I thought I’d throw this up there to show people what it REALLY costs me to make these rabbits of mine happen. I am not counting startup costs because those are wildly different for each different facility, based on your cages, equipment, where you get your rabbits from, how fast they start breeding, etc.
Hay; $150. We use a LOT of hay. It’s bedding, it’s feed, the rabbits chug it down, I pull it out of cages, throw it on the ground and add more every single day. We are super wasteful about our hay – deliberately so. I never want the rabbits to be without ultra-fresh hay as it’s the MOST important food source for a rabbit. I also want them to have clean bedding always. A non-breeding rabbit can LIVE off of a good hay. A breeding rabbit can too if there’s lots of alfalfa in it and they only breed a few times a year. We use about 600lbs a year, the equivalent of ten of our smaller bales or one BIG round bale. It is delivered as well which costs extra. We lose a little bit to mold and a lot to everything else so this is the most you could POSSIBLY spend on hay for three breeding does, a buck and offspring. We also feed this hay to our dwarf lops in smaller quantities.
Cleaning Supplies; I would say a gallon of bleach and white vinegar respectively is good for these. I use these things in cleaning cages AND for cleaning carcasses (or more specifically cleaning carcass cleaning equipment). This is about $10 total.
Pest Control; I use D.E. powder and pine shavings to help keep bugs down. A bag of DE is more of a startup cost and was $20 (I have used less than half; we’ll call it $10), the pine shavings are about $20 a year.
Electric/water/etc. Probably like $25 specifically for the rabbits each year. Sometimes we have to run heatlamps, garage lights or hoses and that adds up. Monthly that’s like $2 so we don’t even notice, but it exists.
Yearly feed; Every year I buy a bag of cracked corn for winter and alfalfa in the summer for a total of $25.
Yearly total; $240
This is almost exclusively feed costs. We go through a little over a bag ($19) each month and spend a few dollars each month on greens or excess veggies when we don’t have any weeds or grass growing. The greens we get are less than a dollar a pound, and we can get 10lbs of organic carrots for $6.50 and they won’t eat that in three months, so this is maybe $2/month. We can probably assume this cost is around $21 on an average month.
For a total of $41 each month. At this cost, assuming 6 for the average litter size we get our rabbit meat at about $2.30/lb. However, that’s not how the numbers actually fall.
Often times I sell half or more of the rabbits in a litter live. If those three rabbits are two does and a buck (as is often the case) I bring in $55. If I sell more does the number climbs. Also, selling live I spend less money on feed. Marginally less but it translates into about $3 a month.
I also have the furs from a butchered animal. I haven’t tanned these yet (at the cost of $2 a hide) but if I can sell them for ANYTHING I will bring in an additional profit.
Most of the time my litters are seven rabbits average. Bare meat costs are actually about $2/lb flat for our rabbits if we sold none, cheaper than most cuts of chicken or pork.
Because we sell a lot of our rabbits live or for more than it takes to produce the meat, the profits we bring in more than cancels out the costs. I have been known to sell whole litters for meat ($5/lb) or live ($15-$20) within the first three weeks. A whole litter of seven with an average cost of $17/rabbit brings in about $120. Not bad for a $41 a month expenditure minus saved feed for live sales. We look at profits on meat/live sales alone of $80 per litter.
If I can tan the hides and sell them at a mere $5 each, I will add $20 to that number each month. If I can sew them into pouches for sale I can bring that up to $40 or $50.
And if I only manage to sell 1-2 rabbits and NOTHING else? I have FREE (or nearly free) meat to put in my freezer, and rabbit hides for my own personal use!
The rabbits take maybe an hour of my time every day. This isn’t a quit your dayjob thing, lower wage than a waitress without tips, but when I go to expand my operation the time it takes to care for them will go up minimally since most of that time is dead time (once you have the scoop in your hand it only take a minute or two more to fill four more feed bowls, but the time spent getting to the scoop, refilling the feed container, opening it, etc is the same). If I bring in three more does I could expect to double my paying-me mount. And three more and I am making a real per-hour living, if not a real monthly living… Off of rabbit breeding. One step at a time!
And the best part is? I love doing it! The satisfaction of doing this every day is greater than any other profession in the world. You can keep your cubicles, your annoying bosses, your cramped labs… I consult nature for my daily tasks, eat the best food in the world, and play with bunnies to make money! Yeah!