First time butchering yesterday. What to do with heads, ears, feet, tails, etc?

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KelleyBee

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So, yesterday was my first-time butchering fryers (or any type of rabbit from my herd). The only other time I have dispatched and butchered was three during a "training session" at the farm of a woman from whom I had purchased my meat rabbits. She does not raise rabbits exclusively and she didn't care about keeping any of the "waste" from the butchering. As for me, I'm only raising rabbits and I want to use as much as possible of the offal for my dog. So, what next? I have 4 heads, 8 ears (still attached to the heads), 4 tails, and 16 feet (8 front/back respectively). I saved lungs and stomachs for my dog, kidneys, livers and hearts for me. I chose to compost the blood and the intestines, bladder, etc., since I am not clear on those parts for a dog.

My dog has been raised on raw (dehydrated via freeze dry and/or air dehydration). So eating raw will not be new to him. I have purchased a meat grinder than states from the manufacturer it can grind bones from small animals, such as rabbits and chickens. I also put in the freezer to hold until now any kit that died due to causes I know (such as found frozen outside the nest and was otherwise a healthy kit). Any mystery deaths, I disposed of since I am still new to rabbits and don't want to mistakenly sicken my dog.

Have any of you fed these parts to your dogs? My dog is a week 5 pound Maltese, so throwing a head at him won't work! LOL!
I'm going to have to process it in the grinder, first, assuming heads are ok to feed my dog. Also, what about the skin and fur on the head? Must I remove that first or can it just all go into the grind?

As for the feet and tails, I kind of think those won't be for the dog, right? I was thinking I'd look into other options for them.

Thank you for your experiential insight!

Kelley
 
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Plinsc

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I feed the coyotes down the road a piece normally, but have been thinking of grinding the organs with squirrel meat to make dog food from. I haven’t tried it yet though.
I will be removing the fur before grinding, I’d imagine that would be a mess to clean out of the grinder otherwise.
 

Hartley11

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The guy I got my first rabbit from did exactly that. Everything was ground up for dog food. Some of it he may have used to create beef stock for soups and what not as well.
 

ladysown

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heads, feet, ears, tail... all good for dog food. or dehydrate and make key chains out them.

internal organs... depends on the local laws as to how you can dispose of them. many people drive out to the country to a local bush late at night, or feed to their chickens, or freeze them and put in the town garbage. Do not just toss them in your local country road ditch...that encourage critters to come to the roads where they are easy targets for vehicles.

to do heads, I'd advise either selling them (dog food, cat food, crab and catfish hunters), getting some meat-eating bugs to clean them off and then cleaning up the skulls for sale, or crushing them before you put them in the grinder.

Some grinders can handle hides... mine cannot. So I skin them, they are also great for dog treats (I'd cut them in strips and dehydrate them). Or you can process the hides *(dry them ) and sell for crafts etc. Dog food people will also buy them to mix into their grind (they often will have commercial grade grinders).
 

RabbitsOfTheCreek

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You should use the feet and tails as keychains or little items to collect. You could also sell them as little objects. (I would totally buy a rabbit tail keychain) Maybe even the ears too
 

Zee-Man

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Blood is a nutrient rich food. Don't toss it next time. If your rabbits are healthy enough to eat the meat the blood is also fine. As others have mentioned dehydrate the ears for chew toys. I wouldn't trust the grinder to do much with bones. Meat grinders rely upon the food to pass into the plate and then be cut by the knives. Any bone that can't fit in the plate should be removed. Now consider, most of those bones are not going to encounter the plate end on. Expect jams.

As for the head (and any other bony part) why not toss them into a pot and make bone broth for the dogs (or even yourself)? Collagen from the skin, protein and fat from the brain, tongue, etc. make for a nice soup. Add a spoonfull of vinegar to leach out some of the calcium too.

Remember to collect any bones to burn in the wood stove or fireplace so that calcium rich ash can easily distribute into your compost pile.
 

sabrinadionne

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So, yesterday was my first-time butchering fryers (or any type of rabbit from my herd). The only other time I have dispatched and butchered was three during a "training session" at the farm of a woman from whom I had purchased my meat rabbits. She does not raise rabbits exclusively and she didn't care about keeping any of the "waste" from the butchering. As for me, I'm only raising rabbits and I want to use as much as possible of the offal for my dog. So, what next? I have 4 heads, 8 ears (still attached to the heads), 4 tails, and 16 feet (8 front/back respectively). I saved lungs and stomachs for my dog, kidneys, livers and hearts for me. I chose to compost the blood and the intestines, bladder, etc., since I am not clear on those parts for a dog.

My dog has been raised on raw (dehydrated via freeze dry and/or air dehydration). So eating raw will not be new to him. I have purchased a meat grinder than states from the manufacturer it can grind bones from small animals, such as rabbits and chickens. I also put in the freezer to hold until now any kit that died due to causes I know (such as found frozen outside the nest and was otherwise a healthy kit). Any mystery deaths, I disposed of since I am still new to rabbits and don't want to mistakenly sicken my dog.

Have any of you fed these parts to your dogs? My dog is a week 5 pound Maltese, so throwing a head at him won't work! LOL!
I'm going to have to process it in the grinder, first, assuming heads are ok to feed my dog. Also, what about the skin and fur on the head? Must I remove that first or can it just all go into the grind?

As for the feet and tails, I kind of think those won't be for the dog, right? I was thinking I'd look into other options for them.

Thank you for your experiential insight!

Kelley
Good for you! The dispatching step for me was and still is the hardest part. Now to answer you question. I feed my dogs & chickens while processing pretty much everything but the intestines & bladder. I do save the kidney, heart, and liver for cooking later. I dehydrate the ears for the dogs. The fur I tan and use in my sewing & crafts.
The rest I feed to the wildlife ( far from anyone's home) . They really appreciate it.
I also, ground rabbit meat and freeze with the left over bones I make bone broth.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
Enjoy !
 

sabrinadionne

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Good for you! The dispatching step for me was and still is the hardest part. Now to answer you question. I feed my dogs & chickens while processing pretty much everything but the intestines & bladder. I do save the kidney, heart, and liver for cooking later. I dehydrate the ears for the dogs. The fur I tan and use in my sewing & crafts.
The rest I feed to the wildlife ( far from anyone's home) . They really appreciate it.
I also, ground rabbit meat and freeze with the left over bones I make bone broth.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
Enjoy !
Ohhh and bones left over from bone broth I grind up and feed to the chickens.
 
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I know this isn't what you have done, but some grind it all for your dogs (minus the hide)! Head to tail. Head with skin on (ears included). Feet with skin on. Internals (all organs and intestines). Meat and bone.

If you have a grinder that is rated as being able to grind chicken and rabbit bones, it will. I have personally done it myself. Dogs love it.
 

a7736100

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Problem is most rabbit recipes are in foreign languages.







this instruction video is only in Chinese.


Also if you save the skin, you can use the brain to tan the skin.
 
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KelleyBee

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Good for you! The dispatching step for me was and still is the hardest part. Now to answer you question. I feed my dogs & chickens while processing pretty much everything but the intestines & bladder. I do save the kidney, heart, and liver for cooking later. I dehydrate the ears for the dogs. The fur I tan and use in my sewing & crafts.
The rest I feed to the wildlife ( far from anyone's home) . They really appreciate it.
I also, ground rabbit meat and freeze with the left over bones I make bone broth.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
Enjoy !
Two questions: what method are you using for dehydrating ears? What method are you using to tan the hides? What about young fryer hides? Ok. Three questions. :)
 

Olbunny

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Congratulations you did it. I believe you can grind it all. Including the head with the fur on. Based on my experience processing moose so grind lots of meat. Mostly frozen meat grinds much better as it doesn't ball up. Use the cutting plate with the large holes.
Rabbit bones are fairly soft.
Around here, the folks who feed their sled dogs use a big pot or bottom of a 55 gallon drum outside over a fire to cook everything down. Maybe another option for you. You could freeze up individual portions.
I would try it. You could save yourself a lot of effort.
Just spitballing here but I assume you probably have blocks of frozen rabbit parts. You could cut that up with a meat saw or bandsaw. Ax
Good luck, and congratulations again on getting your first batch processed.
Only other advice I could give is to involving kids and others. I know that we involved our kids and now they do it better than me.
 

eco2pia

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Have any of you fed these parts to your dogs? My dog is a week 5 pound Maltese, so throwing a head at him won't work! LOL!
Lol, thank you for this tidbit of info, I was so confused by your question. Throwing a head at my dog was exactly what I used to do with them. He was...anxious...at first, because he was heavily trained to never attack a live rabbit. He kept looking at me like he thought he was going to be in trouble. It would have been easier for him to grind, or at least skin, but that is a lot of work.

I think as long as you are mixing all the bits in together or rotating parts then you are fine to feed your dog all parts of the rabbit. If you fed only heads it might not be a balanced diet, but as a raw feeder you likely have already heard that. Feet and tails are mostly fuzz and likely not worth much. I think the ears would be a perfect Maltese-sized treat!
 
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So much great information here for you already, but I thought I'd chime in as well.

As mentioned, ALL parts of a rabbit are safe and okay to feed to a dog with no rabbit allergy. Most commonly, however, the intestines/bladder/stomach are not fed. Do not feed stomach contents if you have fed the rabbit any onion parts, but garlic is fine. I know some people do feed those to rabbits, but I generally avoid them as most of mine react. The meat is still able to be fed to the dog regardless or not of the onion in the rabbit's diet.

My personal decisions are listed below -- adapt it to whatever works for you and your dog! My rabbits are always* frozen for 30 days prior to feeding to the dogs. I have a 27lb Pembroke Welsh Corgi and a 6lb Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix for reference.
  • Ears are removed to dehydrate for dog chews.
  • Head is removed to give whole to the dogs. Although my little dog is usually grumpy at the extra work, he has no issues with eating it whole. To get him started, I crushed the bone and would make a cut through the forehead flesh so he knew it was food. After a while, I'd only crush the bone. Eventually, I could just give it whole and he'll handle it. The jaws and teeth are strong enough to do it; just make sure you are watching the dog when you feed heads so they don't choke. My corgi never hesitated to eat heads whole, but he is significantly larger. Occasionally, I will skin the head and feed the fleshy skull whole if I don't keep the skull for preserving.
  • Blood drained is fed to dogs. Usually, it is mixed into their minces and grinds. Sometimes, I feed it straight.
  • Front paws are removed for feeding the dogs. This is mostly fur, so my little dog snubs his nose to them. My corgi will eat them happily. I recommend clipping the nails a week before butchering so they are shorter and smoother than cutting the day of but it is not necessary.
  • Fur hides are removed and put into the freezer for later tanning. I do my best to include the tail on the hide. If I miss and the tail is not attached to the hide, I cut off the tail and feed it to the dogs. The hide is safe to feed a dog regardless of if attached to rabbit or not. I find more luck in feeding hides when they are in strips, but they are more valuable to me to not feed.
  • Bladder, intestines, stomach, and gallbladder are composted. I only feed these if I am feeding whole prey, thus not opening up the carcass. They are stinky on their own, so I don't suggest removing to feed these. Feed them with a whole rabbit or not at all. I've fed these to chickens before with no issues. If you don't have compost at your house or green bins with your city, I'd throw them into the freezer to discard on garbage day.
  • Livers, kidneys, lungs, and heart are removed. Sometimes I keep the livers and kidneys for myself, but they are usually for the dogs. The lungs go to dogs as well. The hearts are for cats primarily as it's more nutritional for felines v. canines. I'll feed them to the dogs as well if I don't feel like separating it out for kitties.
At this point, you could feed the rest of the carcass (back paws attached) to the dog as is. Because of my little dog, I usually break it down more as follows:
  • Front arms are removed for feeding to myself or my dogs (it's always the dogs).
  • With shears, I cut off the ribs as close to the spine as I can. I usually only cut off one side and leave the other side attached to the spine. The little dog gets the cut ribs and the corgi gets the rack attached to the spine. Sometimes I will also bypass cutting off ribs and just cut off at the spine with both rib racks attached. Your smaller dog will probably appreciate the cut ribs more, but my small dog will eat both racks with the spine attached with no issue.
  • If I am keeping the loin for myself, it will stay intact and is removed. If for my dogs, I will [1] leave it and feed it intact, [2] cut it at the spine into two or three pieces, or [3] carve off the meat on either side of the spine and then cut off the spine (leaving me with two large chunks of meat and one meaty spine).
  • The back legs are cut off from the hips. The hips are fed to the dogs. *I feed it immediately if there is poop left inside that I cannot remove. The dogs eat rabbit berries all the time, so it won't hurt them (unless your rabbits have parasites). I feed immediately so the feces does not contaminate the rest of the carcass when in the fridge. If you prefer to freeze before feeding, just have it separated from the rest of the meat and feed as soon as it is thawed enough.
  • I will cut off the thighs at the knees. The thighs are kept for myself or or my dogs (again, always the dogs 😜).
  • The lower legs are fed to the dogs. Sometimes, I will cut off the paws to feed separately. If there is feces on the paws, the same applies as the hips.
Also important to note that even when feeding my dogs whole rabbit, they do not harm my living rabbits. <- disclaimer for anyone finding this thread via internet search. Any basic training will let you feed raw and not have an aggressive dog.
 
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Brains are 12% protein, 16% fat, but the calories are like 80% or more from the fat content. The first crop of 2022, I plan on harvesting the brains to keep for adding to stuffed sausages for the fat content, being that rabbit meat is quite lean.
 

ThunderHill

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Some grinders can handle hides... mine cannot. So I skin them, they are also great for dog treats (I'd cut them in strips and dehydrate them).
Hello! We are getting a new dog and plan to feed raw rabbit as part of his diet. Can you please let me know how you prep the hides as dog treats? Do you dehydrate in the oven on low heat, a dehydrator, hang outside to dry, etc.? What temperature and how long? How do you store them and low long do they keep? How big of a piece can you give a puppy (we expect him to be about 20lbs. when we get him, and grow to around 80).

Thanks so much in advance for any advice!
 

ladysown

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I don't personally, but everyone that I know of that does so, cuts them in strips and puts them in the dehydrator. beyond that, haven't a clue. Maybe youtube? Or join backyard meat rabbits on facebook.?
 

ThunderHill

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Okay, thanks so much! If we research/experiment and come up with some good results, I'll start another thread to share!
 

Burelka

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Blood is a nutrient rich food. Don't toss it next time. If your rabbits are healthy enough to eat the meat the blood is also fine. As others have mentioned dehydrate the ears for chew toys. I wouldn't trust the grinder to do much with bones. Meat grinders rely upon the food to pass into the plate and then be cut by the knives. Any bone that can't fit in the plate should be removed. Now consider, most of those bones are not going to encounter the plate end on. Expect jams.

As for the head (and any other bony part) why not toss them into a pot and make bone broth for the dogs (or even yourself)? Collagen from the skin, protein and fat from the brain, tongue, etc. make for a nice soup. Add a spoonfull of vinegar to leach out some of the calcium too.

Remember to collect any bones to burn in the wood stove or fireplace so that calcium rich ash can easily distribute into your compost pile.
Thank you for this fabulous rabbit head bone broth, not sure why I didn't think of it!
 
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