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If you’ve been following my family for very long, you know that we like to raise our own meat. You also probably know that we tend to butcher our own meat as well. We’ve butchered pigs, turkeys, and chickens. I’ve learned a few tips while butchering at home.
The only animal that we raise and haven’t butchered for ourselves is beef. We do want to butcher our own but we just aren’t set up for that yet. We would need a walk in cooler to hang them in. Some day, some day……. Until then, we will continue to process all of the other livestock and send the steers off to the butcher.
Like all things on the homestead (and life in general), butchering at home is a learning experience full of trial and error. We’ve gotten quite efficient at processing animals these days. We’ve also learned what works and what doesn’t.
6 Tips For Butchering at Home
Aquire knowledge- I’m a researcher by default, I can’t help myself, its like it is engrained in me to read and learn about everything. The beauty of the internet is that information is at your finger tips-literally. Nothing beats experience on the homestead but going into getting the experience with knowledge is also valuable.
Be fully prepared- You definitely want to have all of your ducks in a row before you start the butchering process. It would be terrible to get halfway through and realize you forgot something. Over prepare even, it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.
Proper dispatch tools and skills- I’m definitely and advocate of humanely dispatching the animals. If you are butchering larger animals like pigs, you will want to shoot them. Be sure that you have the proper gun, ammo, and are skilled enough to get it done the first time. For dispatching poultry, be sure to have the correct knives and be quick and efficient with your cuts.
The right equipment- Having the right equipment for the job is key. While you can get by without certain things, it makes the whole process easier and faster when you are well equipped for it. These items include scalding equipment, plucking equipment (if you’re doing a large quantity of birds), hog scrapers, sharp knives, packaging materials, and ice for poultry. You will need lots and lots of ice. More ice than you think you need.
Keep your meat cold- Once you’ve finished the dispatching, cleaning, and gutting, you want to get your meat as cold as you can as fast as you can. For poultry, we’ve used totes full of ice water to chill them quickly. For pigs, in the past we had access to a walk in cooler. We would hang them in there for a day or two. The last time we butchered a pig, we had to split it into quarters and place in our deep freezer for a few hours.
Butchering skills- Poultry is straight forward if you aren’t parting it out before packaging. If you are parting it out, You’ll want to be sure to know where to cut. Pigs and other larger animals are a different story. There are many different cuts of meat and you can really butcher (pun intended) your cuts if you don’t know what to do. I suggest watching youtube videos on butchering whatever kind of animal you will be processing.
I’m sure as we continue to raise animals and butcher at home, we will learn even more. I love the feeling of opening my freezers and seeing them full of pasture raised meats that we processed on our own. Our children have learned to have gratitude for our meals because they are so heavily vested in them as well.
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