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Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

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Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#1  Unread postby BeachBC » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:14 pm


So I did my first batch of rabbits this morning and it went pretty well but not quite as smooth as I would like. The three I did were all somewhere between 5 and 10 months old (just recently bought them from someone else so not sure about exact age) and weighed around 7 lbs live. I used a home made rabbit wringer (given to me by the previous owner of the rabbits) to dispatch them.

I know this is a kinda gruesome post, but I was hoping to get some help for next time from some of you more experienced dispatchers so here goes...

The first one I did was the smallest guy - I felt his neck pop when I pulled and he went totally limp and his eyes felt like a dead animal and didn't blink when I touched them so I figured he was dead and hung him up to skin him, but then his eyes started to move around like he was alive still and the pulse in his neck hadn't stopped so I kinda freaked out and whacked him across the head a couple times with a piece of metal conduit and then completely severed his head just to make sure he was dead.

The second one I let my younger brother do - he was also pretty freaked out about the first rabbit, so he ended up pulling so hard that the head pretty much came all the way off. It seemed like an instant kill, but the rabbit started wiggling around and kicking afterward which was kind of disturbing...other than that the second one went pretty smooth.

The third one was the biggest/oldest buck and right after I pulled he cried. Not a loud scream, just a little cry. I couldn't tell if his neck had popped or not so I pulled over and over just to be sure...maybe an overreaction, but by this point I was ready to be done with the whole thing. He was also the hardest one to skin.

Did I just do a poor job on all of three of them, or were they maybe too old to use a wringer on? Does it sound like the first one was really still alive or was it just reflexes? What was with the second one kicking so much when his head was fully detached? He couldn't possibly have still been alive, right? Was the third one crying from pain? I've heard that some rabbits scream when they get killed, but this was just a little cry...sort of like a cat's meow.

I'd love any tips or insights y'all might have to share...I'm not usually real squeamish about things, but I'd never killed an animal before and after this morning I'm sort of dreading doing this again. (I have three more bucks the same age to do :( )

Over all it went a lot better than most of the youtubes I watched ahead of time, but I still think it could have been much smoother.

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#2  Unread postby baefull.wolfbunnies » Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:51 pm


From what you wrote it was a smooth freezer camp day. All three incidents can be put down to reflexes.
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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#3  Unread postby a7736100 » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:37 pm


Once I had a rabbit heart beating even after the head was removed and the body opened up.

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#4  Unread postby KenoshaRabbits » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:46 pm


Just a few comments. Congrats on some successful processings. Yes, they will spasm after being dispatched. Touching the eye afterwards is a quick and easy test to see if they are still alive. It sounds like all three were killed instantly.

I can't tell you what the noise you heard on the third one was (since I wasn't there), but you will know screaming when you hear it. If you want to hear one scream in a G-rated video, go to youtube and search for "insane screaming rabbit" by Peebles' Rabbit Colony. It is just a rabbit screaming from being picked up. No killing or abuse or anything like that.

Also, the older the rabbit, the harder it is to skin. All the more reason to process them as soon as they reach weight (if you are planning to raise meat rabbits).

As I said earlier it sounds like you did a good job dispatching them. It sounds like you may have done a little overkill (I think that it is the first time I've used that word in the context of over killing something); but it sounds like you may feel more comfortable doing it that way rather than not getting the job done the first time.

As for tips, since you have older rabbits they are "roasters" or "stewers" as opposed to ones about 2-3 months old which are often called "fryers". It is best to cook them on a low heat for a long time.

Other than that congrats and hopefully dispatching becomes easier for you and your brother.

__________ Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:46 pm __________

a7736100 wrote:Once I had a rabbit heart beating even after the head was removed and the body opened up.


How soon after dispatch was this?

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#5  Unread postby alforddm » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:14 pm


I've had a heart beating even after I removed it from the chest. Like completely unattached out of the chest but beating in my hand. The boys (3 and 6 at the time) thought it was awesome. We've also had lessons on how lungs inflate and work. Rabbits are great for so many things.

It sounds like you did a good job on the dispatch. The twitching is perfectly normal. They are called "death throws" for a reason and can be quite violent at times.

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#6  Unread postby shazza » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:09 pm


yep, the kicking and thrashing is just nerves. bodies do all kind of weird things when they die, but as long as you separated the vertebra, even if the heart is still beating, the rabbit is dead. and even if it isn't 100%, it can't feel anything and will die when you cut it's head off. kinda gross, but as long as you remind yourself that it didn't feel anything, it's better.

probably the weirdest thing i've ever had experience was i was skinning a rabbit and when i pulled the skin off from around the stump where the head was, the entire carcass started twitching. now i'm used to the body twitching sometimes with nerves, but the SKIN was also twitching. i took a video but it's kinda gross, but here's the link: https://youtu.be/SFGpomcsIKU

it was so unsettling. it was still twitching when i rolled it up to freeze.
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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#7  Unread postby BeachBC » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:27 am


Thanks for the feedback everyone! Glad to know they didn't suffer at all. I could have sworn that first one came back to life!

Also, the older the rabbit, the harder it is to skin. All the more reason to process them as soon as they reach weight (if you are planning to raise meat rabbits).

I am raising them for meat, but these were Rex rabbits and I've heard you have to wait until they're 6-8 months old to get a good hide...I do have a 5 week old litter of mutts right now that I'll be processing sometime next month, so hopefully they'll be a lot easier to do! Maybe I should have started with the mutts first and then done the older Rex bucks once I'm more practiced. :?

Thanks again for the tips everyone and I guess I'll know better for next time!

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#8  Unread postby SixGun » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:34 am


You've had some good feedback already. I'll only add that the third one may have just been air leaving the lungs.

For myself, I've dispatched and them immediately remove their heads and hang them up to drain. To cut down on stress, I will dispatch all rabbits intended and then go back and gut and skin. But after a 100 or so rabbits you can move pretty fast. You'll be clumsy at first, and it shows a lot of heart and compassion to be concerned for their welfare. You'll get more confident, don't lose faith.
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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#9  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:53 am


Killing things is disturbing on many levels, and the kicking and twitching can make us think that there is still life- which in a way there is- it is simply the electrical responses of the nerves, though.

It sounds like you did fine. I have never used a popper style unit, but I have heard that cervical dislocation on larger rabbits is not easy.

Bucks are always harder to skin, even when young. When I have a lot of older bucks to do, I always dread it because my arms get sore from skinning them!

As for the heart beating, like alforddm, I have had them continue to beat well after they have been removed from the chest cavity. The entire body sometimes continues twitching for a long time as well. We slaughter a good couple hundred feet from the house where I then skin and gut them. I (or an assistant if I have help) then carry the carcass to the house to get rinsed and bagged, and they often twitch the whole time.

I once helped slaughter a steer (which takes a LOT longer than a rabbit!) and his muscles continued twitching the entire time- even up to when we quartered the carcass! :x
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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#10  Unread postby KenoshaRabbits » Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:21 am


BeachBC wrote:I am raising them for meat, but these were Rex rabbits and I've heard you have to wait until they're 6-8 months old to get a good hide...I do have a 5 week old litter of mutts right now that I'll be processing sometime next month, so hopefully they'll be a lot easier to do! Maybe I should have started with the mutts first and then done the older Rex bucks once I'm more practiced. :?


Ah you are doing a meat/fur operation. Then you are correct you need to wait for their coats to grow out. Those meat mutts will skin easier than the older ones (if you aren't waiting 6 months that is).

Best of luck!

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Homer » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:32 pm


If you're having problems with the older rabbits try a skinning or capeing knife. The upswept blade really helps you follow the hide and you don't have to wear your arms out pulling.

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#12  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:23 pm


Gorgeous knife, Homer!

I'll trade you the coveted "Get Away With It Card" for one just like it! :P
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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Homer » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:07 pm


MamaSheepdog wrote:Gorgeous knife, Homer!

I'll trade you the coveted "Get Away With It Card" for one just like it! :P


Na, had one of those cards and never got to use it. That's why I gave it to you. :P

It's hand made by Jake, PSF Angoras better half. I can call him if you want and see what he would charge for one. It really makes a huge difference when your skinning out an older rabbit.

Nice to see you back more!
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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Nymphadora » Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:57 pm


Homer wrote:
MamaSheepdog wrote:Gorgeous knife, Homer!

I'll trade you the coveted "Get Away With It Card" for one just like it! :P


Na, had one of those cards and never got to use it. That's why I gave it to you. :P

It's hand made by Jake, PSF Angoras better half. I can call him if you want and see what he would charge for one. It really makes a huge difference when your skinning out an older rabbit.

Nice to see you back more!


I wouldn't mind a quote for one of those beauties, either, if you do ask him. :oops:

It's gorgeous, and I'd like supporting such a skilled craftsman.

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Re: Processed First Rabbits...Questions For Next Time

Post Number:#15  Unread postby mferg265 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:27 pm


For a quicker cleaner kill I created a new method of cervical dislocation that is easy and humane for all to do. See video (Graphic) :
http://kferg9804.wixsite.com/aharabbits

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