Time needed between butchering and cooking?

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Sep 29, 2021
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Southwestern Pennsylvania
As a kid, I recall a friend of mine having to go home before mom got home for work because she, my friend, was tasked with butchering a rabbit for that evening's meal. I have never butchered from life anything until I started raising rabbits a few years ago. However, all that I have read talks about the need for allowing rigormortis to pass before freezing or cooking. So, what is the real deal? Can a rabbit be butchered and cooked on the same day, or not? Thank you!
I think if you don't wait for rigor mortis to set in and cook the rabbit right away that's fine. When I was a kid my grandparents actually had a fridge, but there never was a rabbit in it. They went straight from the hutch to the table as far as I can tell. One of the advantages of animals that give one meal per animal like rabbits and chicken, you don't have to worry about storage.
We generally put them in salt water in the refrigerator at least overnight, but that's just us. Small kid time my grandma would get a chicken immediately onto the table, but she also put them in salted water overnight when they weren't immediately eaten.
Before refrigeration, it was common to butcher an animal just before cooking. We still do this, as we don't use a large refrigerator. We had always allowed our larger stock (sheep/goat/beef) stock to age before freezing or cooking, until one day I visited a friend that was dressing a large goat buck. They cooked some of that meat for supper that night, and I was amazed how tender it was. No aging. Since then, we simply package the meat and freeze it, or cook it fresh, no aging. It works wonderfully for us.
Here they either go straight into the pot or the freezer (fridge got retired). Rigor needs some time to start, so you have a timewindow where you don't need to worry about it. Within about 30min. you should be good.
Thank you, everyone. I'm going to give it a try, going straight to cooking. The reason I posed the question was just the sheer fact of butchering so many at one time. It takes hours and I get pretty tired after standing for so long, etc. I'm searching for a way to have my rabbits and eat them, too, without the hour's long multi butchering day....it'll be nice to do only one at a time as needed.
Yes, although i wouldn't want to be without a freezer (or washingmachine for that matter) by choice, being able to have the basics covered without one by for instance only butchering what is needed for the next load of cooking (i usually make a 3-4 servings worth at once and hot pack them) makes for a more resilliant/flexible household. So loosing a freezer costs less/has less impact then when you are 100% dependant on that thing. Less stress = better life.