Fur

The fur industry is a hotly contested one. I don't feel it is appropriate to raise animals solely for fur, especially in a small subsistence environment. But some animals raised for meat have good fur or skins, and I do feel that it is better to use those than to waste them. They do have some commercial potential, if you produce a quality product.

Rabbits are the most abundant source of fur as a by-product of meat production. You can also tan hides from other meat animals, either after scraping the hair or leaving the hair on.

There are numerous methods of tanning small furs - some are simple, some are complex. While it is possible that the more complex processes might result in a superior hide, the fact is that I am so busy, that if it ain't quick, I am not going to do it! So I have opted for the simpler methods.

There is a demand for rabbit skin, for craft purposes. You can take a stack to the local farmer's market and sell them there, or sell them at craft fairs, or other places. Be aware though, that some people WILL get nasty with you. Others will appreciate good quality products.

Rabbit skins are best if harvested from roaster rabbits, and not from fryers. That means 12 weeks or older. Younger rabbit skins are fairly thin - which means you can get a very soft hide, nice for baby booties and other soft items, but difficult to tan and process without damaging it.

Fur grades depend on the condition of the skin, the condition of the fur, and the feel of the fur. More flaws means a lower value to the fur. High quality rabbit furs can fetch $15 to $20 each. Lower quality furs are only worth $3 to $5 each. Others fall somewhere in between.

As with most small farm products, your best bet for good money is to either use them for your own craft projects, or sell them direct. You are unlikely to be able to produce enough to sell them to a fur dealer, and you'd get only a few dollars each, if that, for them anyway.

You can send your hides out to be commercially tanned, but this can be costly - you can't really do that and then sell the skins at a profit.

 

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