As a prepper it is important to be able to raise your own food. This includes raising livestock and processing their meat. Some of the most common type of livestock to raise and process are pigs, beef, lamb, and goat. Most of the animals are processed the same in the beginning, from culling to hanging them.
To begin you will need to cut the carcass in half. Use a bone saw and cut down the center of the backbone from the pelvis all the way to the neck. This will give you two halves to hang. After the carcass has been allowed to hang, then you will want to cut it into quarters.
This is done by taking the halves and cutting it between the 12th and 13th rib. You now have four pieces of carcass to work with. You have two forequarters, the front halves of the carcass, and two hindquarters, the back halves of the carcass.
Processing Individual Animals
Now, not all cuts of meat are created equal. You can make meat processing as easy as possible if your family just wants ground meat. If you want different cuts of meat, then you will need to learn the difference in the parts of the animal and the best cut for it.
We will discuss how to process the meat by working up individually the fore and hind quarters, this will be much easier to understand.
By processing the animal yourself you get to cut to the thickness that you like for each piece. As you are butchering your carcass be sure to have totes or buckets for holding the separate cuts so you know what you are doing. It is simple to know that one tote is for grind only and the other is for cutting out your steaks or chops.
When you are processing a pig you can choose to skin it, or leave the skin on but remove all of the hair. I personally have always helped to skin it. I have never assisted in the hair removal of the pig. I do understand the reason and hope to one day try this method. The cuts of meat are juicier and flavorful with the hide on, as the lard cooks into the meat. Also, be sure to keep all of the fat that you can so you can render it into lard.The forequarter has the boston butt or shoulder butt; this is where you will cut your shoulder steak and roast. The picnic ham is below the butt and you can cut out some spare ribs from the end of that cut. The scapula can be removed, and any bits of meat salvaged from that can be put up for grinding sausage.
You will also be able to cut a roast; this cut isn’t as tender and therefore requires slow cooking. The jowl is also considered to be the pig’s cheeks. The jowl has several uses, from being enjoyed as a fatty bacon to flavoring beans and soups.
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The hindquarter has the rest of your spare ribs, which you can cut into smaller portions or leave as a whole rack of ribs. The belly is where you get your bacon.
The loin is one of the most desirable sections of the pig and located behind the boston butt. This is where you get your tenderloin from, pork chops, and loin roast. The loin also has country style rib cuts and several different chops you can cut from being loin chops and rib chops. The rib chop has a piece of the rib bone in it still.
The leg or ham is the rear of the pig. Here you will cut your ham into desired sizes, including bone in or boneless. You can also get some large ham steaks from the top of the leg. The top of the leg is also where you get the delicious cube steak cuts from.
When you remove the bones be sure to cut all of the bits of meat to grind into sausage. The back fat is above the loin and you will use that grinding into your sausage. The hock is the portion of the hog leg that is the knuckle. They are good for smoking and flavoring soup beans.
Beef can be used in about any dish. There are several different cuts of meat that you will get out of a beef and you can easily fill your freezer with one.The forequarter is where you will get short ribs, roast, rib steaks, brisket and ground meat. You will also have some bones for flavoring soup bones. Start with removing the ribs from the chuck of the beef. Cut between the fifth and the sixth rib. Simply count them out and make the cut between them.
The chuck is the large cut at the front of the ribs. The chuck is a tougher cut and is good for making stew meat or roast. You can also grind it for burger.
The ribs will be the sixth rib and back. You can cut out a rack of ribs with the larger ones and once you work back you can debone the smaller ribs for grinding. The meat above the rib is very tender and is where you can get your ribeye steak and rib roast. Directly below the ribs is where you will cut out your short ribs.
The plate is behind the brisket and below the ribs. Here is where you will find the short rib area as it is with the ribs. The plate is fatty and has cartilage, so it can be cut for ground beef. It also provides the skirt steak. The skirt steak is a thin piece of meat inside the abdominal cavity, it is the diaphragm muscle. Due to the coarseness of the muscle this cut needs to be sliced against the grain of the meat.
The beef brisket is found below the chuck. The brisket is a tough cut of meat and is fatty but very flavorful. It is basically the chest of the cow and can be used for a pot roast or leave it for slow cooking and smoking.
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The hindquarter is where you will get the most desirable cuts of meat, such as the T-bone steak and porterhouse steak. You also have your round roast in the hindquarter. The beef short loin is directly behind the ribs, so it is the first cut of the hindquarter. This cut provides the steaks; the amount depends on the thickness you choose.
You can cut three different cuts of steaks from the short loin. The first cut is the club or bone-in steaks. The center cut is the T-bone steaks and the last cut toward the end is where you get your porterhouse steaks.
The sirloin of the beef is a large section that goes from the thirteenth rib back to the hip bone, and from the backbone to the belly. The sirloin has the tenderloin, the top loin, and the bottom loin.
The tenderloin is the most tender cut of meat and where the filet mignon comes from. The tip of the tenderloin is actually in the short loin and is the filet mignon. The tenderloin can be cut into tender steaks or roast also.
The top loin will give you some good grilling steaks. These steaks aren’t as tender as those from the short loin. The bottom loin is where you can cut some meat for roasting or grinding.
Related: Canning Amish Poor Man’s Steak
The beef round is basically the rump of the cow. The round is divided into a top round and bottom round. The bottom round will provide you with the rump roast. The top round is a lean meat and the roast will cook slowly. You will need cut thin and against the grain for a more tender cut.
The flank is the bottom of the hindquarter. Here you will get the flank steak but it is very tough. The flank is also good for grind.
The shank is on the front and hindquarters. This is the leg of the animal’s thigh and is tough and full of connective tissue.
When processing the lamb, you will cut off the neck. The neck is a longer muscle and can be used in soups.The forequarter of the lamb includes the shoulder, foreshank, and the breast. The shoulder will provide you with cuts of meat such as shoulder roasts, chops such as arm or blade chops, grind meat and stew meat. The breast of the lamb can be cut into a roast. Riblets can be cut out of the rib portion of the breast cut.
You can also cut the breast into stew meat and grind it too. The shank of the lamb is the top portion of the leg and thigh. The shank of the lamb can be removed and saved for slow cooking into stew meat and once the shank is removed you can make a boneless roast.
The hindquarter of the lamb includes the rack, loin, leg and flank. The rack is the rib section of the carcass. Cuts of meat from the rack include rib roast, rib chops, and riblets. Removing the backbone is going to allow you to cut up the carcass easier and just deal with the rib bone and meat. Remove the meat from the vertebrae for grinding later.
Removing the ribs from the meat is going to give you the boneless roast as you roll it into itself, and will have the boneless rib roast. The loin is behind the rack and is where you get cuts of meat, such as loin roast and loin chops. You can cut the bone out and make a boneless cut.
The lamb leg is where you will get a large selection of cuts of meat. The leg includes the sirloin section of the lamb and is the front of that cut. Here you will be able to cut the sirloin roast or sirloin chops from. The center of the leg can be cut into center chops and you can remove the shank and have a roast that way. Lamb cube steak also comes from the leg.
A lamb is a small animal to butcher, so to be able to process it you may not have to split it into quarters to work.
Processing a goat is much like processing a lamb. The goat has the same cuts as a lamb with shoulder, breast, ribs, loin, leg, and shank. Depending on the breed, the goat can be a small to a very large animal. The amount of meat you get is determined by this.The forequarter of the goat is the shoulder and here you will get roast and some chops. The breast is below the shoulder and a fattier cut of meat. The breast will provide roast, small cuts for stew and you can grind the bits of meat.
The hindquarter of the goat will be the ribs, which will provide you with a rack of ribs or riblets and you can also debone the ribs and make a roast. Be sure to save all the bits of trim for grind.
The loin will provide you with some loin chops and roast. The tenderloin of the goat is part of the loin and the leg. The leg will give you cuts of meat such as cube steak from the top, where it is more tender and you can get chops and roast.
A lot of the time people will leave the goat as just a cleaned carcass and will smoke the goat as a whole.
As a prepper, we do not like to waste. Be sure to keep any of the usable organs that you will eat or that you can feed to your dogs. Also, the hide can be used for several different things. Not all of the bones need to be discarded of either, as you have several options with making soup bones and boiling for broth.
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