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Thread: Meat Rabbits

  1. #1
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    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
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    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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    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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    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
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    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
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    Tulare County, CA USA
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    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
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    Default Of Mice and Men

    "An live off the fatta the lan'," Lennie shouted. "An' have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we're gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that, George."

    Steinbeck There is a little Lenny in many of us

  8. #8
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    Well, I raised 3 litters from a New Zealand Doe 5 years ago. They were litters of 6, 10, and 10. I raised them on Fleet Farm rabbit pellets and ate them when they reached an average 4 pounds a piece. However, they didn't taste as good as chicken and the parents were retired as pets. They passed away this winter. They can stand cold climates if you can get them water twice a day in the winter, and they are fine with the cold if you keep them out of the wind.
    What I would suggest is find someone in your area; The ARBA website is a good place to start, buy a couple of "fryers" and see if you like the meat. It is not worth the effort if you are not going to enjoy the product.
    Yet what I will say is this - the way the doe makes a nest, gives birth, and raises them is fascinating. She only visits the nest once a day to suckle them. At a week to ten days they grow fur, at 3 weeks they start hopping around the cage. I forget whether it is 6 or 8 weeks, but they reach a point where continuing feeding them is not cost effective and that is the time to eat em. Perhaps you could trade honey for the fryers? If you have kids its a great 4H project. If you decide to try get the cages that have the screen on the bottom, the poop and pee falls right out. They make a lot of poop.
    As for feeding them alfalfa, it might work for the adults as a supplement, and they probably would love it, but as a previous poster mentioned it would give the young ones the runs, most likely. If you have a Fleet Farm store near you then you can get all you need. Or, if you ever come to Minneapolis/Saint Paul I could trade you my 3 cages, and two brood nest boxes for some of your surplus bee-stuff. Incidentally don't do anything without reading up really well. For example if you put the doe in the buck's cage at the right time he will breed her, but if you put the buck in the doe's cage she will attempt to kill him by emasculating him Adrian

  9. #9
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    I've had rabbit several times and liked it a lot.

    I get to St Cloud and have a Bro in Mpls so the trade is
    on...........

    I'll PM you.

  10. #10
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    If I were doing this with either rabbits or chickens, I would use a chicken tractor for rabbits and/or chickens. This should save substantially on feed bills. Google pastured poultry and chicken tractor.

    To keep the varmints out of the chicken tractors that I have, I put an electric fence around the bottom about four inches from the ground and four inches from the pens' wire. I never had a varmint get in except for a black snake. It's interesting to put your hand in a hen's nesting box to retrieve eggs and instead grab a black snake. And, I have had the fence kill one black snake.

    In Italy, I have seen chickens and meat rabbits being housed in the same pen.
    From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution. Charles Koch

  11. #11
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    If you go with ducks the best type is probably the Muscovy duck. The French eat a lot of duck and their commercial breed is a Muscovy type. Duck meat is high in fat. But, when cooked right it is very good as is most high-fat meat.
    From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution. Charles Koch

  12. #12
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    I personally love plain ole cottontails, especially in a gumbo, so I bet just about any domestic rabbit would be excellent.

    CP- I believe, although I could be mistaken, that chickens who are allowed to range and eat lots of greens and bugs do have less cholesterol than caged chickens that are fed primarily grains. Kind of like eating range-fed beef as opposed to cows raised in pens.
    So many weeds.......so little time.

  13. #13
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    I've been raising meat rabbits for a few years now, and the cost of feeding them has really increased in recent months. A 50 lb bag of feed is now selling for $11.50. If you plan to only produce meat for your own table you will not need many does. I have 32 does and they produce a lot of offspring!

    A couple of good does and one buck can produce all the meat you will likely need for one family. You can follow the commercial breeding schedule of 14 days and get a lot of rabbits per year. I re-breed does 14 days after kindling and the kits are ready for slaughter at 8 weeks of age.

    The best breeds for meat are New Zealand Whites and Californians. The Californians have the best taste, in my opinion. When ready to mate the does, be sure to place the doe in the buck's cage, not the other way around.

    Good eating.

  14. #14
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    No to ducks............. to fatty. I am interested in only
    low fat, low cholesterol meat. And my digging so far says
    rabbit beats everything else by a long way.

    And you can clean 4 or 5 rabbits to every chicken. Fast
    and easy. The killing excepted..........

    Putting the rabbit cages on wheels is on my list of to dos
    for sure.

    A plus with bunnies is their manure is the only one you can
    incorporate directly into your garden or trees without
    composting.

  15. #15
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    If you can get bizzybee away from his Presto we have a fire wax melter pot. I think he has gotten into raising bunnies for meat

  16. #16
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    I roast the bunnies over the wax fire rat, knock out two birds (rabbits) with one stone don't you know!

    I think the best suggestion I heard up the line was to get a fryer (kind you want to keep) first and try it out. IT IS SO YUMMY!!! A great break from chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken! It has a light flavor and goes well into most chicken recipes.

    My highest cost goes into pellets (Purina Rabbit Chow) and Timothy Hay. The first $12.50/50lb and hay is $11.00 a bail. Maybe I can find it a bit less somewhere? The rest I grow or pick wild for them. They have a very, varied diet.

    If you buy all of your feed in small portions from pet shops and the like I would expect the cost to be quite high and possibly close to retail meat? But it no where near the cost of beef if you shop out your feed sources and buy in bulk.

    Wish I could find some California's local, I'm still looking. But I'm content with my New Zealands for now.
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  17. #17
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    I know nothing about raising rabbits, but have one comment and questions.

    I have heard about people raising rabbits on pasture in movable cages. Joel Salatin uses that method for meat chickens and rabbits. It should reduce feed costs because the rabbits eat the grass from the pasture for part of their food intake. Also, grass fed critters have healthier meat. Anybody tried that?

    I've eaten plenty of cottontails. I always thought they were okay, but pretty dry and tough. I like squirrels better for taste, even though they can be tough too. How do hutch rabbits compare in flavor and tenderness? Just wondering.

    Also, FWIW, duck fat is one of the healthier kinds of fat.

    ndvan

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfly View Post
    I personally love plain ole cottontails, especially in a gumbo,
    LOL. Kinda knowing you D/F. I fell out of my chair. Still LOL. I thought you were gonna say something else after that comma. lol. still. Your the best.
    Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his room. The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move.

  19. #19
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    Been raising meat rabbits for seven years now. All of the meat breeds are delicious. But the price of bulk (10 or more 50lb bags at the local Co-Op) feed is now $11.20 a bag so we've come to the conclusion its no longer worth it. Got 14 ready to butcher, and 3 does due to kilt in the next two weeks then that'll be it.
    Sure gonna miss the buggars.

  20. #20
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    From reading this thread, it seems that people are paying approx $11./$11.50 per 50lb of feed. Roughly speaking, how many lbs of feed does it take to bring a rabbit to weight for slaughter?

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