Thursday, January 21, 2010

rabbit butchering

I realize there are many many ways to go about the killing, skinning and gutting process but this is how we have decided is easiest for us.When it comes to butchering, as with many things it is more about what works for you than the actual process itself. After a few sessions of butchering one can decide what works best in their situation.

When one researches the www on the subject of killing rabbits, more often than not you will see people saying to shoot it. Next you will see people recommending bopping it on the head with a block of wood then cutting its throat and hanging it by the back legs to bleed out. There is another method using a board and pulling the rabbits back legs and breaking its neck but finding information on it seems to be difficult. We have found what seems to us to be the most humane dispatch of the bunnies we can find. We call it the frugal stretch as we learned it from one of Frugal's (or John's) videos on the subject.

Here is the video we used to learn how to do the frugal stretch.

Now this looks easier than it really is. It takes a good bit of strength to be able to accomplish. Now keep in mind once you hear the neck snap the rabbit is still going to wiggle n jiggle n wobble about. Once the neck is severed from the spinal column he no longer feels pain and is going to die.(this has been a bit of an issue for manthing to get through his head). To combat any wiggling wobbling it is going to do once popping its neck He has started to simply hold bunny in the position of the stretch for a minute or so while it stops. Remember rabbit is most likely going to pee as the muscles all relax(a couple minutes after death).

We also used Frugal's video for skinning and cutting up your bunny.

I basically follow his tutorial as it is the simplest way I know of to finish the butchering process.

When I start skinning, I make a tiny incision in the belly area of bunny. I then work my way down to the back legs and free them and work up to the front legs and head. I do it this way as I am hoping to keep the hides for preservation purposes, so want it in one piece.

Once I have the hide off the bunny up to his neck area I carefully make an incision down the belly to the butt and all the way up to the neck. The chest bones are wimpy little things, much like their poor front legs so it very easy to do. I lay bunny on its side and take the knife careful down behind the innards loosening them from the belly. This is very easy to do. A knife isnt really necessary but makes it less icky.Be careful not to cut into the guts. As I work my way down the inside i just roll the guts out as i go. When near the rectal area, take care to not cut the pee sac. Its about marble size n has pee in it, you will notice it if its there. If they release urine at death it is often not visible.When you get to the end use care and remove the entrails.

Next snip off the four feet and release the head . I generally completely rinse bunny at this point, clean up my hands and work area before moving on to cutting the meat. I have to generally ask DH to come and do the bone snipping for me. I don't have the strength in my hands to squeeze the sheers .

Cutting up bunny is easy. You end up with two front legs, two back legs, the rib cage,neck n tail(stock meat), the back strap and a bit of sausage meat from each bunny.If you are into organ meats you will also have them

The only hard part for me in the process is removing the back legs. Even following Frugal's tutelage, I have issues of where to cut once you pop the joints. The front legs are kind of weird as they are literally attached by nothing. The contours of the meat are very easy to follow. At the end of the rib cage where it meets the back strap, you just run the knife down the contour of the meat and body and then snap the back at the "seam" to get it into two pieces.

All total from start to finish it takes us currently 25 minutes per animal. Keep in mind, the only thing manthing does is kill it and snip feet off. I do the rest. I have only butchered bunnies a couple times so I am certainly no pro. I also pretty much do everything at a snails pace and playing with big, very sharp knives slows my pace a bit more. With this method of killing and butchering, there is next to no mess. I would rather butcher 50 rabbits to one chicken.

One bunny gives the two of us an average of 4 meals. Since we butcher in quantities. I dont package per bunny. I usually package in two meal packages of what we eat. Bunny can be used in anything that calls for chicken. It tastes much like chicken but a bit drier.

I did take a few pictures of the process. We have another batch of butchering to do over then next few days and I will have  manthing take a few more pics of the process for me to  give a better idea of how it all goes.

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