Fryers are butchered between 8 to 12 weeks of age, weighing 4 to 5.5 pounds and should dress out at about 2 to 3 pounds (usually 50 - 60 percent). Rabbits over 5.5 pounds are considered roasters. The feed conversion per fryer is about 1 pound of meat per 4 pounds of feed. After 8 to 12 weeks of age, the feed to meat conversion drops dramatically.
To kill the rabbit, hold it by it's hind legs with your weak hand and with your other hand, put your thumb behind its neck and your fingers on its throat. Quickly snap the neck by pushing straight down.
Another method is to hold the hind legs with one hand and strike it sharply with a heavy stick or pipe at the base of the skull. This will kill the rabbit instantly and is completely painless.
The broomstick method consists of the rabbit laying on the ground, with the broomstick laying across it's neck. Then quickly step on the broomstick and while holding the hind legs, pull up on the body, resulting in dislocating the neck.
Some choose to use the C02 method. This consists of using an ice chest that has a drain built in and connecting it to a C02 tank. Then simply place the rabbit(s) in the ice chest, close the door and turn on the C02. Start slowly, allowing them to breath it in a little at a time. Then increase the amount after a few moments. The rabbits go to sleep and shortly after peacefully die. If you turn it on too high at the beginning, they'll often get stressed and hop around wildly. Done properly, it is not only very humane, but very efficient. This is a great dispatching method when rabbits are being used for snake or other animal food.
Still others choose to use a firearm and shoot a round through the back of the head, resulting in a quick, painless dispatch. This is not always an option for those living within city limits or where discharging a firearm is not legal or not wise.
There are many other tools and systems out there. Find the one that works best for you and your individual circumstances.
Immediately after you have dispatched the rabbit, hang it upside down with twine or 2 hooks and cut the head off to let it bleed out. For optimal drainage do this directly after culling. Next cut off the front feet at the first joints. Good scissor-type clippers may be helpful for this step. Then cut the skin around the two hind feet, without cutting through the meat.
Next cut through the skin, down the inside of the legs to the crotch and around the anus and tail. Peel the skin downwards off the legs, continuing down until it has peeled off the whole body.
Make a slit just under the muscle, starting near the tail opening, moving downward until reaching the rib cage. Then cut around the anal opening and between the hind legs to remove the bowels. Carefully remove the bowels and entrails, making sure not to rupture the bladder or intestines, which can spoil the meat.
Remove the two hind legs at the joints and clean the meat by running water over the carcass, inside and out.
Cut the meat to preference. To overcome the rigor mortis effects in the meat and make it nice and tender, soak the meat in salt water overnight or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator (about a half cup or more of salt in a pot of water with 1 to 4 rabbits). After soaking in salt water, rinse thoroughly and cook. Or if you don't plan on cooking in the next day or so, simply wrap in freezer paper in place in freezer. Prepare using any good chicken or rabbit recipe. Enjoy!
Note: Rabbit meat tends to absorb the spices a little more than chicken does when cooking, so the amount of spices needed is usually less. Experiement with recipes for your own taste preference.