The skin of young rabbits is thin and tears easily but the skin of older rabbits is much thicker and makes a nice, fine-grained leather whether it has the fur on it or not. I haven't attempted a brain tan yet but alum tanning works very well.
What is a good age for using the skin? I've been trying to find this out and the closest I found was that commercial buyers prefer the rabbit to be a year old, and to have a winter coat.
I don't plan on selling pelts, but would love to tan them for my own use. I was thinking if I could keep them for 6 months that would not be bad. I would save the ones with nice markings and let them get older and use them for pet food, and butcher the plain ones early for people food.
Right now I butcher at 3 months and don't have to worry about separating them. That would be another question - at what age should they be separated?
I found a very good article about tanning rabbit hide in the archives of Mother Earth News, did not address the brain tanning question though.
The alum tanning method I used is from MON. I haven't tanned a rabbit skin under a year old so I don't know what the youngest age for a strong skin would be. I'm just speculating but I think maybe when they become sexually mature would be when they'd grow thicker skin due to the fights they can get into.
This is very interesting to me as I would like to know how as well. I've heard it said that God gives each animal enough brain to save it's hide. I wonder about the fur question as well. Will the fur stay on the tanned hide any better than the rabbit? Or should I just plan on all leather? and how do you store the furs until you plan to use them? Should they be rolled and kept in the freezer? or is there a better way?
I hear that buffalos need two brains, because their hides are so thick.
I dont know about the fur factor for rabbits. I'd love for it to stay on. I've done a coon and a large squirrel with the fur on, and they are fine. A little stiffer than I'd like, but the fur isnt falling out much at all. I think what fell out is just some normal shedding, because they were both killed in the summer and werent in prime fur condition.
I've contacted a lady who has mini rexes. She has a sable and possibly a castor and blue that she wants to cull before the end of the week. So I'll be tanning next week and let you all know how it goes.
Unless life also hands you sugar and water, your lemonade is going to suck.