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Butchering Rabbits: Getting the Job Done

May 28th, 2009

Holly over at NorCal Cazadora asked how we went about slaughtering our rabbits for the freezer.  I thought I would do a short post on it, since it is a big part of the process of raising rabbits for food.  Many people simply cannot do this part of the job, and send their rabbits off to processors.  They end up buying back rabbit meat at a much higher price than what it would cost them to butcher themselves.  Having said that, I can certainly understand why many have this hang up.  In fact, I was not sure whether I would be able to go through with it until I finally did it.  It was much like my first time out deer hunting…I wasn’t sure I could pull that trigger until I had that first buck in my scope!

Warning:  There will be some graphic descriptions later in the post, so reader beware!

I used two basic processes for slaughtering the rabbits.  The first was the one that Holly alluded to in her comment on my last post.  This method is achieved by holding the rabbit by the hips, and then hitting the rabbit on the back of the head with a blunt object.  We used a short piece of re-bar, which seemed to work very well.  I picked this method up by reading a blog, Life as a Polyface Apprentice.  You can click that link and see some pictures of this method “in action” as I did not take any pictures the day we were butchering.  If you have never read that blog before, poke around a bit.  If you are interested in raising your own food, it is a great resource for material.

The second method also worked well, and we implemented it on a few of the bunnies.  This method is called the “broomstick method.”  Basically, you lay the rabbit down on the ground, and put a bar across the back of the neck.  With a swift motion, you pull up on the hind legs, dislocating (breaking) the neck of the rabbit.  It is an extremely quick method for dispatching the rabbits, and leaves little room for a mistake to be made.  This method was better on some of the rabbits because my hands are rather small, and the rabbits had very broad backs/hips.  This made it difficult for me to hold on to them securely, and I just didn’t feel confident with the first method being quick and humane.

I think it is very important for us to take good care of our animals, and even when it comes time to butcher they need to be handled humanely.  I don’t believe in torturing them, or making them suffer.  That is why I will use these two methods that dispatch the animals very quickly, and with as little physical pain as possible.  I will probably use the second method most often, as my rabbits are growing out nicely and have very broad backs.  This second method can be implemented without a fear of dropping the rabbit, and making a poor initial strike to render the rabbit unconscious.

Thanks for the question Holly, it gave me something good to write about while I am suffering from writer’s block!  Hopefully that will shake some cobwebs and I can get back to getting some thoughts down on the proverbial paper!

I am going to leave the rabbitry naming contest open for a few more days.  If you haven’t entered, make sure and get an entry in.  If you don’t want to do  a post on it, don’t worry…give some suggestions anyway!  I would love to have the perfect name, and give the prize away to a deserving participant!

8 Responses to “Butchering Rabbits: Getting the Job Done”

  1. This was definitely an interesting post, Kris. I’ve butchered many a rabbit, but those rabbits were already dead from shotgun shells. I’ve never killed one with my bare hands before. It’s not a nice thing to have to do, but is definitely necessary in order to turn the rabbits into food.

  2. Just yesterday a friend was talking about raising rabbits and wondering how he’d do the deed – I’ll have to share this with him. Thanks for the answer!

  3. Good post. Would love to see some step-by-step instructions on butchering them too.

  4. Hey Matt, I have been thinking about doing a post along those lines. I think it would be interesting to try to do if I can get someone to take pictures for me while I do it. That would be another graphic post, but I found it difficult to find the step by step instructions while looking online. Maybe I will be able to do get some good pics when I butcher next time!

  5. This is a nice way to dispatch a rabbit also… It leaves an extra hand free to handle the rabbit with and make sure there is no oops or slips as my hands are small too and my son is not always around.
    There is a nice video to watch … it works also helps set your mind.


    Nice site

  6. Hey Candace, I have seen those before, and considered one. it seems a bit expensive for no more than is in it…i may reconsider if you and/or some other rabbit folk give it a good review!

  7. Yeah, two quick and painless methods of slaughtering rabbits. My grandfather taught me the broomstick method and it is more humane for the animal

  8. Many people simply cannot do this part of the job, and send their rabbits off to processors.

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