***WARNING...This post is graphic in nature. If you don't want to see the slaughter process of a hog please skip this post. Slaughtering is a way of life to many families and has been for many generations. Negative and derogatory comments will be deleated. This is an informational post for those seeking to further their education.****
Just in case for those that are reading the warning we will start with a picture of the pig. She was a hampshire/yorkshire cross.
Now onto the process.
She was shot with a 22 rifle aiming for the center mark of her head. Mentally you draw an x..right ear to left eye and left ear to right eye. After she is down from the shot then she is bled by inserting a sharp knife just above the sternum angling down toward the heart. A sideways twist of the knife will sever the main arteries leaving the heart and she will bleed out quickly. You don't want to stick the heart because you want it to help pump the blood out. You don't have very long before her heart stops so this must be done quickly after the shot. My husband likes to pump the front leg to help bleed out the animal quickly.
Next she was moved to the scalding tub which was 150 degrees in temperature. We chose for this hog to scald and skin simply because we didn't want the skin on this one and we had discovered by accident previously that scalding makes the skin peel right off...like peeling an orange.
The next step was to place her on a ladder on her back and remove the head. This keeps any little blood left from setting up in her neck. I will explain why we laid her on the ladder vs. hanging her.
The next step was to skin her. The guys started around her legs with sharp knives and once that got going then her skin just peeled off by hand. In this photo you can see the large flap of belly skin laying on the ladder right beside her. The skin is finished being peeled away once they lift her to hang her, but for right now it doesn't get in the way.
Then the tail was removed.
Then you need to tie off the bowel and the best way to start this is from the outside. Keeping your knife blade angled slightly away from the bowel you hold the outside edges, then insert knife parallel to the bowel, cutting the membranes that hold it in place so that you can pull it out enough to tie it off. This is a two person job, one to hold and cut the bowel and the other to tie it off tight. You don't want any spillage in your gut cavity.
Next is to start opening up for de-boweling. Now here is why we have the hog on the ladder. Gravity works in our favor by pulling the organs down toward her backbone and so we can easily (relatively) get her opened up without internal organs flopping in our way before we are ready to pull them out. We start at the chest cavity, cutting through the sternum and opening up the diaphragm. You can use a bone saw for the sternum or a pair of loppers, both work well.
The next step is to start cutting down into the belly to open the gut cavity. We didn't cut the final membrane until we had her hanging over the wheelbarrow. This is where you need to be careful and hold the membrane away from the intestines as much as possible to try and keep your knife from opening the intestines.
Opening up the whole cavity from tail to neck.
Removing the internal organs. We had a wheelbarrow underneath her to catch everything. Mostly, the internal organs can be coaxed out with your hands working on the membranes that hold them in place, but sometimes you might need to carefully cut some of the membranes to get them loose. There are a few spots that they can be a bit stubborn. Start at the tail and work them loose so that the buts fall out first then you can bring the chest organs out last.
The last step is to cut the hog in half to let some of the heat out of the meat quicker. Since the weather was too warm she was cut down further into primal cuts and placed in coolers on ice and the next day we processed her and got her in the freezer. To cut her in half and get a good cut on both sides, I recommend starting with a knife and go right down the center of her back all the way to her spine. Then use that as your guide for your bone saw or saws-all. This way you don't get an off center cut.
That's it folks. I do have a few recommendations. A saws-all is a wonderful tool to have if you plan on doing a good amount of butchering. Have one that is just for that....no other uses. Wood blades work well and don't scatter a whole bunch of bone. Choose weather in which it is cold and gonna be cold overnight...30 to 40 degrees for the highs. However, weather was not cooperating for us so coolers and the refrigerator had to suffice. You will have to turn your refrigerator down colder and I recommend using a thermometer to monitor your temps. Have the refrigerator set before putting the meat in there so the temperature doesn't rise too much. If you are using your refrigerator then make sure it is empty. Even with mine empty, I had to use two coolers and the little refrigerator for one of the hams. Temperature is very very important and that meat has to be cooled down quickly. One more thing, be prepared to wash your hog and wash your hog throughout the process. We crubbed and rinse her before she went into the scalding tub, while she was in the tub and then again before splitting her into halves. Hogs are dirtier than you think they are and we try to keep the process as clean as possible. Of course during processing the meat is further washed and cleaned out because hairs are everywhere. This is where scraping is a definite benefit.
We now have two hogs in the freezer which will last us til next butchering season. It is a lot of work to get all that meat put away and processed, but well worth the effort in knowing that we will eat well for the next year. Blessings, Kat