walk-in cooler, butchering

Simplified Butchering and Processing at Home on the Farm – Pics & Video

Reasons for Butchering and Processing at Home

If you really want to be self-sufficient, there will be butchering and processing at home involved. There are many great reasons for this, but I’ll give you a couple pretty important ones.

Care

Obviously, we all know that if you raise your own food, you know what you are eating. To be more specific, you know how that animal was raised, what it ate, and how it was handled both in life and in death.

You also know how that meat was handled. You know what you’re getting because you’re taking it yourself and you know that nothing was wasted…unless you wasted it.

Money

Processing has never been super cheap, but recently it has gotten completely out of control. I have friends who do not butcher their own and I’ve seen the charts and heard the stories of how much they are having to pay. (Scary, if I didn’t have this skill. We wouldn’t be able to afford to spend that kind of money in order to eat the food we raised.)

Hard Work Pays Off

I’m afraid my fall season has been a bit of a blur. I’ve spent the majority of my time butchering animals and all that entails. We recently completed a Walk-in Cooler Build, which has been a huge help for me. The ability to hang our meat in a cooler has been terrific because it also helps me to stage the line-up!

This season, so far, I have butchered a wild hog that my husband got, 3 pigs that we raised, 3 whitetail bucks, and a whitetail doe. To say the least, it has been a busy fall.

The Kill

My husband and I have a division of labor here on the farm. He typically does the deed and the gutting and skinning. I can and will do this part, but since I am the butcher, he needs to have something too! That’s how it works out. He does the yucky, messy part and I handle the rest.

I will make a note here that, on this farm and in this family, we love animals. We treat them well while they are here with us and when it is time to harvest them, we do it humanely. For large animals, it is a very quick, point-blank shot to the brain. They fall quickly, without suffering. It’s the same thing when we hunt. If we do not have a clear, clean shot, we do not take it. The last thing we want is to make an animal suffer.

Butchering and Processing at Home – Prep Work

When I am prepping for butchering and processing, the first thing I do is prep the area, in my case, it’s my kitchen. When I designed this kitchen, it was with butchering and baking in mind. I have an 8-foot by 3-foot work area on my island. It’s not fancy, but it is a workhorse!

Sanitizing the Work Area

My whole area gets cleaned, sanitized, bleached… whatever it takes. I like to start out with a completely sanitized work area. We scrub and bleach my kitchen sink and when everything is sparkling clean, we cover it up in towels and butcher paper. The towels are to soak up in liquid and the butcher paper keeps anything from contacting my work surface. I just feel a little better that way.

The Tools

The other part of the prep work is making sure that I have sharp knives at the ready. My husband is a knife maker and has all the cool toys for that, so he gets the job. He does it well. I always have an array of super sharp knives at my side when it’s time to cut.

Other than my knives, there are also other implements that I use and therefore keep on hand. The bandsaw above is not mandatory but it definitely helps in some areas. I have attachments for my KitchenAid Mixer that assist my efforts like my meat grinder and my meat tenderizer. You can see the product review video of the meat grinder attachment here.

I also use a variety of bowls as I butcher to separate the different cuts and whatnot while I’m working, as well as a large roasting pan where I throw the junk. I roast all of the excess items like bones and whatever and I feed it to our pigs in their slop.

And, finally, I always keep a good supply of freezer bags, freezer paper and tape, bags for my vacuum sealer, and a marker.

Getting Started

I like to start early with my butchering and processing because it is a long process for one person. However, that doesn’t always happen; chores, kids, farm, etc. Sometimes things come up. When I can get it started, I try to make sure that I have some time availability so that I can focus on what I’m doing.

Have a Plan

Your plan can be laid out how you like it but I thought I’d give you an idea of my typical plan. There are a few decisions that I make before getting started. Most importantly, I determine ahead of time the cuts that I want to end up with.

Certain cuts come from certain parts of an animal so you have to know that. Also, many of the same cuts come from the same part so you have to choose which way you will go. For example, if you’re butchering and processing a pig, do you want a loin or do you want pork chops?

A good thing to have on hand is a butchering layout, a great reference tool. I tend to pull cuts that I know my family likes to eat and cuts that help me as the cook. I also tend to pull cuts based on how and where I am storing them.

If we have plenty of freezer space then cuts for the freezer work well. However, if we are running low on space, I take cuts that work well canned.

Method

With all of that information at hand, I jump in and get started. If I am butchering a side of a pig at a time, I like to start at one end and go toward the other. If I’m butchering a deer, they are always in quarters and I like to start with the hind quarters. You pick the best route for you and jump in!

I like to work hard to pull the meat off the bone in the largest sections possible at a time. If I spend the time in the beginning, doing it this way, it actually takes less time in the long run and I end up with less waste.

The main thing here, especially when you are new to butchering and processing, is that you get a feel for the meat, the cuts, cleaning them up (discarding the unwanted junk), and you learn the anatomy of the animal you are processing. When you understand more about how the muscle is attached and the best methods for removal and dividing, then you will get faster at the whole thing.

Additional Assistance

I’ve done multiple videos on our Two Oaks Farmstead Youtube Channel concerning various parts of butchering and processing. You should head over there when you have a chance and subscribe so that you don’t miss any of the helpful content. However, I am embedding several below that could be very helpful to you.

Butchering and Processing Multiple Pigs

This video goes through a variety of different aspects of butchering and processing pigs plus some tips and tricks to help you along the way!

Butchering and Processing a Deer

Butchering and processing a deer with tips on the best methods for getting the most out of it.

How to Get the Best Cuts from Venison Backstrap

Details on the best way to get the best cuts from the backstrap. Don’t miss this!

How to Butcher and Process Chicken

Chickens are the most frequently butchered animal on our farm. They are not difficult and this video shows you how to handle it.

Wrapping it All Up

This is a process that will continue on our farm. This is how I provide for my family and it’s how I love my family. I work very hard to provide them with safe, healthy food without losing our shirts at the grocery store or processor.

It has definitely already been a busy season and I don’t expect it to stop. Hunting season isn’t over until mid-January and we still have ducks to cull here on the farm. I truly hope that all of this information helps you and just know that I am happy to answer any questions you may have! You can comment below or reach out through any of my social media outlets. (which you can find in the sidebar!)

I am cross-posting this particular post on A Life on the Farm as well because I know that many of my followers over there are also interested in becoming more self-sufficient.

DON’T MISS ANYTHING!!

You may also enjoyDIY Farm Projects – Awe-Inspiring Skills You Need to Love,How to Build a Beautiful and Fruitful Mobile Farm Standor9 Gardening Tips – Getting Started *Great Successfor more great related information.

Go ahead and subscribe here as well as theTwo Oaks FarmsteadYoutube Channel so that you never miss any of the terrific content! And if you happen to enjoy the more personal side of the simple life, be sure to check outA Life on the Farm.

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