I am a big fan of using every part of an animal. It’s not so much about frugality but that I feel a need to not waste anything and respecting the animal we raise and eat. It is sometimes a challenge to figure out what to do with a whole animal and using all its parts.
I have found that learning how to butcher and use all the parts of a rabbit is a good way to start. Rabbit is the best livestock to begin with butchering! It is usually easy to find readily available, small enough to handle, and its anatomy scales up to the anatomy of a pig, lamb, or goat. If you can butcher a rabbit, you can butcher the bigger animals, too! The cuts are very much the same, just a easier to handle.
I make many different dishes out of my rabbits, it is a tasty way to use the entire animal. The front legs make great buffalo wings for a great appetizers, the bones, head and ribs can be boiled for stock, and the rest of the rabbit can be roasted, baked, braised, and barbequed. There is SO much you can do with rabbit!
From a Green standpoint, if you look at the amount of land, food, and time it takes to raise large animals like lamb, pigs, cows, and goats you see that rabbit is a easy sustainable item that’s healthy, versatile, and not expensive, especially when you buy it whole or raise it yourself.
Here are the uses I have found for The Nose To Tail for the rabbit-
The rabbit head and brains are eaten in many countrys, and there are many recipes using both. For example Rabbit Head Pasta http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?language=2&Display=159&resolution=print and Spicy Sichuan Rabbit Head http://showshanti.com/eating-rabbit-head-tu-tou/, are just a few, but heads are traditionally used in stews and stocks. Dog owners feeding their pets a raw food diet say their dogs love the heads and I have also seen them fed to pigs. The head can be crushed and fed to the chickens, the blood, bones, and meat is considered good for the laying hen, and blood mixed in the mash can be used for the same purpose. In Europe rabbits are sold with the head on, this is cooked or used for soup stock.
The brains can also be used for brain tanning the pelt. It is said that the size of every animals brain is enough to tan that animal’s pelt.
The ears of the rabbit can be dehydrated and used for dogs treats. My dogs LOVE these. There are also recipes for rabbit ears, such as deep-fried rabbit ears served with an apricot ginger chutney sauce. http://www.hungryinhogtown.com/hungry_in_hogtown/2007/03/earresistible_e.html
The pelts of the rabbit can be used to make blankets, hats, and many other assorted clothing to keep warm or as a added fur fringe to clothing for a fancy look. https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/01/22/tanning-rabbit-pelts/
The heart, kidneys, and livers are very nutritious and tasty, to eat alone or used in a rabbit pot pie, or for stuffing and sausage, there are also lots of recipe’s available for these.
The Lungs though fine for human consumption, no chef, or farmer we spoke with had heard of using rabbit lungs in cuisine. But I have dried them with the ears, and sometimes the liver (cut into pieces to be dried) for dog treats! Or you could just feed them fresh to your dogs.
The blood of the rabbit can be used to make blood sausage, and blood pudding. http://www.backwoodsbound.com/zrabbit14.html Rabbit Blood Pudding Recipe
Rabbit blood can be used to thicken sauces and make charcuterie. If you do not want to eat the blood you can mix it with sawdust and it makes a great soil additive or add to the compost. You can also mix the blood in chicken feed for that extra protein.
The offal guts and other left over butchering scraps can be fed to dogs, cats, pigs, or also put in the compost pile.
Rabbit offal (the guts, internal organs, and non-flesh soft parts) are prized food in some cultures. They can be ground with a household meat grinder and used to make sausage, haggis, pate’, or other tasty tidbits.
My first choice for anything I am not going to use is to feed to carnivores. Most zoos, fur farms, hunters or even your own pets will happily take it off your hands. A pig would probably eat it. My Muscovy ducks and chickens will run to the offal piles at butchering time trying to get some scraps!
If you have a lake, pond or even raising fish in a aquaponics setup a good second choice is to put the offal in wire baskets above the surface of the water. The insects will eat the offal, then they themselves or their maggots fall into the water and feed your fish or crawfish. You could do this and collect the maggots and feed them to your chickens. You may want to do this away from the house as this will stink!http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/feeding-chickens-maggots.html
Third choice is your compost pile with some management insect nuisance, odor, and animal attraction is no problem. The problem with rabbit parts is that they decompose slowly. The moisture and the heat of a compost pile works well for the breakdown of vegetable matter, but in the case of animal parts it can attract maggots! Because of this slow decomposition this can also offers a place for unhealthy bacteria and rodents. By tossing a handful or two of lime on the rabbit parts this will help speed the decomposition. Cover the rabbit parts with a good amount of sawdust or shavings. Then compact this down tightly. This will reduce the odors. Have strong, tall sides to your compost pile (I use pallets) and cover the top with a tarp. This is further protection against animals getting into your pile. So the next time you have rabbit products to dispose of, use your compost heap.
The rabbit feet can be used with the offal or made into lucky rabbits feet by drying and adding some beads or other decorative items for some really cool looking charms. You can make these by putting some 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol in a small jar with the rabbits feet completely submerged in the alcohol, soak for 2 days this will lock in the fur. It also dehydrates the cells and kills bacteria and fungus. After the 2 days take out and rinse with water, you will need some borax this can be found in the laundry sections in most grocery stores. Using another jar or you may empty, rinse, and dry the jar you used earlier. Now mix some borax and water to about a 15 to1 mix use hot water as it will help the borax to dissolve. The borax will help to dehydrate skin and tissue helping to preserve the foot, also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Make sure to submerge the feet in this mixture for one day. After one day in the borax mix I take out a put the feet in the sun to dry. Brush clean and you are ready to decorate with beads, and a end cap there are so many ways to dress up your new lucky charm. My wife dyes fiber with Kool Aid and white vinegar I want to try this with some of the white rabbits feet.
The rabbit’s tail has been used for many centuries for pollinating flowers, by attaching the tail to a stick and going from the male flower to the female flower transferring pollen in hoop houses and greenhouses. You could also use these as charms.
These are the uses I have found for using the rabbit from Nose To Tail, if you know of any more please let me know and I will add to this post!