Date posted: September 14, 2009

Rabbit Math

The below discussion of the cost of raising rabbits for food was accessed from a homesteading forum. I have modified it to prices in the Bay Area.

These calculations represent an ‘average’ growout period:

Rabbits born 4/10/06
Rabbits butchered 6/28/06
Age at butcher day 11 weeks
Average weight at butcher day 5 pounds (Three rabbits picked at random and weighed in a 5 gallon bucket on a dairy scale to determine average weight)

Feeding regime
Left on mother for first 4 weeks
Supplemented with grass hay throughout life
Commercial 16% rabbit pellets (mostly alfalfa)
Once weaned at 4 weeks, rabbits moved to separate cages, 4 per cage.

Fed via large bin feeders, bins filled every third day at first, then progressing to everyday as rabbits grow out, averaging a fill rate of every other day, bins hold 2.5 pounds of pellets; therefore during the 7 weeks of pellet feeding, each cage gets 61 pounds of feed over the 49 day feeding period from weaning to butchering.

For 8 rabbits in two cages, that’s approximately 132 pounds of feed total or 16.5 pounds per rabbit.
One 50 lb. Bag of rabbit pellets is $13, or approximately $0.26 per pound ($4.29/rabbit). Alfalfa hay is ~$8/bale. Bales are about 75 lbs/bale, so $0.11/lb. Rabbits eat about 4 oz daily. Hay would run about 12.25 per rabbit to butcher weight.

This equates to right at $1.35 + $4.29 = $5.64 per rabbit to feed them to butcher weight.

Including the feed given to the mother during the first 4 weeks of life:

Mother with 8 kits in nestbox….feeders filled every third day…..grass hay supplemented. Ten fills per 30 days time equals 25 pounds of pellet feed to mother and 8 kits, which is ($0.26 x 25lbs) $6.50 for those first four weeks.For the 9 rabbits or approximately $0.72 per rabbit. Since she did not calculate the hay fed, we can round up to $0.80.

Therefore, adding up feed costs….
First four weeks…$0.80
Second seven weeks $5.64
Total $6.44 per rabbit to get them to 5 pounds butcher weight.

Butchering and processing information (Picked one rabbit at random of the 8 butchered) for weights
Head, fur, and feet…15 oz [removed for other use]
Guts and organs…..1lb 3 oz [removed for other use]
Final Freezer weight……2 lb 12 oz [for eating]

For human consumption, that equates to $2.34 per pound for the rabbit meat. If I were to add in the liver, heart and other edible organs that were placed in the dog food category, the price would be lower.

This analysis is just a quick assessment a down and dirty calculation on meat costs. There are about a million ways to lower the cost. Most I sometimes do and should do more often. It all just depends on what’s growing and what’s available. Off the top of my head..

I could feed more garden refuse and less commercial pellets
I could feed more grass hay and less commercial pellets
I could raise sunflowers every year and get faster growth rates
I could do more selective breeding to keep and maintain ONLY those
rabbits that grow the largest kits.
I could reduce the number of rabbits per cage to two.
I could leave the kits with the mother another 4-7 days longer

For $2.34/lb, getting a product that is homegrown without steroids or antibiotics. This compares to an average market price of $7.99/lb.

You can get three meals per rabbit or more, depending on what you are making.

This calculation does not include the calculation for water it also does not count the value of furs, feet, heat and offal, nor the potential value if you sell bucks or does.

One Comment

  1. Pluck and Feather » The Rabbit Class

    [...] of rabbit, I cooked my own and decided YES. Yes, I do like rabbit that much. After doing the rabbit math for cost (they can be costly when purchased at the butchers), I also decided raising your own is [...]

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