Growing Animals for Meat – The Butchering Process

Growing Animals for Meat

Animals can offer a variety of benefits to a homesteader, but one of the main ones is that they provide meat. Your animal of choice will depend on the size of your plot and the layout of your property, but there is a list of animals that are the best for meat. Starting a homestead is a process that takes time, so the key is not to rush into anything. Instead, incorporate animals slowly into your homestead while you learn and acquire the skills to care for your animals. Most people like to start with poultry as an introductory animal, which is considered the gateway to farming.


Chickens are great animals to raise both on a small or large homestead. You can begin to gather a great deal of confidence with these animals. Do your research before getting chickens. Some chickens are good for meat but do not lay eggs and they grow fast. While other chickens only lay eggs and are usually smaller and do not have as much meat to eat. A few chickens can be both. They will lay eggs for you and once they are no longer laying then you can butcher them for meat. You want to make sure the chickens you are getting the line up with your goals. You don’t want to pick out a chicken because they look cool or unique. Once you get them home, start feeding them and caring for them, and find out they are meat chickens when you wanted egg-laying chickens.


Once you begin to find your feet and feel confident raising your chicken, you may want to consider bringing in goats to the family. These are also multipurpose animals, with each breed serving a specific purpose, although all breeds of goats can provide dairy and meat for your homestead. Goats can also clear the land, which will decrease your budget for dried grass acquisition. Rabbits are another wonderful meat source on a homestead. Rabbits reproduce three times a year, up to 50 rabbits, making them an effective return-on-investment animal. In addition to this, rabbits require minimal raising effort. Pigs are a great animal to have on a small or a large homestead. These animals provide an abundant supply of meat; like goats, they also clear the land. They may be pricey, but their innate value ends up paying for itself.

Popular culture has given beef a bad rap, but the truth is that organic grass-fed beef is one of the most nutritionally dense meats you can get your hands on. However, it is important to note that cattle are quite big, easily weighing over 1000 pounds. They require a lot of space and are probably only for homesteaders who have larger homesteads. Cattle are demarcated by dairy and meat breeds, so you will want to purchase Charolais, Angus, Salers, Hereford, or Limousines.


Ducks are another great animal to have on your homestead for meat. Like chickens, they are multipurpose and provide meat, eggs, and even unpaid pest control services. In addition, ducks are less likely to get sick in comparison to chickens, and they breed relatively quickly. Most homesteaders who breed and raise ducks for meat tend to prefer the White Pekin as they are known to grow rather rapidly.

The Butchering Process

It is not uncommon for certain homesteaders to outsource the butchering process to qualified personnel; however, learning to be truly self-sufficient means attempting to do as much as possible on your own, including the butchering process. The following passages are going to provide step-by-step instructions on how one can butcher their meat. If you are not in the correct mindset to read such information, then please skip to the next section.

Let’s look at the butchering process for chickens and beef, starting with chickens.

  • The first thing you should do when getting ready to butcher a chicken is to prepare the processing area. You want the Chickens to have an empty stomach before the butchering begins, so it would be best to refrain from feeding them the night before and the morning of. You want the setup to be ready with a killing cone, plucking table or plucking machine, scalding tub, evisceration table, and cooler with ice water. If using tables for any of the processes, getting your hands on a few stainless tables as they use in restaurant kitchens would be best. They are easy to clean and sanitize.
  • First, you want to heat the water before you start the official butchering process since you want it to be boiling when the scalding time arrives. Place the chicken in the cone head down or you can hang the chicken by its feet with rope.
  • The chicken will freak out at first but will calm down over time. Once the chicken has calmed down gently help the chicken move down the cone until the head pops out. This could have already happened as the chicken was freaked out. If so, that is ok. Pull on the head slowly and easily until the neck shows out of the cone.
  • You want to put a bucket underneath the chicken for blood-catching purposes. (This can be used for the blood meal Fertilizer.)
  • Grab the chicken’s head and make an incision right under its jugular. Hold the head firmly while the blood drains into the bucket.
  • The chicken will be moving aggressively at this point, so hold it firmly until it stops. Once the blood has drained out you want to remove the head and then remove the chicken from the cone or rope. This is when the scalding process starts.
  • Submerge the bird into the boiling water by holding it by its feet. Leave it there until you can pluck the feathers out easily. Some people dunk the chicken in the boiling water, move it around, pull it out about halfway and dunk it again. Doing it over and over for a bit. Each time they pull it out halfway, checking how easy is it to remove a feather. When ready remove the chicken from the water and begin to pluck the feathers off the chicken after placing it on the plucking table.
  • You can also do it in poultry defeat her plucking machine to help this process go faster. Make sure you have a water hose nearby due to you must constantly spray water into the machine to help the process. Please do your research on these machines and take your time to learn how to use them. Once all the feathers have been removed, cut the chicken’s head and legs off.