Slaughtering a pig at home requires much preparation, the right tools, a partner or two, strength and a good stomach. The animal should always be treated respectfully before slaughter to ensure humane treatment and the best possible meat. Be prepared for lengthy preparation, slaughter, scalding, scraping and gutting processes and always consider your own safety first.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Two helpers
- 6-inch or longer knife
- Sharpening stone
- Bell scrapers
- Hot thermometer
- .22-calibre rifle
- Scraping table
- Hook or bale shifter
- Bristle brush
- Metal bar, wooden dowel or hooks
Consider butchering in the winter, as it will be easier to freeze the carcase. Once the pig is killed it will need hang for 24 hours to drain the blood and drop the internal temperature to between 0.555 to 1.66 degrees C, so if hanging outside in a barn, for example, is accessible, the slaughter is best performed in the winter. If the slaughter is going to occur inside, ensure proper ventilation. If outside, keep the slaughter away from farm activity.
Fill the tub two-thirds with scalding hot water an hour before the slaughter. The water needs to be 62.8 degrees C before the pig is submerged. If machinery is unavailable to place the carcase into the tub, consider leaning the tub against the table at a 45-degree angle.
Search for a particularly strong looking tree limb or barn rafter to hang the pig after the slaughter. This support beam should be at least 7-feet high and ideally close to the scraping table and tub to easily transfer the carcase from its hanging position to the table and tub.
Place the pig in a pen by itself for a few days before slaughter. A nervous pig will have much blood in its muscle tissue making the meat more prone to spoilage. Also, to ensure humane treatment, allow the pig to relax before meeting its death.
Approach the pig calmly with rifle in hand. If the pig is skittish, coerce it with a bowl of food and while its head is down shoot it in the head. Once the pig falls to the ground and rolls on its side, have the helper grab the pigs forelegs and balance the pig on its back. Now, find the tip of the pig's breastbone and stick the knife in, slicing a 2- to 4-inch cut up to the centre of the pig's neck.
Stick the knife deeply into the previously made cut at a 45-degree angle, starting at the neck with the blade facing the pig's bottom. Continue cutting until you reaching 6 inches before the pig's sternum and twist the knife a bit before taking it out. This twist will ensure the artery is fully sliced. Allow the pig to lay on its side and bleed out for several minutes.
Hoist the pig with your helper into the tub or scalding water, headfirst. Allow it to stay there for 3 to 6 minutes, occasionally grabbing bits of hair to test if it comes free. Then, remove the pig from the water carefully and place it on the table. The purpose of this is to prepare the skin and hair to be removed with the ball scrapers.
Use the bell scraper to remove the outer layer of skin and hair, using care to avoid removing usable meat. Pour hot water over the carcase and rub the bell scraper into it to remove all the dirt and debris. Use the hook or bale shifter to remove the hooves. Use a bristle brush to further brush excess debris off the carcase while pouring hot water over it.
Slaughter, Scalding and Scraping
Hang the pig by the gambrel tendons, which are located on the back of the hind legs, with the help of your partner. To do this, cut the skin between the feet and hock to expose the gambrel tendons, using care to not cut the actual tendons. Stick a metal bar, strong wooden dowel or hooks under the tendons and attach a rope to it. Throw the rope over a sturdy rafter or tree limb and hoist the pig into the air, taking care to hang it high enough to not touch the ground. Place a bucket or tub under it to catch falling blood an organs.
Cut the pig down carefully after allowing it to hang for 24 hours and lay it on the table with the help of your partner. Cut the head off with the hacksaw, starting at the back of the pig's neck where the first backbone joint occurs, all the way through the windpipe until the head falls off. Roll the pig on its back and cut along the midline of the pigs stomach, from between the hams to the place in the neck where the pig was cut. Stick the knife in the neck wound and cut upward to split the first set of ribs and the breast bone.
Cut a small hole at a high abdominal point between the hind legs. Push your hand into the pig, the tip of the knife pointing outward, and cut downward, putting pressure on the heel of the knife's sharp edge. Move the intestines aside and allow the innards to fall out. This will open the body up for removal of the pig's organs.
Cut the lean meat between the hams until the pelvic bone is hit. Put the knife blade against the centre point of the pelvic bone between the bone and the muscle tissue and hit the butt of the knife, as this should separate the muscle and bone. Now cut completely around the intestines with the knife and remove them, taking care to tie a band around the end of the intestines so excrement does not leak out.
Cut the rest of the organs free. Wash the pig's inside out with hot water and use the hacksaw to saw down the middle of the spine. Cut from the stomach side with long, even cuts. Split the pig in two and use the knife to take off the outer layer of fat and skin from the inside of the hams, which is called "facing." Give the hog one final wash with hot water and continue to cut it up as desired for easy storage or ready-to-cook pig.
Hanging and Gutting
Tips and warnings
- Avoid feeding a pig for 24 hours before slaughtering it, but keep it well hydrated. This will help the pig relieve a lot of its excrement, and you will not have to deal with as much.
- When stabbing the pig, use care to avoid puncturing the chest cavity and causing internal bleeding.
- For male pigs, remove the penis by cutting through the skin on both sides; lift the penis up and cut underneath it and pull until it comes loose.
- If discarding the innards, bury them several feet below ground to avoid attracting predators.
- Tie the end of the pig's intestines up before removing them to avoid fecal matter leaking on to the pig.
- Avoid puncturing the liver when removing it; its bile could contaminate the meat.
- When gutting, use care to not puncture the stomach wall.
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