My husband was all for having a few feeder pigs once we get all of our fences fixed and the barn up. After talking to his Grandad (who seems to think everything we do is "silly"), he seems to think that pigs need to be sent to a butcher, and that it won't be worth us keeping.
My question, how hard is it to butcher a pig? My husband isn't worrried about anything but skinning the pig. He has experience with deer, but has been told that he'll need to scald and scrape the pig, even without keeping the skin. His grandad also told him that getting the skin off the pig is very difficult.
Honestly, it seems like he just wants us to avoid the work, but doesn't realize that this is a lifestyle of work, and we're okay with that.
Skinning a hog is much different that skinning a deer. I have done both and a deer is much easier. To skin a hog requires cutting the skin loose from the hog whereas a deer will pull loose. Preparation for skinning a hog is different also and can make the task easier. On a hog after stunning and bleeding the next thing that can help is to wash the hog real clean. Then hang the hog as you would a deer. Get a case cutter and set the blade shallow to where it will just cut through the skin. Using the case cutter cut long strips of skin about 1 1/2 inches wide the length of the hog. Grasp the strip up high with vise grip pliers and start pulling and cutting to peel off the strip. Repeat this until the task is finished. Once you get the process under control it should take no more than an hour to skin and quarter the carcass of a 250 lb hog. PS...Scalding a hog is a stinking and hot mess and I never intend to do it again!
I'd rather skin also than scald and scrape. Never heard it done the way described above, but I might try it.
Clean kill (little stress) tends to make the skin looser. We have taken the skin off a hog in one piece (minus the head).
The first time may take longer because you don't know where the meat is close to the skin and where it is not, how deep to cut, and things like that. (btw, keeping your knife sharp is key.)
A year ago when I slaughted my first hog, my only experience was with chickens. It took a loooong time (too long for me not to be embarrassed to mention) to skin that pig. Now I've done a dozen or more and I can slaughter, skin and half a hog in 2 hours or under.
Don't listen to negative Grandads - and I bet he'll be the first around to help you eat the roast pork
I personally wouldn't even consider skinning a butcher pig. All of ours are scalded and from the shot being fired and the sticking to hanging on the hooks ready to be gutted takes about 30 minutes. It takes longer to boil the water! but leaves a much cleaner looking carcass, improves the cooking and what's a bit of roast pork if it doesn't have crackling. In some ways it is more work but it's worth it.
The only pigs that I've seen skinned were huge dry sows and we didn't do them. A chap very adept with a knife skinned them out and did it pretty quickly and neatly but the finished job still look untidy and I was pleased I wouldn't be having chops off them - these sows went for processed meats so it didn't matter.
So really up to you which way you go about cleaning the outside ready for eating but there is no good reason why you shouldn't rear your own pigs for the table and eat the best.
the key to both methods is to be prepared with the proper tools & in the case of skinning a razor sharp knife, in the case of scalding, a good pot ( or barrel) with a proper fire under it. & we like to use the metal tops (not the ring but the seal part) of canning jars to scrape with. these work VERY well for scraping & we found them to be a integral part of the process, told to us by an OLD guy as the key to good scraping.
personally i like scraping as well, it makes for a much cleaner easier carcass to work with, skinning will leave you with a slippery thing to handle, not my idea of fun when your talking about 200 plus lbs to carry around.
scalding & scraping is far easier if you have a tractor with a bucket to hang the hog off, its easy to pick it up & down using the hydraulics to scald & support the carcass while scraping.
after the fire is hot, which of course you start far before killing the hog, it only takes 30 minutes to scald & scrap if your experienced,
by the way, don't think you can find a barrel large enough to scald all in 1 motion, you will have to hang from the back feet to scald the front half of the hog & then hang off the front feet to scald the back, & oh yes ,,, a good tip is to add something to the bottom of the barrel so the hog cannot come in contact with the hot metal of the barrel , this prevents burns to the skin while scalding, they are unsightly & make it impossible to remove the hair in the burned area.temp should be about 180*
We bought someone's 3-year old boar who came out with a hanging weight of 350 pounds. No, he tasted great, but he was very lean. I had to buy fat to go in the sausage. The local butcher/processor did the kill and skin and cut into eights (it was supposed to be quarters, but they weighed too much!) for $50. We delivered the pig to his holding area and picked up in 3 days. Easiest skinning job I ever did!!! I'll do it again, too.
If you check out Harbor Freight, either locally or on-line, they have inexpensive band saws that are just perfect for meat prep. Much easier than a hand meat saw when you want all those bones cut.
if you are going to skin a pig the easiest and least hassel method is to strip skin the hog frm the head to the hind quarters. When I first joined here I saw a thread in the archives that describes the method to a tee.
Briefly, after killing and bleeding the pig you hang the pig by a hook in the lower jaw. You then wash the pig to get it as clean as possible paying special attention to the hoofs. After that you use a razor knife equipped with a hooked razor blade and use the razor knife to cut strips the length of the hog about 1.5 to 2 inches wide. If you go wider you will have problems pulling the hide off the pig. After you have made all your cuts with the razor knife (including around the head) you use a knife to start the strips at the head end. You then latch onto the started strips with a pair of vice grips and pull the strips. The razor knife and hooked blade will only cut into the skin about 1/4 inch and once you start pulling the strips the pig skins like peeling a banana. Once you've pulled all the strips down to the hind end I like to raise the pig up and finish skinning out the hams.
Once you've finished skinning the pig lower it down onto a clean piece of plastic and then reraise the pig by the hind legs for head removal, gutting and splitting the carcass (use a sawzall for this to make it easy).
This is by far the simplest and easiest method of skinning a pig and if you try to skin from the hindquarters to the head you will have nothing but problems.
You might try to look for the thread on skinning pigs in the archives since it gives a much more detailed account of the process.
Rick, we use an old bath for scalding - not the plastic variety but the metal sort. The water is either boiled in my cowshed hot water cylinder or in a 44 gallon drum with a fire under it and then bucketed into the bath tub. If the pig is too big for us both to lift we'll use the tractor to drop it into the bath and lift it out but once in there it's no sweat for two people to flip it over and start working on one side while the other is scalding. Just a thought for you to consider if you can lay your hands on an old bath tub.