Reposting Home Butchering Article + new Photos

Discussion in 'Goats' 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 my sister Sarah took those pictures for me. 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. susanne

    susanne Nubian dairy goat breeder

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    thank you emily.
    the pictures you added from currend butchering, are we looking at the back from the animal?
    if you cut through the anal canal how does it all keep clean and not be contaminated with feces?
    why don't you live in michigan? :rolleyes: :)
     
  4. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, they are from the back of the goat.

    When the goat is hanging upside down, the contents of the anal canal fall back down toward the stomach cavity so that its normally not right at the opening. And the membrane holds the canal from falling all the way back in and spilling its contents, so it doesn't go anywere till you are ready to pull it out through the stomach slit. And after all, if a couple neat little berries *somehow* do manage to escape, they will only fall into the gut cavity and never touch the meat. If it was messy cow plops, it would be a different story..... :) Its really hard to explain here....but really very simple to do.

    I don't live in Michigan because its COLD there!! :D :)
     
  5. susanne

    susanne Nubian dairy goat breeder

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    comon emily, we have nice summers and even nicer falls. if you visit me i put the heater on :bow:
    thanks for explanation.
     
  6. Lancelotacres

    Lancelotacres Well-Known Member

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    I was just reading and scrolling down thru the pictures thinking to myself (yesterday), it sure looks warm and sunny down there, wasn't like that up here (snow this morning). I am so ready for spring. Butchering article looks good as well as the milking barn photo's, maybe show some smiling doe pictures entering the milking parlor along with all the behind photo's LOL.
     
  7. Jcran

    Jcran Well-Known Member

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    It was me, it was me! Thank you so much for remembering my question! Your pictures are absolutely marvelous and well-taken; I am bookmarking the pages so I can use them this summer. When you butcher out the 3 month old kids, do you find the amount of meat worth the effort? A 3-month old seems like it would have a smaller meat/bone ratio?
     
  8. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    Howdy, I will jump in here and say that when we butchered a 3 month old Boer cross we were thrilled with the amount of meat from a younger kid. We had been butchering older goats, around 9 months. But we have decided to butcher younger to be more cost effective. Younger goats require less feed and do there major weight gain quickly on moms milk and then off they go into the freezer. We think the meat is better too on a younger kid still nursing. We don't wean them prior to butcher but rather allow then to nurse right until butchering no matter what the age or when we get to it. Right now we have a hefty 4 month old almost 70 pound Boer still nursing that we will butcher ASAP. I cleaned out my freezer yesterday just so i could fit the meat in there....found gallons and gallons of last years goat milk I forgot I had!
     
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  9. Jcran

    Jcran Well-Known Member

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    Holy buckets! That is a good gainer! I am going to use that advice this summer and see how it goes! Thanks!
     
  10. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    LOL!! Thanks for the offer, I'll remember if I'm ever in your neck of the woods. :)
     
  11. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yeah, its hitting 60* today!!! :rock: :happy: The grass is starting to grow now that we finally got some rain. I can't wait for the goats to start browsing again.
    I'll try to get some head shots of the does for the site. :)
     
  12. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yep, same here! I leave them on their dams till the day I butcher. The meat is excellent, you never get that post-weaning stall in growth, and I don't have the bother of a weaning pen! They are very hefty on all that milk and browse. My butcher kids rarely see grain if ever. If they do get grain, its whatever they can steal from mom. That is another expense you don't have if they are butchered at weaning age, you don't have to feed the kids much of anything besides whatever they get beside their dams.....
     
  13. harplade

    harplade loving life on the farm

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    I'm so impressed, I am going to save these pages for my husband and daughter who will be butchering soon. The last wether my husband butchered-he said the skin was very difficult to get off of the carcass. Any ideas why that may be? He was thinking about killing and slitting the skin, then taking an air compressor and blowing up the carcass, hopefully separating the skin from the flesh. Ever heard of that and/or do you have any other thoughts on what to do if the hide doesn't want to come away from the flesh.
    I'm just curious, when did you start raising and killing animals? How old were you? Our daughter is 10 and is our "farm manager". She cares for all the animals and assists in the killing and skinning of the rabbits and the few goats we have done. Are all of your siblings as adept at farming as you seem to be?

    Thanks, Harplade
     
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  14. cmharris6002

    cmharris6002 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Emily,

    I love this article and your web site. I am so impressed with your whole opperation!

    My husband wants to know if you use .22 shorts or longs. He doesn't want to use too much gun and blow his foot off or anything. :D

    Thanks,
    Christy
     
  15. midkiffsjoy

    midkiffsjoy Bedias, Texas

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    You wrote that article????

    Man I have that article and wish I had read it three month earlier. I would have a BEAUTIFUL couch cushion instead of having sent him through the ring!!! I grew up on a cattle ranch and never thought I had a weak stomach, but the last thing I ever saw butchered was this huge pig, and it was a MESS, and it took THIS article to get me to the point where I could handle it. Gave me something to see in my mind's eye other than that HUGE STINKY PIG!!!! Thank you for writing it!!!
     
  16. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Harplade, I have never had trouble with the hide not separating from the skin. I just take a sharp knife and pulling the hide away from the meat with one hand, use the other hand and the knife to help the hide separate. It usually comes off very easily. I have never used anything else so can't comment on that. :)
    I started raising animals when I was about 7. I was helping butcher chickens and the beefs that we did by that age. I used the hatchet on chickens when I was 9, but I didn't start doing the killing of larger animals myself until last year when I started butchering goats. It wasn't easy and still isn't, but I figure its just a job that needs done. I am impressed that your daughter is so into the "life to death" thing. I think its a good thing for a child to grow up with....helps with the proper perspective and all that. Congrats on raising a "down to earth" girl. :happy:
    Most of my siblings could do most anything around the farm if they had to. They have all helped with births, milking, mucking out, butchering, etc. The killing part still gets to some of them, but they like the meat..... ;)
     
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  17. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Christy. You can tell your husband that I use .22 shorts. Never had a goat that didn't go down immediately. I shoot them at very close range. Most of the time, the bullet has an exit hole right between the where the jawbones meet, so don't shoot with your foot, or anything else you want to keep intact, below the goats head....... :p The exit hole is not as common when shooting adult goats, but usually I am butchering 4 month old kids.
     
  18. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Glad it helped!! :)
     
  19. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Lance, I put some smiling goat faces coming in the barn on the milking room page.......check it out. :)
    http://www.freewebs.com/ozarkjewels/
     
  20. joken

    joken Well-Known Member

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    Great information,thanks. I have always allowed the carcas to hang and cool for a few days before cut and wrap. I understand this is not always possible if the weather is hot. Any comments about this would certainly be welcome. Thanks, Ken