"Pic-Of-The-Week" Mama and new little girl by Ownedby3alpacas
Raising Goats, Horses, Sheep, Rabbits and More... in your BackYard
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WARNING! Some of the details might be be gruesome to some readers:
Today I slaughtered 1 of the 3 rabbits that needed to go to "freezer camp" and...it was horrible! I tried using the broom to snap his neck but there was no "snap". When I picked him back up he was breathing funny and obviously still alive. So I tried a couple pounds with the hammer on the back of his head (right where I was supposed to!) and he was STILL alive. At that point, I yelled for my husband to help me. He gave a couple pounds and, I'm not sure if the rabbit was dead and "flopping", but after thrashing about he finally died.
Then I discovered that I didn't own a single knife sharp enough to work with and I didn't have a good place to hang the carcass. My attempt to hang the rabbit fell through and I ended up skinning and gutting on a clean garbage bag on the ground.
I have never killed anything before (well, besides bugs). For 2 months I have been very matter-of-fact about the idea of these rabbits being a food-source. I have even enjoyed the shocked looks on the faces of friends and family when I tell them I will be doing the slaughtering. The actual skinning and gutting wasn't a big deal for me (once the head was off and the rabbit wasn't "Looking" at me anymore) but the idea that he may have suffered by my naive, newbie hand...that makes me want to cry.
Does everyone have a horrible first experience like this?
Does it get easier to kill the rabbits with practice (and better tools)?
Also, is there anywhere I could find step-by-step directions (and visuals) of cutting the meat into pieces?
I still have 2 rabbits that need to...go...but I can't get to them until I find a more humane way of killing them (rabbit wringer?)...
Last edited by Genipher (12/06/2011 10:20 pm)
The first one is always the hardest. Next time maybe step on the broom handle with it on it's neck on the ground and pull up until it's neck dislocates. When it dislocates, there's not mistaking it because only flesh is holding the head to the rest of the body. The Rabbit Wringer is also helpful. If you don't have the strength, you can make your own gas chamber by getting a tank of CO2, an ice chest, some tubing/hose and tape. Connect the CO2 to the drain on the ice chest with the tubing. Then put the rabbit inside, close the lid, turn on the gas and wait until he passes through sleep to the other side. Then hurry and cut and drain it. Some people can only do it using this method. It's the method I use for dispatching small kits used for snake and carnivore food because they don't like broken necks.
Check YouTube for videos on butchering and quartering the rabbit meat into pieces. There's even a video showing how to completely de-bone a rabbit. He makes it look easy, but I'm sure with practice it's not as hard. And de-boning is perfect for canning rabbit meat.
Good luck and sorry about your first time nightmare. It gets much easier.
Here's a pretty good video on cutting up the meat. http://www.youtube.com/user/KainanRa#p/u/6/qfYH1FScPTE
If you have a big crock pot and will be slow cooking the rabbit, you can leave it whole. Slow cook it with whatever recipe you like and the meat will fall off the bones. (Beware the tiny bones around the shoulder)
I'm pretty new also, and have had one or two slaughterings that took a little longer than I would have liked. I have not tried the broom handle method and have heard it takes some practice. I kneel down and set the rabbit in front of me with its head facing right. I gently hold its abdomen with my left hand and make sure it isn't going to bolt. Then I hit it on the back of the head sharply with a backhanded blow, using a steel bar (It's the lever for my car jack). If they don't die from the trauma, they are certainly stunned/braindead/comatose and I immediately cut the throat, hold the rabbit up by the hind legs with one hand and hold the ears with the other hand, bending back the head to let the blood drain out. They usually kick during this so I make sure to hold fast so as to not spray blood. This method has worked well for me so far, but I will probably evolve it over time. The only place I've made mistakes is not hitting hard enough. Getting yourself to do so comes experience. When in doubt, hit harder than you think.
One mistake it's easy to avoid is not having everything ready. I learned this quickly and now have everything exactly how I will need it for processing before I get the first rabbit out of the cage.
So sorry you had a bad first experience. I give you credit for following through with your plans.
Here's a thread that shows a rabbit harvest. Maybe the Rabbit Wringer would be better for you.
eta: it would be good to link the thread. Sorry.
Last edited by Ms. Research (12/07/2011 1:27 am)
Thanks everyone for the links, information, and support.
AZ: Does it take as much strength using the rabbit wringer as the broom method?
Gomanson: My biggest problem (after the rabbit was actually dead) was trying to cut the thing up. I think I need to get a knife sharpener...or a new knife. I also need to get some bigger clippers for the feet. sigh. I tried to get everything together at the start but because we are in a rental, we just don't have the space (or ability) to do some of the things we want (like mounting a rabbit wringer). We're planning on moving soon, though, and I hope to have an area to hang and gut our meat. Thanks for the link. I was totally engrossed watching that guy cut up the meat. Like AZ said, they make it look sooooo easy!
Last edited by Genipher (12/07/2011 1:24 am)
There's a backorder on the rabbit wringer. I ordered mine in late October and still haven't gotten it (but they did reply to my email query so I'll give them a bit longer).
You can make you own "killboard" that follows the same principal. If you look up "raising rabbits for meat" in youtube there's a guy with a 5 part series and one of the parts shows his. You essentially but a "V" shape into a 2/6 board, mount it to a joist in the ceilling, put the rabbit's head until it reaches the narrowest point and yank down. It follows the same principal as the rabbit wringer without being quite so slick.
AZ: Does it take as much strength using the rabbit wringer as the broom method?
If it's a young rabbit, no. Just make sure the wringer is waist high so you're pulling straight out and not down. It helps with the leverage.
If they're out of wringers, he also sells a Rabbit Wrangler, which is a non-stainless carbon steel version that you need to prime and paint yourself. It's a lot cheaper and just as good.
There's a lot of other options as well. I used to use a metal bar (one that was used as a ceiling fan extension) and knock them in the back of the head. This works great too. The only problem is they struggle a bit before while holding them by their feet. Some like to hold them by the skin on their back or neck like when you pick them up. Sometimes this helps decrease the struggling. The trick is to find what works best for you. I've tried pretty much every method out there and use different ways depending on the age/size of the rabbit and what they will be used for.
One thing I will say. No matter how many I've killed, I still really hate dispatching rabbits. And the day I start enjoying the dispatching part is the day I stop raising them for meat. That part shouldn't be enjoyable. But it's their purpose and I'm grateful for them. My rabbits all get a great life until the day they are culled.
I used the broomstick method, well really the Tpost method the first time I did it. The heavy tpost with the flat side up and the ridge side down seemed to help hold him in place.
Also.... if you are doing this outside on the ground one thing I noticed is that you NEED a board or something under you. It REALLY helped to have a piece of old plywood that extended out a ways on either side to press the tpost against. You need to be able to sandwich the rabbit's neck between post and something hard and flat.
we use a heavy butcher steel for the stun on the back of the head. You DON"T need to kill it outright, but you must make it unconscious (it's humane)Then we hang (back feet) bleed it out. Bleeding out only takes a few minutes (get a GOOD sharp knife and keep it just for butchering days) and the animal is dead, or at the worst, totally unaware.
We just did a dozen last weekend, and right now I'm tanning the pelts. Bunny for dinner tonight too.
It really does get easier, and when you have the hang of it and you know they aren't feeling any pain, it will make it just easier still.
I have discovered the wringer works great for me with my FW 10-12 wk olds. Very efficient and works great. On adult stock that I need to cull........ I do not have enough strength to do the deed the way I would like.
I am a normal sized middle aged woman with a lower back injury. If this helps anyone decide their path, I will be happy for that.