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Country Discussion Topics
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Who here has ever participated in the slaughter...
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Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:05:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
....or butcher of a full sized cow? Can it be done by a few people, what equipment is needed, any helpful hints? I have a steer that needs to get himself into the freezer but so far he hasn't volunteered. We have done deer and rabbits and hogs up to two hundred pounds, but for some reason hubby is balking at doing Rocky, and he needs to go. The cow, not the hubby.

Spence    Posted 06-26-2003 at 07:08:30       [Reply]  [No Email]
When I first got married we rented a farmhouse
from a farmer. WE had the house and surrounding yard and he had the outbuildings out back.

Then in the fall one staturday I heard a comotion and looked out the window to see the farmer setting up a large corn roast caldron in th e yard. By the time I was having breakfast he had the first pig out. BAM! my wife came downstairs
to look out and she was disgusted at the sight of the pig on it's side in it's throes.

This continued all day, the old guy in his early seventies did 3 pigs and 2 cows in front of our window. Didn't bother me one bit but the wife was turned off practically forever. I found it fascinating.

I helped him get the cows out the barn, and you know, contrary to what you hear cows know what's going to happen, but I don't think the pigs do.

Hal/WA    Posted 06-25-2003 at 16:41:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
Yes, several people can butcher a beef successfully. But this time of the year is not the time to do it, unless you are set up to cool the meat quickly and hang it for at least a few days at about freezing. If you don't get it cool and keep it cool, there is a real chance of ruining the meat.

In my area there are several outfits that will do on-farm butchering. The one I am most familiar with has a pickup with a boom for lifting the carcass for skinning and quartering, as well as removing the entrails, hooves and other waste. That pickup is set up with an electric winch and the butchers have top quality tools, including a reciprocating saw to split the vertebtrae. Their second truck is a refrigerated cube van, which is set up to cool and haul about 5 or 6 head of quartered beef. The butchers know exactly what they are doing: almost always kill the animal with one shot, get an effective bleed out, seldom run into a problem removing the entrails and, in my experience, never contaminate the meat. They haul the meat to their cooler and will allow the owner to participate in the cutting and wrapping, although they probably do a faster job without help. I believe that the price they charge is very reasonable for the efficient, clean job they do. The beef is wonderful!

When I was a kid, there were meat packing businesses in Spokane that were set up for farmers to bring their live animals to the plant for the whole procedure. We did that a few times, but were less satisfied than with the home butcher crews. In one case, my family got half of a steer we raised and a friend of my Dad got the other half. Our beef was fine, but our customer was not pleased with his. We traded a few packages of meat and the customer's meat was very different from ours--probably from an old cow! I don't think my Dad came out too well on that transaction. We never used that business again.

Once we had a young cow fall down into a feed bunk somehow. When my Dad found her, the cow had broken two legs thrashing around and was not going to live much longer. It was the middle of the night in the early Spring and there was about 2 inches of snow over thawed ground. He tried to get in touch with the butchers, but couldn't reach any of them, so he called me. We got the tractor running and lifted the cow out of the feed bunk with the loader. Unfortunately, the tractor got stuck in the thawed mud and snow and would not back up with the cow on the loader. So we had to lower the still breathing, terrified cow down in the mud by the feed bunk and back off to drag her out of the feed lot onto cleaner ground. Once she was out better ground, I put the cow out of her misery with my .22 and cut her throat. We then lifted her up by the back legs, which were chained to the loader bucket, which immediately stuck the front end of the tractor up to the oil pan. At least the cow was off the ground to bleed out.

My Mom had been sharpening knives and joined us. It took the 3 of us about half an hour to cut the hide off and drop the entrails on the ground. Since the cow had been struggling, the carcass was very hot, luckily the temperature was less than 40 degrees. We had an old meat saw that looked like a huge hacksaw. I sawed for about an hour to more or less split the vertebrae.

We then realized that this was a big cow. I cut one side in quarters, but found that a whole front quarter was more than I could handle alone, especially lifting it up from where it was near the ground. My Dad and I struggled for about 15 minutes, finally getting that quarter hung in the shed with baling wire from a rafter. The other side we did in approximate thirds, but we finally got it all hung.

My Mom, Dad and I were bloody from head to toe and were all pretty much spent. But we saved the meat.... We cut meat on the kitchen table a couple of days later. Those were the toughest steaks I think I ever had! But the roasts were OK. We ground a lot of the meat into hamburger. I always thought that all that meat had an "off" taste, possibly because the cow had been so stressed. But I suppose I would do it again if I had to.

We probably could not have saved the meat if it had not been as cool as it was. It is necessary to get the entrails out quickly (and cleanly) and the meat will start to rot quickly if it is not cooled real fast.

If you have never been around butchering, I would suggest having it done, especially if you need it done soon. Summertime is not a good time to learn butchering, in my somewhat experienced opinion. Good luck.

Be Phlatt    Posted 06-25-2003 at 15:48:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
You got good advice from all sides , before ya skin him , pen him up , feed all the hay , grain , water he can take for a month-- gets that meat nice and tender!!!!!!(marbles the meat) Good Luck , Phlatt

Bruce    Posted 06-25-2003 at 14:24:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you feel confident enough to handle the job yourself and have some help who knows what they are doing, that is fine. If not, one can waste alot of meat, which in the long run is better to send to a abottoir.

Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 14:22:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Okay, I think Fred is right on this one. We have no cooler and I certainly don't want to ruin the meat so I guess I'll either call a ranch butcher like someone suggested or take him to the slaughter house. Thanks for all the replies!

Ludwig    Posted 06-25-2003 at 13:34:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
You have no idea what you're getting into.
I helped cut my 400# moose and the 1000# one that came in next, I've done a couple deer and I'll tell you its a way bigger deal after 300#.
The ones on TTales who told you it has to cool and age are right, beef needs to age for DAYS at close to but not quite freezing. Real fancy beef has aged for weeks. I went to a place in Nashville once that had different menus with different aged meat. First it has to firm, but then it gets real tough so you have to get past the toughness stage, unless you're going to make all hamburger.

Hauling it out into the woods is crazy talk. Do you have any concept how much meat your talking? Thats like 900 average sized steaks. What if it starts raining? How are you going to run off the dogs, the flies? We butcher deer outside up here, but thats in November when its cold. You try that and you'll have 500# spoiled and 200# of hamburger sure as heck.

I understand the nearest butcher is 60 miles off, but do you want the hassle of driving 60 miles or throwing away 800# of meat?

hay    Posted 06-25-2003 at 13:26:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
butchering a cow ( or any animal) is a grossly messy job and not for the faint of heart. first, if you have done a deer or a pig then you already know the basics. i have done a full grown cow myself and it will work the daylights outta you. lots of skinning and the entrails ( horribly messy job) and then you gotta split it with a saw. then the fun begins, you pack both halves inside to a cooler and then begin cutting up hundreds of pounds of meat. took me the better part of half a day to kill, skin, and split and take to a cooler. then a long day to cut up all the different cuts of meat. would be better if you could wait until cold weather, or have a locker plant do the job.

Jimbob    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:28:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
Frankly, we send everything to the Amish & they butcher all our animals- so we have no idea.

Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:32:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
Our closest amish are sixty miles away...and in the middle of town.

Dave Smith    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:18:03       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Cindi. It is the same as doing a pig or a deer. Only larger. Im sure you and you're hubby can handle it. A strong block and tackle is a plus.

Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:22:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
Here's what I was thinking. We don't have any of that type of stuff, block and tackle, etc., but I thought we could go back to the woods and find a nice healthy oak with a limb about the right height, lead him back there and you know, put him down. Then hoist him up with a chain hooked to the tractor or the truck and pull him on up and then it seems to me that the rest would be easy. I figured to dig a good hole under him for entrails and disposables and then just cover it over when done.

The only thing is there is no running water back there. Does that sound like it would work out?

Dave Smith    Posted 06-25-2003 at 17:32:07       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Cindi, That would work. Thats the way the pioneers did it but they didn't have a tractor or truck. Be sure to dig a deep enough hole for the guts etc or you're dogs might dig them up and drag them home. A tree limb will work, We used a block and tackle in the barn. Then it just the same as a deer or pig.
Dave <*)))><

Les    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:34:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
Too many things to go wrong.

Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:35:58       [Reply]  [No Email]
Can you elaborate Les...e mail me if you

More questions.....    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:28:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
Do you have to have a band saw? Does it have to be cold weather to do it? This co....errr...steer is just over a year old, and is a holstein, how much meat could we be looking at generally? What's the best way to put him down?

Dave Smith    Posted 06-25-2003 at 17:52:37       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You do not have to have a band saw. But it is nice. Even a hand meat saw is a help. A hand saw will work. If you are going to do it in hot weather you have to work fast and get the meat chilled down as fast as possible. Once you have it quartered you can do it on you're kitchen table. Get you're children to help. They can wrap and lable it and stick it in the freezer. Have everything ready to go before you start. I have seen them dispatched with a 22, I have also seen where it wasen't enough and a bigger gun had to be gotten fast. Use clean old bed sheets to wrap the quarters in. You might be able to find a buyer for the hide in you're area or you could be a pioneer woman and treat the hide you're self. Mother Earth News has instructions on how to do so.

It is a steer    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:17:58       [Reply]  [No Email]

Les    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:15:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well now, what is it, a cow or a steer? ";^)
Got some rugged pullies? Or a tractor with loader big enough to hoist it up?
Same as a deer only bigger.

Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:17:14       [Reply]  [No Email]
See, that's what I thought, but Fred keeps saying, 'you don't know what you're talking about'. I know it would be a big job but not impossible, right?

Lenore    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:13:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
I am confused.
Not being a genuine country girl;
do you have a cow named Rocky?
or a steer named Rocky?
I know cows are female;
isn't a steer a castrated bull?
or am I totally wrong?

Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 12:15:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
Yes, but not everybody knows that so I put it in both ways, either way they should butcher the same, right. Is there anything special that must be done to a cow or a steer or vice versa? I mean does it mattter if it's a steer or a cow?

Lenore    Posted 06-25-2003 at 13:17:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
"I mean does it mattter if it's a steer or a cow?"

Probably only to another cow or steer. :-)
You are the country girl; I was just asking?
I am not all up on the names, heifers, cows, steers, bulls, etc.
Bear with me, I am learning.
I lived in the city all my life.
I only saw livestock at the fair.
got pretty close to a cow (I think) once and she kicked me.
I decided to keep my distance after that.

Cindi    Posted 06-25-2003 at 14:20:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
This is a steer and that's part of the problem. he's getting a little ornery. Not nearly as bad as he would be if he still had his family credentials but just the same, he's got that look in his eye.

I just was trying to give an idea of the size of the animal, although I don't know why, anybody who knows how to butcher one would certainly know the difference between a steer and a cow I guess.

Clod    Posted 06-25-2003 at 13:22:22       [Reply]  [No Email]
I keep my distance from cows untill they come from the oven.Then I grab em with a fork.Going to store Lenore.

Clod    Posted 06-25-2003 at 14:02:40       [Reply]  [No Email]
I read several on the cow butchering..Will read more later..Going pick up a truck..

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