Friday, December 28, 2012

pig slaughtering and butchering for beginners

I decided to take a little hiatus from blogging during Christmas week, mostly because I actually have some work from my former boss and want to take advantage of that as much as possible.

I have an obscene number of pictures from today, though, because we helped our neighbors, the Brewers, slaughter and butcher two of their hogs, and we've both been really looking forward to learning this since we both love bacon and ribs and pork tenderloin immensely. Pigs are definitely in our near future!


The cows like to watch all the action.

I got distracted by this little guy while we waited for the fire to heat up the scalding water.

Starting the fire.

Distracted again.

Part of the Brewers' property. It was a muddy day after all the rain we've gotten recently.

Future bacon. Thank you, piggie.

Almost hot enough.

Figuring out logistics.

Positioning the killing pen.

The little piggie in the middle was spared today.

Didn't mean for this to be out of focus, but maybe it's better that way for the faint of heart.

Loosening the hair with the near boiling water
(you don't want it boiling -- that's too hot) and scraping it off.

Comes with the territory.

One pig done.

Tenderloins and backstraps. (FYI, you don't actually get tenderloin when you buy pork tenderloin at the store --
you get the backstraps, which are much bigger but less tender than the actual tenderloins.)

We were offered the jowls and ears of piggie #1 (among other parts like the brain and heart that we politely declined).
The jowls are supposed to be similar to bacon, and I will TRY the ears,
just to say I did, but they might become dog treats.

Got the focus right on piggie #2. Relatively certain I got the point of impact.

Two pigs' worth of meat.

Today was a very good day. It's very empowering to understand exactly where your food comes from (or rather, how our future meat will be processed). The only thing that shocked me a little was how long it took the pigs to stop moving. Their throats get slit immediately after the gunshot to the head, but the twitching continues for a good ten minutes afterwards. The Brewers use a .22 rifle to kill their pigs, but we will likely use a .22 mag or .40 caliber handgun, just to play it safe.


  1. I can vouch for the pig jowl. You can turn it into guanciale, which is amazing. Like bacon... but better?

    Pig ears, on the other hand, I've only ever given to the dog. They come in a 10pk from the local grocer's for next to nothing. I freeze them raw and give them (frozen) to the dog for a midsummer afternoon treat.

    But really, what an exciting day! Thank you for sharing with us. I hope to have pigs some day, but butchering them out seems very overwhelming — fingers crossed, I have neighbors like yours to show me the ropes!

    1. It does look a lot like bacon! We were told to put it in with some soup beans for a hearty, low-cost meal. The more I think about the ears, the more I might follow your lead and just freeze them for dog treats -- they don't sound very appetizing. ;)

  2. Wow! I'm jealous! I should have thought to find someone killing a pig this year --- I'll bet it would make use feel better about raising our own next year (if we do).

    1. We're definitely getting at least two shoats in the spring, so I'm pretty confident that we can share a hog with you next fall if you're still interested. :)