also odorless. Therefore, as you directly apply the droppings to your garden, you don’t have to worry about the odor.
At first glance, rabbit manure may appear less potent than commercial fertilizers. However, they are more effective and much healthier for your garden, especially if you’re growing food crops.
Organic fertilizers, such as rabbit poop, are highly beneficial for earthworms that help improve the quality of your soil. They also feed the beneficial microorganisms in your garden that are imperative for healthy plant growth.
Research published in the journal, Animals, also suggests that rabbit manure can be a good source of nutrients and energy for ruminants (such as goats and cows).
Rabbit Manure NPK Values vs. Other Manures
The three numbers on a fertilizer represent the value of the three macronutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) used by plants. The values are called NPK for short and the higher the number, the more concentrated the nutrient is in the fertilizer.
The following table compares the NPK values of popular manures used by farmers and hobbyists.
|Type of Manure||Nitrogen (N) %||Phosphorous (P) %||Potassium (K) %|
Rabbit manure contains a higher concentration of nitrogen compared to chicken, sheep, pig, cow, steer, and horse manure.
Nitrogen is imperative for healthy plant growth as it helps them grow greener and stronger, and thus reach their full potential. Having a higher nitrogen concentration is excellent for quick-growing salad greens as well as the early growth of corn and tomatoes.
Rabbit manure has the highest concentration of phosphorus compared to other manures.
Phosphorous is required for the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy. This aids in proper plant growth. Phosphorous also helps plants tolerate stress, for example, during conditions that are not ideal for growth.
Phosphorous encourages bigger and higher number of blooms with fruiting and flowering. It’s also excellent for root growth.
The concentration of potassium in rabbit manure is similar to those of sheep, pig, horse, and chicken.
Potassium improves fruit quality and reduces the risk of lethal diseases in plants. Plants utilize potassium as an enzyme to create sugar and proteins. Potassium is also used by plants to control water content.
In addition to its high NPK value, rabbit manure is also packed with organic matter, micronutrients and microorganisms that improve soil structure, moisture retention, and drainage.
How To Use Rabbit Poop In Your Garden
Start by determining the source of your rabbit dung. If you raise rabbits on your homestead, start collecting them right away. If your kids have pets, have them collect their rabbit waste every day.
If you don’t have your own rabbits, consider sourcing manure from a local rabbit farmer. You can also look for prepackaged rabbit manure online, but it may not be available in major garden stores.
One of the easiest ways to obtain rabbit poop is to place plastic tubs under your rabbits’ cages. Make sure you empty these bins every day as waiting too long will lead to maggots.
If you haven’t decided how to use your rabbit manure yet, the following section is sure to give you some great ideas for your garden!
From Pan to Garden (Direct Method)
Rabbit poop is referred to as a “cold” manure because it decomposes and releases its nutrients slowly. Therefore, it can be applied straight onto your garden soil without being composted.
If you don’t use a lot of bedding in your rabbit pans (hay is okay), you can pick up the droppings and apply them directly into your garden. Sprinkle droppings around your garden and allow them to release their nutrients gradually into the soil.
Some people prefer to bury rabbit droppings about 2 inches deep to prevent flies, but this step isn’t always necessary. Rabbit poo is odorless, so you don’t have to worry about the smell either.
Composting Rabbit Poop
Not everyone appreciates the idea of applying poop directly into their garden. Luckily, rabbit manure breaks down quickly, is easy to compost, and creates a nutrient-rich soil.
Add your rabbit manure to your compost pile or bin and add equal amounts of straw and wood shavings. Kitchen scraps (non-citrus produce and coffee grounds), leaves, grass clippings can be mixed into the pile as well.
Use a pitchfork to combine the contents of your compost pile and moisten with a garden hose. Avoid saturating the compost pile and wet it enough so that it isn’t soaking.
Cover the pile with a tarp and turn it every two weeks, watering it afterward and keeping it covered to maintain heat and humidity. Keep adding to the compost pile and turn it every time until the pile is completely composted.
Composting may take a few months to a year, depending on the heat and the size of your pile. You can speed up the decomposition process by adding in earthworms along with coffee grounds.
Giving Transplants a Boost
While digging a hole for a transplant, add in some rabbit poop to enrich the soil and create ideal growing conditions for the plant. Rabbit poop will give roots an immediate dose of fertilizer to start working with.
Rabbit Manure Tea For Larger Harvests
You can add rabbit manure tea to your plant water to elevate its nutrients.
To make rabbit manure tea, soak 2 cups of rabbit poop in a large bucket with 5 gallons of water. Keep the tea covered and only uncover it once a day for stirring.
Flies love rabbit compost tea, so be sure to brew your batch as far away from your house as possible.
It will take 3 to 5 days for the manure to completely breakdown. Note that the droppings will not dissolve completely and you will still have plenty of solute settling at the bottom. Continue brewing the tea in a warm, sunny location for best results.
Food For Worms
Rabbit manure can be added into a vermicompost bin or a worm farm with red wigglers. However, the high concentration of nitrogen combined with rabbit urine that naturally gets mixed with the pellets can be poisonous to worms when fed directly.
To make rabbit manure safer for worms, expose the droppings to a temperature between 130 to 150 degrees F for a few days.
To test the manure, transfer some of the droppings into a tub with a few worms. Cover the tub with a lid and leave it undisturbed for at least 15 minutes. If the worms are sticking to the walls of the tub when you open it, the manure will have to age before it is ready to be fed to the worms.
Rabbit manure has a high proportion of nitrogen compared to carbon. Balance out this ratio by combining the manure with materials that are high in carbon, such as straw and wood chips. You’ll also have to remove excess salt in the droppings by passing water through it before use.
Once the mixture is ready, add thin layers of prepared manure over your worm beds along with materials rich in carbon.
How Much Rabbit Manure Can I Use In My Garden?
Rabbit manure is a highly versatile organic fertilizer. You can spread it on your garden soil, add it directly into your potting soil for container gardening or make home potting soil with it.
However, all animal manures come with their own set of precautions. The following will address how much rabbit manure you need in your garden.
To top-dress a plant, spread no more than a ½ to 1-inch layer of rabbit droppings around the plant. Make sure the rabbit poop pellets do not directly touch the plants.
You can add rabbit manure to potting soil to improve its drainage and fertility. Each pot will need no more than 1-2 handfuls of rabbit manure. Combine the pellets and the soil before planting.
Note that rabbit manure contains more nitrogen than many other types of animal manure. Although this nitrogen is released slowly, it’s highly recommended that you don’t overdo it. Too much nitrogen in the soil can lead to excess foliage at the expense of fruits and flowers.
Making Your Own Potting Mix
Combine used rabbit bedding, rabbit manure, fresh grass clippings, and other organic matter to create compost. To increase the soil quality, consider adding red wiggler worms.
Mix the prepared compost with sand and topsoil in equal amounts to create a nutrient-rich homemade potting mix.
Most rabbits are fed a commercial diet. Therefore, their manure is less likely to contain weed seeds and pathogens that may harm humans.
However, it is still ideal that you age your rabbit manure for 120 days before adding it to containers containing food crops to prevent foodborne illness, according to Colorado State University Extension.
Allow rabbit manure to age for up to 4 months before using it for food crops that make direct contact with soil, such as carrots, lettuce, and beets. Always wash your vegetables thoroughly, preferably in a sink filled with diluted vinegar to remove fertilizer and dirt.
If you wish to use a rabbit fertilizer that is more convenient and ready-to-use, consider purchasing a bag of rabbit pellets that have already been tested for diseases. You must never apply rabbit manure to leaves as this may burn your foliage. Instead, always apply manure to the soil only.