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Dispatching with a pellet gun...

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Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#1  Unread postby rawfeeder » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:05 pm


I have just joined Rabbit Talk after months of lurking and reading as many threads as I can. This forum has been invaluable in my research stages, and if all goes to plan I'll be getting some meat buns of my own this summer! :)

We're mainly wanting to raise rabbits to supplement our dogs raw diets. We own two fierce little Chihuahuas, both under 5lbs so we're planning to stay fairly small scale. Any excess we'd like to sell to other raw feeders or reptile owners, and I'd also like to give rabbit meat a try myself!

After much thought, we've decieded to go with using a pellet gun to dispatch the rabbits - as we feel this would be the most accurate, sure and humane way of killing them for us personally. I'm just curious as to what state the head would be left in afterwards? ...we feed 'prey model' and would really like to use up every part if possible. Does the pellet shatter in the brain, pass through cleanly ...or could it be removed? Any and all imput is appriciated!

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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:18 pm


Welcome to RT! What breeds are you considering? I have Standard Rex, but you might be able to raise a "pet" breed since you are primarily feeding small dogs.

When dispatching, aim for the spine just below where it joins the skull, at an angle to go through the rabbit's throat. That should minimize any contamination from the bullet.
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#3  Unread postby akane » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:45 pm


If you aim correctly and the pellet does not come all the way out you'll feel it if you roll the skin of the neck around. Happens most often in big does with dewlaps. I find it while cutting the throat to remove the head since we don't feed heads due to mess. With the pellet gun you'll get tons of blood from the point of entry, ears, nose, mouth... The head is quite a bloody mess when you are done and sometimes brain matter even leaks out.

If you aim wrong the bullet will lodge somewhere in the jaw area and an eye tends to get popped out of the skull from the pressure going forward. Rabbits still tend to die immediately, you just don't know where the pellet went. You have to aim really wrong to not kill a rabbit quickly with a gun. Enough brain gets turned to mush no matter where you aim unless you miss the brain completely. I did aim far too down on one rabbit (out of 100s now) and went through the neck area without hitting the brain so it fell over and laid there blinking at me instead of the nonresponsive eyes and uncontrolled back leg thrashing you get when they are actually dead.
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#4  Unread postby rawfeeder » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:57 pm


Thanks for the warm welcome Mamasheepdog! I'd like to find myself some quality New Zealands (or NZ mixes) as my foundation stock. From there I'm planning to mix in other similar typed breeds with good size and strong meat qualities. I have a keen interest in genetics and would also like a bit of diversity when it comes to colors etc. My long term goals would be to have a good meat type line with harlequin or patterned coats (as I want to learn to cure and use their pelts) and very mellow temperments.

Thanks for the butchering tip! I shall give that a try when the time comes :) Also thank you Akane for the information, its not the end of the world if all the heads are not totallly salvagable - but I'm hoping that some may be, or some parts, using this method.

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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Miss M » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:12 am


Welcome to RabbitTalk! We use a pellet gun ourselves.

When the process was described to me, it was to put the gun at the base of the skull between and behind the ears, and aim toward the jaw. So that's what we do. I imagine the pellet does get lodged in the jaw somewhere, but it isn't an issue for us.

We get just what Akane described - unresponsive eyes, flopping front legs, kicking back legs. Blood from the entry wound, ears, nose, and mouth, and usually some brain matter from one of the ears. Just like the chicken with its head cut off, the rabbit is dead, but the back legs haven't figured that out yet.
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#6  Unread postby rawfeeder » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:31 am


Thanks Miss M, glad to be here and amongst good rabbit folk! I've watched quite a few butcher videos and defiantly feel that using the pellet gun is the quickest and most humane death I can offer my buns. The kicking and twitching afterwards is a little unnerving, something I hope I can get used to over time.

I'm also wondering if I have to let the meat (thats intended for the dogs) rest in the fridge, before freezing, to let the rigor pass. Where I can I want to give them freshly dispatched meals ...but I expect I'll be having to send quite a bit to freezer camp too.

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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Basenji43 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:39 am


I am also new to this site and joined because I eventually would like to raise meat rabbits for my dogs' raw diet and myself. Can you feed the dogs the rabbit right after butchering or should it be frozen first? Also is there any chance of parasites being passed from the rabbit to the dog? I know if your dog eats a wild rabbit they can get tape worms but this shouldn't happen with healthy captive rabbits, am I correct?

Thanks for all of the great info this site is great!
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Miss M » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:15 am


The kicking is definitely unnerving at first, as you are scared that the rabbit is not dead, and that you have just put it into a great amount of pain and fear. If you watch the rabbit, though, you will see the signs that tell you it is indeed dead.

We dispatch ours in a milk crate with a bunch of fresh grass and weeds in it. They start munching (some take a few minutes), and never know what hits them. We then immediately remove the rabbit from the milk crate, before it really starts bleeding, and before it starts kicking. We swiftly place it on the ground and take a step back. (If you take it out of the box like this, you have to do this in an open area -- otherwise, you could end up chasing your dead rabbit under a bush or something. For me, it was a fig tree.)

Once the kicking starts, watch the head and front legs. There should be no movement other than floppy movement caused by being pushed along by the back legs. You should see no breathing. I have occasionally seen a blink or two, or the mouth open and close, and I do not know what this indicates, if anything, since everything else is in order.

I am hoping some of our raw feeders will chime in here. As far as I know, you should be able to feed a freshly butchered rabbit to a dog. You can cook a freshly butchered rabbit, as long as you have it killed and cleaned and in the pot inside of about 30 minutes.

For human consumption, if you're not going to have it cooking within 30 minutes, you're best off resting the meat. Clean it, bag it for freezing, and stick it in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, and up to a week, depending on how cold your fridge is. Mine is very cold, and so my rabbits are in there for 6-7 days before they get relatively floppy again. Then I stick them into the freezer.

You are correct, Laura, healthy captive rabbits should not have tape worms. They should not have any sort of parasites, really, though it can happen. I would think tapeworms and other parasites would be a possibility the more your rabbits are allowed to run on the ground, possibly picking something up from digging and munching things too close to the ground.

Keeping waste from building up into their cages is an important step in keeping them from picking up parasites. This would most often be the parasite coccidia, which lodges in the liver and/or intestines. The meat itself would still be safe to eat, though I would hesitate to feed it raw to a dog. This wariness may be unfounded, however. I just don't know enough.

Welcome, Basenji43! :D
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#9  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:35 am


rawfeeder wrote:The kicking and twitching afterwards is a little unnerving, something I hope I can get used to over time.


We helped butcher a steer last year, and when skinned, gutted, headless, and legless, (so no doubt he was dead!)- the muscles were still twitching! :x

rawfeeder wrote:I'm also wondering if I have to let the meat (thats intended for the dogs) rest in the fridge, before freezing, to let the rigor pass.


Before I found RT, nowhere had I read that you are supposed to let the meat rest to allow rigor to pass. We processed 4 rabbits, and they were in full rigor when I froze them. When thawed in the fridge, they became floppy, just like chicken. Dogs will eat carrion, so fresh meat in rigor shouldn't bother them.

Basenji43 wrote:Can you feed the dogs the rabbit right after butchering or should it be frozen first? Also is there any chance of parasites being passed from the rabbit to the dog? I know if your dog eats a wild rabbit they can get tape worms but this shouldn't happen with healthy captive rabbits, am I correct?


Welcome to RT! I almost got a Basenji as my first dog! The dog in your avatar is beautiful. :D

You should be safe feeding without freezing first. I don't know if tapeworms in rabbits have a different life cycle than dog and cat tapeworms, but in dogs and cats tapeworms have to go through an intermediate host (a flea) to fulfill their life cycle. The tapeworm eggs are encased in the last segment of its body (the pieces you see crawling on the fur around the animal's tail), which then drop off in the animals bedding. Even if the animal ingests the segment while grooming itself it will not get more worms from it. Those segments, when dry, are eaten by flea larvae and the eggs hatch there for the first part of their life. When the dog or cat swallows the flea while grooming itself, the tapeworm begins the next stage in the cycle.
Last edited by MamaSheepdog on Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Mary Ann's Rabbitry » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:40 am


To be on the safe side. I freeze for 3 weeks..

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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#11  Unread postby grumpy » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:53 am


I suppose I'm the "odd-man-out". I've processed thousands of rabbits since the mid-70's, and all I've ever used is the "dis-locate" method. Quick, clean, no flailing around, easy, quick hang up, and an accurate directional flow of the blood loss when the carotid is severed. The carcass will empty out far more blood using this method.

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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#12  Unread postby skysthelimit » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:51 am


grumpy wrote:I suppose I'm the "odd-man-out". I've processed thousands of rabbits since the mid-70's, and all I've ever used is the "dis-locate" method. Quick, clean, no flailing around, easy, quick hang up, and an accurate directional flow of the blood loss when the carotid is severed. The carcass will empty out far more blood using this method.

grumpy.



I don't bother with all of that. Like Grumpy, I break the neck, pull off the pelt and feed all parts to the dogs. I used to fast the rabbit and take off the gull bladder, but the dogs eat the bunny berries anyway, and sheep poop while herding, and they practically tear pieces off of the rabbit while I am cutting it up, they don't care. It's truly a raw experience. Most of the time it's fully consumed within 10 minutes of death.
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Miss M » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:52 am


Actually, there are plenty of people on here who use cervical dislocation. More, I think, than use pellet guns. :)

I'm not sure about it emptying more blood, though... ours lose a lot before we hang them up, and then they continue bleeding out once they're hung. If you remove the head after hanging them up, they bleed out pretty quickly.
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#14  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:55 am


Speaking of blood- anyone feed that to the dogs/cats/chickens? I think I might see how they like it.
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Re: Dispatching with a pellet gun...

Post Number:#15  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:26 pm


Our chickens mob the ground where the blood has drained out. But we have found feeding them scraps and entrails a waste of time. They leave bits all over and make a mess. They do get the bones out of the soup pot though... and there is very little left of those at the end of the day.
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