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This past weekend we butchered our own beef. It is the first time in the 20 years we have homesteaded that we tried our hand at it. We have butchered smaller livestock but never an endeavor this big. We had heard the local facilities were far from sanitary or honest, so we decided to take control and do it ourselves. We didn't want to get back someone else's beef when we had organically raised grass fed Scottish Highland beef.
I wanted to share this to encourage others to try. It really wasn't all that bad. We took one day to kill, skin, gut and hang it. We let it hang a week and a half and then butchered it in 3 days. Only one of those days was a long day. What I really enjoyed was having total control of the leanness of the cuts, the amount of fat in the burger, etc. Now, granted, we had a few cuts I just had to label "mystery meat". Other than that, we had no problems.
I hope this encourages someone else to jump in and give it a try. We were intimidated, but now wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Jean from Ky.
 

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no way would i ever send meat out to be butchered. in addition to the concerns u raise, it also costs. in my area that would eliminate any savings after all the work and risk of growing ur own.

i butchered a beef once. no big deal. just a bit of hard work. and it came out fine. incidentally if a person uses those usda charts for cutting the carcass into sections, the cutting is pretty much self-expalanatory from there. ie, u will recognize familiar cuts (or at least shapes!) and be able to take it from there.
 

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What sort of facilities do you need to hang the beef?

Down here it could be 35 degrees one day and 70 the next.

Can you rent refrigerated lockers for hanging beef?
 

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This good to hear, as I plan to raise a beef soon and have been looking over some basic texts. I fogure that my biggest obstacle is intimidation, that's what kept me from doing my pigs and I regret that.
 

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I have a beef that needs to be butchered and I would not mind doing it ourselves. What equipment you need to do this? I don't have a tractor to lift it to hang it.We have butchered a pig and deer but oh wow a beef. We are thinking of just sending it out there are a few good places out here. I have heard of one place the hunters don't get their venison back it is all mixed up. I guess that has me worried about my beef. Where can we learn how to do this?
I am really looking forward to a few nice steaks on the grill this summer so that is why I am kinda hesitent about doing it ourselves. I don't want to mess it up.
Thanks for all the great info.
Wendy D
 

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For a basic 'how-to' book you won't find many better than Home Butchering and Meat Preservation by Geeta Dardick. It was put out by TAB Books, which is now out of business. However, check used book sites, such as www.half.com. Your local library may be able to obtain a loaner copy.

For most people the problem is likely to be in chill aging. Here you might ask your local processor if they would be willing to do it for a set amount. You bring in four quarters (identified however you want) and then pick up the same four quarters when aged - and the consensus is longer is better.

I wonder though if it wouldn't be possible to use an empty home freezer set at the proper temperature. Just separate the quarters with boards or something so there is air circulation. May take several tried to get the temperature to hold at the proper level based on the mass of meat.

Ken S. in WC TN
 
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Jean the basic difference between you and a professional butcher is that the butcher would have taken that "Mystery Meat" and either ground it up for burger or cubed it and called it "Stew Meat". So next time keep this in mind and you will be a professional "Butcher".

There are locker plants that will rent you space to hang your own meat. I'm not sure what the cost is or how close one is to your area. I have one about 35 miles away from here. But don't even think about it when deer season arrives. Most of them need the extra room for all those deer they take in during hunting season.
 

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We watched the long range forecast and when it looked like we would have consistently cool weather, we went for it. We only aged it a little over a week, which isn't as long as most would, but the majority of the beef is ground up, stew meat, roasts we cook a long time, anyway. I didn't want to take the chance it would suddenly warm up and thre we were with rotting carcasses. I know in the long run, not only did we save the cost of butchering, but we got much more meat off the carcass than any butcher would have take the time to do. Plus, we didn't have to buy back the hide, which with most butchers you have to do. We will scrape it, salt it and send it to be made into a rug. Highlands have really long hair and make gorgeous rugs.
 

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as for aging we made the weather work for us. u couldn't do this in all climates of course. used a come-along to hang the carcass in a garage that had no windows. this was december in albuquerque. it gets below freezing there every nite at that time of year but into the 40s or 50s most days. the meat never froze but was as if in a refrigerator. got the last quarter of the carcass out at the end of three weeks. no problem. the weather could conceivably give u a problem, of course.
 

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Right now I feel like I am living at the Noth Pole. So being too warm isn't a problem for me. But can it be too cold? It has been at the warmest in the last week 15 above but mostly -0 or colder with out the wind chill.The come along and hanging it up in a garage is a good idea. What type of tools do you use to cut it up? We have a couple of good knives but what about cutting the bones? Would a hack saw work? Sorry for all the questions.But it sure would be nice to be able to do it ourselves. It would save a lot of money on the hauling and butchering. Now to run this buy the DH. I don't know if he would be as cooperating.He will probably give me one of those are you out of your mind looks.I am fairly new here. I read more than I post.Thanks for all the great info.
God Bless,
Wendy D.
 
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