SLAUGHTERING AND BUTCHERING RABBIT
I have used two basic processes for slaughtering rabbits. The first method is achieved by holding the rabbit and then hitting the rabbit on the back of the head with a blunt object. I use a short piece of re-bar, which seemed to work very well. Just use good aim and do not hit your hand. The second method also works well and is my method of choice. 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 stepping down on either end of the bar, with a swift motion, you pull up on the hind legs, dislocating (breaking) the neck of the rabbit. This is called cervical dislocation. It is an extremely quick method for killing the rabbits, and leaves little room for any mistakes to be made. Others use a high powered pellet gun or a 22cal pistol or rifle. I have seen and used a “Killing Board” this was a board with a V cut in it. The head of the rabbit was slid into the V and pulling fast and hard downward, it dislocated the neck and was extremely quick. I will be making some of these and will post more information on this
I think it is very important for you to take good care of your rabbits, and even when it comes time to butcher them they need to be handled humanely. That is why I will use these two methods that dispatch the rabbits very quickly, and with as little physical pain to the rabbit as possible. I use the second method the most .The second method can be used without a fear of dropping the rabbit, and making a poor hit to render the rabbit unconscious.
After dislocation or stunning, the rabbit is hung by one of the hind legs above the hock joint. Either with rope or hook the rabbit Thur the rear hocks. The head is immediately removed to allow complete bleeding. The front feet are then removed. The next step is to cut the skin around the hock joints of the legs and then to cut between these points across the lower part of the body. Remove the tail and pull the skin down and forward over the body(like taking of a sweater). The skins of young or fryer age rabbits are easily removed in this way, it is more difficult to remove the skins of older rabbits. If skins are saved for marketing, they should be handled as indicated in the TANNING RABBIT PELTS post in the January 2012 section.
After the head, forefeet and skin are removed, the carcass, while still hanging, is opened to remove the innards. Make a cut from the lower part of the abdomen near the anus to the mid-point of the lowest rib. The intestinal tract and lungs are normally removed. Liver, kidneys, and heart can be put aside to use or freeze. Remove the carcass from the hanger and cut off the rear feet at the hock joints.
Wash the carcass with clean, cold water to remove hair and any other soil or debris, and store it at a cold temperature. Do not hold dressed carcasses for any length of time in water as they absorb excess moisture which becomes considered as a contaminant.
Dressed rabbits may be packaged whole or can be cut into parts. To cut up a rabbit you need a very sharp knife and have a clean towel handy to wipe your hands, and a bowl for trimmings. I always start by removing the front legs, which are not attached to the body by bone. Slide your knife up from underneath, along the ribs, and slice through. Next comes the belly. A lot of people ignore this part, but if you think about it, it’s rabbit bacon! And who doesn’t like bacon? This belly flap becomes a boneless tidbit in whatever dish you are making. Start by turning the rabbit over and slicing right along the line where the loin starts, then running the knife along that edge to the ribs. When you get to the ribcage, you fillet the meat off the ribs, as far as you can go, which is usually where the front leg used to be. Finish by trimming sinew, fat and silveskin off next, the hind legs they can be a full 40% of a gutted carcass’ weight. Start on the underside and slice gently along the pelvis bones until you get to the ball-and-socket joint. When you do, grasp either end firmly and bend it back to pop the joint. Then slice around the back leg with your knife to free it from the carcass. Once you’ve done both legs, you are left with the loin You’re now ready to portion the loin. Start by removing the pelvis, which is really good in the stockpot. I do this by taking my cleaver severing the spine by banging the cleaver down with my palm. I then bend the whole thing backwards and finish the cut with the boning knife. Now you grab your kitchen shears and snip off the ribs, right at the line where the meat of the loin starts. The ribs go into the stockpot too. Your last step is to chop the loin into serving pieces. I do this by using my boning knife to slice a guide line through to the spine. Then I give the spine a whack with the cleaver by laying the cleaver blade on the spine and whacking it with my palm. Now that your rabbit is cut up try some of my recipes in the DOMESTIC RABBIT RECIPES section!