In my theoretical quest to design a homestead that includes chickens, pigs, etc. The question tossing around in my head is , what do we do with the Rest? Guts, brains, bones, etc.
Eventually my idea includes raising pigs and chickens and sell the meat, therefore there will be access meat/rest. That said, the quanity of 'waste' or 'rest' will be more than just if we had one or two pigs for personal consumption. We may have as many as 40 in rotations, processing as many as one or two a week.
In Podcast 22 Raising Pigs Paul and Joceyln mention feeding pigs rest to chickens and chicken rest to pigs. I have seen only one coop of omnivore diet fed chickens and my impression was that they were more agressive than other coops ive seen (this could have been due to other factors as well, lack of maintainance, tad of neglect on the owners part, etc).
And what to do with bones?
thanks for your insight! i've been watching the forum for a while and have only recently decided to jump in and get my feet wet!
Also, make bone broth. Or find restaurants that want chicken necks and backs and pork neck and tail for this purpose.
- X 4
Grab a coffee, or a bottle of wine, this is going to be a long one. It basically starts with a small summation of local (to my area) laws and practices around slaughtering and butchering animals. A small whinge about how it doesn't honour the animal and is excessively wasteful. Finishes up with my solution and what I do with all the odd bits that most people waste.
A lot of regulations here in Canada regarding where we process and what we keep of the animal if we are selling meat. I suspect France must have some strict ones too given how the EU can get about food.
HOWEVER, locally, we can slaughter our own animal for our own consumption on our property. What this means is that I can sell the animal live to a person or group of people, rent out a few square meters of my land, arrange with someone who will give the animal a gentle end (my customers pay him direct),they hire me to teach them how to cut up the meat and presto! It fits with the current local legislation (Know that posts on the internet often outlast the law, so don't take what I say about legalities to be a forever truth).
There are lots of reasons to send an animal to an abattoir. They are experienced, they do better at cutting up the meat than most can do at home, government inspected for health and quality of the meat, and so on and so forth.
It's amazing how many local small farmers aren't able to pass inspection because the animal has an illness, damage, or other element that makes it not eligible for sale or worse, could be harmful for human consumption. One Christmas season we took our ducks to the abattoir and our 25 ducks were the only ones that passed inspection in that run (they processed over 250 waterfowl that day). The biggest problem was damage in transportation, the second biggest problem was the animal was kept in poor health. It's not normally that high a failure rate, but it was devastating to every other farmer who spent all that money, time and energy raising their animals and couldn't sell the meat. That's the farmer's own fault for their mistreatment and ignorance.
When you are just starting raising your own meat animals, I highly recommend getting it inspected so that you can learn how you care for your animal effects the quality of meat.
Depending on the animal of course, the loss to waste (aka, not used portion, the bit tossed out that could have been used) is up to 80%. An example: Live weight (woolly jumper munching grass in the field, living and breathing) 100 pounds. Hanging weight (dead lamb, skin off, guts out, hanging in the cooler to age) 60-80 pounds. Freezer weight (cut up, wrapped, and in nice, neat packets ready for your home freezer or sale) about 40 to 45 pounds.
This is our experience. Keep in mind that different parts of the world cut up the animal differently, and different places use different parts of the animal. But this is our local standard loss.
40 pounds of meat, that's 40% of the lamb comes home again. What happens to the other 60 pounds? They usually get tossed in a special trash bin and trucked off to who knows where.
This is something to consider when raising your own animals for meat, especially larger animals. Pigs have less loss than sheep, but still an amazing amount.
Whenever possible, I home process. This IS NOT because I'm heartless and like killing things - despite many people lecturing me on how cruel it is. I home process the animal because I 1) hate the stress they experience in transport to the slaughterhouse and 2) can't see how throwing half of the animal in the trash honours it's life. It's not easy to do it at home. I cry buckets and lose about two weeks sleep per animal. But it's easier on the animal and less wasteful.
At home it looks like this. Live weight 100 pounds, hanging weight 60 pounds (however the organs go in the freezer for eating later and the skin gets tanned, the head is either made into head cheese or as payment to the fellow who does the ending). So actually a loss of about 5 to 10 pounds since I don't usually keep the lights or tripe. That 5 to 10 pounds go to feeding the chickens. Live weight to hanging weight, actual amount wasted = 1 to 5%.
Hanging weight to freezer weight - Everything now is edible to humans, so I have no loss. The fat, I keep for cooking or in a pinch, making soap or hand lotion. The meat, if not good enough for a specific cut, then I cut it into stewing meat or ground or sausage...
Home processed animal with a live weight of 100 pounds, has a freezer weight of 80-90 pounds, with the remaining going to non-food projects. Actual waste 1 to 5%. That's a huge difference than the 60% waste the abattoir has.
This just something to be aware of if you're interested in raising your own meat. Like I said, pigs will have different numbers.
Ways of reducing waste when processing an animal:
Make friends with a hunter and have them help you home process. They not only know what to do, a good hunter knows how to evaluate the carcass and tell the health and condition of the animal. Get them to walk you through this step, it's a vital skill.
Bring the meat home after hanging and butcher (cut it up) yourself.
Ask for the organs and trimmings when having the animal processed at the abattoir (they my or many not remember to include them).
Have a small, artisan butcher do the actual cutting of the meat. They are more experienced with utilizing the whole animal.
What to do with the rest?
Now here's the good part. My favourite part.
FAT - Lard, drippings for frying, leaf fat, Caul Fat, More about lard...
FAT (not food) - Hand lotion, lip balm, soap making, lubricant for machines...
BONES - Broth is my favourite, marrow bones, bone jelly...
BONES (not food) - tools (think medieval sewing needles &c), art, buttons, nutrition for plants, yummy for dogs...
INNARDS - guts for sausage, lights and pluck (illegal in the USA) for haggas and haggas like dishes, blood for sausage and soup, liver for frying with bacon and onions, liver for pate, Head and brains in headcheese (not just for pork, tastes good with mutton too), fried brains, poached brains...
INNARDS (not food) - PLANTS LOVE ALL INNARDS, especially blood. Can use the guts for string kind of thing, also great for teaching kids about anatomy, this is a heart, this is liver... (even better if you cook the innards up afterwards)...
That should get you thinking about how to utilize the whole animal. This evening, I'll gather up my books and see if I can make you a reading list.
I think it said you are posting from France. Any local traditions surrounding meat you can tell us about?
Video about processing pigs that inspires me
Both pigs and chickens are omnivores (don't get me started on vegetarian chicken feed - it's as bad as vegan dog food!) and feeding them spare cuts of meat can really boost their health. My chickens eat raw organs on occasion and are gentler than my lambs. The key in my opinion is respecting the nature of the birds and treating them kindly.
But if it worries you that they might get a taste for blood, the way around it is to cook the offel before feeding it to the birds and pigs. This is pretty standard, and an important step if you have any worry about parasites, age or quality of the meet.
- X 2
Whole Beast Butchery by Ryan Farr
Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan
Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
In the Charcuterie by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller
Other books that touch on the topic:
Nourishing Traditions by sally fallon
Beeton's Book of Household Management
Cooking and dining in Medieval England by Peter Brears
My personal favourite resource is random people I meet at the grocery store. Frequent one of those small shops or butchers that sells traditional foods. Seek out someone from Old Country who is old enough to remember what real food was like way back when, buy them a cup of coffee and listen intently to their stories of food. If they care enough about food to shop somewhere like that, chances are they will love the opportunity to talk about food to some young whippersnapper. This has been my single greatest source of information and inspiration for making the most out of my food, be it veg scraps or butcher scraps.
- X 2
What we don't sell:
we feed to our family; (We rarely eat high on the hog - that's for customers)
we feed to our working dogs; (They share in the harvest they worked to create from the animals they protect - it's their herds too)
we feed to our chickens; (Our chickens eat pigs in the winter as a replacement for their summer insects, we buy no commercial hen feed)
we feed to our compost to feed our land. (This enriches our poor mountain soils so that they are better with each year.)
We have no waste.
Waste is a verb.
Here in FR, whether you are a homesteader w/ animals or if you intend to sell for profit (or both), there are two steps outside the farm (or just one). First is the abatoire (obligated for animals over a certain size) where professionals (meaning not you) kill and drain the animal of blood and remove its guts. They save the blood and guts, bag it up and give it to you with the carcass. as far as i know, you get the whole of the animal back and they dont take any bother to discard anything for you (thankfully for us!). Next step is the Labratory where you process the animal yourself. this can be done on your own farm, in your own labratory, but it has to be certified. eventually we plan on having a lab at the farm, but not initially. until then its just as simple as renting space in a Lab and BYOP. You rent the space, bring your own tools, spices, and do the work yourself. I belive you caaan pay someone to do that work, but its not very common here in FR. Most people go two ways, 1. they process it themselves (artisian) OR 2. they just sell the carcass straight to the butcher and get the bucks.
traditional food that will come of this : LOTS of blood sausage (these guys love it, and for good reason!), any other kinds of sausage. sausage sausage sausage. and sliced ham. these dudes eat more coldcuts than american elementary students. but we dont plan on catering to that crowd. sausage will pay the bills, but charcuterie and hopefully BBQ! will 'bring home the bacon' harhar. oh god bbq, if ever there was a reason to raise a pig. you can take the girl out of the south, but you cant take the bbq out of the girl...
thank you so much for your suggsestions these are a great start to understanding how i can use the whole of the pig. im very excited to launch side projects like soap, headcheese, and bone broth.
Thanks too, Walter for your insights.
Im encouraged now to consider letting the animals be true to their omnivore nature... i guess its all just worth observation anyway. live and learn right?
Walter, what breed of dog do you have?
I have a mutt house dog who i fed raw chicken to when she was a bitty puppy. but since then (not to say becuase of) she has a 'taste' for chickens and has killed a total of 5, preventing me from ever really having 100% free range birds (unless i have a strong eye on the dog, which obeys well under strict supervision). So i find it interesting that we can cross feed the animals w/out much worry that they will ever be considered 'prey', although due to my previous experiences, i would hestitate strongly to ever feed my dog (the one i have now, maybe not a future dog) bones and meat directly from the farm. but maybe i just need to get over all that .. but i hesitate!
Nice to know that you can get the whole animal back from the abattoir in France. I wish it was like that here.
One more thought about feeding animals meat. I personally feel that feeding like to like is a bit risky. For example, I won't feed chicken (or other poultry) to my chickens. I wouldn't recommend feeding pork to pigs. This is totally my preference and I don't have any scientific back up why not, except a few newspaper reports of illnesses transmitted by feeding beef to cows and a paper I read in college that showed how humans can get sick by eating primates (where the primate isn't healthy or isn't processed/cooked correctly).
Would love to hear others weigh in on this feeding like to like issue.
Danielle Diver wrote:Walter, what breed of dog do you have? I have a mutt house dog who i fed raw chicken to when she was a bitty puppy. but since then (not to say becuase of) she has a 'taste' for chickens and has killed a total of 5, preventing me from ever really having 100% free range birds (unless i have a strong eye on the dog, which obeys well under strict supervision). So i find it interesting that we can cross feed the animals w/out much worry that they will ever be considered 'prey'
Our dogs are a pinch of Black Lab and a pinch of German Shepherd but mostly Other. See:
They do herding and guarding. Bones are a non-issue for them - they'll eat them raw, baked or boiled. They share in the kill, eating pigs who don't make it, chickens, etc. They have a clear understanding of live livestock that is to be protected vs dead livestock that is to be brought to me or me to it vs outsiders (pests & predators) which are to be driven off or killed and eaten. The dogs have very strong sense of in vs out group, what you consider livestock vs wildstock. They use different words for wild birds than domestic birds for example. Wild kin (Coyotes) vs domestic but not pack (stray dogs) vs pack (their kin). This differentiation probably comes as part of their hunting and talking about hunting with each other.
The pups are trained by older pack members and by us from birth to guard the livestock and their pack has been working on our farm for over 20 years so there may also be a selection factor. Chickens are the hardest livestock to have dogs guard as they trigger predator instincts. Over the six generations of our dogs I've selected and trained for being able to handle poultry as well as the pigs and sheep. Having older dogs to train the younger ones helps a lot. This continuity of knowledge is passed from generation to generation as part of their culture. I suspect that this is something that gets lost in human households with single dogs.
(on a personal note, i know someone who died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and it was NOT purdy)
And Jack, good point! Id be interested to hear how y'all grind up bones? and for those who 'compost meaty things' where and how is that done w/out inviting preditors , like those beautiful dogs of Walters
That's exactly the behaviour and personality I love in a dog. How did you get your start working with dogs?
One day, when I have my little sliver of paradise away from people who treat my farm like a free petting zoo, I would love to work with dogs. Though I am nervous as to how to bond them to the animals they are there to protect.
Back to the topic: The Rest of the animal is actually very small. With a sheep, if I were at a place in my life where I had more time and space, I would only toss the gall bladder, the bladder, the contents of the bladder and not much else. They say with pork, the only part of the pig that you cannot eat is the oink.
Jack Edmondson wrote:Admittedly, I have just skimmed the responses, since I am work and should be using my time more productively. However, I did not see any response to just composting the 'rests'. Certainly, use all one can; but there will always be some that is not consumed. How is your soil? Does it need fertility and how do you maintain it. Granted one does not want other animals digging it up, but that can be controlled. Why not compost the rest as and reuse the organic matter?
We compost tons per year. It helps to build our poor mountain soil. Guts, bones, skins and at times whole pigs. Basically add carbon and be patient. Because we have our compost piles in the central area wildlife does not disturb it because of our livestock guardian dogs. Once we have our on-farm slaughter going we'll be able to compost even more, returning more nutrients to our soils. Rough estimate is that will give us about 60 to 100 tons a year of on-farm produced compost for improving our soils. We'll only export the high value meats.
R Ranson wrote:Walter! What a gorgeous dog. That's exactly the behaviour and personality I love in a dog. How did you get your start working with dogs?
The original sire simply showed and insisted he was going to work here almost 25 years ago. I said no. He said yes. After three days of this he proved himself and his value so I said yes.
R Ranson wrote:One day, when I have my little sliver of paradise away from people who treat my farm like a free petting zoo, I would love to work with dogs. Though I am nervous as to how to bond them to the animals they are there to protect.
I don't know the history of the original dog, Coy. He had no resumé. The few others who have come into the pack over the decades required training by me but mostly by the existing pack. Most have been born into the job. A dog who is born onto the farm with the target livestock around is better in my opinion because they grow up in the situation with the right smells and elders who train them. However, older dogs can be trained.
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