Rabbit fecal pellets are small, compact, dry and nearly odorless unless they’re mixed with urine – then they take on their own unpleasant bunny bouquet. Rabbits also release beneficial good bacteria and fungi called cecotropes. These are shiny, moist and resemble a long cluster of rubbery, dark brown grapes. Rabbits eat the cecotropes to stay healthy!
Rabbit manure is higher in phosphorus than sheep, horse, chicken and cow manure so it’s well suited for flowering and fruiting plants. Phosphorus plays a vital role in how the plant utilizes the sun’s energy to create seeds and fruit.
Rabbit droppings also have the highest nitrogen content of any of the commonly available barnyard manures, including cow, horse and sheep. Even with all this nitrogen, rabbit manure doesn’t seem to burn plants. The reason is that the nitrogen in rabbit waste releases slowly. This encourages gardeners to add it fresh on top of the soil, in planting holes and as a liquid fertilizer.
But what about pathogens and the risk of contamination?
It’s still there. You can get sick from handling fresh rabbit manure or contaminated food. That’s why many university studies recommend that we compost all manures first, even rabbit manure.
Once again, if you are determined to use it fresh, count back 120 days (root and other edible crops that touch soil) or 90 days (all other edibles) from the harvest date to determine how soon you can incorporate it into the soil.
Edible plants that require adequate levels of phosphorus to thrive include corn, potatoes and tomatoes. Fruits and grains respond well to soil amended or mulched with rabbit manure. Not all phosphorus will be available immediately. Most of it has to be broken down first by microorganisms during the first year.