Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

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JulieSherris
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Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144102Post JulieSherris
Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:36 am

I know that some of you have rabbits for meat, and I have several books on the subject, which cover skinning & cooking and such, so I'm fairly confident about starting with rabbits.
Obviously, I've kept rabbits as pets in the past, but I'm really not a fluffy bunny person - much prefer guinea pigs!!
Although I don't want rabbit to become our primary meat source, we'll be having chickens too, so 2 does & 1 buck should do us nicely.

How different is the meat from a bred rabbit? I've heard it's like the difference between white & dark chicken meat.
Andy used to go lamping with his lurcher for rabbits in his 'former life', but has never had meat from a bred rabbit.

And the fur...... has anyone here tanned their own rabbit fur? I wouldn't mind having a go & saving the pieces to make various rugs, throws etc..... it seems I have found 2 methods - one involves a lot of salt straight onto the skin - the other involves soaking & stretching, and soaking and soaking again......

Anyone here doing it, and what's the best way?
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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144122Post Odsox
Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:31 am

Hi Julie.
Farmed rabbit meat from a proper meat breed like New Zealand, Californian or English White is fairly tasteless compare to wild rabbit.
The texture is finer (denser) and whiter and the flavour is comparable to cheapo chicken and takes up the flavour of what ever you are cooking it in.
I haven't kept rabbits for many years but I am seriously thinking of starting again. I have a shed about to become surplus to requirements and it would make sense to do as I can grow most of their food as well. Chicken I find a right pain to pluck (in all senses of the word as my hands don't work as well as they used to) but rabbits are easy to skin although I have never cured the pelts ... when I kept them before I sold them on untreated.
If you decide to give it a go I would be interested where you get your breeding stock from as I haven't seen any available in the southern half of the country, although I haven't enquired at any pet shops yet.
Tony

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144125Post JulieSherris
Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:52 am

Hey Tony, I got the book from the Ish competition yesterday (Thank you SSish & Penguin!!) and they concur with some of the other literature that I have here.... as in the Flemish Giant / Flemish Cross / Dutch / Old English breeds are probably best for the table.

It seems that any large breed 'will do' and for the skins then it's the chinchilla breeds that provide the softest furs.
I don't think I'm going to find too many meat rabbit breeders around here though - one of our best friends is a butcher, but he doesn't know of anyone breeding them either, so a trip to the pet shop is in order for our initial 3 bunnies - oh well, at least we can be honest & tell the shop that they will be pets!!

A few years ago, my youngest girl took care of a snake for a friend who ate live food..... she was refused 2 white mice in the pet shop, because she told the woman what they were for! :mrgreen: The poor snake had to make do with the stash we had in the freezer, bless!
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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144126Post Odsox
Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:35 am

The only problem with getting breeding stock from a pet shop (apart from the cost) is really being certain that the buck and does are unrelated.
If they only have one source of that particular breed then it would be a temptation for them to "guarantee" that they are unrelated and damn the consequences!

One piece of advice that I can give you from experience is to make sure the rabbit shed is rat proof and if that's not feasible then don't make the hutches out of wood or they will chew their way in. The rabbits will even tolerate rats and stand back as they rob their food and of course foul everywhere.

AS a pair of does will produce about 60 - 70 offspring per year, averaging at least one a week, it would make sense (for me) to breed them even just for dog food with the occasional one for the pot.
Good luck and keeps us (me) informed as to how you get on. :bunny:
Tony

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144129Post JulieSherris
Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:45 am

Ah, we'd thought about the whole inbreeding thing - oh no, I had thought about it....

And the answer is to do what we did with Leah's guinea pigs... buy them from different shops!

Actually, I was going to try & source different breeds for the buck to the does & cross them. As for the dog food idea, yep that's exactly the plan as well - I already try & feed the boys on a raw meat diet as much as I can anyway, so this will work out for all of us I think - I'll let you know though!

As for the furs, well, I'm going to try it - do you think I can get Alum from the pharmacies over here?
Would be nice to have some fur rugs around & maybe we could start selling lucky rabbit foot keyrings... :shaking2:
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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144130Post The Riff-Raff Element
Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:50 am

There was a program on the box here last night about how fur was making a major comeback not just in haute couture but also on the high street in France. Fairly vile stuff for the most part, but toward the end there was a piece about a farmer in the Charente - just down from us - who rears his own homebreed bunnies (he created the race over a period of 20 years) for both meat and the fur. We're talking big rabbits here. The fur is very similiar to chinchila and he sells it on for €40 per pelt and the meat for around €10 per kilo.

Coining it.

There's money to be made I tell you!

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144131Post Odsox
Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:57 am

I'd thought about different pet shops too, but if there is only one breeder in the area then .........
I must admit I hadn't of two different breeds, hey create your own hybrid, that's a brilliant idea :cheers:

Alum .. I always look on Ebay for anything strange and came up with this ... http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ALUM-Aluminium-Po ... 240%3A1318
You will have to export your fur to France then :lol:
Tony

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144132Post JulieSherris
Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:11 am

Wow, I never thought of selling the furs, I must admit!! If I crack the whole tanning process it could be the start of something profitable then?

I'm not exactly a fur fan, but then that's because of the whole ethics of fur - it definitely looks better on the animal!
But in this case, because we're breeding for meat then as a by product, it would be stupid of me to just discard it thoughtlessly.

We've had a small windfall this week, so I feel a trip to the woodyard this weekend - chickens & rabbits here we come!!
Photos will appear in due course... :wink: And the pharmacy in the local village do Alum - I called them & it's sold to the farmers for.... goodness only knows!!
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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144142Post Odsox
Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:51 am

One other important thing I forgot Julie, when you make the hutches for goodness sake don't leave any holes bigger that about half an inch.
If you have them in an unsecured barn or outdoors you will get a visit from your local mink, and their staple diet is rabbit.
I lost my hens last year to a mink ... indoors ! They managed to crawl under the corrugations of the corrugated iron roof. :angryfire:
Tony

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144172Post Big Al
Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:17 pm

Odsox wrote:Hi Julie.
Farmed rabbit meat from a proper meat breed like New Zealand, Californian or English White is fairly tasteless compare to wild rabbit.
The texture is finer (denser) and whiter and the flavour is comparable to cheapo chicken and takes up the flavour of what ever you are cooking it in.
I haven't kept rabbits for many years but I am seriously thinking of starting again. I have a shed about to become surplus to requirements and it would make sense to do as I can grow most of their food as well. Chicken I find a right pain to pluck (in all senses of the word as my hands don't work as well as they used to) but rabbits are easy to skin although I have never cured the pelts ... when I kept them before I sold them on untreated.
If you decide to give it a go I would be interested where you get your breeding stock from as I haven't seen any available in the southern half of the country, although I haven't enquired at any pet shops yet.

A tip for chickens is that if you plunge the bird into a bucket of boiling water [after it's been necked of course] for a minute then the waxy substance that holds the feathers in place will melt and the feathers come out easier. Never done this myself but it came as a "tip" from a pultry farmer.

HTH in future.

As for rabbits, my neighbour has bread rabbits for many a year. I'll try to remember to ask what they are etc. One concern is that you will get rats under your shed / housing so keep it off the floor by 4-6 inches to help stop this. As for being a guinee pig lover if you do get rats send a GP into the lair... only one comes out alive and it's not the rats...
Member of the Ishloss weight group 2013. starting weight 296.00 pounds on 01.01.2013. Now minus 0.20 pounds total THIS WEEK - 0.20 pounds Now over 320 pounds and couldn't give a fig...
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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144179Post Odsox
Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:51 pm

Big Al wrote:A tip for chickens is that if you plunge the bird into a bucket of boiling water [after it's been necked of course] for a minute then the waxy substance that holds the feathers in place will melt and the feathers come out easier. Never done this myself but it came as a "tip" from a pultry farmer.
Good tip Al, unfortunately it won't work for me. I suffer from MS and my hands literally cease to work if I try to anything repetitive for more than a minute.
I then have to wait about 5 minutes for them to start working again. :cussing:
Tony

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144182Post JulieSherris
Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:22 pm

Ooohh... lots of tips there - thank you lads!

Tony, I know we have mink in the woods, so yeah, whatever we keep here has to be secure - I was thinking to start with 3 cages on legs - about 12inches off the ground - with solid doors that can be closed at night - chicken mesh during the day with a 'sleep' compartment in each.
I've kept furry things before, so the cage dimensions aren't a problem, & as you say, no gaps!!

The thinking behind it is to shut them down each night when putting the chooks to bed & opening them in the mornings again when the chooks are let out. Andy can make me a run for the grass too, for those nice days we'll be having in the summer.... :wink:

I actually don't mind rats - not too keen on the damage they can do, but they don't have me running like a certain husband I could mention.....

And great tip for the plucking there as well, Al - thank you! I didn't know guinea pigs would fight rats... they're such peaceful little things too!
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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144184Post Ellendra
Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:57 pm

Most fur processors will want the untanned pelt, so if you plan to sell it to them ask how they want it. I know most fur buyers here in the US want it cased, fleshed, and dried, not tanned.

If you do decide to do your own tanning, I've posted elsewhere a tutorial on buckskin tanning, its easier and involves fewer chemicals than chem tanning. Let me see if I can find it again...

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144185Post Ellendra
Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:04 pm

Ah, here it is: http://www.selfsufficientish.com/forum/ ... =19&t=5504

Just skip the part about removing the hair.

Rabbit skins are somewhat thin, so be gentle in the fleshing stage.

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Re: Anyone here harvesting their own rabbits?

Post: # 144190Post Clara
Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:47 pm

We got a pair of rabbits just before christmas - still awaiting our first live litter, sadly the first lot were miscarried during a particularly noisy fiesta in the nearest village (fireworks like armageddon). I reckon if she's pregnant they are due any time now. I doubt that with our other arrival (!) due so soon that I will get around to using the furs this time but it is definitely on the list of things to do - thinking about hot water bottle covers (and hoping that we won't get firebombed by PETA).
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