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Butchering Cattle

 
Cassie Langstraat
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This might be a really naive question, but I have seen a TON of info on butchering pigs but none about butchering cattle by yourself. Is this a possibility? Or is this just not really doable due to the weight? Any info would be great!

 
R Scott
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It can be done. It is a scale problem. You need a winch or large tractor if you are doing it hanging like a commercial butcher, but if you do a google search for "gutless method elk butchering" you should find a pictorial of how to do it differently. Hunters butcher elk and moose out in the field, or at least quarter it to lug it back to civilization.

Bigger problem is the freezer space. But you can preserve it other ways--canning, jerky, biltong.

It is a LOT of work, but not bad if you have a small group.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Howdy Cassie, welcome to permies!

Have you done any butchering before?

Do you know anyone that hunts or butchers their own animals?

It can be done but the first time might be a little intimidating.

You will need to have a place to dispose of or compost any parts you will not store/use.
 
Eric Thompson
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Butchering your own is the way to go if you are set up for it!

First thing is to know what you're getting into, because you don't want this to be an experiment of something to research on the fly.

If you've done deer or elk, you're pretty close already.

1. skin, gut, and quarter: need to have something to lift the animal by the back feet as you go. tractor with bucket, chain hoist, or even a winch cable over an 8' tall sturdy frame
2. hang in cold storage: a big controlled refrigerator to hang out quarters for 2-3 weeks is something most people lack. In many places, a shed in winter is mostly adequate for this. If you conditions are less controlled, plan for less hang time.
3. cut and wrap: depending on how picky you are, this may be fairly easy or require a butcher's eye. It's nice to have a meat cutter's band saw, but in a pinch some slicing and boning knives and a saw here and there do a decent job - especially for roasts. Practice steak cutting to uniform thickness - with a knife, this is easier with smaller boneless pieces (No tbone steak - instead some boneless steaks and extra soup bones.
4. Ground meat - It's nice to select what actually goes into your ground meat! accumulate the scraps and fat and send it through a kitchen grinder at the end.

If you can see a mobile slaughter truck pro do it first it will help - they can do step 1 in 15 minutes - plan for your first one taking 3 hours..
 
Adam Klaus
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Butchering cattle is easy. Pound for pound, the most efficient butchering I do.

This spring, me and a friend, who are both self-taught in the art, butchered two yearling bulls in a day. Easy day, good times. After we finished, we halved the carcasses, and hung them in the cold cellar for 17 days to dry age. While we were gutting them, my wife fleshed and salted the hides for tanning.

After dry ageing (which is critical), it took another day to butcher the meat into individual cuts. It then took half a day to vacuum seal and freeze all the resulting meat. The yearling bulls were relatively small, but I think we still yielded over 400 pounds of table meat from the two of them.

"Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game" is the only teacher I have had. Self-taught. So long as you dont get hung up trying to separate out your tri-tip from your chuck roast, it's easy.

I sort the meat into steaks, roasts, boned meat, soup bones, and round steak. I value the meat in that order. Steaks and roasts are always with the bone-in, for maximum flavor.

We use a block and tackle, hooked to a sturdy beam on a shed, and use a pickup truck to lift the carcass for gutting. Sharp knives and a saws-all are the only tools you need. Go for it! You will be glad you did.

good luck!
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saws-all, the tool of champions
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one done, one to go
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preparing the hide for a bark tan
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Wow! Thanks for all the info everyone. I have never butchered anything by myself before and do not even have the cattle to butcher yet as I live in a small urban property. HOWEVER, I did grow up on a cattle ranch but my parents always sent the cattle off to the butcher instead of doing it themselves. But sometimes I feel like I just cannot really trust what goes on in those places so I would LOVE to do it on my own. And after seeing all of the awesome info about butchering pigs on permies I got really excited about it and wanted to see if butchering cattle was as doable as that! I DEFINITELY want to/will have my own cows to butcher one day (I am much more of a burger gal than a bacon gal) so I really just wanted to see if it was even possible and I will obviously do more research when my time comes. I REALLY appreciate all of the information and I am sure other people will as well. You guys are great!
 
Cj Sloane
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There is an in between option - on farm slaughter. The local slaughterer is coming on Monday to do a bull for me. Since I don't have a place to age the meat he takes the gutted, skinned, halves to a butcher. I have minis so I'm 100% sure I'm getting back my own meat (who else would have a flank steak that's 3/4 of a pound).
 
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