Have you thought about your fresh meat options for your post apocalyptic needs? I know in my mind, when I factor in current space, time and money restraints, it always comes down to a debate between Rabbits and Chickens. Now, don’t get me wrong, fish and goats are both options too, but they require a bit more space and/or specialized equipment.
So a brief look at both first:
Starting population – Chicken’s prefer company, a single chicken will be lonely and nervous, so you should get at least 3, and if you want procreation at least one of them needs to be a rooster. You don’t have to have a rooster, you can get quite a lot out of a flock of chickens even without a rooster. Chicks can run you anywhere from $.50 to $5 a chick. “Straight run” chicks means you are getting an unsexed group, which average 50% male/female ratio, your actual ratio may vary.
Reproduction Rate – If you have a rooster, and if you have a variety of chicken that likes to “go broody” and sit on eggs, you can just about replace your flock every year if you wanted. Some chicken varieties have had the “broody” bred out of them, and they won’t sit on their eggs, as a rule. You may have to take a more active role in reproduction with these, and invest in an incubator if you want to have chicks.
Food – corn based chicken feed is what most producers in America feed chickens. However, chickens will happily eat bugs, leftover garden produce, meal waste and grains. Layer chickens (egg makers) will need some calcium supplement for optimal egg production. This can be as simple as egg shells.
Special needs – Chickens are stupid, so they have to be babied. They will drown in their water pans or be eaten by neighborhood animals if you don’t work to avoid it. Heating during cold weather is needed, they are originally tropical birds.
Multiple Uses – Two forms of protein , eggs and meat. Feathers could be collected for pillows or down comforters. Egg shells can donate calcium to tomato transplants. Chickens can help keep tick populations down.
Starting population – If they aren’t related, you can start with one male and one female, 2 females would give you a better breeding pool. $2.00 is pretty common in rural areas, I can find adults for sale for $5 at my farmer’s market. Specialty breeds could set you back 10-15.
Reproduction Rate – Do it like bunnies, is a saying based on fact. The gestation time of a rabbits is about 31 days. Medium sized breeds of rabbits are ready to begin mating at age 6 months. So, 6 month old rabbits can start pumping out litters of 6-12 every month if they are left to their own devices. That’s not very healthy for the doe though, so don’t do that. Get enough cages that you can separate the bucks and the does.
Food – a hay based pellet is often the feed of choice. A couple of raised beds planted in dandelions would give them great summer supplement nutrition. They’ll also eat garden waste, but they aren’t as omnivorous as chickens are.
Special needs – Extra water during hot spells and a forceful hand in controlling reproduction is all you really need.
Multiple Uses – Rabbit manure is a great garden amendment. According to the University of Maine, fresh rabbit manure has an analysis of 2.4-1.4-0.6 NPK ratio. Rabbit fur is very soft and could be sold. Rabbit meat is very healthy and tasty. Baby rabbits could be sold as pets.
I think I want chickens, I’m more familiar with them and I think they’ll be less hassle. I love eggs, eggs are way more versatile than rabbit meat. Although, after writing this post, I’m craving roasted rabbit….. Mmmmm
What do you think? Rabbit or Chicken?