How much meat can I get from raising rabbits and how many meat rabbits should I have?
Updated: Mar 24, 2022
To the answer the question of how many meat rabbits you should have, and how much meat you can raise, we have a few things to take into account. On average Americans consume 274 pounds of meat per year. This does not include seafood of fish. Let's just say it's 274 pounds of meat since that's the number we have to work with. If you are just one person and want to replace half of your meat with home raised rabbits, you will need 137 pounds of rabbit. (374÷2=137)
The normal meat amount per rabbit is 3 to 4 pounds dressed out. This means bone in, but head, feet, skin, intestines and organs removed. At 3 pounds per rabbit you would need 45.6 dressed rabbits per year. 137 pounds for one person for half of their meat needs. Divided by an average of 3 pounds per rabbit equals 45.6 rabbits. We will round this up to 46 rabbits. (137÷3=45.6)
How many breeders do you need to produce 46 rabbits in a year? This varies by the breed you are raising. Some breeds produce higher amounts of kits on average, but generally we can say the overall average is 6. So you want 46 kits a year, and the average litter is 6, you will need 7.6 litters. So let's call it 8. (46÷6=7.6)
We know when breeding it is recommended to breed 2 girls within a couple days of each other so that you can have a foster mom if need be. So at the least you have 2 does and one buck. 8 litters between 2 does is 4 litters a piece. (8÷2=4)
So to produce enough meat for one person for half of their meat consumption, you would need 2 does and one buck, and they would need to have 4 litters.
4 litters a year is very doable for a rabbit. Since rabbits don't have a breeding cycle and ovulate by being bred, you do not have to wait for specific time frames to breed them. A rabbit gestational period is approximately 30 days. Theoretically once the doe has given birth she can then be bred again. Following this logic, you could have 11 litters a year (February has lass than 30 days) so almost 1 litter every month. This is not recommended as your doe needs time to recover from growing, having, and raising her young. But just for numbers sake, having 11 litters per doe, 6 kits per litter and 2 does, would give you 132 rabbits to be processed. 132 rabbits at 3 pounds per rabbit would give you 396 pounds of meat. (11×6×2=132 kits 132×3=396 pounds) but as I mentioned before, it's not good breeding practice to breed your doe right after she has given birth. Some people breed again while the doe is starting to wean her kits (3 or 4 weeks after birth) some wait until the kits are removed and on their own ( 5 to 8 weeks) Some wait even longer.
Let's say you breed 6 times a year ( kits born every 2 months) 6 litters per doe at 6 kits per litter and two does, you would have 72 kits. 72 kits would give you an average of 216 pounds of dressed rabbit meat. That brings you up to over three quarters of one person's yearly meat consumption.
So as you can see the number of meat rabbits you need varies depending on family size, how much you want to replace of your overall meat consumption with rabbit, and how many litters a year you want your does to have.
3 rabbits producing 216 pounds of meat goes a long ways towards saving money on your grocery bill. My current "No frills" grocery store flyer has the cheapest per pound price of meat listed at $3.99. 216 pounds of meat multiplied by $3.99 per pound is a savings of $861.84 per year from raising your own. That's not 100% accurate, as you do have to pay to feed them, but using the cheapest meat in the flyer I say it's a pretty true statement.
If you want to increase your production you could add one more doe, or to double it add 2. Just make sure you have enough time available to tend to the added rabbits and for the added amount of processing.
Home grown meat allows you to be more self reliant and that is our goal at Ontario rabbits.