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Country Discussion Topics
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Steer Dilemma (long)
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Errin OH    Posted 12-07-2004 at 11:10:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have a steer running 600lbs that caught his head in an old wagon frame. In the process of trying to remove himself. He has, I believe, suffered either a spin or hip injury. After freeing him I was able to get him up and walk him back to the barn (~500'). He was limping on one hind leg (stiff) and not using the other (limp). Checking him out The legs themselves move freely. Nothing seems broke. No complaining when moving them. I left him standing that night, eating well, and pen'd up alone. The next morning he was down. Made sure he had food and water and didn't bother him. Last night he seem to have not moved much and the water hadn't been touched. So I gave him all he'd drink and tried to get him up. The back legs were very unstable and he couldn't seem to get up on his fronts past his knees. I doubt he'll last long being down. I contacted the butcher, they will not touch him unless he can walk in on his own. So its up to me to do it. I have a plan and would like to hear any ideas or other (better) ways to do it. I do not plan to outfit myself to do butchering but don't want to toss 300 pounds of beef out either.

Dressing him out doesn't concern me. I have done many deer and help on a few cattle. After dressing I will need to split him.

In splitting him, choices are hand saw, or $1,000+ electric saw. $1,000 electric bone saw is not anywhere in any budget. The very thought of spliting him with a hand saw ranks up there with multiple root canals. So I was thinking I'd pick up a $50 electric chain saw. Remove all paint from the bar. Sanitize the chain and bar. Use no bar oil, and split him. (Do-able? Concerns? Other options)

I want to hang him for 5-7 days. I don't have a walking freezer, plus I don't want to freeze him in a chest. The forecast has it above 50 several days for the foreseeable future. I have a small shed that I can close of half of it and have 4x6' by 7' high area. It's pretty tight and I wouldn't have any pest problems in it. I was thinking line it out with plastic. Modify a window ac unit to keep it under 40deg (35-38) with the use of an external thermostat. I figure I would have to watch the AC unit for freeze up. (again Do-able? Concerns? Other options)

If I can get this far this is were I am going to have to spend some money. Processing. In the past I hand grind my deer in a #12 hand grinder. Since I have two and planned to motorize one anyway, I'll just break down and do it. No problem. Since I do not have a way to cut bone, other than by hand, I de-bone the majority of the deer. I figure I will be cutting plenty of bone doing a steer. Processing out roast, steaks, and such, will mean finding a band saw. I have found them from $200 to $1500. Of course the cheaper the better, but I also don't want to be standing in front of a cheap pos, thinking I could be doing if faster by hand. Has anyone ever used the Northern tool ($200 & $450 versions), or the Harbor Freight ($250) cheapies. How'd they perform? I really didn't want to spend $500 on one but figure resale would recoup 70-80% of what I spend if needed. Plus if I can fit it in and it performs well I may just keep it.

Lastly - paper or plastic? I have put all the deer I processed in plastic Ziplocs. The butcher uses paper. I haven't had a problem with either and figure a roll of paper will be cheaper that a crap load of Ziploc bags. (preferences?)


Manitoba    Posted 12-07-2004 at 12:43:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
Buy a $79 Sabre saw at a hardware store. Use a 12 inch hacksaw blade. Cuts the steer in half like butter...good luck


GeneSC    Posted 12-07-2004 at 12:42:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
Never personally tried it, but it seems like a
"saw-zall (reciorocating saw) with one of those
16" fine tooth wood blades would be just the
thing?? Good Luck .......Gene......


EngineerJoyce    Posted 12-07-2004 at 12:30:22       [Reply]  [No Email]
Please understand the butcher's position: It is against federal law to butcher and prepare for consumption (not just human, but any other animal too) a bovine that is non-ambulatory (can't walk). This is due to the possibility of Mad Cow disease. Necessary precaution.

But, since you know the injury that has caused his condition, you may want to get around that by killing and hanging it yourself, then getting the butcher to work up the meat - if he (or another) will do that. You may even be able to get them to hang it - long as you deliver "meat" and not a non-ambulatory animal. That's just a thought, may be way off base.

Also, I just learned that meat needs to "hang" for 10 to 14 days. It takes a minimum of 48 hours for rigor mortis to set in, then let the muscles relax. The sooner after 2 days you freeze the meat, the tougher it will be. I thought that was very interesting.


VADAVE    Posted 12-07-2004 at 12:27:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You have received several good suggestions. Here's another. I cut up a steer using 1) aggressive hand saw to split and my craftsman 12" bandsaw. Carefully cleaned the bandsaw wood sawdust up first and then the grease form the meat afterward. There was no problem. This saw was so old that it did not have a rubber tire on the wheel just tightened up the tension.
Don't think I would hang it very long at 50 deg.--So the question is why do you want to let it hang?
The butchers I have talked to hang a carcus(sp) in a cooler as long as it takes to get the meat stiff. THAT IS KEY You want the meat stiff because the steaks and other cuts will be more uniform thickness. Straight cuts.


OH Boy    Posted 12-07-2004 at 12:02:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
First let me say I have never done a beef but like you I have processed a lot of deer.

If you can open that shed up to the night air and get it nice and cool in there, then close it up in the day your meat should be just fine if the temps only go up to fifty or so.

To split the carcas, get an aggressive toothed hand saw at the hardware store, will cost you about 10 bucks. You can saw that animal in halves in about 15 minutes with that.

I would be inclined to just bone it all out and grind it. You can probably cut a bunch of boneless steaks while your doing it.

If you have to buy a band saw just for this one job you're gonna have too much money invested in this meat.

Of course, if you were wanting to buy any butchering equipment anyhow, here is your reason to go ahead and do it!

One thing you might want to consider is getting one of those 'Foodsaver' vaccuum sealer units, they work really slick and the meat lasts much longer in the freezer, much less freezer burn. One of my hunting buddies brings his over when we cut deer and it works really slick. He uses his around the kitchen all year round too.


Phil    Posted 12-07-2004 at 11:43:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sounds like a lot of work and you need to purchase a fair amount of tools. If it was me I'd look for another butcher or an outfit that buys downed cattle. I know in Lancaster Farming there is always an ad from someone saying they buy downed cattle, I'm sure they don't pay top dollar but it is something if there is anyone in your area.

Also, assuming you're from Ohio are you near the Amish. Most of the Amish butcher their own steers so you might be able to find someone and work something out or find an Amish butcher.


TimV    Posted 12-07-2004 at 11:38:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
Errin: A few thoughts: assuming you've made up your mind to butcher the steer, you will have no problem splitting him with a bone saw. A hacksaw will also work in a pinch, though you might want to clean the paint from the blade first. I've got one of the Harbor Freight bandsaws, and I wouldn't dream of cutting up meat on it--way too much chance of contamination (though it works great for what it was designed to do). A decent bone saw will cost less than $50, and is a lifetime investment. We wrapped all our meat in paper for years (butchered one cow a year and plenty of deer) with minimal freezer burn problems, though we usually did the burger in zip-locks and used paper for the steaks, roasts, etc. Another alternative is canning--cube meat, put in quart cans with 1 tbsp. of canning salt on top, run a butter knife through the jar to get out the air bubbles, put on lids, bring to a boil, and boil gently for 3 hours. Delicious, tender, and ready-to-eat!


Katrina    Posted 12-07-2004 at 11:35:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
Just a thought but this may or may not be an option for you. Have you checked with other butchers? We have some that we need to bring animals to and some that will still come out and quarter them on our place. That is always our first choice as much less excitement for the animal is better. Dropped in their own familiar pen. Maybe you could still avoid all those costs.


mud    Posted 12-07-2004 at 11:22:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
electric chainsaw with no bar oil is asking for trouble. could you use vegtable oil on the bar as you work with the saw? sounds like you got your work cut out for you. ever use those vacuum sealed meat bags?


CLEAN SAW WELL    Posted 12-07-2004 at 18:14:10       [Reply]  [No Email]
AND USE MAZOLA OIL just as You would regular Bar oil.Works fine and Field proven.
Use NEW SAW and flush Bar oil tank well befor use.


Peanut    Posted 12-07-2004 at 11:40:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
Those vacuum sealed bags are great. The unit is kinda expensive and the roll of bags is not cheap but they work like a charm. In the long run it is cheaper than lots of Ziploc freezer-quality bags. You can seal up virtually any food (liquid becomes a little messy) in the vacuum bags. I can't imagine freezing food with anything else.


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