Author Topic: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?  (Read 14535 times)

Offline traildad

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How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« on: September 14, 2010, 12:19:37 AM »
I think we could get away with raising rabbits in the backyard of our suburban home. I think the only problem we would have to contend with is the numerous hot summer days. A book I was reading suggested that we would be doing well to raise the rabbits for about the same cost as buying meat in the supermarket. That would be fine if the system collapses and meat is hard to get. How much does it cost to raise rabbits. Has anyone gotten good results feeding non-commercial food or local wild plants etc? I would like to start raising them using commercial pellet food and expand into experimenting with low cost or free food. Ken

Offline Dawgus

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2010, 06:44:00 AM »
 Rabbits can go either way,cheap or expensive. I can find decent meat breeds (NZ Whites or Californias) at an Amish auction for $2-3 each, or I can find them from a breeder for as high as $15 each. I've had better luck with the higher priced ones. I always ended up with sick rabbits from the Amish, always.

 Commercial pellets are pretty cheap. The last bag I bought was under $10 for 50lbs. Mine get a mix of pellets and fresh greens. Though the neighbor thinks I'm insane, I planted 2 raised beds full of dandelions as feed for them. (he's trying to kill them from his yard and I'm growing them on purpose lol). Through the summer and early fall, I dehydrate various greens to add to their feed in the winter...dandelion,collard,etc. I run an old chinamart cheapy dehydrator in the garage for this, and just bag the greens daily and save for winter. With the dehydrated greens, I was able to extend the pellet feed to 2 bags over last winter with the 4 I had at the time. (the chickens get this too) They get most of the greens from the garden, from the dandelion bed, and from other greens/weeds I pull from the yard. They LOVE spinach, and get what we don't get to in time before it bolts.

 Rabbits don't handle hot summer days well. Make sure they have plenty of water. Each of mine has 2 water bottles each, just on the odd chance they drink 1 dry and we aren't home to refill it. They're very winter hardy, but don't breed when it's very cold. If you're in an area that has cold winters, keeping water bottles from freezing is another issue. The first 2 winters with mine, I moved the hutch into the garage and ran heat lamps to keep the bottles from freezing. Last winter I didn't bother and culled the whole herd rather than deal with that issue, and started over in the spring with new ones. I'll do the same this year, even though I'm down to two.

 If you get a good operation running, it can be less expensive than buying from the store. The initial investment can be minimal if you start small and expand as they breed. (I started with 1 buck and 2 does) They don't require anything special for containment, they don't need a lot of room, and they breed fast if you have good stock. Watch which are good breeders and which aren't. Cull out the non-breeders rather than waste time and money on something non-productive. It takes a little time to get it rolling, but it's worth the effort when it works.

 For us it's not so much about saving money, but for doing things for ourselves and unplugging from the grocery store machine just that much more. We both love the taste of rabbit, and since the wild ones are now scarce, this gives us that all the time. It's wonderful to learn another form of animal husbandry. It's a great learning experience and a great skill. There are small problems that go with raising rabbits for meat though. Killing that first one yourself can be tough. It's totallly different to kill a rabbit by hand than shoot one when you're hunting. NONE, I mean NONE, of our family wants anything to do with the rabbits. They all think it's horrible that we raise cute little fuzzy bunnies to kill and eat. My stepdaughter won't even look at them when she's here, and they're the reason my sister in law quit visiting all together. My neighbor knows, and he's ok with it, but I'm sure that others around here would be totally apalled by the idea. You may want to consider all this before getting into it.

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Offline Greywolf27

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 11:13:25 AM »
This is something that I am interested in as well... down the road.  I am in the process for moving into a smaller place (1 year timeline) with the intention of buying something in the 1-2 acre range toward the end of the year (crosses fingers).

The g/f has said that she does not want to know where the meat comes from.  Personally, if it fills my belly and isn't dangerous to eat, I really am not too picky about what it was before it got to my plate.

Will have to revisit this topic in a year or two.
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Offline traildad

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 06:54:40 PM »

 Commercial pellets are pretty cheap. The last bag I bought was under $10 for 50lbs.   

How does this work out in cost per rabbit. The book I read says to feed them about a cup. I don't know how many cups are in a 50lb bag. Thanks Ken

Offline Dawgus

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 08:02:08 PM »
 Honestly, I really couldn't say. Mine gets streched out so long with them getting fresh and dehydrated greens. I'm gonna have to try to figure that out. I can say that each one gets a bowl a day of +/- 1/2 cup plus greens. Time to do some math lol
Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries-Mark Twain
 
My life has a sound track, and it goes to 11.

Married White Male -looking for wild healthy mature Catfish. No smaller than 15 pounds but the bigger the better. Does not need to cook or clean, just needs enjoy munching on chicken livers and long fights on the beach. Please meet me tonight at Walborn Reservoir. Ill be waiting.

Offline BatonRouge Bill

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 08:38:00 PM »
Last bag I purchased was over $14 a bag (they were out of the cheaper stuff) but like dawgus is doing supplement with lots of greens which they prefer anyway and it stretches it out. I purchased a 5 hp dry pellet mill on ebay which I had plans on making my own pellets from lawn clippings. I still need to build a skid to mount it and the driver on and get it running. My el-cheapo plans were to
1) make pellets from lawn clippings and feed to the rabbits
2a)sterilize bunny berries and grow oyster, button or portabello mushrooms
2b)run bunny berries thru the Black soldier fly composter for high protein fish or chicken food
3)add composted bunny berries/spent mushroom medium to worm bin
4)Use worms as fish or chicken food and worm castings for plant starter potting soil.
   Big plans I need to get them going ;D
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Offline traildad

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2010, 09:16:04 PM »
I also thought the droppings would be good to put in a worm bin to make chicken food and garden amendments.




Last bag I purchased was over $14 a bag (they were out of the cheaper stuff) but like dawgus is doing supplement with lots of greens which they prefer anyway and it stretches it out. I purchased a 5 hp dry pellet mill on ebay which I had plans on making my own pellets from lawn clippings. I still need to build a skid to mount it and the driver on and get it running. My el-cheapo plans were to
1) make pellets from lawn clippings and feed to the rabbits
2a)sterilize bunny berries and grow oyster, button or portabello mushrooms
2b)run bunny berries thru the Black soldier fly composter for high protein fish or chicken food
3)add composted bunny berries/spent mushroom medium to worm bin
4)Use worms as fish or chicken food and worm castings for plant starter potting soil.
   Big plans I need to get them going ;D

Offline Dawgus

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2010, 10:03:04 PM »
 Rabbit droppings don't need composted. You can put them straight on the garden.
Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries-Mark Twain
 
My life has a sound track, and it goes to 11.

Married White Male -looking for wild healthy mature Catfish. No smaller than 15 pounds but the bigger the better. Does not need to cook or clean, just needs enjoy munching on chicken livers and long fights on the beach. Please meet me tonight at Walborn Reservoir. Ill be waiting.

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2010, 03:38:39 PM »
The cost of raising rabbits for meat has several important variables that we need to consider.

Will you buy new rabbits continually or breed them?

I'll buy new rabbits as needed.
In this case, you must factor in the cost of the rabbits.  I find $2.00 is pretty common in rural areas (about the same as pullets and sold in the same places).  Typically, you butcher in 8-12 weeks depending on the breed. When buying rabbits, you must consider the seasonal availability.  They're easy to find in march and april, but harder to come by in september and october. If you plan on 12 rabbits at a time, and slaughtering 3-4 times a year, extpect the cost of the rabbits to be $75 - $100.  That's about the same as the cost of commercial feed for as many rabbits, so you're essentially doubling your expense.  On the plus side, breeding can present some hassles, so it may be worth it. Also keep in mind, when you buy rabbits, they're already several weeks old and weened in most cases. If you mix rabbits from two different litters in the same cage, there's a much greater chance of fighting, so if possible, buy from the same litter. After all, you need not worry about inbreeding if they're all regularly slaughtered and replaced.

I'll breed my rabbits.
This saves you the expense of buying new rabbits, and can be helpful if you can't find a good supplier in your area. You will however need to assume some additional up-front costs.  A simple rabbit hutch is insufficiant for regular breeding.  Each breeding doe should have her own seperate cage in which to nest and raise her litter.  As the space requirement goes up, so do heating and cooling.  No problem if you have an old shed or build a roof over the cages for shade, but whatever you do, don't get suckered into buying commerical hutches at $100-$300 a piece, you'll eventually want atleast four, and that gets expensive. That's two breeder cages for two does, and 2 larger grow-out cages for rabbits after their weened. A fith cage may be desired for a sire buck if you want to selectively breed for specific traits, but that's optional.  You do want at least two different does from two different parents to serve as your breeders. That way their offspring can be interbreed without inbreeding.  Among rabbits, first cousins are fine for breeding, but brother/sister and mother/son will deterrierate the breed.

Commercial Feed or Home Grown?

I'll use commercial feed.
This is expensive, but provides the rabbits with a ballanced diet year-round. Expensive is a relative term, I pay about $15 for a 50lb bag. That's usually enough to grow out one litter to fryer size. Resist the urge to buy in bulk. Yes, it gets cheaper, but rabbit food gets moldy easily.

I'll grow my own food for them
Plan on needing 25²ft (5'x5') of garden space for each birthing doe, and 9²ft (3'x3') of space to grow food for each fryer. Plant them a variety of food.  Lettuces, carrots, radishes, beets etc are all suitable.  The emphasis must be on planting things that have a high nutritional value for the rabbits as wells as being fast to grow.  Slower growing plants would obviously require more space. Supplement with weeds or vegetable scraps from the kitchen.  Hay, buckwheat and alfalfa are good, but should constitute only about a third of the rabbit's diet. Look for high protein plants like soy (be careful, some breeds can't digest it) or duckweed. Keep in mind, you'll need to dry or freeze a small portion of the food regularly for the winter months in temperate climates since the garden just won't be producing. In many cases the preferred method is to mix fresh food with commercial pellets.

Heating and Cooling:
Not much is needed in terms of heating, except to keep their water and food from freezing.  Rabbits love the cold, don't worry about them.  A common beginner mistake is to heat a hutch so they can stay warm.  That gets expensive and can actually aid the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus.  A lightbulb near their water is sufficient, or buy a heated water disppenser (about $15). In hot areas, cooling may be necessesary.  Make sure their hutch or cage is well ventilated and shaded.  Keep a small fan nearby, it will cool them and help keep their cages dry.

Medicating:
Rabbits get sick.  medicated feed and injections get expensive, even if self administered.  Some times it's best to cut your losses and cull the lot of them. Preventative measures are much cheaper than trying to fix a problem that shouldn't occur in the first place.  Clean the cages regularly, disposing of waste in an area away from their cages to keep the spread of disease down. That means if you're composting it or collecting it for the garden, at least once a week, move it to the other side of the yard.  Remove any uneaten food regularly.  Never let anything go bad in the cages.  Make sure water is kept fresh.  If feeding from a tank, make sure the water in the tank is up to your standards for drinking water. 

Butchering:
There is no shortage of businesses willing to kill and clean your rabbits for you, but at $3-$4 each, it's just not worth it.  One thing I find common with people raising meat rabbits is they get attached to them and can't kill them.  Worse, the wife and kids get attached, then you really can't kill them.  Don't fall into that trap.  Go out, buy a full grown bunny, bring it home and introduce it to the family.  Then snap it's neck and throw it on the grill.  If you hesitate or catch hell from the family, it's better to find out with one rabbit than after raising 20. Sometimes people need to be reminded that they're on the top of the food chain, but not above it.

The more direct answer to the question "How much does raising rabbit meat cost?":
I'll assume 20 rabbits at a time, at a cost of $2.00 per each purchased rabbit.
All commercial feed50/50 Home grown and commercial feedAll home grown feed
Breed your own rabbits$1.00/lb50¢/lbFree (except occasional medication and cleaning supplies)
Buy new rabbits every time$2.00/lb$1.25/lb75¢/lb

You can assume an up-front cost of about $100-$200 on the cages, water dispensers etc. 
Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. – Ronald Reagan

Offline traildad

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2010, 09:31:02 PM »
Great info. The feed cost is what I most wondered about. Thanks, Ken

Offline Sweethearts Mom

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2010, 10:40:50 PM »
I just started my herd. I spent $45 on the trio cage. Next time I will buy 3 seperate cages instead and spend a little extra money.

I decided on starting with a good solid young breeding trio. 1 Buck and 2 Does. They are NZ Whites. I wanted the white fur for tanning.

These rabbits cost me 15 each. The breeder was very proud of them and spent 3 hours telling me the ins and outs of breeding, holding, feeding, etc.

He even loaned me a birth box to take home as a template so I could build two of my own.

There is a place in N TX that makes good quality bunny food for a little more than the cheap stuff in the feed store, and it is family owned.

Bunnies only eat 1 small mushroom can of pellets per day when they are not nursing. The nursing moms and babies will eat all they want. Right now I am providing prairie grass hay and also fresh grass. Boy do they love fresh grass.

I will be tracking the costs of this. I will not however count the cost of my hours, or the cages because I can use the cages for other things if I decide I don't want to continue.

I will begin breeding this weekend. I want the two does to kindle at the same time so if one has too many, I can even out the babies. I have outdoor cages and I am new at this so I am on a huge learning curve.

I have watched "Backyard food productions" video at least 10 times.

So far I have $45 in breeders, and $20 in food. I expect in 90 days to make my first harvest...around New Years Eve I believe.  November 26th will be the next breeding date when the first batches are 4 wks old). Dec 3rd the weenlings will be moved to their own cages. Next bunny batch to be born on Dec 24th...hmmm that should be fun? It will go this way until it becomes too hot...here in N TX that could be either February or June.

So I will let you guys know kind of what I come up as to a price per pound. But I expect that just like my meat chickens, it will be way below the amount you can purchase it in the grocery, and you know where it has been....and you get the hides for tanning....and your doggie gets the guts and head for food.

Offline MD3C

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Re: How much does raising Rabbit meat cost?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2010, 05:11:45 PM »
More good info. Thank you.
M