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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The end of an era

Well I am sorry to say I've decided to stop breeding rabbits for meat and fur.
It has not been cost effective, although it is a very good meat for the dogs to eat, the kids wouldn't eat the fluffy bunnies and it works out as rather expensive dog food so it's time to call it a day.  Also I can't use 'the bunny room' any more as mum insist she has to have somewhere to sleep! Pah! lol

Perhaps if I had more land in which to grow more plants and hay for them to eat it and could raise them indoors it would have cost less.  Don't get me wrong, it doesn't cot much to raise rabbits.  A 12kg bag of pellets is about £10,  A bale of hay is about £4 but if you take into account that you can't breed over the winter as they are outdoors and the baby bunnies can eat twice as much as an adult then each rabbit (which weighs about 1- 2 Kg) costs about £10 to raise.  Unfortunately my dogs eat about 2 Kg a day!  Just not worth it for me I'm afraid with the work involved in looking after them too.

Bye for now!  I might blog about a different subject at some point!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A bit of a catch up

Well,  I am now fairly well practised with the processing of rabbits.  The broomstick method I found a little unreliable so I invested in a Quick rabbit or Rabbit Wringer.  This screws to the wall and makes the process easier. However it isn't something I like doing and I do tend to put it off as long as possible.

I'm not processing the fur at the moment, I'm freezing them until I can devote some time to scraping them etc as unless it is done properly it isn't worth doing.  If any tissue is left on the pelt then it will go rancid.  I'm thinking of trying to find a taxidermist or tanner to do it for me if I get lots that need doing.

The dogs are loving their fresh meat dinners and you can tell it is good for them as their fur is so much softer and the poop less yucky lol

My first Rex litter are mostly gone to the dogs now, there are 3 left and I can't decide if I should keep one to breed from..  I had a couple of people say they wanted the chocolate and the black one but then they never turned up so I've kept them longer for that purpose and they do look good and have the lovely soft fur.

My giant x rex has just had her first litter weaned.  She had a very big litter but a few died for one reason of another so ended up with 7.  I feel it put a big strain on her and she is a lovely rabbit so I might sell her to a pet home.  Her babies will become dinner.  I also have 4 lop babies of the same age so they are all living together.  Boys and girls separate of course!

I also have my second pure rex litter up and coming and they look much the same as the first rex litter but they would.  They have the same parents!  They are very active and keep escaping to run free about the spare room which is fine I suppose but I should sort out a more secure place for them.  I have a big hutch I might put them in soon.

More photos and updates coming soon.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Old and new rabbits

Well I've had a lot on what with getting ready for Christmas and I've been ill, and looking after kids etc so excuse me for not updating!  Also the Alum I had ordered didn't come for over a week so I had to chuck the last 3 pelts from the older rabbits as I was giving them a wash, the hair was falling out and they smelled bad not surprisingly.   Such a waste.  But on to other news...

The first litter that was born to my rex's is coming up to their 8 week birthday,  they are also eatings LOADS!  Seriously I have 4 adults, 1 x 8 week litter of 10, and another 2 very small litters and I'm sure I went through 10Kg of pellets in one week.   Due to this and the fact that they are keeping me busy with the amount of associated cleaning out that has to be done everyday I have decided the end is nigh for them.

They are growing fast and I have possibly 2 reserved as pets by people so I'll keep them as long as I can but I'm thinking 1 or 2 or 3  or all 8 maybe will go within the next day.  If I can find the time.  I'll keep you updated

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Pelts

At the moment I have 3 pelts soaking in salt water, I'm going to try a slightly different method to last time.  I've ordered some Alum as I may get better results.  I hope it comes soon as these pelt have been soaking for 3 days now and I should do something with them soon.

Some of the meat from the rabbits I've frozen for a later date, some the dogs have had and I've cooked 1 leg to give us a taster of what it was like.  I braised, and roasted it and it wasn't bad, a little tough though so maybe a casserole would be the thing to try next.

The first pelt I did is not looking too bad at all.  It is reasonably soft, the fur is lovely, just got to think what to use it for now :)

Friday, 2 December 2011

Three more rabbits

Ok so the first fur didn't work out too well, the hair is falling out a lot but the skin is fairy soft so I may still be able to use it.  I'm leaving that to one side for the moment and thinking about dinner...

I have baby rabbits who are almost 4 weeks old which is great, they are thriving with their mum but they will soon get to the stage where they should be weaning and sexed and sent to their own same sex cages.  Which is a bit of a problem as I've run out... of cages.  I also have 2 other pregnant does due in a couple of weeks.

This led to the decision more practise furs and dinner needs to be prepared.  I have 3 rabbits that are biding their time so today was their time.  I thought it best to do all 3 at once to get it over and done with and that way I might learn quicker rather than having a gap in between each one.

Having dislocated the neck using the broom method I hung them up.  Then went to have breakfast.  I think being hungry gave me that extra edge!  I didn't bother whacking them over the head as it didn't work very well last time and thought it would be quicker not doing so.  When I got back to them perhaps 45 minutes later they has cooled down and stiffened a little. I probably left them a little too long.  Anyway time to get started.



I was a little more careful this time skinning the first rabbit as I didn't want fat left on it only to have to get it off later.  It took quite a while for me to skin it this time because of this and it was freezing in the shed!  I left the head on until the last minute this time but I think I got a little blood on the fur... I bagged it up with a little fly spray just in case and put to one side.

After skinning of course I was left with the carcass, actually quite a bit of fat on this one! Saying that, the fat is generally all just under the skin and is very easy to separate from the meat which is very lean  This one is for human consumption so I portioned it up into back, flank and back legs, keeping the liver and kidneys.



 I gave everything else to the dogs which was basically the front half of the rabbit inc. spine, front legs, excess fat, guts feet and head and any other bits! They ate everything straight away apart from the head, saving that for later....


The skin is now soaking in salt water to clean it and to loosen any fat that needs to come off.

This seemed very labour intensive to me but I'm sure I'll get quicker at it the more I do.

I think this rabbit will make up portions for 4-6 people and of course the 2 dogs :)


Now all I have to do is the same to the other two rabbits and to find some recipes!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Fur falling out.

Oh dear, my bathroom is covered in fur.  I've been stretching and stretching but fur is flying out all over the place.  I read somewhere that if the fur gets rewetted that it will loosen the fur so I'm guessing that is what happened.  It's all a learning process, and I will try again using a slightly different method. I'm wondering whether to try Alum as I've heard it is better than the borax method but still doesn't make it waterproof.

What I'm trying to do is find a way to do it in an enviromentally friendly way.  I think Alum and the professional chemicals you can use can contaminate water sources and can be difficult to dispose of safely, that's why I chose the borax.  Maybe next time I'll wash the pelt first, then use a paste to tan it, much as in the method described in the link at the bottom of the page for 'tanning with Alum' but with Borax.  I'll keep you posted :)

Friday, 25 November 2011

and stretch!

After washing it yesterday it had absorbed water again so was soft and supple again.  So I stretched it in all directions and I must say it was a lot easier when wet.  I imagine if I keep doing that then the finished product will be more soft and supple.

The down side being that in the process of stretching I managed to tear a few clumps of the fur out.  A lot of the fur is falling out now so I'm feeling a bit disheartened.  It may be me being too rough with it or some other reason I don't know.  I'll have to look into why that might be happening.

Meanwhile there are some baby standard rex rabbits growing up in the spare room.  They are 3 weeks old now and absolutely adorable.  There are 10 of them of various colours and I'm trying to not forget they will end up a blanket!  That is, if I can get the tanning process sorted out.  They are hopping about all over the place and running rings around the mother who is still looking good.  At the moment they are in a 47" dog cage with the door open so they can run around the room.  However they don't need the door open because they can very easily squeeze through the bars.   I shall have to refine the cage for future litters or the babies might get mixed up if I have more than one litter at a time.  Some mesh, cable tied around the bottom of the cage would perhaps do the job.

Photos coming soon.

Please do comment!