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rabbit fur uses and processing

 
Peri Ledo
Posts: 15
Location: southern Spain
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I'm setting up my rabbitry, and although I intend to raise rabbits mainly for meat, I would like to know what do you use your rabbits skins for, as I'm sure some interesting ideas will come up. Also I think this topic deserves a thread on this forum.

 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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sell the skins in eBay or Amazon. I don't see why permaculture cannot involve ecommerce

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_nkw=Rabbit+skin&rt=nc&LH_BIN=1

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Rabbit+skin
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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We sell them on our website (WARNING: SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION): http://www.velacreations.com/food/animals/rabbits/item/45-fur-products-for-sale.html

Here's how we tan and process them: http://www.velacreations.com/food/animals/rabbits/item/44-tanning-hides.html
 
Peri Ledo
Posts: 15
Location: southern Spain
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Sure e-commerce is an option, as well as plain commerce.


Thanks for the info. Is there an alternative to battery acid for tanning the pelts? how do you get and handle such thing? (i'm not familiar with handling batteries other than my laptop's )

 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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there are other things like alum, but we prefer the battery acid method, as it is almost fool proof.

You can get it at most places that sell automotive batteries.
 
Rachael Dye
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I tan my rabbit hides with eggs when I do not have brains to use. I de-flesh the hides then scramble an egg or two and spread the liquid on the flesh side of the hide. I place a damp towel over it to keep it moist as it soaks into the hide overnight. Then I stretch it and smoke it to make it semi-waterproof and prevent it from re-hardening if it gets wet.

Rachael
 
Glenn Koenig
Posts: 18
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@Rachel, how do you de-flesh? That seems to be the whole point of the battery acid, also would you recommend using the eggs even if you de-flesh with battery acid? Also I'm interested in smoking the hides for the water proofing effect you talk about, how exactly do you do that and do you know any good free resources for instructions regarding all of this?

thanks!
Glenn
Kentucky
 
Adam Klaus
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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rabbit hides are relatively easy to tan, in my experience. for a fur-on hide, I think they are about as easy as they come.
there is absolutely no need to use toxic chemicals of any type to acheive an excellent quality hide. the end result is so soft and clean that I gave them to my babies as infant toys. they still love their fuzzy bunny!

here are the steps I have successfully used on many occasions with my rabbit hides:
-use a fresh hide, not a dried hide. much easier and better end result.
-scrape the fat off the hide. no need to worry about the membrane just yet, only get the fat off. very minimal process in this step.
-salt the flesh side of the hide heavily. let rest overnight, but not dry out.
-scrape any remaining flesh off. the salt will contract this fleshy material and it will peel off quite easily. dont worry about the membrane yet.
-soak the hide in an alum (like you use for pickling) solution for a day or two. a few tablespoons of alum in a gallon of water, roughly. this locks in the hair so it doesnt slip and fall out later in the process.
-wash thoroughly with soapy water to get rid of all alum residue.
-let hide dry out just enough that the surface of the hide feels dry, but there is still moisture deep in the skin.
-scrape aggressively with a rough pumice stone to remove the membrane. *this is the critical step*. with a dry skin surface and a pumice stone, the membrane will flake off quite easily, like exfoliating dead skin on your feet.
-whip a few eggs, and apply generously to the skin side of the hide. fold hide in half, skin to skin. wrap hide in warm moist towels. let sit for a day. apply more eggs if they are totally absorbed into the skin. stretch the hide a bit to encourage the eggs to absorb.
-freeze hide with egg mixture in a plastic bag in the freezer overnight.
-remove from freezer, and 'work' hide to soften as it thaws and dries out. *now is the time to really pay attention to your hide* as it dries a little, stretch the hide to keep the skin supple. this step is ongoing, where you will work the hide, then let it dry, then work some more as soon as the surface starts to feel dry to the touch. be firm but gentle, you dont want to tear the hide, it isnt a deerskin. alternating stretching in different directions with your hands, and stretching the hide over a blunt piece of wood works well. if you have to take a break, put the hide in a plastic bag in the fridge so it doesnt dry out without you working it. the key is breaking up the connective tissues as the hide dries out, so that it remains soft and smooth.
-keep working it until the skin side of the hide feels warm to the touch. if it feels cool, it still has moisture, and will become stiff if it dries without working it. as it dries completely, give it a last buffing with a pumice stone, preferrably not too rough of a stone at this stage.

lots of little steps makes for much less work. let nature work in each of the steps, rather than excess elbow grease. your first hide will take much much longer than future hides. learning the process is a valuable skill, and this technique will work with all small fur-bearing hides.

good luck!

 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Thanks for all the useful information. Living in the city, my approach is of necessity no-kill. Nonetheless, I am looking to raise rabbits for fibre. So I am going to get a herd of a half-dozen Angora rabbits and brush them out weekly. I would love to know if anyone knows of a spindle, design or the actual article for sale, that would assist in the turning of long angora rabbit fur to yarn. Or is there another way?

-CK
 
David Williams
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@Chris Kott , from my limited understanding most fiber spinners use either your standard or flax spindles for angora rabbit fur , they use drum carders and remove them in roving product is then plyed and run on loom to weave or knitted to make final products, i have thought about giant angora's myself , and use for both meat and fiber , but have heard reports of the giants having a coarser fur, and dont produce meat like other meat rabbits can .... they do produce a lot fiber and good meat , but not as well as specific varieties for those intent purposes...let us know how your project goes, very interested
 
Miles Flansburg
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That is the first time I have heard of using eggs. What exactly do the eggs do and why?
Can you do the same thing with other hides?
 
Jason Guerard
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Thanks,
I've been wanting to do this but didn't like the battery acid.
Should be spare eggs from the new chickens when my next batch of buns is ready to be "moved to the freezer"
 
Adam Klaus
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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miles- the eggs are used in place of brains, as this technique is basically a spinoff of traditional braintanning. you can find tons more info at Matt Richards' website braintan.com about the specific technical function of the eggs/brains

this technique works well with other small mammals, such as mink, skunk, and coyote. other species that you want to tan with hair-on, as furs, require different techniques. beaver, bear, bison, elk, etc are more difficult, partially due to their large size, and partially due to the different characteristics of their hides.

no need to use choice farm eggs for tanning, I would use the cheap ones from the grocery store that are not exactly fit for decent human consumption. give the good farm eggs to your neighbors as a gift!
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Thanks very much. I am still looking for angora rabbits in my area. I would value quality of fibre over size of wabbit, in my personal position, but that is mostly because I am looking to sell smaller quantities of higher quality fibre. I have even spoken to a few people, artists in fibre and textiles, who specifically want to do the carding themselves, so they want the raw bales of rabbit fur straight off the rabbit, unprocessed. Which works for me, because the less I have to do with a thing, the more of it I can do.

Personally, I don't feel I need to stack every function until it folds in half and splits in two. Which is to say, if I can have a profitable angora fibre operation, and chickens for meat and eggs, and salmon, catfish, freshwater shrimp, and, I don't know, some freshwater shellfish filter feeder, I don't think I need meat from those rabbits. If I want rabbit meat, I'll get a meat breed.

Anyone know where to get those ones that cluck and lay those excellent sugar-goo-filled chocolate eggs? Cadburies, I think they're called.

-CK
 
john degrazia
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This may be one of the oldest ways to tan hides, disused because it is not sanitary and the smell of urine may linger:
Save urine in a jug. Mix it with salt. When the hide is fresh, either dry it out with salt, or nowadays you can soak the skin in alcohol when it is fresh to preserve it while it is drying. When it is dry, soak it in the urine-salt mixture for a day or two.
When it dries again, it will be supple and preserved. Afterwards, you can work neetsfoot oil into repeatedly to achieve a truly
supple leather with fur attached. This way seems to eliminate the need for scraping and close removal of all membrane.
You might try this out on a little skin and see. If you have a lot of deer, boar or buffalo hides, and can't afford the trouble and expense of the other methods, this might be for you; no stretching, no battery acid and timing the batch. The hides are good enough for the wholesale market, where they be worked into other items. The smell of urine fades with time.
 
Ryan Tollmann
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John- urine+salt that is an interesting method...probably frontier style. Gonna have to try that one for sure. And idea as to amts? Ratio of salt to urine?
 
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