I like raising my rabbits. I enjoy watching them, feeding them, and knowing I am producing a good quality rabbit. That rabbit will become healthy meat for myself and my household. However, I don’t enjoy the slaughtering portion of the meat process. If you are going to raise meat rabbits you need to know how to butcher rabbits.
I don’t take joy from killing anything; however, if I am going to eat meat, an animal has to die. Personally, I feel that if I do it myself, I can avoid the waste and suffering that can come from an industrial process where efficiency is the most important aspect in slaughtering. I do my best to ensure the rabbit’s life is the best it can be and its death is quick and painless as possible.
However, if you want to eat mean, somethings have to happen. This post shows how to butcher rabbits.
However, One thing is for sure – the fate of my domestic rabbit suffers when I harvest it rabbit is nothing like the fate of a wild rabbits whose last moments is filled with running for its life, and then after being caught by its natural predators being ripped limb from limb while still alive.
Collect all your tools before you start.
• Very sharp skinning knife
• Heavy scissors
• 5-gallon bucket for water.
• A large square, possibly plastic, container
• Hose with nozzle
How to Kill the Rabbit
I spent a lot of time figuring out the best method for use to use to dispatch the rabbit. And while we will give you three other methods this is the method we use:
• Hold the rabbit by the hind feet using your non-dominant hand.
• With your dominant hand make a v with your thumb and index finger and wrap around the rabbits head so your palm is on the rabbits shoulder blades.
• Lift the rabbit’s head up and backward while quickly pulling your hands apart. If you do it properly you will dislocate the head from the vertebral column, instantly killing the rabbit. The rabbit immediately stiffens into death-throes. You will only do it wrong once. If you are hesitant, and do not pull hard enough the rabbit’s death cry will sound like a child. Believe me, that is not a sound you want to hear twice.
Here are Main Three Rabbit Dispatching Methods:
• Hold the rabbit around the shoulders and neck from behind with the left hand. Put the heel of your right hand under the rabbit’s lower jaw (chin). Push sharply up and back with the right hand. This kills the rabbit by dislocating the neck, and does not damage the meat. This is called chinning
• Shoot the rabbit with a powerful pellet gun (at least 1000 fps) or a .22lr
• Broomstick the rabbit by sitting the rabbit on the ground, placing a broomstick or length of pipe across the neck and near the ears. Place your foot on one end. Have a partner stand on the other end. Grab the rabbit’s legs and pull up and toward the pipe which will also instantly dislocate the neck.
• Hang the rabbit by the hind legs. You could use hooks, or a small gambrel made out of welding rod. I use slipknots on a piece of string.
• Immediately cut the head off. I use large scissors, but if you use a knife, cut along the area of dislocation. Your knife will slip easily through the dislocation in the neck.
Allow the rabbit to bleed out. Since the rabbit is dead the blood will drip and not spurt, but its best to have a bucket to catch everything.
I don’t whack them with sticks, as my aim is unsure and I want to make sure I kill them with the first attempt.
I have another article that shows a homemade device that makes this easier.
How to Skin the Rabbit
- Snip the skin around the foot of the rabbit. Take care to only cut skin and not tendon, muscle or bone. The fur around the rabbit’s foot should look like a sock.
- Pull the skin on the leg down and work the skin down to the groin.
- Repeat on other leg.
- Insert your finger(s) between skin and belly at the groin, until your fingers can be seen at the second cut at the other side of the belly.
- Removing fingers, insert knife into the same space and cut up and outward, cutting the pelt free of the groin area.
- Now you can pull the pelt downward, loosening it from the carcass with your fingers, as needed. You’ll be able to pull downward as far as the tail.
- With the skin pulled downward, insert your fingers under the skin below the tail, loosening the pelt from the back beside the tail.
- Remove your fingers and insert the knife into the same space, and cut the pelt loose from the tail, I pull the skin away from the groin and cut through the tail bone, sex organs, and anus all in one swoop.
- Pull the pelt downward, freeing it from the meat with your fingers as needed, pulling it down and over the neck like you would a T-shirt. The pelt will be turned itself inside out as you pull it off.
- Loosen and release the pelt from the neck area. Since the head is gone, soon the pelt will be attached only at the front paws.
- Cut the pelt free of the paws. Cut on the skin side only and avoid cutting any fur if you plan to use the pelt.
How to Clean the Rabbit
- Pinch up the abdominal lining and make a cut just below the groin. Be sure to only cut the skin and not any guts.
- Insert two fingers into the cut. Pulling outward a bit, insert knife, blade down, between your fingers. Cut downward, sliding your fingers downward with the knife, keeping the innards away from the edge of the blade. You only want to cut the abdominal wall. Cut down to the ribcage. The innards will fall outward a bit.
- Locate the pelvic joint. You’re looking for the cartilage that joins both sides of the pelvis at the midline under the groin organs. It is less than an inch long. Press the knife inward along the length of the joint. The cartilage should cut fairly easily. Ideally, the blade will separate the pelvic joint without cutting through to the rectum, which is directly under the pelvic joint.
- Grasp both thighs and bend them backward. This will spread the severed pelvic joint. You will be able to see if you need to carefully cut any other tissues alongside the intestines.
- Separate the innards from the liver. Everything should be falling outward except for the stomach, which is attached to the esophagus. Cut the stomach free of tissues and blood vessels. If you leave it attached to the esophagus and pull snugly, you may be able to pull the esophagus free of the neck, and the whole works will fall into the bucket below the carcass.
- Remove the kidneys along with the surrounding fat. There’s a membrane around all that fat – with a little care, you can pull it all out without leaving globs of fat in the carcass.
- Gather up the liver carefully in your hand and cut it free.
- You’ll easily locate the gallbladder, a small sac filled with a lot, or just a little, green gall. You’ll also easily spot the gallbladder duct attaching the gallbladder to the liver. Pinch the duct (not the gallbladder) between a thumb and finger and pull it free from the liver. Drop it into the bucket.
Once you pinch the duct and pull, you must not release your pressure on the duct until discarding it. The gall is extremely bitter, and should you lacerate the gallbladder or allow any of the gall to spill, it will ruin anything it touches.
- Cut through the rib cage close to one side of the breastbone. Spread the ribcage and cut the rabbit’s diaphragm.
- Pull the lungs and the heart out of the chest cavity. Hopefully the trachea will come with them.
- Pull (or cut) the heart away from the lungs.
- Use a strong shears to cut off the front paws. Finish cutting any remaining tendons with the knife.
- Use the shears to cut the hind feet.
The whole butchering process should take between 10 – 15 minutes.
I save the liver, I would save the pelt, but at the young age of the rabbits, the skin is too thin to be used for most crafts.
The rest of the innards can be given to your dog or cat (or chickens).
How to Cut up the Carcass.
You’ll get 8 rabbit pieces by following these directions: two front legs, two back legs, two rib sections, and two back sections.
• Separate the front limbs from the rib cage.
• Separate the hind limbs from the back
• Cut through the backstrap to separate the rib section from the back. With the meat cut, snap and break the back, dislocating it at the cut. Then it is easy to cut free.
• Bend the ribcage outward, and cut into its two sides.
• Cut the last strip – the back – in the middle. Cut the muscle and snap the back in two in order to cut through the joint.
Soak the carcasses in a sink full of cold salted water (2 tablespoons per gallon) for about a half-hour. This removes body temperature and helps dissipate the blood from the carcass. Rinse and either cook, or package for storage.
Now you see how to butcher rabbits, at least how I do it. It is not hard, and I would hope that this article will help you if you own or are thinking about owning rabbits to raise for food.