Deciding to cull a breeding stock animal is never easy. Not only did you spend time researching and going out to purchase the animal, but you’ve also invested time and money raising them for breeding. However, every animal is different and be it their physical ailments or foul personalities, some animals may find themselves at the butcher block. We recently had to make such a decision and let me tell you, I’m still trying to get over it.
She’s a Rip Tide Queen and She’s Super Mean
I have the bad habit of browsing the Farm and Garden section of Craigslist weekly.
Alright, alright! Hourly.
I came across a post advertising free meat rabbits. You better believe I jumped on the chance and contacted the original poster (OP) right away. I asked OP if they had an intact doe and buck. They said yes and we set-up a time to meet up. My intention was to get one buck and one doe to use as future breeding stock. At the time, my grey doe was not yet old enough to mate. I had decided earlier last year that instead of neutering/spaying my rabbits, I was going to separate them and begin breeding them. My goal was to raise rabbits, sell them as pets, and the left overs are butchered for meat.
What?! Butcher?! For meat?!
Yeah… You can say I’m trash and I guess I really am but I eat meat. However, I’m kind of not okay with how our meat is currently being processed in the US. Yes, we are doing so, so much better than the conditions originally recorded in The Jungle, but my stomach churns at the thought of animals suffering greatly during their last moments. Even as a little girl I understood that an animal had to die in order for me to eat meat. My parents never hid that fact from me. To be honest, it’s part of my Mexican culture. My Papi and Mami grew up raising and butchering animals on their farms. When I was older, Papi made sure I was present to watch a pig butcher so I understood the hard work put into feeding my family. I remember I didn’t cry but felt a sense of solemn respect for the animal.
I was emotionally prepared to raise these new rabbits’ kits to butcher size and sell them. I bought extra cages, made sure their water had a splash of apple cider vinegar, and even gave the doe some black oil sunflower seeds to get her in the mood. The buck was more than ready to get his groove on. The doe, on the other hand, seemed super skittish and didn’t eat for about 2 days after I moved her in. I decided to give her a week to settled in before rebreeding her. But on breeding day…
The doe at first ran circles around the buck, honking and snarling, even raising up on her hind legs and clawing at him. The buck tried several times to mount her but ended up losing chunks of his fur as the doe tried to sink her teeth into him. At some point she managed to bite his nose and left the buck bleeding heavily. I got so anxious watching her act out that I decided to remove the doe and help clean the buck up. I didn’t want to give up, however, so I kept trying to breed her over the last few months. That doe wasn’t having it. She eventually turned on me and started biting and scratching me too. I got so fed up with her foul attitude that I turned to my voice of reason, my husband Alex.
Alex worked on a sheep farm and learned to butcher lambs. He has some experience selecting stock for slaughter and I figured he may have some advice for me. I explained out that the doe was not only aggressive, but showed no signs of being ready to breed and was super unwilling to breed anyway. When I asked him what I should do about the doe, he offered to butcher her for me. Initially hesitant, I looked for other options just in case Alex’s plan could be avoided. I tried giving her away on Craigslist but no one wanted her. I wasn’t going to give her to a rescue, her bad attitude would cause her to be euthanized and thrown in the dump. What a waste!
So I Went to Youtube…
Ah, Youtube, a good source of information. I watched a video by Slightly Redneck where he discusses mean rabbits. Slightly Redneck was in line with my thoughts of giving the doe a chance to breed. However, he then pointed out that sometimes, a foul doe is better off in your freezer than giving birth. There was Alex’s voice of reason again. I never listen the first time, haha. Anyway, those aggressive genes could potentially pass to the mean doe’s litter and well, if I want to run a successful meat rabbit operation, then I’ll have to consider culling her for the sake of keeping a good breeding stock. Culling unruly stock isn’t new to experienced homesteaders or farmers. The homestead group I follow always seems to announce weekly that another mean rooster or foul goat has been added to the grill.
However, I can’t butcher my rabbits on my property. I have to take them to be butchered or do the butchering somewhere else. Calling up a friend who owns a farm, I asked if I could come by for a rabbit butchering day. I got the okay and with Alex trudging along, we went over for our first butchering. I had watched a lot of videos online on how to butcher rabbit. Alex was wonderful in helping hold the animal, salt the hide, and package the cuts. I did make some mistakes but in the end, that nasty-tempered doe added some much needed meat to our freezer. We used every part of the animal, from ears to tail. The pelt is pickling in an alum solution now and will be used to make Alex… Something. The dog enjoyed his rabbit ear treats. The chickens got the meat scraps and innards. We even got to make some rabbit strew later that night.
I am currently looking for another doe to breed with my New Zealand buck. There aren’t too many proven, 1 year old does online right now so I’ll just have to wait. For sure next time I will insist on handling the rabbits to ensure they’ve got the personality I’m looking for. I don’t want to butcher another animal due to their foul behavior again. We’ll have to see about that, though.