When my daughter got her first pet rabbit, I didn't know this. I only knew that rabbit manure didn't have to be composted before use (unlike horse, steer, and chicken manure). That meant I could take the manure from the rabbit enclosure and put it directly into the garden without fear of damaging or killing plants. My garden loved it - and it was so easy!
This year is the first time I've turned our rabbit manure into "tea" - that is, liquid fertilizer. The process is exceedingly simple (learn how here), and by turning the manure into a liquid, the nutrients hit the plants much faster. I am not exaggerating when I say that within an hour of application, I've noticed plants fertilized with rabbit manure tea have noticeably grown.
This lead me to wonder why rabbit manure is so very effective in the garden. What makes it different from other animal manures?
NPK Rating for Rabbit Manure
As you may know, commercial fertilizers all contain an NPK rating. N stands for nitrogen, P stands for phosphorus, and K stands for potassium.
Nitrogen is used by plants to make leaves and green growth. That means it's essential for growing leafy greens, and helps crops like tomatoes get off to a good, strong start.
Phosphorus helps transform energy from the sun into chemical energy the plant uses to grow. In addition, phosphorus helps plants become stronger and more able to handle stresses like too little water or too much sun, plus it helps the plant grow roots and produce flowers and fruit.
Potassium aids in the prevention of disease and helps produce better-tasting fruit by controlling water content, protein, and sugars.
Aged horse manure, which is widely considered the gold standard for garden fertilizer, has an NPK rating of .70-.30-.60. Steer, another popular manure for gardens, is .70-.30-.40. Sheep manure is .70-.30-.60 and chicken is 1.1-.80-.50.
Rabbit manure is 2.4-1.4-.60...the best of them all. No wonder I see such a noticeable difference when I fertilize with rabbit manure!
How to Collect Rabbit Manure
If your rabbits are in any type of hutch or cage, they should have a manure tray beneath them. Alternatively, some homesteaders allow manure to fall directly into bins beneath their rabbits' cages. It's fine if the manure has a wee bit of hay in it.
My daughter regularly empties the rabbit manure trays into a large plastic tub. We keep the tub in a sheltered location because weather (especially rain) leeches nutrients from the manure. When I want to fertilize the garden, I scoop up whatever I need, as I need it.
If you don't own any rabbits, check local Facebook and Craigslist ads. Often, local rabbit owners sell or give away their bunny manure. And if you don't see any listings, don't despair; put up an "in search of" ad.
How to Apply Rabbit Manure
When installing a new plant, I always add a scoop or two of rabbit manure to the hole. You may also sprinkle manure around plants and gently dig it in, then water. I've also sprinkled bunny manure onto the surface of the soil and watered it in as a top dressing, though this is the least effective technique.
Rabbit manure tea may be applied once a week. Whole manure that's placed in a hole, dug around plants, or used as a top dressing may be applied about once or twice a month.
In addition, rabbit manure can go into your compost bin, to help make super-compost, along with kitchen scraps and garden debris. (Learn more about composting here.)