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Removing hairs : like in tanning?  RSS feed

 
Xisca Nicolas
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How to do it better and faster?

My concern is with guinea pigs but pigs need this too!
Removing hairs from little animals makes it a big job for little eating. But skin is the same amount of food as the meat! And I believe that not spoiling is part of the respect we owe.

The normal technique is to put the animal in boiling water a few seconds, and then use your fingers... I think 1 or 2 seconds is not enough, 4 or 5 better, and it allows you to cool down the animal with cold water. Or else use gloves. They might help to take the hair, but I prefer bare fingers.

The problem is when they change coat, you have some short new hair below!
I have planned to select animals with a different coat, which I find is a defect but good for my purpose: some seem to have furry undercoat instead of a regular shining coat. They they are much easier to process.

We are supposed to burn the last hairs, but I do not like this because of the smoke and the slight burning resulting on the skin.
I believe this is not healthy for us. (I have some sensibilities due to liver detox)

I have tried shaving with a ceramic knife. Helps but not perfect at all.

Maybe some good ideas could come from the tanning methods? Ashes?

 
Jim Fry
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We skin them, the food value of the skin isn't that much. Salt the hide to pull out the excess moisture. Then we tan the hide, using the brain matter, an egg yoke or (less desirable) buy a commercial chemical tanning kit. We use the tanned hides for a variety of uses, including bags or sew them together for something larger. You can also cook the whole animal, skin, hair and all, by wrapping it in clay. The clay holds in the juices of the skin. When done the skin peals off with the clay, but leaves "the good stuff" behind. If you're going to use the dip in the hot water method, leave it in a bit longer, then don't use the cold water. Cold water will just cause the skin to "clamp" down on/hold on to the hair again. For pigs we hot bath them, then use a dehairing/scraping knife. It's a round piece of metal with a slight cupped shape to it. It has a wood handle attached to the center, perpendicular to the disk. The metal is sharpened all around the edge. We also sometimes lay pigs on a bed of straw. Light up the straw and rotate the pigs over and around in the fire. Then use the scraping knife to remove any last remaining hair and dirt and ash. For very thinned skinned animals like rabbits, the skins are too thin and weak to hold up well as a bag. Instead cut the tanned hide into strips. Sew, or tie, the strips to make longer strips. Then weave the strips, using a simple over/under weave, to make any size "blanket" that can be used as a very warm cloak or blanket.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Thanks a lot for so many tips!
Would you have a photo or a link for the tool?
This https://www.ecosia.org/search?q=dehairing+knife&addon=firefox does not match your description...

When I leave it longer in hot water, then it seems that it can handle the clearing with cold water. I try to make it go in the direction of the hairs, to not reach the skin with the cold water. I just have to be more careful as the skin can be a little too cooked easily...
Jim Fry wrote:We skin them, the food value of the skin isn't that much. 

Are you talking about guinea pigs?
For me, the skin is of VERY VERY good food value.
1) it is the same quantity as meat, and the animal is small.
2) If you boil the skin, it gives a very good broth with greens.
3) The gelatine contains a lot of the very good amino-acid GLYCINE, that compensate the other amino-acids from muscle meat.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The proper tool for dehairing a hog looks like a metal bowl with a stick attached.

This leads me to think of a large spoon as a cheaper, easier to find implement for dehairing a guinea pig, since they are small in size you want to size the tool to their size.

 
Wes Hunter
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I have no idea regarding guinea pigs, but I'll throw on my two cents regarding hogs.  Maybe it'll still be helpful.

We butchered two boars on farm last January.  Some notes:

1. Have a heat source.  For the first hog, we just filled an old bathtub with boiling water, adding cold water until the temp was 160 degrees.  Then we dunked him and sloshed him around.  The second hog, I set the bathtub up on cinder blocks and built a fire underneath.  This made a huge difference.  With the first, the water cooled off way too quickly to get a good scald; with the second, we were able to maintain 160 degrees without half trying, which made for much more effective scraping.

2.  Ashes seemed to help.  I empty our woodstove ashes into a metal trash can, so I scooped out a couple big handfuls and added them to the scald water with the second hog.  How much of the difference was attributable to the ashes, I can't say, but it seems to be (or have been) a common practice, so I'm assuming it did us at least a little good.

3.  We just used knives for scraping the hair off, holding the blade edge perpendicular to the skin.  They probably don't work as well as the dedicated scrapers, but they worked adequately, and we already had them.  Just use something with a sturdy blade.

4. Whether or not the skin adds much food value/nutrition, I at least enjoy it culinarily.  I helped a friend butcher a hog a few months ago, and for reasons of 'ease' we just skinned him.  But interestingly, I found scalding and scraping to be much easier and a fair bit quicker than skinning.  (A lot of people say it's more work to scald and scrape.)  Not having to deal with slippery fat made a big difference.

5.  Regarding "waste."  Skinning an animal doesn't have to be wasteful or disrespectful, as the skins can be put to other uses (tanning is the obvious one; perhaps laying skins down as garden mulch?).  Of course, nothing truly goes to waste anyway, but I know where you're coming from.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Ashes in the water turn the water into an alkali bath which does help the hairs slip loose.

Boiling water is far to hot to get good hair slipping on any animal. I have done rabbits which would be similar to the OP's guinea pigs and 160 f water with a cup of hardwood ashes does a great job of getting the fur and underfur to slip fairly easily.

There is an episode of Bizarre Foods where a woman prepares a guinea pig from the kill to the table, she did a hot water dip and scrape method of dehairing the guinea pig (which was a quite large one it seemed to me).

Redhawk
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Wes Hunter wrote: Ashes seemed to help. 

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Ashes in the water turn the water into an alkali bath which does help the hairs slip loose.

Ok, ashes go into the water, not dry ones.
Maybe baking soda would help too ?

Wes Hunter wrote:With the first, the water cooled off way too quickly to get a good scald; with the second, we were able to maintain 160 degrees without half trying, which made for much more effective scraping.

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Boiling water is far to hot to get good hair slipping on any animal. I have done rabbits which would be similar to the OP's guinea pigs and 160 f water with a cup of hardwood ashes does a great job of getting the fur and underfur to slip fairly easily.

An equatorian friend told me to use boiling water, but just a rapid dip. In spanish "ida y vuelta".
With hens, I found it easier to use less hot and more time... The skin is of course thinner.

I have tried to boil the guinea pig for a few seconds, plus cold water after, and it was ok too! If I overdo the boiling, of course some skin go away with the hairs...

Wes Hunter wrote:3.  We just used knives for scraping the hair off, holding the blade edge perpendicular to the skin. 

I use a ceramic knife this way.
But the beginning is purely with my fingers. Then I scrape.

The problem is in the narrow spaces! Also, because I think the hot water does not reach that well those parts. I will try ashes.

Wes Hunter wrote:4. But interestingly, I found scalding and scraping to be much easier and a fair bit quicker than skinning.  (A lot of people say it's more work to scald and scrape.)  Not having to deal with slippery fat made a big difference.

I have just tried to remove the skin, and it was indeed more work, and then I could not help scraping inside for the yellow fat!
Actually, I thought it would be quick and it was not. And I thought I would remove the last hairs after, but this is double time or more. I had done part of the job, but then with the growing new hair underneath...
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Xisca, let me know how it works out for you. I have tasted Guinea pig only once and it was delicious.

Redhawk
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Wes Hunter wrote:5.  Regarding "waste."  Skinning an animal doesn't have to be wasteful or disrespectful, as the skins can be put to other uses (tanning is the obvious one; perhaps laying skins down as garden mulch?).  Of course, nothing truly goes to waste anyway, but I know where you're coming from.


Nothing is waste, but producing animal protein for food is a lot of energy in many meanings.
If this is half of the weight, then I have to kill twice as many animals to eat!
Skin is not the mulch I would go for, but flies would not agreee with me...

I agree with tanning of course, but I would rather do this for a big animal and cut the form I want, than tann many small skins with many borders, which is the longest to take care of, and then, what's an amount of sewing!!!

Really, appart from taste, skin brings gelatine that is good for us.
Then I eat all organs inside, so this brings some hormones including thyroid one.
And if the meat is very fresh, glycogene.

And raw liver was known to bring vitamine C, but it brings glycogene too.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Xisca, let me know how it works out for you. I have tasted Guinea pig only once and it was delicious.

Redhawk

It is my main source of meat, and I started to feel like I wanted to postpone the job each time I thought about making dinner! Like "ALL this to do  AGAIN..."
I also scratch the head...
I clean some intestine when I am in patient mood!

It is such a luxury to have meat with no chemicals and no stress to the slaughterhouse etc. And I have good manure too!
So I want to go on...

I will let you know if ashes make it easier!
Also I want to select the ones with this curly fur, I think it is not hair, but undercoat, so it all goes away with fingers more easily, and there is no regrowth under.

I also wander up to what point hairs are a problem for eating? I mean with just a few of course...
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I don't think there should be a problem with a few hairs, our digestive system doesn't break down the hair proteins as much as you would think and that is where the issue comes from.
As long as you aren't eating enough hair to make a small ball, then I doubt there would be problems of it forming a blockage (which is the problem with eating hair for humans).

Redhawk

P.S. my wife and I have been discussing the possibility of raising some meat guinea pigs as an other source of home grown meat.
Currently we have guinea hogs (red meat pork),  chickens and next will be ducks and guinea fowl.

 
Xisca Nicolas
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I would love to have the big meat type! I have to see if south south american local coming from holidays can bring one in a bag as pet! That is smaller than a cat or a dog, that are allowed to travel. I just imagine the cuy cuy cuy noise would be upseting in such a long journey....

There are other threads about them, and they are fine as they are resistant, more than rabbits, and do not dig, you can have them on the ground. My problems was dogs, then cats then rats: they eat at least the babies. I will post a pic in a more adequate topic! Also, they never bite, or once and very quick if you really abuse. I got it once, because I washed one that came from outside and was stinking. I bothered him long before it happened! Males can kill babies, I separate in groups.

So, for this topic, the problem is the time you need for little meat. The time is only about removing hair, especially legs pits, genitals and head. Removing the skin is long for such a little animal too, because it sticks more than a rabbits skin. The size of the skin does not really fit for tanning, and it really has to be eaten for many reasons I discussed before. Would you remove a chicken's skin with the feathers?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The only time I ever skin a chicken is if I am harvesting it for meat and fly tying feathers. Otherwise I pluck, which takes me about 10 minutes.

When I hunt squirrels and rabbits I cut around the feet and pull the skin off. Squirrel and rabbit skins are salted to preserve them for fly tying needs.

 
Xisca Nicolas
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Comes another question... Is it possible to remove hairs from FROZEN animals?

I just have to go in urgency and cannot leave all I have, so some will take the road to the freezer, and will not be able to skin nor remove hairs of more than 10 today!

Anybody has already thought about this or done it?
Thanks

 
Bryant RedHawk
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It can be done but then the meat has to be cooked before it can be frozen again.

Thaw the animal, dip scald and dehair, cook and package and freeze or can the cooked meat.

Redhawk
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Thanks, I keep the informations!
I have found somebody to take care of them, though I will still reduce the number.

I guess you can cook and eat and not preserve the cooked meat again.
The other part I forgot to ask is that dehairing is much easier for a whole animal: did you freeze it with guts?

And I have new informations! I killed 2 already, and spend in total little more than 1 hour to have them in the freezer. (But the organs that I eat quick.)
I scalded them in water + baking soda.
I had never seen hair going away like this! 5mns each for removing most of it, and 5 mns for removing better on the head and all tricky parts.

I did let them maybe 1 mn in very hot water. The first I let until boiling point and the 2nd a little less, and it proved a little bit more difficult.
I used gloves and did not rinse them with cold water at all.
Of course baking soda made them a little bit slippery...
 
Wes Hunter
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:The only time I ever skin a chicken is if I am harvesting it for meat and fly tying feathers. Otherwise I pluck, which takes me about 10 minutes.

When I hunt squirrels and rabbits I cut around the feet and pull the skin off. Squirrel and rabbit skins are salted to preserve them for fly tying needs.



I don't want to derail this thread, but it seems to have mostly run its course.  Do you sell hides (avian and/or mammal) for fly-tying, or tie flies yourself?  What is the purpose of skinning a whole chicken versus dry plucking for that use?  I've seen whole pheasant 'hides' at Bass Pro, and chicken 'scalps' with the hackle feathers, but not whole chicken hides as far as I can recall.

For preservation, do you just salt, or salt and freeze?  I salted two deer hides a couple years ago and put them in the freezer in old feed sacks.  One of them got removed and left out by accident, which was only realized a few months later, but it was still fine!  When the freezer quit working they were both left out, and never stank, though the dog finally started gnawing on them.  This year, though, I'm determined to put my deer hides to good use.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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You are welcome to derail, and I wanted to know what was this fly tying!

And you make me think I will put some salt on the next that go to freeze... Espcially as they are somehow wet.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I tie flies for fly fishing for trout and also for bluegill, crappie and bass.
I salt the skins twice, once they are fully dried from the salt I do a brush on oak tanning.
The reason you want the hair or feathers on the hide is for selecting the bunch or hackle you need for that particular fly.
I tie flies from size 22 (gnat sized) up to 02 (big bass), occasionally I will tie for a friend who loves to fly fish for tarpon and those are pretty huge flies (hook size 04 to 0.

I've been tying flies since 1966 and used to tie professionally.

Redhawk
 
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