The first step in butchering a pig is the kill. But when your homestead has the quality of hobby farm, and the line between farm animal and pet is often blurry, the kill is a difficult thing. When you raise your own animals for meat, you truly understand and appreciate the sacrifice of life that happens — has to happen — for us to eat meat.
And so first, we said goodbye. My brother-in-law, on the left, came to help with our pig butchering and my husband John, on the right, reciprocated a few weeks later when Dave and his wife butchered their own pig. We live in the same county, about 40 minutes from each other. We started our hog butchering in the evening, with the kill and hanging.
Priscilla, as we had called her, was not as happy in the cold weather as she has been during the long, warm days of the spring and summer. We didn’t like seeing her unhappy — even with a run-in shelter and plenty of grain, she simply hated the cold. Of course, to everything there is a season, and the fall is traditionally butchering time on any farm. Still, there was a sadness to her death, and the children miss her.
After she was killed (my husband used a .45 caliber pistol and she went right down. She never felt a thing — her passing was very humane), Dave quickly made a sharp, clean cut of her throat, severing the main artery, to allow her to bleed out quickly.
About ten minutes after the death, they hung her on an A- frame structure for evisceration and initial cutting. My husband put S hooks through the rear hocks, attached them to tie straps, threaded those through the eye hooks on the A frame and attached the ends to the truck bumper to pull the pig up to a hanging position. I’m sorry the photo is so dark.
The pig front/ belly area was then skinned, using thin, sharp knives and leaving as much fat as possible.
The next step in butchering a hog, which is really the grossest part to me, is evisceration.
After the intestines and internal organs are removed, the interior of the carcass is rinsed with water, just sprayed from the hose.
This gives you a clean carcass to work with. This hung overnight in cold weather, allowing the meat to chill to the bone. We began the primal cuts and meat processing the next morning.
I’ll continue the pig butchering series in my next post.
Have you ever butchered livestock or poultry on your homestead? How did it go?