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Preparing for the Yearly Pig Slaughter

12/19/2012 9:00:13 PM

Tags: pigs, slaughter pig, butcher pig, Texas Pioneer Woman, Texas Pioneer Woman

It is that time of year again to slaughter a pig so that our family will have enough pork to eat for the year.  The best time of year to slaughter a pig has many variables. The most important three variables are time, weather, and size of pig to be slaughtered.

Time is the most important variable. Slaughtering a pig and butchering a pig takes more than one day. If anyone can do it in one day I applaud them but, I cannot. It takes me about 6 days from slaughter preparation to get all the pork packaged and in the freezer. I am sure that I could do it in less time if slaughtering and butchering a pig was all that I had to do but, I still have a family to take care of, cooking, cleaning, farm chores, laundry…that still need to be done every day.

When the actual date for slaughtering the pig is determined I begin day 1 of slaughter preparation. I have to make sure all material and equipment that we need for slaughtering and butchering is on hand. I have to clean and sanitize the butcher shop, the refrigerators, and all the equipment that are needed in the processing of the pork. I have to sharpen knives. I have to make sure we have all the paper and plastic products necessary in packaging the meat. The pioneer husband and I do a visual on site planning of how we will move the pig from the pasture to the actual kill spot with the less stress as possible on the pig and us. So in reality day 1 takes about a week of preparation and planning for me.

The Slaughter Pig 

Now begins the real hands on work. On day 2 we actually slaughter the pig. We kill and dress him to go to the refrigerators. On days 3-4 we butcher the pig into pork chops, ribs, pork steaks, roasts, stew meats…. We package and label the cuts and then place into the freezers. On day 5 we season the pork meat that we have set aside from the previous days to make sausage. We also begin the smoking of the hams and brining of the bacon on day 5. On day 6 we package and label the sausage, bacon and hams and place in the freezer.

Since slaughtering and butchering a pig takes about a week, I have to choose a time of year when I have more free time. This year it is during Christmas vacation when I will be off from work. I plan on beginning day 2 of the actual slaughter of the pig early Saturday morning. I have also slaughtered pigs in the past years when I was not off from work. I slaughtered the pig on the weekend because that is really the hardest part and then processed the pig a little bit every day after I got off from work and had my supper. It can be done either way.

Another variable in slaughtering a pig is the weather. Traditionally people slaughter when the temperature is cold. Cold is subjective because it really depends on where you live. Cold in Texas is not the same cold as in New York. I want it to be cold because I do not have to deal with flying insects. The actual slaughtering of an animal begins outdoors for me. That is where I kill the animal, let his blood drain, remove his skin, and remove his intestinal organs. Doing that part of the slaughtering causes flying insects to congregate. In cold weather you do not have to worry about insects.

Also cold weather helps the animal carcass to begin to cool down.  The heat of the animal’s body needs to be released and cooled properly. Once the animal is cooled off enough and of course dressed properly for the refrigerators is when I move the carcass to the refrigerators.

Lastly, the size of the pig is an important variable for slaughtering. I do not want the pig I have to slaughter be so huge that I wrestle with his weight at every step in trying to get him processed to go into the refrigerators. I also do not want a pig so little that I have to kill 5 of them to fill my freezers. I estimate that the pig that we are slaughtering this year weighs about 400 pounds.

Providing my family with pork that we have raised ourselves is a wonderful independent farm skill. It makes us feel self-reliant and proud. Slaughtering a pig is also a solemn experience especially on day 2. Remember to treat the animal with kindness. To help you in preparing for the slaughter and butcher of your own pig, I have added a link below that will take you to a checklist of items to have on hand and a list of things to do.

It is that time of year again to slaughter a pig so that our family will have enough pork to eat for the year.  The best time of year to slaughter a pig has many variables. The most important three variables are time, weather, and size of pig to be slaughtered.

Time is the most important variable. Slaughtering a pig and butchering a pig takes more than one day. If anyone can do it in one day I applaud them but, I cannot. It takes me about 6 days from slaughter preparation to get all the pork packaged and in the freezer. I am sure that I could do it in less time if slaughtering and butchering a pig was all that I had to do but, I still have a family to take care of, cooking, cleaning, farm chores, laundry…that still need to be done every day.

When the actual date for slaughtering the pig is determined I begin day 1 of slaughter preparation. I have to make sure all material and equipment that we need for slaughtering and butchering is on hand. I have to clean and sanitize the butcher shop, the refrigerators, and all the equipment that are needed in the processing of the pork. I have to sharpen knives. I have to make sure we have all the paper and plastic products necessary in packaging the meat. The pioneer husband and I do a visual on site planning of how we will move the pig from the pasture to the actual kill spot with the less stress as possible on the pig and us. So in reality day 1 takes about a week of preparation and planning for me.

Now begins the real hands on work. On day 2 we actually slaughter the pig. We kill and dress him to go to the refrigerators. On days 3-4 we butcher the pig into pork chops, ribs, pork steaks, roasts, stew meats…. We package and label the cuts and then place into the freezers. On day 5 we season the pork meat that we have set aside from the previous days to make sausage. We also begin the smoking of the hams and brining of the bacon on day 5. On day 6 we package and label the sausage, bacon and hams and place in the freezer.

Since slaughtering and butchering a pig takes about a week, I have to choose a time of year when I have more free time. This year it is during Christmas vacation when I will be off from work. I plan on beginning day 2 of the actual slaughter of the pig early Saturday morning. I have also slaughtered pigs in the past years when I was not off from work. I slaughtered the pig on the weekend because that is really the hardest part and then processed the pig a little bit every day after I got off from work and had my supper. It can be done either way.

Another variable in slaughtering a pig is the weather. Traditionally people slaughter when the temperature is cold. Cold is subjective because it really depends on where you live. Cold in Texas is not the same cold as in New York. I want it to be cold because I do not have to deal with flying insects. The actual slaughtering of an animal begins outdoors for me. That is where I kill the animal, let his blood drain, remove his skin, and remove his intestinal organs. Doing that part of the slaughtering causes flying insects to congregate. In cold weather you do not have to worry about insects.

Also cold weather helps the animal carcass to begin to cool down.  The heat of the animal’s body needs to be released and cooled properly. Once the animal is cooled off enough and of course dressed properly for the refrigerators is when I move the carcass to the refrigerators.

Lastly, the size of the pig is an important variable for slaughtering. I do not want the pig I have to slaughter be so huge that I wrestle with his weight at every step in trying to get him processed to go into the refrigerators. I also do not want a pig so little that I have to kill 5 of them to fill my freezers. I estimate that the pig that we are slaughtering this year weighs about 400 pounds.

Providing my family with pork that we have raised ourselves is a wonderful independent farm skill. It makes us feel self-reliant and proud. Slaughtering a pig is also a solemn experience especially on day 2. Remember to treat the animal with kindness. To help you in preparing for the slaughter and butcher of your own pig, I have added a link below that will take you to a checklist of items to have on hand and a list of things to do.

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B-yf7ukY-Qt_N0pFTTM5bEpPR0U 

Learn more self-reliant skills at www.thetexaspioneerwoman.blogspot.com. 



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Post a comment below.

 

Mary Carton
12/21/2012 3:44:10 AM
I still have the old black kettle the apparently got too hot and cracked and a long knife my Grandparents used to use at hog killing time. I use the kettle to grow ferns under a tree by the creek.

NEBRASKA DAVE
12/21/2012 1:14:45 AM
Texas Pioneer Woman, you are one energetic woman. That's way too much work for me. And wow, a 400 pound hog. To me that's a big hog. We used to send them to market at just over 200 pounds. I can remember only one hog that we slaughtered ourselves. That was where my first memories of life began. I was maybe five or six years old. I didn't get to witness the actual killing of the hog but I can remember the hog hanging up on a tree branch and being cutting up into chunks. I helped with cutting up the fat into small cubes to be rendered. Have a great week of pork processing.



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