Butchering Questions

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Emily Nouvertne, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. Emily Nouvertne

    Emily Nouvertne Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    We have just started into rabbit butchering. We butchered 6 back in December, they were about 3 months old. We decided to let these others grow a little to see what effect it had on the meat. The first ones butchered, the process went very well, we just weren't satisfied with the amount of meat there was on them. Well, they are now 6 months old and we butchered the last 4. We found that there was a lot more meat but the whole processing went so much slower. Getting the hide off was a project without pulling the meat off also. Their ligaments(or so I suppose that was what those were) seemed so much more developed, and harder to work around.

    Has anybody else done what we did and did you find the same results? Are we going to regret waiting, will it taste any different? Thanks in advance.
  2. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    I guess it all boils down to breed and feed.

    Mix it up a bit. See if different feeds produce different results, adding more fat, less protien or the opposite. Try different breeds of rabbit.

    We butcher when convenient, not when they reach a certain age, so I've never realy seen the correlation between age and the ability to skin out faster or slower. I think it's been relatively uniform at any age, so maybe it is a feed issue???

  3. shaneymc

    shaneymc Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Western WA
    older critters --rabbits, chickens etc -- are often sold as stew meat instead of as fryers. if you crock pot the older ones, it helps.

    buns I keep for longer than about 12-13 weeks are strictly for dog food at our place.

    they are tougher to skin and the meat is not as tender. guess i'm more finicky than the dogs ;)
    we stun the buns and break their necks and then freeze the whole carcass (blood and all).
    after completely frozen, i use a cleaver and mallet to chop one in half and give half to each of our dogs. if the cats are lucky, they might get a leg to share.
  4. Michael Leferink

    Michael Leferink Well-Known Member

    Jul 12, 2003

    When to butcher really depends on personal taste and on how the rabbit is to be cooked. Most people seem to want fryers (8 - 10 wks. old). A rabbit that age is very tender and cooks up fast. As far as meat to bone ratio and carcuss size, things to consider are: breed, feed and genetic make up (blood line). Depending on these three things, a fryer aged rabbit could weigh anywhere from 3 lbs. to +6 lbs. And that is with the "meat" breeds.
    The older a rabbit gets, one can expect the flavor to get stronger and the skinning to get harder. For skinning mature rabbits, you will have to use a very sharp knife to aid in removing the hide. It is still easier than skinning most other animals. Some people claim an older rabbit will get too "gamey", especially the bucks. I have eaten wild rabbits all my life and to me no domestic rabbit I have eaten has ever tasted "gamey". It's a personal opinion only, but I happen to prefer the flavor of an older rabbit. I've eaten rabbits as old as 3 years old with no problem. Now I do use a younger rabbit for frying, but for stews, gumbo etc. the older ones are better.
    You did not state what breed of rabbits you are raising. Some of the breeds with good growth rates and meat to bone ratio are: California, Silver Fox, Champagne d'Argente, American Chinchilla and New Zealand White. There are other colors of New Zealand. Any might be O.K., but the white varity has had more development for meat due to it's popularity among commercial growers. Just remember the feed and the genetics still have to be there. A rabbit from "show stock" will not perform as well as a rabbit from "commercial meat stock". Also, crossbreeds will often out perform purebreeds. Two more common crosses are: California x Champagne d' Argente and California x New Zealand White. Even if you are raising a "meat" breed, you may still have to develop your rabbits into what you want/need. As has already been advised, try different feeds and change your buck now and then. Find what works for your situation.

    Good luck,