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  1. #1
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    What people Dont tell you about breeding Rodents (My Twistyed View)

    Breeding Rats and Mice Commercially:

    Please understand that this is my take on the subject and may clash with some of your thoughts and beliefs. But this is how I see it and Iíll pass on what I have learnt:
    My Rats are not pet rats so will not be pet Quality, They are Healthy well fed rats and well looked after rats:
    They are always humanely gassed, that was not even an option for me.

    I am going to ramble on a lot but will add pics as I go along, this is going to be long post. So please bear with me.

    Little Background:
    Iím situated in Johannesburg, South Africa (so quite a distance from the USA). Wish I lived in the USA but NOT YET. We work in the metric system so will try and convert most of my measurements and weights so that you can understand what I mean. I started breeding rats not because I needed any it was just a demand from customers as I breed Dubia and Turkistan roaches ( The rats love them) for the pet trade here. I started that because I was tired of Buying and spending a fortune on buying crickets for my Tarantulas (14 000 at one stage with all the slings). That in turn started the insect Business for me and then the request for rats and mice as feeders came along.

    How many snakes do I own: NONE
    How many snakes will I own: NONE
    Although I do appreciate snakes and their colours I have just not been into them. SORRY

    So when I thought about breeding rats and mice as feeders I sat down and started watching YouTube videos, hours and hours of them, Read articles books and books ON them, Went on to every site that had a forum and read every postage of rats and mice including this Forum (This has by far been the most informative and well laid out forum that I have been on), I have read each and every post on the rats and mice topic here. And that is before I even bought my 1st Rat.
    So I looked at the racks 1st and how you build and looked at the Freedom Breeders and the ASR and and and. Thought about Importing them and realized that even you guys are saying HELL NO to that prices now imaging my response when you multiply that price by 15, and that does not include shipping. (Shipping cost more than the rack.)
    But I do have to admit I did like the steel racks:
    So I looked at the design of everything else that was being made by everyone else and combined that to suits my needs, and the design has changed as we were going along but the layout I have now works for me so for now will stay with what I have.
    I would have gone with the Mortar tubs you use but that is not available here by us so went with a 46L clear container. Built the racks out of steel and the reason for that?????? Steel is actually cheaper here than wood, and because we have a maintenance department at work I roped them in to build the racks for me.
    I did not use hardware cloth (called welded mesh here) for the rat racks but I think I will be using them for the mice I will be using the 9mm (1/3 of an inch). I went with Auto water from day one and chose to use the Quick release fittings just to make replacement of a faulty valve or blockage easy to fix.
    Started off with a 24 tub rack running 4-1, and now Making them Ĺ the size 12 tubs (easier to move and maintain) and a much quicker to build.
    1. Started off with 20 Females and 10 males that I picked up really cheap
    2. Made sure that I got a good labblock
    3. Made sure that everything I needed I Had (still forgot a few things)
    I decided to start of slowly with what I had bought so as to learn as we go along, quickly realized that there is no going slow with rats you grow at their paste and needleless to say itís a fast pace
    The one thing that I have to admit to all the people on YouTube is that two 3 comments are always made when talking about Rats:

    Itís a lot of work:

    Really thats the best advice you can give someone, how about telling them to STOP do not even think of doing it. Or you will have no more time for yourself the wife/girlfriend or the kids. That would have at least prepared me or someone else thatís was thinking of doing it.

    It stinks:

    NO kidding day 1 Ė 4 not that bad but from there to cleaning day 7 WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO man it is bad, But just to let you know that if you clean every 5 days itís really not that bad but then that goes back to Point 1 (itís a lot of work)

    3. It can get Costly:

    You forgot to add the word QUICKLY

    Been into this about a 8-9 Months now and started this just before summer so I knew that I would have to eat up the cost for at least a few months as we grow the Business to where we want to be eventually and to wait for the warmer months and the reptiles to start feeding, at this stage I am still waiting.

    Current Consumption: +/- 700lb Ė 800lb of feed a week so about 100lb of feed per day
    4. You need space
    This one was rarely mentioned when I was doing my research but if you want to go BIG , you need space ( A lot of it). Nothing is more frustrating than trying to work in limited space)

    On average a Rat eats about 15 Ė 20g of feed / day
    You can work out what it cost you to feed them at your cost of feed.

    I took 30 males separated them into 3 tubs 3 x 10 and then put them onto 3 different food, all males weighed 40-42g

    1. Dog Food
    2. Epol (lab block)

    3. AVI (Lab block)

    The Whole idea of this was to see how quick they can go from that size to 150g (large). Here I am using an international weight chart that I will attach. And more importantly I was interested as to what would cost me the least amount of Money to get them there, remember I am in this for money nothing else. So the cheapest would have worked for me. I could just as well have listened to everyone else because exactly what they said is what happened. No.2 won the Race came 1St in Cost and 2nd in growth The dog food was last in everything. That saying I used 1 of our dogfoods Iíve read the post where some of you swear by what dogfood you are using and if it works for you I say go for it.
    Just as a matter of Interest it took 3.5-4 weeks to get them too large.

    I was never interested in what kind of rats I had and at this stage I still do not they are bred not for colour but for food I still keep back males and females from the rats that show the least amount of aggression, (I have not been bit yet) and the females that throw large litters, I have kept back a few that the colours came out like a blue grey not sure what they are called (they just look nice) and snakes donít care.

    We manged to save 1 rat from a mom that went on a killing spree and my boys adopted her, so into the house she went I did not think she would make it as she was bitten badly on the back and the tail, but she healed nicely and now have become a family pet.

    The business started to grow so quick that we could not build the racks quick enough to keep up with the growth of the rat population. So I needed to cull to slow down, looked at what the international trend was and saw that most people used Ziploc bags, but with a lot of complaints especially from the smaller hobbyist as he buys a 10 or 20 per pack but only needs 1 or 2 a week,
    thus he battles with stock to break loose or needs to defrost all just a little to get loose what he needs for now and freeze again, the next problem was Freezer burn that a lot of people were complaining about, especially when they are buying 6 month stock at a time some for even longer.

    For that reason I decided to individually pack and vacuum seal (industrial sealer) just to offer something that I am hoping is a superior product:
    Costing for now I have gone in a little lower than the market just to get my name out there and at the same time give me a chance to build up my stock levels, breeding levels (we are only at 10% as of where we want to be at this stage and hoping to be at 60% within 1 Year

    Money and space being the only factors holding me back. (But then that is most peopleís problem.)

    When I started out it was always my intention to do Frozen only purely for the cost factor involved.
    1. Get the rat to the size you need, Gas and Freeze (he does not cost you any more money)
    Accept for Pinkies and XL all my packaging is in 10 per pack

    The only problem then was you can run out of Freezer space very Quickly resulting you having to buy more freezers, costing more money and again needing more space (very vicious circle).

    It was and has never been my intention to compete in the market here with other breeders. It has always been my intention to completely dominate the market (go big or go home).
    Grow big enough where everyone comes to you

    Have a good product at a good price that it is not worth it for someone to breed their own

    3. Have all the sizes available all the time for all your customers (for that you need huge amounts of breeding stock)

    This concept here is much easier said than done ( At this stage I have just said it not even close to doing it).

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to AntonB For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (09-15-2018)

  3. #2
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    Very thoughtful post, I've been a rodent breeder for many years (rats, mice, hamsters) mostly for myself (I used to have way more snakes than I do
    currently & bred some, but also worked with local rescue/re-locations), & long before all that I actually had pet rats (while in college) I can relate. For
    a while (some years back w/ max # of snakes too) I did rodents as a side business & they fully supported my snakes, but yeah, it's a LOT OF WORK.

  4. #3
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    Just an update

    i was reading threw the old post and new ones as i have not been on the site for a while and happened on the one that i posted in 15/09/2018 so thought i would update 3 years on (man time goes by quickly)

    SO here we are 3 years later and yes i am still doing rats and mice unfortunately not as big as i wanted to be.

    1. trying to dominate a market is a stupid idea (thought i could do it, i was wrong)
    2. the amount of work is still the same (that just never goes away)
    3. as i was limited in space i made best use of the space i had available and grew to the maximum size i could ( my only other option was to rent/buy a new building) which will work if i done this full time but i still have a full time job
    4. what did work was that i am now at a stage where i do not have to advertise my stock and i do not have a website. i do not take on any new clients. For what i produce which is around 1700 weaners a week i have clients for
    5. as for food i use a pig and sow grower pellet that works for me
    6. i still do the individual packaging and the vacuum packing
    7. as for pricing i am where the market allows it to be maybe a little higher
    8. What saved a lot of time was getting all the racks on water feeders this way we only fill up every 7 days
    9. Mice are the worst especially to get them on to water nipples (at least we found the trick on this one)

    What i can say in the last three years is this:

    - Still the hardest i have worked
    - getting a day off, that does not exist
    - still enjoy doing it
    - capital layout in the beginning is high but it does pay itself back (our full payback was 18 months)
    - can you make a living on this the answer is YES but you need to go big to make it work

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