Friday, January 4, 2013

Butcher the cow

      I had this older cow, i was hoping she would give me a calf this spring, but she didn't make it. I had to shoot her The night before Christmas. So the butcher process was hampered by the bitter cold. On the plus side, thats better for the meat than summer heat.

      I had problems first off, the wind was whipping so the chill was well below zero, since my face would freeze i would guess it was a wind chill -30, 10 or 15 min at a time outside was all i could manage. I saw a chart once that showed the exposure times for bare skin to freeze at given temperature, i dont remember the chart exactly but i think im pretty close. In any case, it was pretty damn cold for the mild winter this year. I normally wear a hood, a ski mask would be better but then ones eyes are exposed and that cant be good. At least when my cheeks freeze i know its time to get inside to warm up, before any serious damage is done.

      I had to alter my steps to slaughter given the cold and the freezing of the animal. Preferably I would skin the animal first off, but since it froze before i could get out to remove the hide, quartering it seemed like a better step then i can heat it and remove the hide from each quarter then wash and hang them to get some benefit of aging.

      The following is the best way I know to slaughter a large animal.

      The best way I know of is to use a chainsaw. Its not practical for me to keep a chainsaw just for meat, so i use my wood saw. I drain the bar oil rinse it with cooking oil, wash the chain and bar, drain the rinse cooking oil, ad new cooking oil, cut on a log to get the new oil flowing and this i think removes leftover crud from the chain. I wouldn't worry about wood chips or oil on your meat, the animal is so large any particles are minute in relation to the size of the project. also you will be cutting bone and will wash the quarters when done.  The books say to use a hand saw but their saw must be better than mine, it would take all day by hand with the chain saw its about 15 min frozen, less if it were a fresh kill.

In a perfect world here are the steps that i think works best, obviously circumstances may require altering the order. but a deep throat cut and gutting should not be left for later, they need to be done just after the kill.

1) Prep your saw, knives and gun, if your using a tractor to raise the animal get it started and nearby with the chains. But with the chainsaw quartering the tractor is not necessary it is helpful though.

2) You need to make a brain shot to the head. Visualize an X a line from the eye to opposite ear then another line from the other eye to opposite ear just a hair above the crossing of each line will give a good brain shot. I like a large caliber to ensure the skull is penetrated. making the kill quick and safe.

3)After the shot and the animal is dead it may kick this is normal reflexes. If it blinks or has eye movement it is alive take another shot. Then cut the throat deep to get the blood draining, all the way in to the pipe and around the sides. You could use your saw now but it will sling a lot off blood.

4) Wrap your chain around the leg twice or more then hook it, this way the leg cant pull out. Lay your chain across your bucket on the tractor this will give the legs a good spread then hook the other leg to the chain same thing twice or more around the leg. Then lift the hole animal off the ground.

5) Now here is an alteration point. You need to gut it but if you are steady with your chain saw, cut the sternum and throat first. Start at the head just lop it off just past the skull right behind the ears. Then take your saw cutting with the top of the chain, then it slings blood and guts away ( when cutting from the bottom chain it will sling back at you) Then cut into the throat cutting upwards to the sternum (center line of rib cage) cut all the way up the throat and all the way up the sternum, stop before you get to the stomach . Take your knife cut a circle around the butt hole (bung hole) this way the rectum will fall out with the guts. Using your knife cut the belly open from the butt to the sternum. Dont cut deep you dont want to open the internal organs. (But if you do accidentally open the bladder or stomach wash it out if possible after the organs are removed.) With the animal open all the way the internals will be rolling out use your knife to cut the securing tissue and arteries. (You can gut it first but if you open the sternum first it helps the guts fall out. ) Move the tractor and animal away from the guts for room to work. Or move the guts away if your not using a tractor.

6) Now if you want the hide intact skin it now otherwise quarter it then skin the quarters. Skinning it will take more time than the steps above, its kinda a pain in the ass. Professionals will do it in a couple minutes. But allow some time for this part. Start by cutting around the leg as near the hoof as possible then from this cut cut along the inside the leg to the but and up to the other leg. Then peal the hide away  using your knife separate the tissue from your knife as you go. It gets easier as more of the hide weight helps to pull itself down.

7) Now, take your chainsaw cut through the pelvic bone and all the way down the spine, you should cut along spine NOT ether side. The very good meat is on each side of the spine. Cut all the way past the neck till the animal is in two haves. Then cut between the 3 and 4 ribs, along the rib bones across the carcass, do this on each side. now you have 4 quarters, hang the front quarters and your ready to wash with clean water and hang in a cool dry place. If temps will be above 40 degrees, or so, you may need to skip the aging and process and wrap the meat.

I will do another post on aging and processing.

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