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Thread: Meat Rabbits

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    9,183

    Question Meat Rabbits

    Like Ben Brew I've been pondering farmyard animals.

    I have ruled out egg laying chickens as I have to watch
    cholesterol.

    I am intrigued by rabbits for meat. And initial web research
    tells me it's about the healthiest meat you can raise. As well
    as a very high meat to feed ratio.

    I am interested in hearing first hand experiences with different
    breeds for meat output. Especially from the northland.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
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    Default

    the value realized is in the quality of the meat, the self suffeciency in raising your own, and a small amount of by-products(skin,fur, manure.) the cost of feed puts the price near or slightly above grocery beef, your labor has its own rewards( exercise, close to nature,self satifaction). good luck,mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  3. #3
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    Sep 2004
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    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    Default

    Mike,

    Any reason I can't feed rabbits my own alfalfa??

    I guess I'm blown away with the idea of the cost per pound
    equaling store bought beef........ seems impossible??

    My initial digging shows that rabbits produce 6 pounds of
    meat on the same feed and water requirement that would
    produce 1 pound of beef.......

  4. #4
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    Feb 2007
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    owensboro,ky
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    Default

    unless strictly processed, alfalfa will give them a severe case of the runs. i had more success with native rabbits taken from the nest and raised/bred. tricky,but doable. the purebreds i raised were just too finicky for native foods except in moderation. good luck,mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
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    3,599

    Default

    the cost of feed for a hobbiest has really shot up
    I keep a few chickens and a bag of feed is up 50% from a year ago
    I expect rabbit feed is just as bad
    you might want to look for a comparison of rabbits to meat birds
    there may be a reason there are huge commercial chicken farms but not rabbit farms

    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tulare County, CA USA
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    1,380

    Default

    How about ducks? I don't know much about the cholesteral levels in the meat but the meat is superb and they can live on their own once you get them started. The eggs are reported to be much healthier but taste quite similar to chicken eggs. As a bonus, they are great for your garden as they eat bugs (not bees) but not plants.
    Also, many of my wife's former customers(former as in we finally shut down the farm stand this week No more free labor for cow pollinater) bought eggs from us on their doctor's advice because free range eggs are suposed to have less cholesterol than store bought??? Please do your own research but maybe worth looking into.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Port Richey Fl USA
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    243

    Default Re: Meat Rabbits

    Quote Originally Posted by Sundance View Post
    Mike,

    Any reason I can't feed rabbits my own alfalfa??

    .
    By all means feed them all alfalfa, some hay, and some dried bread and if you want super quality meat NO COMMERCIAL RABBIT FEED.

    That's all they need.



    Here is my personal experience raising rabbit for meat.

    In early nineties my wife brought few baby bunnies home, we put them in wire cages fed them with veggie scraps, carrots, some grass clippings, dried bread, cooked potato peels dusted with little bran.

    They grew fast and healthy, we butchered them, meat was delicious cooked, fried any way you prepared it. So I bought a pair of Californians and a pair New Zealands, started to breed them. Soon I was buying bags of commercial pellets relatively cheap at the time since there was no way to obtain sufficient amount of veggie scraps and other good stuff I fed my first rabbits due to their numbers now.

    Did not take long until I had 40 or 50. Then we butchered a few and big disappointment .... meat was much lower quality, woody, tasteless and tough unlike the meat of first rabbits raised 100 procent organic and natural way.

    Commercial pellet feed was rseponsible for low quality meat now. Nobody in my family wanted to eat my rabbits anymore, I sold them all.

    End of the story and my rabbit adventure, if I had a pasture and small farm I'd raise them again, but NO rabbit pellets.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    East Windsor, CT
    Posts
    277

    Default Re: Meat Rabbits

    Did you ever attempt to sell them (before getting out of the hobby) or just for your own use?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Port Richey Fl USA
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    243

    Default Re: Meat Rabbits

    I raised them for my own use (meat) not for selling.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    Default

    Sundance,
    Rabbits should do well in cooler climates. It is the heat that they can't take. I have a recipe for home-made rabbit food that I'll for if you PM me. We do raise chickens in a tractor as Galaxy mentioned and are considering raising rabbits, too. The chickens were hatched in April and were just butcherable last month. Rabbits have a faster turn-around cycle. So should be cheaper in that you feed them less as long.

    Mike Haney,
    The idea of finding local rabbits would probably still work well, except it is now illegal in Kentucky to keep wildlife without a permit. Perhaps a permit wouldn't be too hard to get. I did notice that we are allowed to trap rabbits and squirrels this year. Though I'm sure we'll be required to put them down right away.

    Galaxy,
    We too use chicken tractors and are considering rabbits. A floor would probably be necessary to keep the rabbits from digging out, right?

    Regarding Dragonfly's comments on collesterol in free-ranged chickens, one of our magazines did a whole issue on it claiming that the gov and big Chicken doesn't want us to know that there is a health benefit to free-range eggs. However, the magazine claimed to have had it studied and shown that the eggs have less colestrol.


    CO2 chambers for putting down animals - considered humane
    I have worked at zoos and other places where this was utilized because it is one of the few "approved humane" methods. However, watch the process. Then learn about the respiratory cycle. We feel the urge to inhale because there is too much CO2 in our blood. Ever panic from not being able to breath? what if the air you Did breath put more CO2 in your blood? I decided that it is a horrible way to go, every breath doesn't satisfy but only makes the urge to breath stronger. I've often wondered if the animals died from lack of oxygen (which can take a Long time) or from cardiac arrest from the panic. Me? I just lopped off the heads of three roosters this morning. They never knew what was coming.
    WayaCoyote

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    Default

    Sundance,

    Here’s the link to the recipe that my wife has.

    http://pan-am.uniserve.com/pg000062.htm

    My wife also recommends feeding a hay/ alfalfa mix. She had to feed less pellet food when supplementing with the hay mix, and the rabbits remained quite healthy and strong.

    On a side note, we use a ferret-iguana leash to walk our pet rabbits.
    WayaCoyote

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
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    3,637

    Default Re: Meat Rabbits

    http://www.naturalrabbitfood.com/rab...version-ratio/

    How to Calculate the Rabbit Rood Conversion Ratio.
    •Multiply the cost of the rabbit food by the food conversion ratio and you’ll find roughly what it costs to produce a rabbit.
    •If the rabbit food costs $12 a 50 lb bag then it would cost $12/50lbs or $0.24/lbs. If that feed requires 4 lbs to make a pound of rabbit (food conversion ratio) then it would cost 4 x 0.24 or $0.96 to make a pound of rabbit.
    •A rabbit food with a conversion ratio of 3 lbs that cost $0.30 lbs ($15 a 50 lb bag) would only cost you $0.90 to make a pound of rabbit.
    •WHEN CALCULATING THE COST TO RAISE A RABBIT YOU ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THE MORTALITY RATE! (including the amount of feed they consumed before they died).
    How do you calculate the rabbit food conversion ratio? There are two ways: It can be done on an individual rabbit basis or a “whole barn” basis. Either way you choose to calculate it your number will be unique to your barn/rabbits and the rabbit food you give them as well as the breeding schedule you have them on!
    Last edited by BEES4U; 12-25-2012 at 08:28 AM. Reason: UPDATED
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Kenosha,WI
    Posts
    185

    Default Re: Meat Rabbits

    For meat we always raised New Zealand or Californian. Summer 5# feed per pound of meat. The little bunnies you are considering will be a disappointment.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Loganville, GA
    Posts
    2,174

    Default Re: Meat Rabbits

    You need to harvest at 8 weeks. Beyond that the meat will become increasingly tougher. The idea of the larger breeds and the reason they are called meat rabbits, is that their young will maximize the yield in weight at 8 weeks. I personally prefer the taste of the California rabbits but the New Zealand's are fine. Both will produce rabbits of about the same size but the California will have just a little better meat to bone mass ratio.
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

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