With all of the excitement I had from buying to raising to feeding and apple finishing my pigs, I was a little nervous to butcher. EVERYONE and their mother had advised me to "just bring them to the butcher." These are my reasons for not:
1. You may not get the meat you bring in back. Mix ups happen, especially at harvest time.
2. You will not get YOUR lard back.
3. Self-reliant living really isn't sending your stuff out for someone else to finish. I've put too much effort into specific feeding etc. to waste it on paying someone else.
4. I want to learn. I need to know how to do this sort of stuff. And I needed to know if I had it in me.
Essential items needed for slaughtering, gutting & scalding (hot water bath):
1. 22 caliber rifle
2. 6" boning knife
3. Bone saw, you can use a wood saw - but bone saws are meant for this.
4. Cast iron bath tub (many times old ones are free on craigslist like ours was)
5. Really strong handsome man- I guess they don't have to be handsome but it helps.
6. lifting hoist, tractor or backhoe etc.
7. Cool weather 35-50F is perfect
8. Hanging ropes/chains
9. Thermometer for water temp
10. Cool/dry area for hanging 2-4 days
11. Water hose with spray attachment
We butchered the female (gilt) first. For no apparent reason, that's just how it worked out. She was about 300 lbs. My husband and I did all of the butchering from start to finish. These are the steps for the 'kill' portion.
1. 22 caliber long rifle- not hollow point, shot between the eyes slightly off to the right. Point blank. The female went down well. She kicked a bit at first which is normal. Keep in mind the 22 only stuns them.
2. After they are down, stunned- You to bleed them out. Slit the throat- best done by sticking a 6" boning knife into front base of neck and moving the knife around until you hit the carotid arteries. You will know as the blood will gush and bleed the pig out quickly. You want this. You need to have the pig bleed itself out so the meat is clean and free of blood. This is what kills the pig. We like Green Acres Farm video of this. We didn't follow all his stuff to a tee, but he was really informative, which you can see below with the hot water bath section.
Hanging the carcass securely is important so you don't drop it- which we did once, not far off the ground but enough for us to realize we needed something more secure which is why we cut in front of the tendon behind the back leg bone.
The hooks you latch onto for hanging (on the backhoe) should be about 1.5 feet apart, give or take a bit- it makes gutting much easier. Lift it head down. The following picture is driving it out of the pasture.
1. I get more lard because skinning cuts into the fat.
2. You get a better amount and prettier slabs of bacon.
3. For those that like to utilize the skin for pork rinds/pork crackling this is the best way.
4. The carcass looks nice and neat when you are finished and I like my things clean and tidy.
**Quick note: male pigs- especially Yorkshire breed are sometimes difficult at kill. Our male pig was kind of a shock to us. It took 6 bullets to put him down. He finally went down at the 4th shot, and I insisted we do again in which on the 5th shot - woke him up :/ He jumped back up on all fours and it was game on again. I must admit, if he was my first experience, I may have called it day, named him Earl and kept him as a pet. But no, it wasn't and the 6th shot put him down. My husband stabbed him perfectly and cut the carotid arteries and he bled out quickly. From there on, everything went as planned. Just keep in mind that not everything is perfect and that is normal. Just stay calm and keep your cool.
Hot water bathing includes using a cast iron tub lifted on cinder blocks and filling it about half way with water. Next you need to start a fire under it keeping it going with scrap wood. You need the temp of the water to be 150 degrees before placing your pig in the water. This way the hair is easy to scrape off. We used wide mouth canning lids as our scrapers. They worked great. You don't want to keep the pig in the water too long or it will burn (4-6 minutes) and you need to move the pig around so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
After scouring books and you tube videos we found this one to be most useful for this part. This also includes the kill.