Butchering weather advice sought

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Mr. Dot, Oct 2, 2005.

  1. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    Howdy
    I have been postponing butchering due to unseasonably high temps in my corner of the word but am considering biting the bullet and going for it today.
    Highs are predicted to be mid-50's with nighttime lows around 35. 39 degrees at 9:30 am just now. Too warm do you think?
    I'll be dipping, scraping, splitting and hanging over night. I'm thinking if I commenced mid-afternoon I'd hope to be finished around sunset when the temps drop fairly quickly.
    I can continue to postpone but the pigs are getting mighty big.
    This will be my first hog slaughter/butchering and it would be nice not to screw it up too much.
    Opinions? I need to feed them breakfast if today's not the day.
    Thanx.
     
  2. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    It is not necessary to hang overnight or to even wait for cool weather. We got up at 4:30 in the morning to do ours in August. Usually it hits the 110s here that time of the year. But that early it was like 65-70. We butchered out and brought in the house in big chunks: the ham, shoulders, loin, etc. Then we cut and wrapped and put in the fridge overnight. Then put in freezer.
     

  3. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the answer. I ended up waving off for the day and will see what next weekend brings. The fridge is bulging with goatmilk, cheese and the usual refer suspects and is not really an option for chilling.
    I'll be complaining about the cold before long, no doubt...
     
  4. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    the main reason for cool weather is fly control, they dont fly under 55 degrees
     
  5. Allan Mistler

    Allan Mistler Just a simple man

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    I know exactly how you feel Mr. Dot... I just finished up with my three pigs. Slaughtered them Saturday Sept 24 and it was about 60 degrees outside but the temp dropped into the high thirties for the night, so they hung in our feed shed for twenty four hours before I cut them and packaged all the fresh cuts. The problem came when I had to cure 238 pounds of ham, bacon and picnic's. As the week dragged on the temps started rising so I put an air conditioner in the grain shed window to help keep the temps down in there. I bypassed the thermal switch in the device and it did an adequate job. The meat was out of brine and equalization bath by Wednesday so it was just a matter of drying the meat off and smoking it. The dry, air conditioned air helped in the drying process and so everything came off without a hitch. I just reviewed what could be done to prevent or minimize this weather dependency so that I don't run into problems next year. The only improvement I'm going to make is to install a real chiller instead of just an air conditioner since the condenser kept icing up.
    Best of luck as you take on your first butchering... this was my first one too since I used to have a butcher do it but the prices have gotten out of hand. Anyway, itwas every bit as easy as all the folks here had indicated it would be and I'm confident in my homesteading skills now...
     
  6. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations on the butchering and thanks for the encouragement Allen.
    I'm going to do the first one on Saturday. Still undecided whether I'll go with brine or a dry cure. Also am unclear which cuts benefit from curing and which are best fresh. I'm planning to cure and smoke the hams, bacon and probably the picnic hams - undecided about the remainder. Still doing my homework.
    1st time for everything...
     
  7. BobK

    BobK Well-Known Member

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    I've had to butcher when there were hot days and warmer nights. I slaughter the hog in the late afternoon and hang the halves overnight....I usually run a fan on them to help chill them. In the morning I bop the halves into prime cuts wrap in plastic and put on crushed ice.....I get this free so it adds no cost. I leave the prime cuts packed in ice for at least a day then we process the halves. the morning after when I break the halves into prime cuts I run the parts we want cured to the processor....finally found one that does a great job on curing and smoking.

    For curing it really depends on how much cured meat you want to eat or enjoy eating. There is nothing wrond with freezing plain ground pork...we do all of ours this way....as we need sausage I take a package out and make whatever sausage type we need.....breakfast to italian for spaghetti and pizza.....I've been real happy using seasonings from Butcher Packer......they have quality mixes and the price makes it so much easier than mixing ourselves.

    We do the bacons and typically I cure one ham which I split with my buddy. The front shoulders are broken into the Boston Butt which we bone and make rolled roasts (fresh pork) and bone the remainder for sausage. Loins go to chops...bone in.....and the remaining ham is boned and we cut into smaller pieces some of which go to making sausage and the others we freeeze in chunks and use for any number of things...chinese food to pulled pork for BBQ sandwiches, tacos, or burritos....depending on how you season the meat....and we use a crock put to slow cook them......the heart, kidneys, pancrease, thymus, tongue, and liver all get ground together to make what we call 'gut' cookies for dog treats....basically mixed with flour and cornmeal....and some water...mix, bake, cut into chunks and dehydrate in dryer....the dogs LOVE em! And after all that your out of pig parts and can clean up......butchering yourselves will save hundreds of dollars....processing ain't cheap and it isn't a big deal. three of us can process two pigs as outlined above in a little under 3 hours...and that's with a handsaw cutting the chops!

    One other method we've used to chill parts in a hurry is to make a brine like your making ice cream...salt and ice......this chills the parts in a hour or two and makes the pieces managable....I hate working with soft pork the end product is always poorer than working with chilled cuts...IMO.
     
  8. Allan Mistler

    Allan Mistler Just a simple man

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    How'd things go Mr. Dot? Was it as easy as you figured? The curing in Butcher & Packer's Hickory Ham Brine mix http://www.butcher-packer.com/pg_brine_mixes_cured.htm came out perfect for me this year. I then hung the hams, bacon and picnics in the smoker for 12 hours of cold maple smoke. I discovered that the bacon slices up a heck of alot easier if you chill it in the freezer for a few hours prior to slicing. Incidentally (and I realize this sounds like an ad for B & P) the Maple flavored sausage mix at Butcher & Packer was awesome.... had it for the first time this morning!
    I look forward to hearing how everything went for you.
     
  9. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    I regret to report that I waved off again last weekend. Although the weather was still too warm I had planned to go ahead. I ran into a handling problem I hadn't expected which was the tipping point for calling it off. I couldn't coax either one of them out of their pen into a smaller killing pen I'd constructed for them. They hadn't eaten the day before but wouldn't come for anything I tempted them with. I'm spending this week trying to lure them out of their safty zone. If worse comes to worse I guess I'll pop one in the main pen, break the fence in a spot and drag the carcass out. I hadn't wanted to kill one in front of the other but that may be the only realistic option. In the meantime I'll keep trying to tempt them out.
    I did get to test run my water heating set up and now have a better idea how long it takes to get up to the proper temps. It's looking promising for this weekend.
    Those sure are some lucky pigs.
     
  10. Allan Mistler

    Allan Mistler Just a simple man

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    I had read somewhere (and it has been my experience) that pigs, unlike cows, don't get all upset at the sight of their brethren dying... in fact they drink the blood up out of the mud! Anyway, we usually pop them right there in the pig pen... stick them and raise them up out of the pen with a gambrell and chain on my bucket loader or a good tree branch. Good luck with this weekend!!!
     
  11. 2story

    2story Well-Known Member

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    my first year I took feed away for 24 hours,before butchering, no more i have never seen the benefit, everyone is grouchy and if your careful gutting, there is no problem. I have gutted alot of deer, and they never did me the favor of abstaining from food before I shot them.
    Any one else?
     
  12. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    That's good to know about the attitude or lack of toward their pen mates. I'm having some luck with the luring out. Next time I'll start that training much earlier.

    Not sure about the feed thing. I'm still toying with the idea of cleaning the intestines for casings and with that in mind I'm withholding feed the last day. Today as a matter of fact. :eek:

    Damn the torpedos.