My best knife for livestock butchering is the one that is the easiest and quickest to sharpen. A sharp knife is essential for humanely butchering any livestock, including chickens and rabbits.
Humanely Sharp Knives
I agonized over my knives’ sharpness for my first year of butchering chickens and rabbits on our homestead. I watched all the Youtube videos on knife sharpening and bought various knives and whetstones, all to no avail! I was NEVER sure whether my knife was really “humanely” sharp. Yes it could cut paper, but feathers?! Perhaps I lacked the patience or time to really practice my knife sharpening skills. And I did not want my chickens to suffer any more than absolutely necessary on the way to their happy hunting ground.
Besides the humane aspects, the knives definitely did not stay sharp for long when coming in contact with rabbit fur and chicken feathers so frequently. Stopping to sharpen several knives every hour in the midst of a long day of chicken processing was a hassle.
Please note: this is NOT a sponsored or affiliate post. I’m sharing something that helped me, which I hope will help some of you. That’s it.
Luckily, I have brother-in-law who is interested in knives. After listening to my needs and laundry list of knife sharpening problems, he suggested that I get a Havalon Piranta. They have replaceable blades that come surgically sharp. I have been using these for 6 years now. I tell everyone who comes to my “learn to butcher a rabbit” or “learn to butcher a chicken” gatherings about them.
If you are new to homesteading and want to learn more about raising rabbits for meat, check out this post on why I raise Silver Fox breed and this one on why I think rabbits are the best animal for small farms.
Havalon Piranta will probably be your favorite knife for butchering day if:
1. You are just learning to butcher livestock
There is so much to learn when you are just starting to butcher your own livestock: humanely making the kill, methods of scalding and plucking, cooling, and setting up an efficient way to process a large number, just to name a few! Having a reliable sharp knife will check one item off the list of things and allow you to study a more sustainable knife sharpening approach later.
2. You have struggled with knife sharpening
As I explained earlier, despite many hours of effort and money spent on supplies, I never felt my knives were humanely sharp. And I certainly did not feel confident that I could pause for a few minutes every so often on butchering day and resharpen everyone’s knives. I imagine that with more time and patience I could learn to sharpen knives expertly, but for now I am so glad to know that my blade is surgically sharp EVERY TIME!
3. You are training a bunch of folks new to butchering
I did my first round of chicken butchering alone. Every year, over the last 7 years, I have done at least one big group “come watch, help, and learn” butchering day with friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. I know, for example, that I can butcher 3 rabbits start to finish before the blade seems a bit dull to me. When I reach that point I take everyone’s knives at the same time and quickly change the blades on all 6 helper’s knives. It takes less than 5 minutes and we are back to work. If I had to stop and sharpen 6 people’s knives every hour, that would take me a long time.
One Final Tip: Cut Proof Gloves
If you are just learning to butcher your livestock or planning to teach your kids, friends, etc. how to do it, these cut proof gloves are wonderful. They can be worn on either hand. I just wear, and recommend that others wear, one on their non-dominant hand while using these surgically sharp knives. Since the knife is in my right hand, the left one is always the victim. One tiny mistake can result in a deep cut when your knives are this sharp.