cost of raising meat rabbits

sawfish99

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I know the cost of raising meat rabbits is frequently discussed, but rarely analyzed in detail. I keep very detailed expense records for our farm and I am always crunching numbers to see what is profitable, and what isn't. Also, I look at how much work we do to make that little bit of profit. So, I decided to share my numbers for others to consider as you are starting with rabbits.
Entering arguments - we don't pay ourselves for labor. We have no employees on our farm. You may be able to do better or worse. I made some broad assumptions over the course of 10 months of data (such as, all rabbits eat at the same rate, kits that died didn't contribute to the cost basis, and others).

Until recently, we were feeding Manna Pro Rabbit feed for bucks and dry does. Lactating does and kits ate Manna Pro Grower. For my area (SE CT), the Manna Pro cost about $17/50lbs and the grow was $18.50/50 lbs. However, prices have continued to rise, so we switched all rabbits to Producers Pride at $15/50lbs. Even though it is lower protein, the cost difference got too big to avoid the change. All rabbits get free choice hay. We raise litters for 7-8 weeks before weaning. Does are bred back at 8 weeks. A more aggressive breeding cycle would likely increase profits slightly, but we have been experimenting with supply and demand and didn't want too many in our own freezer. I usually harvest for a 3lb average, which varies from 12-16 weeks depending on the doe. We have about a 50% live to packaged conversion, so a 6lb live rabbit gives me a 3lb packaged rabbit.

Rabbits are sold for $6/lb, packaged weight. (probably going up due to feed prices)
Cost per lb (as meat) $3.78
Profit per lb $2.21
Avg profit per rabbit $6.63

As you can see, when the margin is that low, there is little incentive for me to cut a deal on live sales vs packaged sales. If a live rabbit is ready for harvest, I sell it for the meat value. I had a conversation with a potential customer this morning that wanted to pay $2/lb live weight when they were ready for harvest, which would equate to about $1 profit per rabbit. I politely declined.

I would be interested to hear how others compare.
 

Harbisgirl

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Thank you very much. I myself don't raise rabbits yet, but I appreciate your work in putting that together. How do you do track your data? I'd love to see your spreadsheets :)
 

Four Winds Ranch

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I have just started raising meat rabbits, and I thank you for some valuble tips you have given me through your feed/cost analysis!!! :thumbsup
Thanks for sharing!!!
 

shan777

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Excellent topic and post.

My analysis is probably not as in depth as yours.
I sell breeders for $50, and meat rabbits whole for $20.
To raise one of mine I worked out approx $4-5.

I am getting my rabbits to 5lb at week 11 and they are dispatched straight away.
Dressed weights are usually 2lb 12oz or better.
What I have found once they reach 5lb is their weight gain slows down rapidly, but the feed costs only rise. This eats into my proft drastically.

The best advice I got was get good initial breeders that are successful with raising litters to 5lb in 10-12 weeks, and to not delay to dispatch.

I also use a 6 week breed back cycle.

I never expected to make a profit doing this, just to cover cost, and have free meat for my family...... heading towards this goal anyway.
 

s&kfatrms

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I am looking into raising meat rabbits and this was very helpful info to me thanks
 

sawfish99

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I use Quicken to track all the finances for the farm, however, I built an Excel spreadsheet for all the formulates and detailed analysis of the data. If anyone wants the spreadsheet, I don't mind emailing it 1 on 1. Contact me at rob"at"thesawyerfarms.com.

I was generally targeting a 3lb rabbit, for the freezer (therefore 6lb live weight), however, I am starting to think that is too big. I think I might shift to the 2.5lb range and see how we like that for our own usage. It would also make the rabbits a little cheaper for sales, which might help.

The other night, we cooked a 2.9lb rabbit in the crock pot. It was cooked all day and then deboned. we got 1.5lbs of meat off the rabbit.

Shan777 - what breed are you raising for 5lbs at 11 weeks and how big are the litters? Also, what feed are you feeding to only spend $5-6 per rabbit?
 

shan777

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sawfish99 said:
I use Quicken to track all the finances for the farm, however, I built an Excel spreadsheet for all the formulates and detailed analysis of the data. If anyone wants the spreadsheet, I don't mind emailing it 1 on 1. Contact me at rob"at"thesawyerfarms.com.

I was generally targeting a 3lb rabbit, for the freezer (therefore 6lb live weight), however, I am starting to think that is too big. I think I might shift to the 2.5lb range and see how we like that for our own usage. It would also make the rabbits a little cheaper for sales, which might help.

The other night, we cooked a 2.9lb rabbit in the crock pot. It was cooked all day and then deboned. we got 1.5lbs of meat off the rabbit.

Shan777 - what breed are you raising for 5lbs at 11 weeks and how big are the litters? Also, what feed are you feeding to only spend $5-6 per rabbit?
I use NZW's and Cali's. The cross of these two makes the superior meat rabbit, nice and plump.

Maybe my figures are incorrect with how much it costs to feed them. Please disregard this as its most probably not accurate. I use 18% rabbit pellets, some hay, and some free range clover.
 

rabbitgeek

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Thank you for posting your figures.

That will be a big help for newbies since most people don't share their numbers.

It looks like your numbers are showing that you are doing better than covering your costs.

I usually did not even cover my costs because of all of our showrabbit activities like entry fees and travelling gobbled up most of the proceeds.

Have a good day!
 

Prairiechick

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Sawfish- Thank you for this post. I hadn't figured out what we put into the rabbits I raised this summer and was curious of cost and how much folks selling were getting. I have some excellent quality Calis from one of the top breeders in the state here. I just processed 5 of the 13 and they were 6-6.5 live and I got 3-3.5 dressed on all of them so far. They were all very uniform, and I am surprised by the amount of meat on just one rabbit. When the breeder I got them from said one rabbit should feed my family of 5 for one meal, I thought that was crazy, but she was exactly right. I am new to meaties and eating rabbit, so this is a whole new venture for me. I have been breeding Mini Rexes for 6-years before taking on these bigger Cals.
I am seeing where many of the meat breeders are breeding back almost right after weaning off a litter. I am concerned that this wouldn't give the does enough recovery time? I don't need that many rabbits anyway, so I will let the girls rest until I know I need more.
I am feeding Kent Show Ration. The cost for a 50# bag is $16 right now after the cost went up this summer. It is the best food I have ever gotten for my buns, is fresh and smells wonderful, every bag with very little fines. A friend of mine is a dealer and introduced me to it. It is what I feed everyone all the time. If I feel the does need a boost in protein when nursing a litter, I add a spoon or so of Calf Manna.
I want to continue breeding the Cals for both meat and for show purposes. I am considering the financial advantage to raising them for selling the meat as well if I can set up to do more processing. It sure could help offset the feed and cost of raising them since they consume a lot more of the feed than my MRs do.
I would also like to see pictures of your set-up for raising rabbits. I am building a new rabbit shed/chicken grow-out shed and would like to have a better design for being able to clean out everything than what I have now with just stacked cages and pans, if there is one.
Thanks again.
PC
 

PrairieDweller

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Sawfish, what breed are you raising? I have Florida Whites. I recently purchased a New Zealand buck and a doe (different breeders) and thought about cross-breeding with the Whites to get a larger rabbit. Here in Colorado we can not sell the processed meat, but must first sell the rabbit, then offer to process it on the premises. Since Colorado's Pro Manna isn't as pricey as CT (about $15 for regular, $12 for grower), I want to make sure when I sell, I make a little bit of profit without charging too much. Like you said, feed is going up, so I will soon be making my own. Any suggestions on feeding the adults certain fresh greens? I have a garden in the summer and would like to cut down the use of processed feed if I can.
 
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