How to Butcher a Rabbit for Meat

by Jen Philion

Items you will need

  • Heavy pipe or piece of wood
  • Sharp scissors
  • Large butcher knife or cleaver
  • Small knife
  • Clean table or work surface
  • Bucket

Rabbits are easy to raise and a very efficient source of protein. While there are many recipes intended specifically for rabbit meat, it also can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken. When you're raising rabbits for meat, they are generally ready for butchering at 8 to 12 weeks of age.

Butchering

Step 1

Withhold food from the rabbit for one full day before butchering.

Step 2

Put the rabbit in a small box so it is contained, or hold it still on a table. Kill the rabbit with one quick, sharp blow behind its ears, using the pipe or piece of wood.

Step 3

Cut off the rabbit's head behind the ears using the large butcher knife or cleaver. Immediately hang the rabbit upside-down by its rear feet to allow the blood to drain into the bucket.

Step 4

Take the rabbit down after the blood has drained, then place it on your work surface. Cut off its feet using the butcher knife.

Skinning and Dressing

Step 1

Lay the rabbit on its back. Using the scissors, poke a small hole in the skin on the inside of the rear legs, then carefully slit the skin up along the legs to the center of the belly.

Step 2

Peel the loosened skin from around the rabbit's rear legs and lower body. Gather the separated skin in one hand and hold the rabbit's bottom end firmly. With one strong, constant motion, pull the remaining skin toward the rabbit's front legs and over the shoulders to remove it.

Step 3

Use the scissors to slit the rabbit up or down the center of the belly. Be careful not to puncture the internal organs or cut into the anus.

Step 4

Use your hand to carefully pull out the internal organs, or use the sharp knife if it's necessary to cut away any sections. Be particularly careful not to cut open the gallbladder, the small green sac by the liver. Keep any organs you can use, such as the heart, kidneys and liver, and dispose of the other guts of the rabbit.

Step 5

Rinse the rabbit with cold running water, then store the carcass in an ice water bath.

Tips

  • Do not soak the rabbit for more than 15 minutes, because it will begin to absorb water.

Warnings

  • Cutting open the gallbladder will release bile that can taint the rabbit meat.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

About the Author

Jennifer Philion has been a professional writer and editor for more than 13 years, with experience in print and online journalism as well as marketing and public relations. She has written for "The Sporting News," the "Boulder Daily Camera" and the "Ogden Standard-Examiner" as well as magazines and online sites. She holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Colorado-Boulder.