Homesteading Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now that I'm starting into the butchering I was wondering what to look for when processing that would indicate a problem with the meat being unsafe to eat.

From reading as much as I can on the subject I believe that spots on the liver or lungs could indicate a sick bunny. Would you discard the whole carcass or just the organs? Could these still be fed to dogs/cats/chickens?

Obviously a healthy rabbit is a good start. Would snuffles/snotty bun/pasteurella affect the meat?

I also assume it's not a good idea to butcher one that just died without being actually killed, specially if it has been dead for a couple of hours or overnight.

I don't know if these questions have been answered before, I can't seem to be able to search back past a few pages of threads. Is there anything else I shold look for when processing?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
I hope I can help a little-

For food safety, food should get to the fridge/freezer, or roasting pan as quickly as possible, and refrigerate leftovers promptly (we all know someone who still thaws roasts on the counter, its risky, but the elderly, pregnant, kids, and immunocompromised are most likely to get food poisoning)

If you dont know when the animal died (and just want to autopsy), make sure you wash all surfaces afterwards. Or, better yet, if youre working on food that day, process it last. Any "found dead" meat should be treated like spoiled. My fiance autopsied one of our chickens (his dad is a vet) and found worms, and we were able to treat the rest. Its probably worth looking if youve got the time.

I dont know about the damage, but here is a decent overview from the USDA-

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/Rabbit_from_Farm_to_Table/index.asp
Good Luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,089 Posts
I would dispose of the whole carcass and not feed it to anybody - human or otherwise. From what I understand, the disease that causes spots on the liver, can cause severe problems if any part of the animal is eaten.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,103 Posts
I would dispose of the whole carcass and not feed it to anybody - human or otherwise. From what I understand, the disease that causes spots on the liver, can cause severe problems if any part of the animal is eaten.
Do you have a source for your information, Farmmom? It contradicts what I have always heard. My understanding is that spotty liver is usually a sign of coccidiosis, which does not affect anything but the internal organs. If the "innards" are discarded, the meat is still edible. I was told by someone I know who sells rabbits to a processing plant that the plant will pay less if the liver must discarded, but will still take the rabbit.

We had a few fryers who had spotty livers a year or two back. We discarded the internal organs but still ate the meat. No ill effects.

I would not feed the internal organs of a rabbit with spotty liver to any of my critters... nor would I feed them a carcass of a rabbit that died of unknown causes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,872 Posts
Bad organs/lungs etc....dispose the organs, cook the meat well done.

Abscesses IN the meat...dispose of the rabbit.

Abscesses outside the meat, small in not many in number, cook the meat well done.

Dead rabbit...I would feed it to my dog once I opened it up. Might have broken a back and therefore be suitable for dog meat.

IF I had a bloated rabbit....I'd think twice about eating it. Would probably dispose of all digestion related internal stuff (i.e. intestines, liver, kidney) but leave heart and lungs. and feed it to my dog.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies. Mine have been fine so far and I was just wondering what to watch for. I suppose a good dose of common sense is in order too, if you're not sure, discard it. I'm still getting my butchering method smoothed out.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,387 Posts
Okay, folks... I'm gonna stir the pot a bit, now. Did you know that there are several different diseases which will cause spots on the liver? Unfortunately, at least one of them renders the meat as inedible. Sorry, I can't look it up 'cause I sold all my rabbit books, but I believe I had read it in "Rabbit Production".... probably the 5th or 6th edition.

You can eat the meat of a rabbit with liver coccidiosis... just not the liver. HOWEVER.... the catch, here, is to be able to *undeniably* identify that the spots are caused by cocci and not something else. To play it safe, I always discarded the entire carcass.

Performing a necropsy on rabbits found dead is a must for any rabbitry. A necropsy differs from an autopsy in that you are looking only for the visible signs, whereas an autopsy entails a lot of other things, too, like using microscopes, chemical tests, etc. When performing a necropsy, look for *anything* which appears different or unusual, which requires a decent knowledge of what a "normal" rabbit carcass looks like before eviscerating. Most often, the organs will tell the tale.

Pat Lamar
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,103 Posts
Pat, I'm sure you're right that other diseases can cause spotty liver, but the risks must be fairly small if a person with your background in meat rabbits would need to consult a book to recall the names of such diseases.

There is tularemia, of course, but the risk there seems to come from handling the carcass. It is becoming increasingly rare, according to this article.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tularemia

Have I been misinformed that processing plants accept rabbits that have diseased livers? If so, I certainly want to be corrected now rather than pass on a piece of incorrect information.

There was a time that rabbits were often sold in the marketplace with the livers still in place, to show that they were healthy.* The liver, of course, has always been considered a delicacy. (*Reference, FOOD IN ENGLAND by Dorothy Hartley.)

I guess each person must determine their own acceptable risk level in matters such as these. It's a subject we should probably all know more about.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
831 Posts
Pat, I'm sure you're right that other diseases can cause spotty liver, but the risks must be fairly small if a person with your background in meat rabbits would need to consult a book to recall the names of such diseases.


Have I been misinformed that processing plants accept rabbits that have diseased livers? If so, I certainly want to be corrected now rather than pass on a piece of incorrect information.
No, Maggie, you have not been misinformed. I sell to what
is probably the largest and oldest processor in the US. They
are also USDA inspected. They do not discard the meat if the
liver reflects cocci. We are not "docked" on the price.

Their policy is that we are not even notifed UNLESS the percentage
of bad livers exceeds 25% of our fryers sold to them. At 25% we
are notified and a plan is outlined to get the livers cleared. If
the livers have not cleared by *whatever date*, our liveweight
price is lowered. If livers are not clear by the next deadline,
they will not purchase fryers from the particular producer.

I speak from personal experience as I had problems with cocci
when I was incapacitated during 2005 and 2006 and unable
to clean cages daily. The processor found 40% of my fryers
with spotted livers. The next delivery and inspection showed
all the livers to be clear (I did treat the entire herd!).

A processor who shared ARBA Commercial Committee responsibilites
with me did not toss the carcass for livers exhibiting the effects
of cocci.

To paraphrase Rabbit Production, 8th Edition:
Listeria is a bacteria that causes white spots on the liver. This
is serious but it's quite obvious the rabbits are sick (unlike
the healthy appearing fryer with cocci-spotted livers).
Also, listeriosis is not common in domestic
rabbits.

Linda Welch
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,103 Posts
Listeria! There was a nasty outbreak of that here in Ontario last October, but it had nothing to do with rabbit meat. It was in processed luncheon meats from Maple Leaf - one of our leading companies. At least a dozen people died from eating the contaminated products. They believe that the contamination occurred during packaging.

Thanks, Linda, for the clarification about rabbit processing plants with regards to coccidiosis. I wonder if they just assume that spotty livers are caused by cocci as long as the animal seems healthy.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,387 Posts
Maggie... Linda sells to Pel-Freez, which is not only our oldest and largest rabbit processing plant, but they also specialize in rabbit biological markets. What this means is... they have their own laboratory and can easily determine the cause of the spotted livers. Liver cocci is *usually* pretty easily visually identifiable from other types of spotted livers, but to a novice or others unable to have access to laboratories for instant identification, I will still advocate tossing the carcass.

Sorry I can't remember the names of the different diseases which cause spotted livers... I do have memory problems since I'm no longer a young chick, anymore. Thanks for reminding me of that, heheheh.

Pat Lamar
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
831 Posts
Thanks, Linda, for the clarification about rabbit processing plants with regards to coccidiosis. I wonder if they just assume that spotty livers are caused by cocci as long as the animal seems healthy.
I seriously doubt that an "assumption" is made by the USDA
inspector working the processing line. I also doubt that the
processors operating under the auspices of FDA or State
regulations are assuming either.

Here's why I don't think assumptions or meat safety is taken
lightly by processors and inspectors..................

Years ago my processor would buy rabbits exhibiting a slight
inclination of "wry neck". They were finding that many of these
fryers also had other internal problems. The meat was not
considered safe. When a rabbit is condemned on the line,
the rabbit on either side is also removed. They would lose
two healthy rabbits because of possible contamination from
the one carcass deemed unsafe.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,103 Posts
I seriously doubt that an "assumption" is made by the USDA
inspector working the processing line. I also doubt that the
processors operating under the auspices of FDA or State
regulations are assuming either.

Here's why I don't think assumptions or meat safety is taken
lightly by processors and inspectors..................

Years ago my processor would buy rabbits exhibiting a slight
inclination of "wry neck". They were finding that many of these
fryers also had other internal problems. The meat was not
considered safe. When a rabbit is condemned on the line,
the rabbit on either side is also removed. They would lose
two healthy rabbits because of possible contamination from
the one carcass deemed unsafe.
Well, that's a relief!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top