Are chickens easier and cheaper than rabbits?

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a7736100

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Considering cost of chicken house vs rabbit cages; getting scratches from rabbits; breeding; processing.
I only raise rabbits.
 

CanineWild

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One thing to consider might be that, assuming your comparing meat rabbits to meat chickens, rather than laying hens, the commercial chickens often raised for meat aren't something you can generally breed for yourself. Rather you have to buy chicks or eggs every year, and have the proper equipment for that. It would be different of course if you went with a heritage breed, though the meat quantity would naturally be different.
 

hotzcatz

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Well, it all depends on your situation. Around here we have no predators so the chickens can just wander around. They're annoying when they get in the garden and they keep getting on the porch, but they're pretty much zero maintenance. The hens lay their eggs in a nesting box in an empty hole in the bunny hutch. That's a mongoose proof place so we get the eggs instead of the mongoose.

We don't really feed the chickens, we give them a bit now and then but they do most of their own foraging. Which means we get less eggs, but the eggs are basically free since we don't feed the chickens. The hens occasionally decide to set and hatch out some chicks, we have one rooster so the eggs are fertile. When they start to crow, we eat the roosters so some of them provide meat, the rest provide eggs and all of them provide entertainment watching them wander around the yard.

This may not be a situation which works for you, but it works for us at the moment.
 

michaels4gardens

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In my experience,
If you are buying all of your feed, "cornish cross meat chickens" have a much better
feed conversion ratio than rabbits. Chicken will be cheaper / lb than rabbit meat.
Butchering chickens is easy for some people, and not so easy for others..
If you want the skin on the chickens, then heating water , scalding, and plucking 4 or 5 chickens
is much more time consuming.
-- If you butcher 25 to 50 at a time, -- then the butchering time /bird is comparable to rabbits.
 

GBov

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I agree, it all depends upon what you are aiming for.

Chickens and rabbits just go together for me because I hate waste of all kinds and between them they can eat everything we don't. All veg scraps go to the bunnies and all leftovers go to the chickens.

No matter how good I am at using up bits, sometimes there is stuff that cant be used and, with a fortnightly garbage collection, the bins smell something awful with food waste in them. Can't WAIT to get our new hens, just a few weeks to go.

With just hens, the scraps come back as super quality eggs, but if you are raising dual-purpose or hatching your own your scraps turn into both meat and eggs. Feed does have to be bought as well so factor in that cost as well.

Chickens are noisy, rabbits not. Both of them make quality fertilizer for the veg patch.

I can dispatch and dress out a fryer in 4.46 minutes and scalding/cleaning a meat bird takes me 9 minutes - but clean up is MUCH faster and easier after doing rabbits.

My advice is, have both! :D <br /><br /> __________ Sat Jan 23, 2021 11:23 am __________ <br /><br /> Oh, forgot to add, rabbits give you a pelt to work with while chicken feathers have very few uses.

Did I already say have both? :lol:
 

Zass

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Cornish crosses may have a better feed conversion, but the rabbits are hind gut fermenters who can thrive and gain weight on very different things than chickens, especially meat birds.
 

hotzcatz

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GBov":1179iivx said:
I agree, it all depends upon what you are aiming for.

<SNIP>
Oh, forgot to add, rabbits give you a pelt to work with while chicken feathers have very few uses.

Did I already say have both? :lol:

If you skin a chicken with the feathers still on and then lay it flat to dry you'll have a 'chicken pelt'. Kinda a 'flat chicken' or a 'feather shield' sorta thing. Fun wall art, although I'd intended on saving the feathers for making feather hatbands and figured they'd stay more organized on the skin. Never did make feather hat bands, but the flat chickens were fun for awhile. Finally gave them to someone else to make Hawaiian feather hatbands. Hmm, wonder if rabbit pelts would make a good hatband?
 

DoozyWombat

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In 2019, I built a chicken coop and a rabbitry. The coop was a deluxe Woods coop, and cost me about $1000 in materials. The rabbitry is an eight (large) cage model, and cost about $400 in materials. (Per animal, the coop was much cheaper, as the coop can handle up to forty adult chickens.)

In April of 2020, I got both a batch of chicks and some NZW rabbits. Both got scraps, but both also mainly just ate store feed--although the chickens did a lot of foraging. Since I was doing this for the first time, I tracked every penny.

Every time I processed an animal, I weighed the dressed carcass, ready for the freezer.

I did not count start-up costs or equipment. My flock consists of Dark Brahmas and one Leghorn, which provide both eggs and entertainment. I also got 25 of the Jumbo Cornish Cross from Cackle Hatchery (great place, btw.) I harvested all the Cornish Cross between four and twelve weeks, and I still have the others (except for one rooster who got aggressive.)

The rabbits are much less entertaining, and much more work.

If I had lots of free time and carefully checked what I foraged, I could probably have fed the rabbits through the warm weather months for not much. But I didn't have the time, so they basically just ate store feed, except for table scraps. And through the winter, they eat and eat and eat! Layer feed costs about $13 for 50lbs. Rabbit feed costs about $20 for 50lbs, and each animal consumes a lot more.

I added up all the costs for ordering the chicks, shipping, and every consumable I got for them. The chickens, dressed and bagged for the freezer, came out to exactly $1/pound. That's for organic, free-range chicken, which runs $6 to $7 per pound in the stores around here. I also find dressing chickens easier than rabbits, but I agree with the comment that you want to do a bunch at a time, because the clean-up is definitely messier.

The rabbits, by comparison, are costing somewhere between $12/pound and $20/pound, depending on whether you count the cost for a single kit raised to 12 weeks, or the cost of raising them to breeding age and feeding the doe through weaning the kits. I'm sure my numbers are somewhat high, because I could probably have reduced costs by rationing the food, or harvested forage during the summer to feed during the winter, or similar things. But I just didn't have the time, so this is 100% store feed conversion.

Rabbit meat is delicious, but the chicken from those free-range broilers is quite a bit better, IMO. Maybe it's just because I've been eating chicken all my life, but I find butchering and eating both easier with chickens.

I've already ordered forty more Cornish Cross chicks for this year, since we will have eaten last year's harvest by the time they are ready for processing.

I'm sure I've made a bunch of mistakes that cost money, but the amount of work per animal is at least ten times as much, and the cost of the processed meat is between twelve and twenty times as much. If I had loads of time, I could probably raise the rabbits for even less than the chickens, so that should be a factor to consider if you have a lot of free time.

As a hedge against collapse, rabbits are a great resource, because they can multiply much faster than chickens. As an efficient way to put food on the table for a busy family, not so much.

I realize this may be seen as heresy on rabbittalk, and I apologize. Backyardchickens.com is my resource for all things chicken.

I've enjoyed the rabbits, but for me, it's much too much work for not much reward. I'll be harvesting or selling off my livestock in the next few weeks. If anyone wants some New Zealand Whites in the Winchester, Virginia area, let me know. I plan to keep the rabbitry for the future.
 

GBov

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Hardly heresy DW, just your personal experience.

I found rabbits and chickens ate, cup for cup, the same amount but chicken food was cheaper than rabbit food.

Until I started feeding fermented feed which meant they both got the same amount spent on them.

Chickens are easier to feed than rabbits as they all get fed from the same bowl, while each rabbit had to be fed one at a time.

I HATE cleaning chickens but love dressing out a rabbit and, at the end of it all, I have a lovely pelt to work with instead of a mass of stinking wet feathers.

Each to their own, and I love that everyone can have their own opinions and experiences that others can learn from.

Gosh, its almost like we are all grownups on RT! :group-hug2:
 

michaels4gardens

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My experience,
Rabbit meat costs more to produce than broiler breed chicken meat,
largely because of the need to maintain adult breed stock.
And...
Commercially produced rabbit feed ,costs a lot more than chicken feed..
There is no plausable excuse for the high cost of rabbit feed,other than "pet" type profit margins
from sales.[IE: greed]
When I had a lot of rabbits, and had my rabbit feed made and delivered in a bulk truck
to my farm feed bins, the cost of rabbit feed was comparable to my other "livestock feeds".[IE: chicken, and pig feed]
Raising rabbits on garden or farm raised feeds is not only possible , but much more efficient than broiler chickens.
Rabbits can be efficently raised on feeds that do not "directly compete" with human feed needs.
IE hay, cornstalks, root crops, garden waste, and green feeds like kale.
My experience was very consistant with the "study" linked below..

https://meatscience.org/docs/default-so ... f?sfvrsn=2
 

Ghost

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What, I thought i hit the preview button, not the post button.
I don"t adapt to change easily.
 

cybercat

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As I have both and have processed both here is some information.
Short answer Rabbit is way easier all around and much more healthier.

We started with chickens because I could free range which meant less cost in feed. Hindsight is 20/20. It has been Way more costly to raise chickens. I breed my own too. But building costs, bedding costs and predator losses really put up price of those cute little $3 chicks. Unless you are doing a meat breed x then you will have to breed up hatchery stock to get a good carcass. Chickens don't grow fast at all so that takes more time. Meat breeds do if you feed them all the time. But that meat because of feed is not very flavorful. If you do a meat x you must buy every year. If you breed your own you can hatch out all year. You have more control of number with hatching if you don't want to process 50 birds at one time. Downside you need more holding pens. Which will need repairs and or being moved if in tractors. Chicken are a on ground livestock and are noisy which attracts predators from places unknown. We have been hit over the years with fox, hawk, rat, snake and Bear and raccoon. Bear almost made me buy all new stock as he hit every other night for over a week. He thought to come back following Spring but ran into our dog. I heard everything and bear was smart and moved on away from people.

We now have rabbit specifically Silver Fox. I do still have small flock of chickens for eggs now also. But no more processing them. Not worth the work at all. It takes longer to process a chicken than a rabbit because of the feathers. No matter if you skin or not. Chickens cost less as a Chick but that's it. With rabbits their meat is Way more nutritious. Look that up you will be shocked do a search on meat nutrition comparisons. I found list that cover all the livestock animals from cows to rabbits. Nutrition wise rabbit topped the list as the most beneficial and nutritious.
There easier to keep. Less messy and take less space. Price of feed is same. Price of animal is not. Chicks are $3 each rabbit ranges from $25+. I bought my first trio at $65. Had to buy a replacement buck for same price as one with trio came out sterile. In my breed right now cost is up per animal for good stock. Good stock means a breeder that breed towards Standard of Perfection and might or might not show. But harvest based on SOP so most of litter goes in freezer. I process my own rabbits at 12 weeks. A litter is anywhere from 1 to 14 average is usually 8. You can rebreed right after birth or wait a couple of weeks. I usually rebreed 4 weeks after birth. Kits are with mom 6 weeks then moved to growout pen till 12 weeks.
Cost for setup right now is less than chickens. Price on wood and fencing is up. Buying cages is less costly if a trio but you will need to add more. As I said I started with 3 now have 7. One growout pen we built but will be replaced with cages. Wood and rabbits don't mix well. The chew it and there pee erodes it faster. Full wire galvanized after weld is best and last years. Rabbit math is a real thing. 2 does can produce 64 kits with 4 breedings each if all goes right. That is 8 kits each litter and all survive. Which just doesn't happen anymore than it does with chicken where you loose a few at hatch many times. But with rabbits you don't need special grow out feed. They nurse off doe until they start eating her feed too. So one less cost there. They stay with mom for 6 weeks till put into their growout cage. You can do a rabbit tractor with them too if you choose. A big plus their poop can be used immediately does not need to be composted. You can sell it to gardeners too by the bag if you so choose. There is no real noise with rabbits either. Clean up is easy since they poop pellet balls. You can use fur too if you tan it. Or you can do what I do and slice it roll it freeze it for or dogs. Makes great cold treats in summer. Meat wise is almost the same in weights. I 12 week old feeds 3 adults here for 2 meals plus some leftover for dogs. Dogs love raw rabbit or cooked rabbit. Can't say same with chicken for my 4. Versatility is same in cooking, anything you do with chicken can be done to rabbit. To me rabbit tastes better so I buy chicken from store now or only eat in restaurants. Hubby is not a chicken fan but loves rabbit. For weight loss it's the better meat once again. So rabbit is a major win win here and I wish I started sooner.
 

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