(c) Gryph- if you repost this article, please post with a link back to my website.
There are several methods of dispatching, and you may want to try a few different ones before you settle on your preferred style. I prefer cervical dislocation using the broomstick method. I don’t recommend any method which does not result in instant death. It’s imperative that you employ your preferred method of dispatching without hesitation. It’s the ultimate goal to give your rabbit the swiftest, most humane death possible. If that becomes impossible, hesitation and timidity will only cause needless pain and suffering. Any stress during the butchering process can result in the release of adrenaline and other endocrine hormones associated with the animal’s flight response. These hormones negatively affect the flavor of the rabbit meat, and will toughen the meat.
Here are a few of the most common ways to dispatch.
Gunshot. Gunshot to the back of the head. This can be performed with a very small caliber handgun or rifle, or even a more silent pump action pellet gun (NOT a BB gun). The pellet gun is probably a better option than the small caliber handgun or rifle for urban settings.
Blunt Force Trauma. Using a ball peen hammer or other heavy, sturdy object to strike on the back of the skull.
Manual Cervical Dislocation. The intent is to break the neck and dislocate the brain from the nervous system. Breaking the rabbit’s neck without any tools other than your own hands and muscles is a technique only recommended for those with the skill and muscular effort which is required to pull it off humanely. I do not recommend this method.
Mechanical Cervical Dislocation. The intent is to break the neck and dislocate the brain from the nervous system. Unlike the previous method, this is done by employing some kind of mechanical aid. One common method is known as “broomsticking.” There are tools that go by many different names that you can mount to a hard surface to make this job easier such as the one photographed here.
Be fairly warned. Even after you dispatch your rabbit, there will be twitching. When you dispatch a rabbit, you are causing fatal trauma or disconnection to the medulla oblongata in the rabbit’s brain. There will almost always be post mortem twitching and writhing. The heart may even continue to beat for some time after death, even after you’ve removed it from the carcass. This is not an indication that your animal is suffering; it’s only proof that the nervous system continues to work even after death.
I will repeat again, always confirm your kill. It’s essential that your rabbit is truly beyond pain before you process the carcass.
I prefer mechanical cervical dislocation (broomsticking). Place the rabbit on the ground. Place a sturdy broomstick type of rod of wood or metal behind the ears over the rabbit’s neck. Place the ball of one foot on one end of the rod to keep the rabbit gently pinned to the ground. Hold the rabbit’s back legs and lift up so the body is more (but not completely) perpendicular to the ground. Place the ball of your second foot gently on the other end of the broomstick and only when the rabbit is in position, put your full weight on both ends of the broomstick while simultaneously yanking the rabbit’s feet up in a swift, steady pulling movement dislocating the head. It is crucial that you do not place your full weight on the broomstick until you are ready to yank the rabbit’s feet up as that will only serve to strangle the rabbit before it dies and creates unnecessary suffering.
For a graphic video of me dispatching via broomstick method, click here.