Considering getting into meat rabbits to feed your family? Great choice! You’ll be surprised at how much meat you can raise in your yard!
Now the big question: how many rabbits will you need?
A family of four will need 6 breeding does (adult female rabbits) that raise 48 kits each per year to eat rabbit 5 times per week and two breeding does to eat rabbit once per week.
|Rabbit Dinners |
|Does Needed |
(one fryer per meal)
(two fryers per meal)
Does needed are rounded up, for example 4.33 does needed is rounded up to 5 does.
For this article the first part is a simplified example using average rabbit production.
The second part of the article gets much more detailed for anyone who wants to explore more options.
Cost To Get Started Raising Meat Rabbits goes over the costs of the rabbits and equipment you’ll need to buy to get going with raising your own fryers.
How much rabbit do you plan to eat?
We’ll have to set up some basic guidelines here to figure this out. You’ll need to decide:
- Times per week you will be eating rabbit
- Rabbits needed per meal
I’ll pick some numbers to use to help make this clear. Feel free to redo the numbers with amounts you have picked for you and your family.
Backyard Rabbits shows you how you can fit raising rabbits into your yard, even if you have a small one!
Example with 5 rabbits per week
For this example, we’ll use 5 rabbits per week total.
An average meat rabbit doe with moderate production should be able to produce 48 fryers (young meat rabbits) per year.
For the sake of simplicity, 48 fryers a middle ground number that should be doable.
(For a detailed explanation of breeding cycles for meat production, click here.)
You would need 6 does to feed your family
To eat 5 fryers per week, you’ll need 260 fryers total. With each doe having 48 fryers per year, you’ll need to have 6 does.
(The exact answer is 5.4166, but where do you get .4166 of a rabbit? 🙂 )
Please, think about what you need and redo the numbers to suit you and your family.
This is a very simplified version, you can produced more or less fryers per doe per year.
The remainder of this article is more detailed and goes into more of your choices.
You can get anywhere from 32 fryers per year per doe to 64 fryers per year per doe, depending upon how you manage them. Read on for the full scoop!
Determining how much rabbit you eat
Before you know how many rabbits you need to have to feed your family, you need to know how much rabbit you are planning on having per week.
Figure up how often you plan to eat rabbit per week
Are you thinking of having enough fryers for two meals of rabbit per week or are you thinking bigger, more like ten meals per week?
Really take some time and think this one through. There is no right or wrong answer here, just what you and your family want to eat for the week.
Consider your schedule and how often you actually cook. Not sure? Write down your normal week and where you ate.
Nothing wrong with eating out once in a while.
I’m pointing out that if you really only cook 3 meals per week then why are you running the numbers on having 10 meals of rabbit per week?
No need to over complicate this, work with how you cook/handle meals now.
How many rabbits per meal?
Aside from how often per week you’ll have rabbit on the menu, you’ll also need to think about how many rabbits you are going to cook per meal.
Two adults with little kids: If you have a family of four with two little kids, then one rabbit will be plenty.
Adults with kids that are big eaters: If your family has numerous hungry teenagers, you’ll need to cook more like two rabbits per meal.
Big families: Chances are good that you’ll need more than one rabbit per meal, as well.
Bulk cooking: Anyone who likes to bulk cook will need to figure up the number of rabbits per meal, as well.
I like to cook extra to have handy leftovers. I’m not a true bulk cook, I’m more of a “leftovers are easy and fast” cook.
Either way, cooking once to have multiple meals works.
Use rabbit meals/week to find number of rabbits to raise
Now take the number of meals per week that you want to make from rabbit and the number of rabbits per meal and multiply them together.
# meals/week eating rabbit x # rabbits eaten/meal=rabbits needed per week to feed your family
Now multiply the rabbits needed per week by 52 weeks to get the rabbits needed for your family per year.
# rabbits needed per week x 52 weeks=# rabbits needed per year
Let’s see some examples to make this clear
Here are a few examples to make this more clear:
Example 1: You decide you want to have rabbit for 3 meals per week and you will just need to cook one rabbit per meal.
For each week you’ll need 3 rabbits and for the year you’ll need 156 rabbits.
1 rabbit per meal x 3 meals per week=3 rabbits per week
3 rabbits/week x 52 weeks=156 rabbits for your family per year
Example 2: You have a few of big eaters at dinner, so you’ll need to have 2 rabbits per meal. You want to eat rabbit for 2 meals per week.
You also like to have friends over for BBQ a few times a year and want to serve rabbit for the party, so we’ll need another 8 rabbits for each of your parties. We’ll say 3 nice weather parties.
For your family you need 4 rabbits per week, which is 208 rabbits per year. For the parties you need 8 rabbits for 3 parties, which is 24 grilling rabbits. 232 rabbits are needed for your family and friends to eat for the year.
Family: 2 rabbits/meal x 2 meals/week=4 rabbits/week, 4/week x 52=208 rabbits per year
Party: 8 rabbits/party x 3 parties=24 party/grilling rabbits
208 family rabbits + 24 party rabbits=232 rabbits per year
These are two of many possible examples, so you can get the idea to figure up your own needs.
Other possibilities you may want to consider including in your estimates are selling rabbit meat, selling some rabbits live, raising rabbits for friends or relatives, selling a few fryers commercially, etc.
Determine how many rabbits you will need
Using the numbers you have from the section above now you decide how you want to raise the rabbits you will be managing.
I have an in depth article going over How Much Meat Will A Pair Of Rabbits Produce Per Year. Check it out for sample production schedules and pitfalls to be aware of!
For anyone who has not yet read that article, here is a quick summary of the three levels of production from your rabbits and why it matters to you.
Intensive production system produces 64 fryers
This is the most productive system. It is also the most demanding of both your breeding stock and you, management wise.
An intensive breeding schedule will put the doe having kits every 45 days (8 litters per year) and you raising 64 kits (224 pounds of meat) per doe.
Intensive production demands top quality genetics, nutrition and management.
Moderate production system produces 48 fryers
The moderate production system is a bit more relaxed than the intensive, yet still very productive.
This system has the doe on a 60 day cycle (6 litters per year) and producing 48 kits (168 pounds of meat) per year.
You will still need to take great care of your rabbits and have great genetics for your doe to kindle 6 times per year.
You still get a lot of fryers for the freezer, but it goes a bit easier on the doe.
Average production system produces 32 fryers
The average production system has a doe kindling 4 times per year.
This is a much more relaxed schedule than the previous two, but allows for a little more “wiggle room” when you slip up.
On this schedule your doe will have 4 litters per year and produce 32 kits (112 pounds of meat) per year.
How many rabbits do you need?
Now we work out the final numbers!
All we are doing here is taking the number of fryers your family needs (from the first part of the article) and comparing that with the production abilities of the doe under the different production systems.
Let’s so some math using the examples above.
Example 1 (continued): In the first example your family needs 156 rabbits per year.
If you look at the breeding schedules above you’ll notice that none of the breeding systems will produce 156 rabbits per year from one doe. So how many does do you need?
4 does kindling 6 times per year would give you 192 rabbits. 3 does would produce 144 fryers, so a little under what you need.
If you want a few extra fryers, go with 4 does. If you want to get a few less fryers than you had hoped, go with 3 does.
Example 2 (continued): In the second example you need 232 rabbits for your family for the year.
You would need 5 does on the moderate (6 kindlings/year) cycle or 4 does on the intensive (8 litters) plan to produce the 232 fryers you need for the year.
A rabbit trio will produce 112 pounds of meat
If you just want to eat the fryers your pair or trio of rabbits produce, that’s great!
Even one doe on an average production schedule of 4 months will still have 32 kits per year. That’s 112 pounds of meat!
Do a bit of math and see what you can expect from your rabbits this year!
Use numbers that fit your rabbit management
Work out what you are willing to do and how much effort you are willing to put into your rabbits before you decide which production system you want to follow.
If you just want to have an easier time of it and be less demanding on your breeding stock, use the average breeding system of 4 litters per year.
If you are willing to get top of the line breeding stock and provide them excellent care, including nutrition, try the intensive schedule and see if it works for you.
If it proves to be too much for your does or the time you want to put into your rabbits, just back off the rebreeding time to later and follow a less stringent plan.
You may have to follow a less demanding plan if your area does not have higher protein (18%) rabbit feed.
Read my article How Long Does It Take To Grow A Rabbit For Meat for more details.
If you are interested in more of a vintage perspective, read The Guide To Raising And Breeding Rabbits For Meat, which is an article from 1970 in Mother Earth News. It’s a good article, just realize the prices are not current!