Guineas? Turkeys? Rabbits? Which is the best home grown meat?

Farmfresh

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If you want a lot of meat - then rabbits are your source! When we first started raising meat animals rabbits were our first choice. With three healthy and good producing meat type does (we had Checkered Giants and Flemish Giants and mixed New Zealands) and one buck we kept our young family of 5 in plenty of meat. Rabbit meat is much like chicken, so you can substitute it in almost any chicken recipe.

The biggest problem with raising rabbits is predators. EVERYTHING would love to eat your rabbits. Once you have a secure cage set up they are easy to maintain. Rabbits can take a lot of cold, but heat really bothers them. With the trees you mentioned there will probably be lots of shade.

As for feeding them a bale of high quality alfalfa hay will last a LONG time. That will provide most of their nutritional needs, then you can supplement with grains or other things from there.

The other sticking point with meat rabbits is the cute factor. Some people have a hard time killing them. Actually processing is VERY easy. Much easier than cleaning a chicken. If you think you might want to try raising meat rabbits I highly recommend that you buy a few LIVE rabbits and process them yourself BEFORE get you set up to raise any. That way you will know what to expect at processing time and make sure the CUTE factor will not be a problem.
 

savingdogs

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I've been looking at some Creme d' Argents? Rabbits seem to be winning this poll, hands down. But these ones are from someone using them for showing so I could possibly have a nice resale on them and GORGEOUS hides, they are lovely.

My hubby is already planning the hutch.....he HATES the idea of guineas being loud and obnoxious, although I'm still thinking we may want a few turkeys too, but they are not getting many votes here.

This imput is fantastic!
 

tortoise

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I have no problem with predators. We have raccoons (the WORST for rabbits!), even bear! I leave the shed open at night and have never had an issue. We also have two dogs that run around the yard within electric/underground fence.

I don't know what size bale? But the small rectangular bales I go through fast if I'm not feeding a lot of pellets. I find there is far too much waste than I am willing to pay for. I do keep grass hay around for various reasons, but not as a primary food source.

I agree that they are super-easy to dress. Easier than filleting a fish.

On "cute-factor": I have always been interested in raising animals for meat. Even when I was a vegetarian in high school! I had 2 pet rabbits then. I remember saying that I would raise rabbits for meat, that my breeders would be pets and babies would be food. That's pretty much how I do it now.

My rabbits are stinkin' spoiled. They love yogurt covered raisins and vanilla biscuits, lol. But those babies are meaties if they don't sell for ARBA or 4H show-ers.

For cute-factor, I close my eyes when I stun them. Sorta like sneezing - I can't help it!! So I set up a restraint that I can safely close my eyes and not lose my hand, lol. Once it is dead, the cute factor is over. At least, for me it is.

I have 4 does and 2 bucks. And a cutie show rabbit of a non-meat breed - my son's pet and future 4H project. I could overwhelm myself with rabbits easily! I'm working towards having a steady supply of meat. Mine have litters of 10 - 11, which I cull down to 6 or 8. So breeding every other month should give me a constant supply. Only problem is my last 4 breedings haven't "took." And the adult buck is a proven breeder. (grrr...) But the other buck is 6 months old and his first chance at breeding something. Crossing fingers! I could be buck-less and this is a HARD breed to find a good buck!
 

Blackbird

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Tort, have you heard about using vanilla extract to help a doe conceive? I was told that by someone but haven't done it myself. You might want to look into it... Or do you specifically think it's the bucks?

We're down to two retired mini lops that I used to show. We had about thirty rabbits, of various breeds, the mini lops, new Zealand (white & red), rex, satin, Dutch, dwarf hotot, dwarf Himalayan, and silver marten. Though if I was going to raise rabbits again, I would go with the Silver Martens and Angoras.
 

Farmfresh

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I LOVE turkeys and they would give you a lot of meat, but they do take some experience to get them started. They are about half the size of my broiler chicks when they hatch! I like to start a few chicks with mine. It helps the poults to find the food and water better and helps them get started.

Also I know you said you don't think you have a space for pigs. I have heard that some of the finest pork everywhere is produced on mast. What that means is pork produced in a natural setting... the forest! Pigs are designed to root and dig and forage in a wooded setting. Like some of our other friends on here have shown they thrive on acorns and other thing like that.

Your hilly woodland may just work for a couple of pigs.
 

farmerlor

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Farmfresh said:
I LOVE turkeys and they would give you a lot of meat, but they do take some experience to get them started. They are about half the size of my broiler chicks when they hatch! I like to start a few chicks with mine. It helps the poults to find the food and water better and helps them get started.

Also I know you said you don't think you have a space for pigs. I have heard that some of the finest pork everywhere is produced on mast. What that means is pork produced in a natural setting... the forest! Pigs are designed to root and dig and forage in a wooded setting. Like some of our other friends on here have shown they thrive on acorns and other thing like that.

Your hilly woodland may just work for a couple of pigs.
I agree about the pork. Did you know that in the old days you could rent a pig to dig up tree roots for you? They love to graze and dig for food.
 

Farmfresh

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When I raised rabbits we bought high quality green leafy 75 pound bales of alfalfa (lots of horse folk around here) for about $5.00 a bale. I had a feeder with a bottom in it so the good leafy part was not wasted. I used hay almost solely for my bucks and non- breeding does.

Worked for me.
 

CrimsonRose

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For meat hands down my rabbits are the easiest... unlike baby chicks you don't need a brooder or other fancy care the mom does it all for you... some people process the babies at 8 weeks and up to that point most of their food comes from moms milk so you have almost no money in the meat... And Rabbits resell fairly easy so you can even sell some to help pay for feed... In the summer I put my kiddos to work pulling up weeds to feed them and they get the extra garden scraps... the most you will ever spend on the bunnies is the housing... after the initial cost of hutches they are really cheap to raise!

Chickens I hate to process they are a royal pain... Rabbits are much easier!

Another option since you already have goats is the breed them to another meat goat buck next time you need to freshen them so the babies will be meatie...

If cost is a factor another cheap animal to raise is coturnix quail... They mature fast you get extra "baby eggs" from them that the kiddos will love and they don't take much space at all! Super easy to process as well... only downfall to them is you will need an incubator to hatch more out or a really good broody hen...
 

tortoise

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Blackbird said:
Tort, have you heard about using vanilla extract to help a doe conceive? I was told that by someone but haven't done it myself. You might want to look into it... Or do you specifically think it's the bucks?
It's the buck. I got all my meaties this year out of him (while at a different breeder). So I know he is physically all there.

I paired him with my most productive doe. She has NEVER not taken a breeding before. She's docile for breeding, but she does hop around. So then I put him with a young doe. She might have been too young.

*sigh*

Vanilla might work, but my #1 goal is hardy, vigorous animals. If I have to "baby" it, it is butchered or sold. I won't deal with babying these rabbits.

I worked at a dog kennel that helped their puppies. Over 30 years, they went from vigorous to not worth breeding anymore. Litter size was dramatically down. Whelping took up to 12 hours. No natural breedings anymore.

I won't put up with that in my rabbits.
 

Wifezilla

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Crimson, I got lucky and had one of my coturnix go broody. She only managed to hatch 3 and keep 1 alive until adulthood, but it was her first time and coturnix are notoriously bad mothers, so I still call that a win! LOL I will see if she tries again in spring.

As for having a hen hatch out quail eggs, it is not recommended. Even if you are using a little silkie, the eggs can get crushed. Also there are diseases that chickens are naturally immune to that quail are not. If the chickens are carriers, quail will die and the chickens wont get so much as a sniffle.
 

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