Custom Slaughter andor Cutting

Some people send their animals to a custom-cutter to be butchered, cut, wrapped, and quick-frozen. The cost is figured per pound and is often waived in part in return for the hide, so many pounds of the hamburger, or some such. My friend Stephen Scott wrote me: "I take the sissy way out and send them off to a professional butcher. It is not an inexpensive proposition anymore to ship pigs, have them butchered, cut up, and wrapped, and have the hams and bacon smoked, but I prefer it to the alternative. We are lucky to have a few places left that do this kind of thing in our area. Twenty years ago there were at least 10 places that would do custom butchering; now there are just 2. One of them comes out to pick the pigs up with his own truck. For the other one, you have to haul the pigs to him—haul them yourself or hire a livestock trucker to haul them for you. I don't have a trailer that will haul livestock, so I have to pay 15 bucks to have the butcher come and pick them up. We raise three pigs: one for ourselves and two that we sell. We split the hauling fee so that each one of us has to pay only 5 bucks apiece. Not a bad price considering the trouble that you can have on the road with 3 scrappy 200-lb. porkers."

Another possibility is custom slaughterers who work from a mobile rig and will visit your place for the day. If you want to hire out some or all of this work, make arrangements in advance with a local person, find out what the price will be, and make an appointment for a particular place, day and time.

Custom Cut and Wrap: Some people do their own butchering but send out the carcass to be cut and wrapped. It's easier on the animals to be slaughtered on-farm, and you'll get the organ meats fresh. Or you can hire a commercial butcher to come and do the job on-farm. In either case, you get to eat your own carefully nurtured meat, but you avoid the mess and labor of slaughter and cutting up. If you take the complete carcass to a professional butcher or to a meat locker, you can have it cut to look like the cuts at the supermarket. If you're planning on driving somewhere else with the butchered quarters in the back of your pickup, you'll want some clean old sheets to wrap the meat in, so it doesn't get dirty.

Instructions for the Meat Cutter. He'll package it just right to serve your family's size. Tell him how thick you want the meat cut, how much you want your roasts to weigh, how many steaks, chops, etc., you want wrapped in each package, what percentage you want made into burger or sausage, and if you want any of the meat cured. You may want to get the bones back. A reader wrote me, "When we send a beef to the butcher to be cut and wrapped, we request that they give us all the bones too. We pressure-cook them, let them cool, and then pick the meat off them (there's a lot!). We can the stock with some of the picked-off meat and some onion slices in each jar. It makes a great stew base and makes the budget stretch farther."

Continue reading here: Home Butchering

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