This new year, each member of our family chose a single word for the year and made a little art to more fully capture our idea. My word for the year is “persist.” You can read in previous blog posts at the amount of failure I’ve contributed to, so I won’t go into it here. This one is about success and the value of persistence, and the value of a rabbit. So lets run some numbers!
I paid $40 for my five adult rabbits. 3 of those rabbits gave birth to 18 kits, making my grand total 23, bringing my price per rabbit at this point to $1.73. Using a price from a popular hatchery that I just checked, I could buy one Cornish Cross chick for $3.20 (the price decreases as with quantity, but the comparison is striking). Off to a good start…but that’s only the start. I am reasonably expecting my four does to birth a total of about 30 more kits within the month. I’ll wait a couple of weeks and have them breed again, and then hopefully one more time after that this summer/fall. We are looking at potentially 90 more kits without adding to my initial investment of $40, which would make it about $.35/rabbit. I’ll take it.
Then comes the feed costs. The typical Cornish Cross type meat bird is not a good forager. They take a LONG time- like, over 3 months- to grow into a decent butchering size if you are not providing all or most of their food. If you are growing your own meat, it might be because you want to know that the animal has been fed a healthy diet of organic, nasty-chemical-free, grains and such, and so you’ve got to buy the good stuff, and that’s not cheap. Organic chick starter/ grower is like $30/bag, and you’ll need at least a few bags for just a batch of 50 chicks. And then you still have over a month of providing them organic grains. In the end we are talking over $300 dollars worth of feed, plus the initial investment of over $100 for the chicks themselves. And Cornish Cross do not reproduce, so you have to repeat the process next year.
Rabbits eat grass. They like hay. The going rate of a 1500 lb round bale of hay is about $100. That’s about $.07/lb. Do you know how long it will take 100 rabbits to go through 1500 lbs of hay? Me neither. But here’s what’s even cheaper. Grass from my yard. For my does, which I keep in hutches so I can control their breeding and just know where they are, I cut fresh grass and weeds for them. That is very free. When the kits get old enough, they go out onto the grass in a little portable pen, which I move once or twice a day. Both times I move it, it is free. And my lawn is better because of it. I supplement their diet with some high quality rabbit pellets just to make sure that they are getting nutrients that they need that may not be found in the grass they have access to, so this adds cents per day.
Over the years of my raising chickens, I have lost very many to predators. A week ago, I lost one baby bunny to my cat.
I suppose people raise chickens because they like to eat chickens. Not much beats a well raised chicken. I haven’t actually tried a domestically raised rabbit, but when all is said and done we are looking at price tags of probably $7-10/lb for my chicken, and if each one of those 35 cent rabbits grows into just 3 lbs of meat , we are looking at maybe $.15/lb for some premium, grass-fed goodness. And if the taste is a little different, I will happily pay seven dollars per pound less for whatever that tiny taste difference is. I am not worried about it though- I’ve hear many people say it tastes like chicken.