Introduction to butchering animals – Day-To-Day Care Schedule for Each Season

Introduction to butchering animals

It is very crucial to do intense research on how to butcher animals. If you don’t know what you are doing you are risking contaminating the meat and it being harmful to your family and anyone else or animal that eats the meat. Then all the money, time, and effort put into raising the animal go to waste.

There is so much to butchering animals than what I can put in this book. So please do your research. If you can’t find someone to teach you hands-on. Then don’t invest too much into your chickens at first and know that you just may lose some towards the beginning and get better as you go.

  • Slice the chicken open through the breastbone to reveal its internal organs. Remove the guts, lungs and windpipe, liver, and so forth. This is when you can contaminate your meat! Then bag the chicken for freezing!
  • A simple way of bagging is with shrink wrap bags. This ensures the chicken stays safe and no freezer burn while storing. (Like what you would buy at the store if you were to get a whole uncooked chicken).
  • For this, you need the shrink wrap bags, zip ties, scissors, and another tub of hot water at 180°F. You take the chicken out of the ice water bath and put it upside down in the bag. Then twist the bag as tight as you can and zip tie it as close to the chicken as possible.
  • The bag will be filled with air, so you want to take a knife and poke a tiny hole in the bag. Preferably where the breast area is and about the same area for each chicken.
  • After you have poked the hole, you want to dip the bag into the 180 degrees water for about 3 secs, then take it out.
  • Immediately you want to put a label over the hole (make sure you dry off the area so it will stick).
  • You can have simple ones with it handwritten “chicken” with the date or have them professionally printed.
  • However, you want to do it, does not matter as long as the hole is covered, and you have labeled it, so you know what it is and when it was processed.
  • Therefore it’s important to poke the hole in the same area for every chicken and in the breast area so that you can cover it easily with the label.
  • After you have labeled it, you want to cut off the excess plastic. Then store in the freezer.

The overall butchering process for beef is a bit more complex:

  1. The slaughtering process requires a gun, bullet, and knife.
  2. The skinning process consists of a sharp knife, sharpening stone, gambrel, hydraulic tractor with a bucket, chain hoist, and hose.
  3. The evisceration process demands a reciprocating saw, meat tote, and an area where you can discard the guts (ideally a hole in the ground or a place deep within the woods).
  4. The butchering process requires more meat totes, sharp knives, a bone saw, waste buckets, a bone dust scraper, and a meat grinder.
  5. Packaging consists of butcher wraps, plastic wraps, freezer tapes, and other bags.

STOP!! Again, please do not do this unless you have done your research and can have someone help you that knows what they are doing. That way you don’t risk contaminating your meat. Beef cattle are way more expensive than chickens.

  • Take the cattle to an area where you can cut when it collapses, and make a cut near the esophagus to make it bleed out as much as possible.
  • Next, remove the animal’s head with a reciprocating saw and hang the body from the gambrel with the skid steer.
  • You can also use a tractor or a chain hoist. The skinning process is done by creating a circle around the hooves into the midline area through the inside of the leg. This is when the genitals are also removed if they haven’t been already.
  • Next, bring the cow down to the plastic to reduce the possibility of gravitational swelling of the internal organs.
  • This is a great time to cut the stomach open and remove the contents within the cow’s belly for the compost pile.
  • This is when the removal of the internal organs occurs. Finally, you have the option of either wet or dry aging the meat.
  • The wet method is done in a vacuum-sealed bag and is kept at temperatures in the mid- 30°F for up to a month. This is the method that commercial producers tend to favor.
  • The dry method is more traditional and is done by placing the meat to hang in an area with airflow and controlled humidity and temperature for up to three weeks. This is generally done when the meat is butchered during the colder seasons.

Day-To-Day Care Schedule for Each Season

Just like your plants, your animals require schedules to keep them fed, taken care of, and thriving. The most important one is to give your animals water and food daily. This is what will determine their health status and ability to reproduce.

  • Make sure that you have systems set up for your animals to feed and drink, such as a built-in chicken feeder.
  • Next, you must check up on your animals and ensure that they are feeding properly. This goes hand in hand with another daily task, which is to check your animals’ health status. You don’t necessarily have to walk around with health checking equipment, but you need to keep an eye on them and be more intentional about ensuring that they are functioning normally.
  • Cleaning out the fecal matter in your animals’ shelters is another task that needs to be done regularly.
    • This will ideally be done daily; however, the frequency is largely contingent on the number of animals you have housed in a particular structure.
    • Clearing the feces more often will prevent your animals from spreading bacteria that could be consumed from droppings being present in their food and water.
  • If you have chickens, you should check your henhouse for eggs as often as possible since you want to find the eggs while they are still fresh.
    • This task goes along with taking care of the nesting boxes where the eggs will be located.
    • Although the hens don’t defecate near the eggs, it is common to find some residual feces in these areas, so replacing the pine shavings with fresh ones will allow the nest to remain clean, consequentially keeping your eggs clean.
  • For those who have animals for milk, you may wonder how often you should milk your goats or cows.
    • The answer is every day, up to twice a day. Not milking your animal can harm them and lead to sickness or injury.
    • If you don’t have the time to dedicate to milking your livestock often, you should rethink having milking animals.

The best way to ensure that the above-mentioned tasks are being handled as often as possible is to create a routine for them.

  • The morning routine of someone who has a backyard homestead like family A could have no animals and would consist mainly of chores that need to be undertaken for the garden, as they would not be preoccupied with feeding any chickens or rabbits because there could be none.
    • They would wake up, walk around the garden, and check their plants. This would be the perfect time to water the plants as well.
    • They could harvest some produce and prune some plants.
    • Their evening routine could consist of another walk, where they check to see if their plants are safely protected against predators.
    • If they do have some animals, then they would add in the care needed for them during the daily walks along with caring for the garden.

A homestead that is larger than a few acres like family B and C that could contain a few chickens and goats would have a typical morning routine like an early rise followed by a walk in the garden.

The family would likely feed their pets and then proceed to feed the chickens and the goats. They might release the animals from their shelters so that they can take the time to clean up. Their evening routine would likely involve putting their animals safely back into their shelters.

A family on a larger homestead with animals will have a more extensive morning routine compared to an urban homesteader who only does gardening. Aside from the daily schedules required to keep your animal’s taken care of, a monthly schedule can also help as it will be founded on a seasonal premise.

Again, this will vary for everyone depending on their animals and the land plot size. Let us observe three potential seasonal schedules.

January

During one of the winter months or the start of the year. Homesteaders can find themselves drafting up their goals for the new year. In the case of Family A, they could begin to organize seeds and test them for viability. They could review their garden journal and facilitate certain aspects of it.

All three families will benefit from editing their budgets and reviewing their overall financial plans. Family B and C would benefit from being particularly diligent about ensuring that their animals are healthy. Plans for new animal purchases, breeding, and culling are also practical during this time. Overall, it is a self-reflective time, and all families should prioritize addressing their current homesteading skill sets and planning to facilitate them wherever possible.

April

Is the month that begins to invite the spring and is usually when the spring cleaning is done. All families would benefit from going into their basements, gardens, barns, storage sheds, and main house areas for deeper cleaning.

  • Family B and C should seek to get their chicken coops fresh bedding before the weather gets warmer.
  • Family A should continue to sow its seeds. It needs to be done under a row cover if they decide to plant outdoors. The family should prioritize sowing carrots, lettuce, arugula, radishes, and Swiss chard (while taking their specific hardiness zone into account).
  • This is the time when dairy livestock increases their production. Family B and C can benefit from this dairy-abundant season by making goat cheese.

October

Ushers in the season of the last harvest. This is when family A will collect their annual crops and ensure that their extenders are working adequately. The garden is now exposed to the harsh conditions of the elements, so it is a perfect time to begin covering it up.

Any mulching, weeding, and general tidying will make for a much smoother spring planting season. The family’s perennial plants will also benefit from added protection during this time. Family B and C can begin looking into winter-proof outdoor systems for their barns, animals, and water. It is also ideal to give the chicken coop a last deep clean before the winter arrives.

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

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.

Goats

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

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.