The Value of Backyard Protein

I’ve often been asked what price I’d charge for the rabbits, quail, ducks, or chickens I raised in my backyard. I’ve done some rough estimations on what I have invested in each animal, but the number of variables staggers me.

Do I include electricity used to pump the water for the automatic waterers?
Should I put a value on the table scraps and leftovers that I feed to the animals?
What about gas spent in picking up feed? Or my labor in harvesting and dressing them out?

These and many other questions pop up every time I try to figure what the price of my home raised protein is.

So instead of trying to figure what it costs me to raise it, I decided to price out the replacement price, or simply put, see what the local grocery store charges.

I was actually shocked at the price the local store puts on the same meat I raise.


Packaged Rabbit Meat
Packaged Rabbit Meat


Price of Rabbit meat
Price of Rabbit meat


As you can see in the picture on the right, rabbit is $13.08 a pound. I harvest my rabbits at around 8 weeks of age, yielding roughly 2-3 pounds of dressed out, bone-in meat. That means that in order to replace one of my rabbits with something purchased at the local store, I’d pay $26.16 to $39.24.

I’m not sure what I have invested into each animal by the time it reaches harvest weight and age, but I’m almost positive that it would be less than $25 each.




Packaged Quail Meat
Packaged Quail Meat


Price of Quail Meat per pound
Price of Quail Meat per pound


Quail is a little less expensive at 70.56 cents per pound, or $11.29 per pound. Each one-pound package consists of four birds, about half of what I’m seeing in my birds at 8 weeks, so it takes me two to three birds to yield a pound.


That puts the price per bird at $3.76 to $5.65, not a bad price, and pretty close the the asking price of live birds. Thisquail productions times seems like a much better deal, until you factor in egg production.

If you look back through my quail articles, you’ll find that it takes 59 days to achieve a harvest-sized bird from an egg. Of those 59 days, the last 10 days the hens can start producing eggs, roughly 3-6 eggs per bird for that time period.

You can buy 30 quail eggs for eating at Amazon for $20, plus $4.95 shipping. At $0.83 cents per egg,  3-6 eggs adds up to almost the value of the bird itself ($2.49 – $4.98).

Factoring in egg production, raising quail is also cheaper than buying them.

I do not have any data on duck meat, as Muscovies are hard to find in the store :)

Chicken is one of the least expensive meats, until you figure in fee-range, antibiotic free, (and tasty!) chicken. Raising your own chickens is also a guaranteed money saver, when you compare apples to apples. (Do NOT compare the $10-$15 dollars it costs you raise your own birds against the factory-rasied CornishX pop-tart birds that take less than 3 months to reach harvest weight…however, raising some yourself can produce a respectable product in that same amount of time, with YOU controlling their inputs…just a thought.)




Yes, this is mostly just a simply, useless exercise in number crunching. I do NOT buy rabbit or quail at the store. And I don’t buy quail eggs for eating.

However, if I were to choose between the two options based on cost alone, I’ve proven it is probably less expensive to produce it myself.

And this doesn’t factor in the added value raising your own animal protein provides, like knowing the animals had a good life, what the animals were eating, what antibiotics they consumed (none, I hope!), and the freedom providing your own food gives you.


But then what do I know, I’m just some hillbilly with a computer, the ability to string words together….


                                                                       ….and to raise some of my own food.



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  1. Intellectually, I totally understand that we all eat meat, meat was once an animal but for the life of me, I just can’t help getting attached to every single animal I go near. I foster kittens and it’s hard enough to take them out for adoption every weekend. And I make sure I’m not there when they DO get adopted. So I just can’t fathom killing an animal, myself, to eat. I have no clue how to toughen up and get over it. Maybe if I had no other choice, and had been hungry a very long time.
    Plus, I lived on a farm for a little while and fresh meat tastes terrible to me. Most especially beef. Tastes like what the live ones smell like. So, double, I just don’t know how you do it. You genuinely sound like you LIKE the stuff and that you’d rather have your own than grocery store meat.
    And I have a pet rabbit so…yeah.

    1. I get attached to the animals as well, but I’m more attached to my wife and kids. I do this partly to make sure they have some healthy meat as often as possible.

      I also believe that everyone should look their food in the eye before consuming it, and then life would become FAR more precious…

      There was a time in my life where on a GOOD day, I’d get a single meal. Hunger makes you appreciate food of any sort.

      And I also believe that with proper handling, from harvest to fork, makes ALL the difference in enjoying the flavor. Turning basic ingredients into good food is a fabulous talent….

      And of course I prefer what I raise to store bought, I know what goes into it, and therefore what goes into me.

      I’m trying to make sure the worms and vultures don’t get too much GMOs, toxins, and other bad stuff into their systems from eating me :)

    2. Cinnamonbite,
      Much Like DB I raise rabbits (DB inspired this), Ducks (got some from a friend and some from family), Chickens (have had them for years mostly for eggs) Pigs (bought 1 and got 3 from Craigslist) gonna butcher them soon, as soon as I get a mentor to teach me how

      I know my animals live a much better life then the ones that are raised for the stores, they have space to run around in, they get to eat bugs and other forage, and we supplement their feed
      My pigs have a large area to live in, they get fed scraps, they get to dig around and play in the mud and be pigs.


  2. I would be interested to know what you spend on meat at the grocery store…and if you didn’t have the meat you raise a home what would you spend.

    Surely if you didn’t have meat at home you wouldn’t spend that much per pound on a rabbit????

    1. The price break for a beef steak, typically ribeye, is around $7. At that price, I rarely get ribeyes.
      The price point for pork is around $2.50, depending on the cut. More often than not, I but larger portions of pork and cut and package it myself.

      Other price points (per pound) I use: Chicken breast $2.50, thighs $1.00. sausage $2.50, shrimp $8.00.

      I shop sales, and rarely pay full retail. AS to rabbit and quail, if I didn’t raise them, I’d not buy them at any price. I know what it costs to produce them so I know that the profit margin sets teh price of each beyond what I’m willing to pay.

      Lucky for me and mine, I CAN raise my own meat, as well as hunt and harvest more meat, and from time to time, can arrange a bulk buy or barter for a partial animal. And wild hogs are thick here and easy to procure.

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