Butchering Cattle

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by lissapell, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. lissapell

    lissapell Well-Known Member

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    for those of you who butcher your own cattle what kind of saw are you using to split the sides? We have the opportunity to purchase a beef cow but butchering prices around here are crazy high. We are thinking about slaughtering/butchering our self.
     
  2. sassafras manor

    sassafras manor Well-Known Member

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    Most spliting is done with a bone saw, which looks like an oversized hacksaw. Another option would be a new blade with a reciporcating saw (sawzall).
     

  3. Copperhead

    Copperhead Well-Known Member

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    We use a cordless, battery operated 18v Dewalt reciprocating saw with a coarse metal cutting blade.

    We don't halve a carcass, whether beef, pork, or venison. We quarter it instead. The quarters fit in the refridgerator easily, which allow us to butcher and age the meat regardless of the season.

    We cut the shoulders, hams and loins (backstrap and tenderloin). On pork, we do harvest the rib meat and bacon. On beef, we shave as much meat off the ribs for the burger pile. In the end, the leftover carcass is given to the chickens and dogs.
     
  4. wally

    wally Well-Known Member

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    To me hiring this deed done is money well spent. On several of the hunts out west many of the guides have a single purpose chain saw and will use vegetable oil instead of chain oil to split the animal.
     
  5. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Using a purpose-made bone saw, I split a 350-lb hog lengthwise, right down the middle of the spine, in about five minutes, taking a little break somewhere in the middle. I'm a 5'3", 52 year old woman, reasonably strong.

    It seems that, unless you were splitting a LOT of carcasses, the purchase cost, storage space, and maintenance (and noise!) of a motorized saw wouldn't really be worth it. NOTE: Do not try this with a regular hand-saw, as you will go nowhere fast. A bone saw is an amazing thing.
     
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  6. lissapell

    lissapell Well-Known Member

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    We have one of these! :nanner::nanner::nanner: Did it take very long to cut?
    Are you hanging qtrs in the fridge or just laying them in there? I have read that if you vacuum pack the meat it works the same as aging.
     
  7. lissapell

    lissapell Well-Known Member

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    What is a purpose made bone saw? I have spent the last week looking for bone saws and no one know what I am talking about.
     
  8. lissapell

    lissapell Well-Known Member

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    There is only o slaughter house down here. The price to slaughter would be significantly more than the price I am paying for the cow. We are certainly do it your selfers and feel this is a skill that we should add to our list. the economics of the process just do not make sense.
     
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  9. oregon woodsmok

    oregon woodsmok Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I use a butcher's saw. I bought mine at a meat processing plant. It looks like a giant hack saw and really slides though bone easily. I think I paid $40, but that was 20 years ago. They probably cost 4 times that now.

    I will butcher anything at home except for a cow. The hang time is so critical. I don't have any way to keep the meat at exactly the right temperature for 2 weeks before I cut it up.

    However, I have to give you a heads up. Aging and butchering a cow is an art form and some butchers are magicians and some butchers are hacks, or even worse: thieves. So check references carefully before you pay a butcher to process a cow for you. Also, get a guarantee that you will receive the same animal back that you sent in.
     
  10. KIT.S

    KIT.S Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yup. We use a sawzall to split the carcass, then for the cows we cut the sides into thirds. We have a 4X8 ft "crouch-in" cooler - not tall enough for us to walk in, but big enough to hang a third of a cow or half a little pig from the ceiling. Then we have a Northern Tool meat band saw for the detail cuts; it also has a good grinder attachment. We bought the meat band saw and the cooler off Craigslist, and I'm so pleased we have them. The cooler was a freezer, and my son rigged electronic controls, so I can use it for a fridge this time of year when I need space for fruit.
    Kit
     
  11. TnAndy

    TnAndy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have a 1/2 dozen slaughter houses ( most are small places ) I know of in the area, and the cost is still high, IMHO.....with just one in your area, I'd imagine it's out of sight.

    And yes, I agree, it's a skill that all DIY'ers/homesteaders ought to know. While I may not cut it as "pretty" or fast as a pro butcher, you can get pretty dang close over time. I use a corded ( have power were I dress out the animal ) sawsall and a rough tooth blade. These are very similar to the electric saw butchers use....theirs are simply built of stainless steel for easy cleaning, and appear slightly more heavy duty for doing dozens of cow ( or more ) per day. Any garden variety sawsall will work just fine.

    I also have a couple of butcher type hand saws ( that look like oversized metal cutting hack saws ), which I use to quarter and make smaller cuts, such as removing the ham from a hog half. You could also use a sawsall here, but I like the control a hand saw gives me better. Go ahead and invest in at least a medium sized one ( like 24" ) if you plan to do your own. You can buy them from online butcher supply places, along with a GOOD set of knives. You'll pay for them in your first animal.

    As others above have already pointed out, refrigeration is the problem. With hogs/etc, all you need is enough cooling to chill the carcass halves/quarters/whatever overnight. Chilled meat is much easier to cut than warm meat. That's one reason late fall is traditionally hog killing time....to take advantage of natural refrigeration. You want cool ( like 35-40 degrees ) but not freezing.

    Beef, on the other hand, is often aged.....doesn't HAVE to be, and if you slaughter a young animal, aging isn't required, or an older one with very little body fat, aging won't help all that much....but a full sized, well fed beef, aging helps break down the tissue and makes a better eating beef in many people's opinion. The body fat helps protect the carcass during the aging. A week to ten days is normal, and the carcass must be held at refrigeration temps during that time to prevent spoilage. That's often hard to do in many parts of the country....easy to get a warm spell in the middle of January even.

    So, that means if you plan to do beef, and age it, you're most likely going to need some way to refrigerate it. Copperhead says the quarters fit in a refrigerator "easy".....they must have one heck of a refrigerator !

    A full sized steer can run 700-800lbs dressed out, easy.....that means 200lbs per quarter ( I also quarter beef, simply because I can't handle a full side ).....you might PACK it in a standard fridge with all the shelves removed, but then the meat wouldn't chill properly where it's packed together, and I'd think you'd get spoiled meat. It REALLY needs to hang free in the air.

    So, my solution was build a walk in cooler. I added a room on the back of my garage just to cut meat, and do canning. Got a cooler door off Craig's List, then built the rest of it using foam board finished with white fiberglass board (Lowes). In the ceiling, put a couple of large wood beams behind the insulation, and ran some long bolts with eyehooks welded to the end to hang pork halves or beef quarters ( stainless "S" hooks from an online butcher supply place ). For cooling, I use a 10,000BTU window air conditioner, (also Craig's List) and a "Coolbot" controller that over rides the normal controls on the AC unit and will keep the room ( which is about 7'x7' ) at 35 degrees easy. Tiled the floor and put a center drain in it so I can hose the whole thing down between uses. Works great !

    Cut hole in back of garage wall ( yes....my wife does think I'm nuts...she is scared to leave for work some days for fear of what I'll have done during the day...). Prepped for slab floor, and built new chimney as I went.

    [​IMG]

    Poured slab. Framed walls. Hole in the back wall between the ladders is for the window AC where the cooler will be.

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    Cooler door mounted in studs. Space to the right of the cooler is a walk-in pantry.

    [​IMG]

    Finished picture:

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    Three hog halves hanging in cooler. I set it up with 4 eye hooks in the ceiling, thinking 2 hogs, or one beef ( in quarters ), then raised 3 hogs one year, and had to improvise the hanging using a gambrel spreader.

    [​IMG]


    You wouldn't have to get this carried away ( and I do sometimes....ahahahaa) with building a cooler. You could easily build a cooler in a portable ( on skids ) little building, and simply use an extension cord to power the AC and lights. Wouldn't even have to be a commercial door, a plain ole insulated metal house door would work fine for occasional use.
     
  12. KIT.S

    KIT.S Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wow, TnAndy, that's georgous!!! If your wife says "No more," you can come over here and build anything you want!
    My son wanted to get the coolbot setup, but we ran across the walk-in cooler for $500, and it was all ready to just set in place and go, and I know how long it takes us to actually finish building something, so that's the way we went. For someone who doesn't have room or money for a walk-in, an empty chest freezer works pretty well, too, to cool a carcass down quickly.
    Kit
     
  13. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    It's a butcher's saw. Nasco carries them for around $65. Butcher’s Professional Meat Saw ~ Meat Saws

    I did some research, though, and with space at a premium, I went ahead and bought Cabella's Wyoming Saw II. I LOVE IT!!! The bone blade is what I used to split the hog, and I've used the wood blade to fell and 8" diameter tree. It cleans up easily, and disassembles into a tidy little package. Note: I don't get any kickback from Cabella's. :happy2:
    Wyoming Saw II, Butchering Knives & Tools, Knives & Tools, Camping : Cabela's
     
  14. Copperhead

    Copperhead Well-Known Member

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    Ok, it was a 400lb heifer that I easily quartered into the refridgerator. Remember, she bloated on me! I can see that an 800+ lb steer might be a bit bigger than my refridgerator . . . but I did just buy my wife a new 21 cu.ft. Maytag so I can have her "old" refridgerator for myself :sing:

    Just don't tell her about the 40lbs of "Fresh" bacon I've got stashed in her new fridge. She'll find out soon enough :happy2:
     
  15. MO_cows

    MO_cows I calls em like I sees em

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    I wouldn't tackle butchering a beef at home until I had done a lot of other butchering and processing. You can degrade if not outright ruin a LOT of good meat with rookie mistakes. So unless you have processed deer, pigs, goats/sheep several times before, you might not be "qualified" yet to tackle a beef.

    A good butcher is an artisan, don't kid yourself and think you can read a book, maybe look at a utube video, and then process a beef nearly as good as someone with the right experience and equipment.
     
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  16. lissapell

    lissapell Well-Known Member

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    This is great! My Husband has plans for something very similar figuring the cost of 35.00 a month to run. Thanks for all the pictures!

     
  17. TnAndy

    TnAndy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    And that's 800lbs dressed out.....not live weight. Live weight is more like 1300-1400.
     
  18. arnie

    arnie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have to make an appointement 6 months in advance to get a beef into the butcher shop .but those heavy plastic vacume packing bags work great makeing the meat last much longer and better .the county has a cannery with all the coolers tables and tools needed .but i'v never aquired the skill .that's a great looking setup you'v got for a butcher shop
     
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  19. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    So beef is naturally aged if you hang it in the cooler after cutting up the cow? I have no idea how it's done as you know by now :)
     
  20. Alaska

    Alaska Well-Known Member

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    Im interested in hearing testimonial on hanging meat compared to vacuum sealing for aging
    Have aged a lot of wild game but only one steer and looking