The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Other => Rabbits => Topic started by: S3Z on December 02, 2013, 02:38:59 pm

Title: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: S3Z on December 02, 2013, 02:38:59 pm
Hi everyone very new to all this and looking for help and advice on raising my own meat rabbits.
Reason: my dogs eat raw and I just cannot locate a reliable source of rabbit meat for less the 5 each. I'm also happy to eat the meat myself.

I'm thinking: two new Zealand white doe's and one California buck so kits will be cross bred (help with genetics and health). Buck will have his own hutch and run with doe's out of site (I'll be bringing doe to buck for mating) and doe's will be hutched together until mated then separated until kits are weaned. Hutches will be 4ft plus with built in runs. Given access to garden where possible.

I'm worried about dispatching them, I'm thinking getting them nice and relaxed, then shot to the head area for a quick death. Is there any other way to do this that does not require brute force? Must be as calm as possible

I'm looking at selling any spare rabbit to other dog owners for around 1.50 a rabbit, as is or Skinned and gutted.

Food: grass, hay, organic veg. Is this OK?

Will be kept outdoors, other then a nice thick bed of hay, what will i need to do for them during winter? I know they will need shelter and shade during summer. I do have a garage, would this be better? And moving them to the garden during the day for natural sunlight?

Ideal age/weight to dispatch? How long should I leave between pregnancy for optimal health? How long can a buck... Buck for? Will he have to retire at a certain age?
My primary concern are the rabbits health and welfare :) please correct anything I have wrong! I'm a complete novice!
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: shygirl on December 02, 2013, 02:49:15 pm
the answers and advice are available from the british rabbit council. well worth joining.

remember the fur has a value too, easily sold on ebay.
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: cloddopper on December 03, 2013, 07:59:21 pm
This sound evil but in fact is very quick and not stressful to the rabbit if you have the courage to do it. It used to be one of two suggested methods for despatching rabbits quickly 7 humanely in the old Ministry of Food publications.

 Get a 1/2 inch thick steel bar about 3 feet long
  Lay the rabbit down holding whilst its rear legs  stroke it calm . Keep hold of the legs  lay the steel bar centrally across it's neck right next to the back of its skull  put one foot on the right end three inches of the bar of the bar and quickly step on the left end 3 inches whilst gently pulling on the legs as you stand upright .

It will instantly sever the spinal cord causing death in milliseconds but not cause blood spill though the carcass may have a slightly  bleeding nose.

If you suffer balance problem or have injuries that may make doing this method dangerous don't attempt it.
 The other method is best suited to a tall person and that is by laying the rabbit spine down across your knee  holding the skull just behind the head and holding its rear legs in the other hand and pull it like you would kill a chicken but using your knee in the back to get a bigger pull... it can be difficult even for a tall person if the rabbit is particularly big.

 It used to be that you could buy a place on a poultry man's preparation course and they would teach you the hand culling method so that you could have the bit of paper needed to say you knew what your doing.  The info for theses sort of coursers was usually known by the environmental health officers
 
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: S3Z on December 04, 2013, 10:08:33 am
Thank you!

I'm only 5.1 and I have arthritis so wrenching and pulling is out of the question! I think I could manage the bar across the back of the head though. Bleeding doesn't really matter as these rabbit will be predominantly dog food items so don't need to be pretty or anything :D

Dispatching my first lot of rabbits is going to be very interesting! I do have someone who will happily help me out though so I should be OK!
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: Clansman on December 04, 2013, 03:37:34 pm
Might be worth your while looking into Carbon Dioxide gassing?

A while ago I knew two old ladies who lived together with quite a few animals but the killing part was a major problem for them, they were a bit apprehensive about the blood and guts side of it and were experts at dressing out animals etc but the physical part of it was their biggest concern and I took it on myself to come up with a solution.

I'd worked in hatcheries and had experience of CO2 gassing on chickens farms and saw that as the simplest solution.

They were dealing with chickens and ducks mainly but rabbits could easily be done this way.

I got a pub CO2 gas bottle (the ones that put the bubbles in your pint) and used a small airtight box just large enough to hold a chicken.

CO2 gas is heavier than air so it will sink to the ground displacing oxygen, this is the one that kills people in slurry tanks etc

its not poisonous in itself in the way Carbon Monoxide is, it just displaces oxygen

The gas was fed into the box for a minute or so in a well ventilated building (open barn in this case) we did it in near darkness to keep the birds calm, then the chicken was lowered in and the lid closed (gas still on)

A chicken will barely have time to get to its feet before being overcome and will be dead within a few seconds without any of the flapping etc seen with other killing methods.

Its a very calm process.

They dislocated the neck of the birds immediately after to allow the blood to drain into the neck cavity but its a lot easier process on an already dead animal, both mentally and physically than it is on a live and quite possibly still kicking one.

Something to think about..
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: shygirl on December 04, 2013, 04:30:17 pm
the thing i hated about breeding rabbits was the killing. i couldnt get the knack even though i found turkeys and chickens quick and easy to kill.
i bought a humane dispatcher but never used it as it was a nightmare the first time used it on a hen.

not sure what the best approach but would be interested in finding a foolproof quick way.
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: cloddopper on December 04, 2013, 09:41:52 pm
Might be worth your while looking into Carbon Dioxide gassing?

A while ago I knew two old ladies who lived together with quite a few animals but the killing part was a major problem for them, they were a bit apprehensive about the blood and guts side of it and were experts at dressing out animals etc but the physical part of it was their biggest concern and I took it on myself to come up with a solution.

I'd worked in hatcheries and had experience of CO2 gassing on chickens farms and saw that as the simplest solution.

They were dealing with chickens and ducks mainly but rabbits could easily be done this way.

I got a pub CO2 gas bottle (the ones that put the bubbles in your pint) and used a small airtight box just large enough to hold a chicken.

CO2 gas is heavier than air so it will sink to the ground displacing oxygen, this is the one that kills people in slurry tanks etc

its not poisonous in itself in the way Carbon Monoxide is, it just displaces oxygen

The gas was fed into the box for a minute or so in a well ventilated building (open barn in this case) we did it in near darkness to keep the birds calm, then the chicken was lowered in and the lid closed (gas still on)

A chicken will barely have time to get to its feet before being overcome and will be dead within a few seconds without any of the flapping etc seen with other killing methods.

Its a very calm process.

They dislocated the neck of the birds immediately after to allow the blood to drain into the neck cavity but its a lot easier process on an already dead animal, both mentally and physically than it is on a live and quite possibly still kicking one.

Something to think about..

I looked quite deeply into how to legally and humanely cull  old or diseased/injured stock on our small mammal farm .  I spent months being shovelled from department to department with government departments , with no one wanting to take a definitive decision .
Your on very dangerous ground using CO 2 if you don't have a home office permit/ licence to do it as you slowly asphyxiate the animals over a period of time or you quickly suffocate them
 Most hatcheries have special home office approved permits for despatching unwanted stock if they use CO2.
I couldn't get one even though my frozen culls were going to support  raptor recovery and breeding programmes around the UK.

Lots of modern hatchery places evidently use vey high speed macerators and moving conveyor  belts to take the unwanted chicks from the sexing tables into the cutters ,  the resultant mush goes for fish , cat & dog food etc...

 The rate of CO2 induced unconsciousness and final death can take hours if trickled in  even then the heart rate and brain waves indicate the animals are highly distressed even if they are comatose.
If you  have too much CO2/ too fast a flow they try run about in great distress trying to get oxygen .   That was what one of the RSPCA inspectors reckoned they were going to try to get me on under the 1911 cruelty to animals act .
 Thankfully I had a very strong paper trail of all places I'd gone to for advice , their replies  and the methods I'd researched.
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: shygirl on December 04, 2013, 10:21:39 pm
if its just for dog food, wild rabbits are sold via butchers or game keepers and im sure they price was only 2 a head, when i enquired about them.

i really recommend the british rabbit council - they are very friendly - lots of local groups, and even though many dont eat there rabbits (usually pet/show), they still have to cull them so im sure they would arrange for someone to show you how to do it.

Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: Clansman on December 05, 2013, 11:28:03 am

I looked quite deeply into how to legally and humanely cull  old or diseased/injured stock on our small mammal farm .  I spent months being shovelled from department to department with government departments , with no one wanting to take a definitive decision .
Your on very dangerous ground using CO 2 if you don't have a home office permit/ licence to do it as you slowly asphyxiate the animals over a period of time or you quickly suffocate them
 Most hatcheries have special home office approved permits for despatching unwanted stock if they use CO2.
I couldn't get one even though my frozen culls were going to support  raptor recovery and breeding programmes around the UK.

Lots of modern hatchery places evidently use vey high speed macerators and moving conveyor  belts to take the unwanted chicks from the sexing tables into the cutters ,  the resultant mush goes for fish , cat & dog food etc...

 The rate of CO2 induced unconsciousness and final death can take hours if trickled in  even then the heart rate and brain waves indicate the animals are highly distressed even if they are comatose.
If you  have too much CO2/ too fast a flow they try run about in great distress trying to get oxygen .   That was what one of the RSPCA inspectors reckoned they were going to try to get me on under the 1911 cruelty to animals act .
 Thankfully I had a very strong paper trail of all places I'd gone to for advice , their replies  and the methods I'd researched.

Thats a point! I never even considered it would need a license! ok disregard that idea! :)

I have seen them killing pigs with CO2 but they put the pig into a sealed box then feed the gas in :-\

That is a slow and cruel way to do it and they do thrash about for a while but lowering the animals into a CO2 filled space is very quick and they are dead almost instantly.

When we culled a whole farm of chickens the birds were dropped into the CO2 container, just got to their feet an no more, then keeled over, I reckoned 4 seconds from dropping them in to when they dropped.

the vet was checking them regularly by removing birds that had just dropped, they were all dead, none of the birds he took out showed any signs of recovery.

Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: cloddopper on December 06, 2013, 12:55:57 am
Was the farm cull of chickens related to foul pest culling and carcass incineration by any chance ?  Same with the pigs and swine flu etc.?
 
Under those sort of circumstances the government usually has over riding unassailable powers &  pre made action plans to get the job done quick and cheaply.
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: Clansman on December 06, 2013, 04:15:06 pm
No it was salmonella, just after Mrs Currie caused the big scare  ::)
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: cloddopper on December 07, 2013, 01:21:11 am
Was it her or her advisors ?

 Whatever it was , was a waste of good flesh . Pressure cooked chook with veg is fine fare indeed when your hungry . ;D
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: Clansman on December 10, 2013, 10:09:29 am
It came out of her mouth  ;D

I was at college at the time and all the professors were desperately trying to get on the tv or into the media to show she was wrong but they wouldn't let them anywhere near.

Why let the truth get in the way of a good bit of scaremongering!  ;D

Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: JulieWall on December 10, 2013, 11:57:46 am
Check your message box s3z
I thought my intended post might be a bit graphic if someone sensitive stumbled upon it.
Title: Re: Please help! Complete newbie!
Post by: confused on December 18, 2013, 11:28:46 am
I'm sure your head will be full of info now , but i just wanted to say that i was pleased you had taken this step to help feed your dogs , i find it funny how some folk turn up there noses at the thought of eating home produced rabbits, but buy produce that they have no idea where it comes from , i have a few rabbits and they cost me little or nothing in terms of cash to keep , i feed them mostly veg , fruit , and foraged greens , only buying in a few small bales of hay for winter feed in frosty weather , wishing you all the best with your new venture .