Home butchering repost + new pictures

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ozark_jewels, Mar 25, 2006.

  1. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    (I wrote this article for a goat magazine. The same methods of hanging, skinning, gutting, and cutting up the carcase can be used on just about any smaller livestock. The photo illustrating the angle to shoot is *just* an illustration, I do not pull the trigger with my other hand in that position. It was just to hold the buckling still for the picture. The angle is the correct one for a quick kill. Please do not shoot goats or sheep through the forehead. The skull plate is too thick and it may take many shots to put them down. Through the back of the skull is the correct place and only uses one shot.)

    Hi,

    First let me introduce myself. I am Emily Dixon from southern Missouri. My dad and I are running about 150 head of goats at this time, though the numbers are constantly increasing. We have Boer and Boer-cross meat goats, and Nubian, Lamancha and Alpine dairy goats. I am 23, and one of 12 children. With such a large family, you can imagine we go through a lot of meat in a year's time.



    We have raised our own beef for as long as I can remember, but up until a couple of years ago had never eaten our own goat meat. In 2003 I started thinking about how silly it was not to eat some of my own homegrown product. After all, it tastes good, is healthy for you, and since it's homegrown, I know what went into it. I looked into having a few wethers processed for me at a local butcher's. The cost of getting a 60-100 lb. wether processed was rather prohibitive with as many as my family could consume in a year's time, so I decided to look into the best way of slaughtering and butchering my wethers here at home.



    When I decided to give butchering a try, I used a most humane method that I found on the web for slaughtering, and since I also had butchered chickens and the occasional deer, I just adapted what I already knew to fit butchering a goat. I have since butchered about 30 wethers, bucklings and cull does, and have been very satisfied with the results. My method is very simple, you need no "butchering equipment", and one person can do it alone if need be, although two people are handy to hang the carcass, and load up the offal.



    Now, I am not just writing this for those of us that raise "meat goats", because those extra little dairy wethers pack a truly surprising amount of meat too. About half or more of the wethers I butcher are dairy goat breeds. The meat is good no matter the breed. I have observed that the Nubians tend to carry a little more weight than the Lamanchas or Alpines, but all are satisfactory once in the pan. I get too attached to bottle kids and cannot butcher them, so if I plan on eating any dairy wethers, I leave them on their dams and touch them as little as possible. It is much harder to get attached to something that is wild. I butcher anywhere between the ages of 3 months to 1 year as a general rule, although I have butchered older goats too. The buckling pictured in the butchering photos was a 3-month-old Nubian.



    The equipment I use is a t-post, a rope, a handy tree limb, a .22 pistol if the goat is a young kid(if it is an older goat, a larger shot might be in order) a sharp knife (preferably bigger than a paring knife), and a wheelbarrow. Here is my method:



    Slaughtering and hanging: Shoot the goat through the back of the head, right behind the poll(or right behind the horns), angling the shot toward the lower jaw. (See Photo 1.)


    Photo One:

    [​IMG]

    Immediately slit the throat as close to the head as you can (not wanting to waste any of the neck meat) so the blood can drain. There will be a lot of blood, but that is good. (Note: To those of you who are not used to killing anything, there will usually be reflex movement of the head and legs at about this point. Don't let it un-nerve you, it is JUST reflex action. I usually rest my foot on one of the hind legs at this point to hold it still. The goat is NOT still alive, but it is a bit disconcerting the first few times.) Use your knife to make a slit in the skin between the tendon and the bone at the hock of both back legs. Don't cut through the tendon or you will have no way to hang the carcass. (See Photo 2.)


    Photo Two.

    [​IMG]

    Slide the t-Post through the slits in the back legs. Now run a rope over a tree branch about 2 feet out from the tree and tie one end to the middle of the t-post between the goat's legs. One person can pull on the other end of the rope while the other person lifts the goat up by the t-post till it is hanging at the desired level for skinning and gutting. Then tie the rope off to the tree. (See Photo 3.)


    Photo Three.

    [​IMG]

    Skinning and gutting: With the knife, finish cutting off the head until you get to the spine. When the only thing holding the head on the body is the spine, then twist the head until you hear a pop and the head will come off. Next, the knee joints: just cut and twist them like you did the head and the lower leg will come off. Now take your *sharp* knife, and gently slit the hide down the belly; I say gently because if you don't you might puncture the guts, which will get on the meat and taint the meat. Gently pulling on the hide with one hand and using the knife to separate hide from meat with the other, skin the entire goat. When you come to the tail and anal cavity, keep pulling the hide outward, and cut right through the anal canal that is pulled outwards with the hide, cutting through the tail, and continuing skinning down the back. When the hide is off (See Photo 4),


    Photo Four.

    [​IMG]

    I always position a wheelbarrow or tub beneath the goat so that the guts fall directly into it (that way there is no picking them up after I'm finished), and then I start the gutting process. First, use the tip of your knife to cut all around the outside of the anal canal until it comes loose and drops back into the body cavity. Then gently slit the stomach open (again, the key word is *gently*) and gut the goat. I like to use two fingers of my free hand to keep the stomach wall away from the guts as I slit down the stomach, to be sure not to puncture any of the organs. (See Photo 5.)


    Photo Five.

    [​IMG]

    I'm very careful not to cut open any of the stomach or digestive organs as that gets very messy. It's important to carefully cut out the bladder first, because you don't want any urine to contaminate the meat. Right at the top of the stomach cut (between the hind legs) you'll find the bulbous bladder, and you must take hold of it carefully at the top, while you cut it loose, and drop it in the wheelbarrow/tub carefully. I barely even use a knife for the rest of the gutting, because most of the guts will just fall out with a little persuasion and the rest can usually be pulled out by hand. You'll usually have to strongly tug on the windpipe to pull it out.



    Cutting up the meat: After the gutting is done, I get some help to carry the carcass into the house where we lay it on the table (any large, flat surface; a chest freezer in our basement is my favorite place) on top of a clean sheet and start cutting it up for the freezer. I separate the legs from the body, and then cut each leg again at the middle joint so the pieces will fit into large freezer bags. Some people wrap the meat in freezer paper; I just use large freezer bags. I then cut out the backstrap and the neck meat and any other pieces that there are and bag them up. You can grind and make sausage out of any of it. My family likes the leg roasts the best.



    Now all that's left to do is clean up the mess. I'm sure there are more sophisticated methods of butchering, but this is the way I do it and it works for me. I hope it may come in handy for you. I do not fatten or "feed out" my butcher wethers/bucklings. They have protein blocks, fresh water, and lots of browse or hay if it is winter. They might get a small amount of grain if they are in with my does. The meat is tender and flavorful. Feeding out a goat on grain is not needed, in my opinion, if the goat is in good health and has plenty of good hay or browse, but whether to fatten your goat before butchering is simply your choice. It's your goat, it's your choice. If I butcher them younger than five months, I just pull them straight off of their dams.



    Two tips to make this job easier: 1) If your going to haul the hide and guts off very far (I dump them on the back side of our 100 acre property), instead of using a wheelbarrow to hold the guts, I use a 30-gallon round tin tub with handles on either side. When I am finished butchering for the day, one or two people can lift that tub into the back of the pick-up and I can haul it off and dump it myself. If you have just a short way to go, a wheelbarrow may work better. 2) When you slide the t-post through the slits in the hind legs, prior to hanging the carcass, position the post so that the knobs on the post are toward the goat's back. That way you can pull the goat's legs farther apart and the t-post knobs will hold the carcass in the desired position. The farther apart the legs are held, the easier it is to skin and gut.>>>
     
  2. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When I posted this the first time, I had someone(either here, or in the goat section, I can't remember which so I'll post it both places) ask for photos specifically of the cutting around the anus area. I butchered three wethers yesterday and took those pictures. Here they are:

    Skin to this point:

    [​IMG]

    Then this. You can see the anal canal:

    [​IMG]

    Cut through like this:

    [​IMG]

    It should look like this after cutting through the anal canal:

    [​IMG]

    After cutting through the tail and everything.

    [​IMG]

    You pull the anal canal out through the stomach slit when you gut the animal.
    Hope this helps.
     

  3. papaw

    papaw Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the "walk through" and photos ... wish we had more threads like this one.
    NOW ... let's go on to cutting the various pieces of meat.
     
  4. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    I get to this point and just debone it.Very fast and easy,takes up less freezer space.

    What if you don't have a Gun?Whack it in the Head,cut Throat,or both?

    big rockpile
     
  5. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    GREAT POST EMILY!!!!

    Thanks for sharing!.......I know 4 little bucks that may resemble this soon ;)
     
  6. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    your right papaw, we do need more articles like this! nice job emily well spoken and nice pics! :cowboy:
     
  7. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    what is a good size or weight or age to raise goats to for slaughter? we have had some for brush removal and milk but never raised them for meat.
     
  8. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    At that point, I just cut off all four legs as neatly as possible, cut the legs again at the joints if it is an adult goat or if you want smaller pieces. Then cut out the backstrap and neck meat plus any other little pieces I want. The carcase and offal go to the dogs. I will be doing a cull doe later this week....I guess I could do pictures of the cutting process, but its really just however you want it.
     
  9. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If I didn't have a gun(God forbid), I would certainly go with the cutting the throat with a very sharp knife. Not the wacking in the head method. Goats have extremely thick skulls....which is why you shoot them in the back of the head. It would be very hard to wack them hard enough in that spot I would think.......If you've ever seen goats head-butting....you know all about their thick skulls. :)
     
  10. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I personally like to butcher them straight off their dams milk at about 3-4 months old. They grow real well on moms milk and browse and I don't have to worry about weaning or feeding the butcher kids that much. Also the meat is very tender and never tough at that age(though if cooked long and slowly enough, even old goat can taste like young kid). So 4-10 months is the age I like to butcher. If I have room, I might wait for the older age.....but normally I butcher them at about weaning age. My kids normally weigh somewhere around 60-80 lbs by that age, so they are not as small as that might seem. Delicious!!
     
  11. Salmonberry

    Salmonberry Registered Nut

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    Emily,

    I am one of those who doesn't butcher yet. I would love to see pics of how you finish them.

    Salmonberry
     
  12. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Alrighty, I'll try to get pics if I butcher today....
     
  13. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    Hey, great thread. Thank you for posting it.

    You should do the other pics on the backstrap and neckmeat too. All the cuts if possible. I know how to hack up a fourlegger good enough to cook and eat 'em but don't know much about doing it right with all the cuts separated. My wife's been talking about goats for a while. Maybe something like that would help me give in... lol.
     
  14. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well I can walk you through the way I cut them up...but its very much as you described. Just cut off all the meat, not really any technique to it. I mean, I just taught myself by simply DOING it.....so its nothing special.LOL!! So don't expect to much.... :eek:
     
  15. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ok, like I said, its very basic. Here are the cuts I use.

    After the skinning and gutting process is complete, I cut the carcase down, bring it in and lay it on a clean sheet on top of my chest freezer:

    [​IMG]

    Then I start cutting the legs off, usually starting with the forelegs. They are very easy to cut off as there is no actual joint. I cut off as much of the surrounding meat with the leg as I can.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is the foreleg after separating it from the body. If you have a smaller family and want a smaller cut, you can cut the leg in half at the joint.

    [​IMG]

    Too many pictures to put it all in one post so I'll finish this in post #two.
     
  16. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Then the backlegs:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The leg should look something like this.

    [​IMG]

    Then you can cut the leg in half at the joint if you so desire. I did with this goat as she was a full-sized doe.

    [​IMG]

    Then the other two legs the same way of course, and start on the backstrap. I go as far up the neck with the backstrap as I can. Usually I can get the backstrap from the top of the neck, all the way to the hipbones in one long strip. Here is about halfway through:

    [​IMG]

    When you've finished the legs and the backstrap, I just cut of any stray pieces there are and use them for stew or sausage meat. There is a nice little strip of meat that is on the underside of the backbone that runs along the same line as the backstrap, but its much smaller. The finished carcase and meat will look something like this:

    [​IMG]

    I feed the carcase and guts to my dogs, the legs, hide and head I drop on the back hill for the scavengers.
    Cutting it up is very simple and there is no "wrong" way.....so just go with your instincts!! :)
     
  17. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I *really* like the t-post idea. Never thought of that. Gives great adjustability and is strong. That's the perfect tool for that job.

    Once I've essentially quartered the animal, I like to put it in the freezer and chill it until it's not quite frozen. Makes butchering and wrapping a whole lot easier. The semi-solid meat cuts easily and neatly as opposed to the lose jelly-like room temperature meat.
     
  18. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Well I was wondering because I no longer have Small Caliber I have Large Caliber or Shotgun.Both of which I don't think would be very good.

    We started Deboning all our Deer where they hang works very good.Get done nothing but a skeleton hanging there.I had a film showing how to do it but can't find it.Also on the Steaks on them Goats if they are Butterflyed makes for a much better size.

    big rockpile
     
  19. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    What abour ribs? Is there not enough meat on a goat to bother with the rib meat? I haven't had goat yet, so I'm not sure how much there is to the meat. So it looks like you just use the legs and the backstrap?
     
  20. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Adult goats or yearlings have enough meat on the ribs to make it worthwhile cutting them up. Kids its just not worth it. Tried that and spent more time getting the meat off than in butchering the goat! For me, ribs are just GREAT dogfood. If you like ribs and want to fool with it, go right ahead! The legs, neck and backstrap are the main sections, but there are lots of little pieces that you can cut off and make sausage or stewmeat out of. I just showed the basic cuts I use and after that its just picking off whatever you want. I told you it wasn't a very "expert" method..... :eek: My family likes roasts and stews the best so those main cuts are perfect for us. Do whetever works best for your tastes. *Anyone* can do it..... :shrug: