At what age do you process rabbits for the table?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by r.h. in okla., Mar 26, 2005.

  1. Just wondering, when raising chickens we process at 6 to 8 weeks for fryers, 12 weeks for baking, and stewing when they quit laying steadily after about 4 years of age.

    So does anyone raise rabbits for baking? Seems everyone just raises for fryers mostly.
  2. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

    Aug 25, 2002
    Central Texas
    While we don't specifically and intentionally raise a larger rabbit to
    process, sometimes it happens. My buyer pays me less money for NZ
    rabbits over 5 3/4 pounds and only buys every two weeks. Sometimes
    I will have an overweight in a group of fryers. I normally keep
    those. As they are usually bucks, they are baked instead of using
    for nuggets or as a southern fried dish. Normally these overweight
    "fryers" will be at least 9 weeks old.

    My mother also uses them for making dumplings. Yummy!

  3. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

    Feb 11, 2005
    As far as I know, anything over the age of about 12 weeks is considered a roaster and anything that has reproduced is a stewer. Personally, I like the flavor of a roaster or stewer more than a fryer. Fryers are more tender, but they just don't have the rich, mature flavor of the older animals. As far as cooking them, rabbits seem to do well for us cooked with low, moist heat (i.e. throw in the crockpot, cover with water and simmer several hours), so the slight toughness of the older rabbits doesn't matter anyway.

  4. TabletopHomestead

    TabletopHomestead Well-Known Member

    Jun 10, 2002
    This fall at our NewOkiePioneers gathering, I had the opportunity to process a castrated year-old buck raised by Thumper. The joint structure and toughness was that of an older rabbit, but the meat cut like butter. Unfortunately, we threw him in the stewpot with the younger rabbits (where he was delicious), but my suspicion is that he would have been superb baked. He was rolling in fat. "Caponized" rabbit is something I definately want to experiment with, since I'm often late in getting around to butchering.

  5. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

    May 26, 2004
    basicly its like everyone else said, over 9 weeks they are roasters, and once breeding age they are stewers,
    if you raise rabbits for any length of time, eventually you will try all ages, and frankly, i agree, anything except a fryer is best treated to a dunk in the crockpot
    i like fryers, well, fried , or cooked in the outdoor fire
    but you can do whatever you want with any age, just remember its a lot like home raised birds, you will not have the tenderness of a younger animal

    personally i dont mind having to chew my meat a little bit
    old does when culled from breeding are good when crockpotted all day , old bucks, we they tend to be allowed to get a lot
    older, so they generally are used as BARF food for the dogs

    the ral reason noone raises rabbits for baing is that the feed to meat ratio plummets after about 9-10 weeks
    up till that time they are putting on nearly an ounce a day , after that they are simply going from about 5 lbs to 10 lbs over a 6 month period, but thier feed needs keep increasing , so per pound the meat gets mroe expensive .
    now that being said , that doesnt mean i burcher all my excess rabbits all at once, usually, if the buyer doesnt take them , i will follow the same plan i am now, i will advertise locally , and try to find buyers, recoup my expenses,
    and then if i cant i will re examine the litter , if any of the does look promising, i will retain them for future breeding, if needed, if not i will call other breeders see if they need does, if not ,then i will butcher a couple at a time, i really dont worry too much at that point cause i know they are going for my table,
    i dont ever process a whole bunch , maybe 3 or so ,one for that days eating and 2 for the freezer
    i just prefer the fresh meat for whenever possible
  6. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    My MIL had a very simple philosophy: when they are big enough they are old enough. When she wanted rabbit she just went to the cages and hefted some bunnies to see if they were worth cooking yet.

    And, she tried to get one litter eaten before the next one was ready for the pot. That meant that she didn't have to worry about record keeping or ages of litters: She just had does that gave birth at different times.

    When a doe weaned her litter she was taken to the buck. If the family was tired of rabbit, she wasn't bred back until a few weeks after her litter was weaned. That way the rabbits just didn't get too old.

    I don't know what she did with old does. Her does tended to live and produce for a long time.