Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Butchering Done

Yesterday we did our first butchering, and over all it went very well. We have one of the first two litters we are holding aside for potential breeding to bring Sunny's strengths into our American Blue lines if we can. As you can see Above he is still in the growing out hutch, and seems to be enjoying being able to eat without fighting off everyone else.

There are no photos of the process below the cut but there will be detail about the killing and butchering process.

This blog post won't have any other pictures because the photos we have are from butchering, which aren't going to go up in the blog proper. We will have a Photobucket page and will be putting the link up on the blog when it is set up. At the moment, we haven't had a chance to edit, upload, and set up the photos. We will try to do that ASAP, but it may take a couple of days.

Killing Report
Michelle Chandler came up to help us out, and we got started around 5:30 PM. She wisely has an apron to help with this process, which is definitely going to be in our list of things to have for future butchering. Overall the killing process is fairly simple, and if you want a tutorial there are many on the internet easily and readily available for every killing method. There are also many available for skinning, dressing, and overall butchering for you to look up. One of the better ones that uses the killing method we used is here GRAPHIC, NSFW .

It's not as easy as it looks on the videos, but not as difficult as all that. Well, it isn't with instruction. I would Strongly recommend to anyone looking to get in to animal care to learn from someone who knows what they are doing on care, and killing both. Without an expert there this would have likely turned out much differently. As Michelle Chandler said, she had a bad time of it her first time and is happy to help to make sure we did not have such an experience.

In general things went smoothly. We killed all of the kits in one run. The procedure for killing was as follows.
1: Weigh the kit, describe the color, and sex while the Lady of the House records the data.
2: Bring the kit over out of sight of the hutches and say a thanks for its life.
3: Kill the kit using the cervical dislocation or "broomstick" method.
4: Lay the kit on the grass to finish its electrical impulses by flopping around.
5: Return to step one.

Michelle Chandler recommended that we move our location to place the dead kits from next to the hill to on a flat area. I am glad we followed her recommendation, as a few of them had their electrical impulses kick them a few feet into the air. All of them scooted at least 4 feet.

In the killing process there is the knowledge of the process and a feel to it. When you kill the rabbit it should obviously be quick so there isn't pain or fear. I didn't have it down so it wasn't as quick as I'd like. The rabbits seemed offended and confused, a couple were aware something was wrong. But they were not fearful and not hurt aside from one exception.

When you kill a rabbit with this method there is a crack, and there is a feel/sound that I can't really accurately describe that is the spinal cord separating. It is very much like the quote on porn, you know it when you [feel] it. It is also fairly subtle. About 7 or 8 rabbits in I got the crack, but failed to continue pulling the extra moment. It was instantly apparent that I had not successfully killed the rabbit. Not because of any coordinated movement, but because with the first flail came an "eep" noise. Everyone said "It's not dead" at once, and I grabbed the stick and rabbit and corrected my mistake, pulling harder. Michelle Chandler  killed the next kit to give me a moment which I appreciated.

With experience the process of killing will be smoother, and no such incident will happen again.

Butchering is messy, there is a lot of blood, and if you make a mistake there is a lot of shit to clean up. You will need at least 2 buckets, and at least 3 bowls.

Bucket 1: Water for carcasses.
Bucket 2: Intestines and waste.
Bowl 1: Heads.
Bowl 2: Feet and tails.
Bowl 3: Edible organs.

I'm not really going to describe this process in this post since it really went basically as the guides tell you. In specific I have a challenging time getting the anus out without making a mess of things. Something that will come with practice no doubt. Other than that it became a fairly smooth process. I definitely want to build a processing station though. Getting the skin off isn't difficult, but it is time consuming on your own. If you have a second person though it can be much faster with them holding and you pulling. I suspect that same efficiency could come from a properly designed and set up processing station. The second part of the linked video above will show you the proper steps for butchering.

We are still in process on this, and it has mostly been in the Lady of the House's court. It is not a quick process to set up for tanning though. We did the process of as much as possible de-fleshing the skins, stretching, and salting them last night. She got started on the first skin around 6:00 and got done at Midnight. With experience I'm certain this will take less time. We will post more of a report on tanning later as we get through the process.

The Experience
As the Lady of the House said on the way in this morning, it wasn't so bad in the moment but it is a harder thing the next day. It isn't easy killing. Distance taken from the rabbits by not naming them and being aware they were for meat from day one certainly helped in the ability to kill them. Doesn't make it something lightly done. The not feeling good about things really settled in waking up this morning. It's not a "Feels bad" sort of thing for me. It is unsettled. It is very much like the uneasy feeling you get where you feel something is wrong, but you don't know what aside from the fact this time I know exactly what it is about.

Killing is something I can do clearly, but I doubt I'll ever be so comfortable with it it is easy and I remain unaffected.

I'm going to do a data analysis on the dead kits later, this post is long enough, and I'm not really in the mood to do it right now. For your information here is what we have for basic information on the processed kits.

Dawn Litter 1

Sunny Litter 1

Livers: 585 Grams
Lungs and Hearts: 262 Grams
Kidneys: 246 Grams

Carcass Weights in Grams

                     1            2          3           4          5          6         7
Sunny Live    2086     2057     2051     2010     2008     1922     1883
Sunny Dead  1122     1140     1152     1179     1188     1226     1233

Dawn Live     2369     2240     2186     2142     1987     1800
Dawn Dead   1238     1327     1336     1350     1368     1401

Dawn Litter 2


  1. This is a very interesting post. I appreciate the candor in what you did and did not present. Particularly the sharing of the experience afterwards and how long it took to set in.

  2. Be thankful it disturbs you. If you ever reach a point where it does not, worry. I should know.

    Life is a great gift, the taking of which underlines it quite forcefully.

    Good job. The tanning will go faster; salting is the quicker way. Getting used to dealing with the anus just takes practice.

  3. You did great. I don't think it could have gone any better; there are certain things you just have to DO until you know how they're supposed to go. Give thanks again before you eat them; it helps.

  4. This was a great post Coureton. Really good of you to put your experience out there like this.