Raising Meat Rabbits

I started thinking quite some time before I first bought rabbits about raising them for food for both us and the dogs.  Since that time we’ve come to realize that we should be keeping the Old Testament dietary laws which forbid eating rabbit, but we still decided to raise them as an inexpensive raw meat source for Tank and Dee-Oh-Jee.

None of the commercially produced rabbit cages quite fit my needs, and most seemed overpriced so I ended up building my own.  I bought J clips, J clip pliers, wire, feeders, and an automatic watering system.  They can all be bought at Tractor Supply, most feed stores, and online.  Once I had everything at home and added the costs, I realized it cost me almost as much as buying ready-made cages.  But by building my own I was able to build a higher quality cage to my own specifications.

Each cage is 24 inches square and 18 inches tall with 1 x 2 inch welded wire on the top and sides and 1/2 x 1 on the bottom.  This allows the byproducts (more about that later) to drop through so the cages only have to be cleaned occasionally.  The doors are hinged at the top and swing in.  It’s a little inconvenient, but keeps rabbits from escaping if you forget to latch the door, or if you have a savant that opens it himself like one of our old rabbits did.

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Butchering Rabbits

I didn’t take pictures when I butchered rabbits the other day, so instead of explaining how I did it, I’ll give a link to someone else’s description of how they butcher theirs.  This is on a blog written by an apprentice at Polyface Farm, about an hour from where we are.

http://polyfaceapprentice.blogspot.com/2009/01/butchering-rabbits.html

If you read the comments at the end of the article, there’s some discussion about cervical dislocation.  In layman’s terms, that means you break the rabbits neck before bleeding it.  The argument for it is that it’s a surer method than hitting the rabbit with a stick.  The argument against is that it might not bleed out as thoroughly.  There are steadfast proponents of both methods.  Neither is wrong, just do what works for you.

In addition to what they showed, the skins can be rinsed and sealed in freezer bags and frozen until you have a few to tan.  I’ll be writing about that, too, once I have a few to work with.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with the skins, but there’s no sense in letting them go to waste.