100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 26 – How to Humanely Kill, Gut, and Clean an Animal

beef-2027065_1280Occasionally, we have to cull an animal that we weren’t prepared to cull. We always try to have a refrigerator in the garage for aging meats. This is needed for this eventuality too.

If an animal is in too much pain from an injury, we won’t let it suffer but we need it to die as quickly and painlessly as possible. A sharp knife across the jugular is the cleanest, quickest way to do this for most animals (except for pigs). They will bleed out in seconds and the pain is minimal.

The jugular of a pig is buried so deep in its throat that it is kinder to shoot it just left of the center of its forehead. Even then you can’t be sure you have killed it until you plunge a strong, sharp knife down into the jugular. This part is tricky, and we recommend you take a course on pig butchering or watch a lot of videos on it before being surprised by having to do it in an urgent situation.

After the animal has bled out and you are certain it is dead, the traditional processing methods for whatever animal it is are best. Be sure to let the meat of the animal rest in a refrigerator for the recommended period of time (every animal is different) before freezing.

Our best advice to you is to keep your butchering knives well-sharpened. Also, keep butchering supplies in one location, and cleaned, so that they can be pulled out at a moment’s notice. Always have a clean, large cooler and ice or a refrigerator (it doesn’t have to be always on, you can turn it on when you begin butchering) available for processing. Don’t ever neglect to keep an eye on your animals. A small wound can become a big problem quickly.

Have you ever had to butcher a farm animal before you were prepared? What advice would you give homesteaders to help them be more prepared for the experience?

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