Butchering the family steer
Today was a sad day for the wife. I killed her steer. This however was all planned and had a purpose. When taking on a project such as this its good to first know what your doing and second have your tools and items all prepared ready for the job at hand. Prior to the butcher I made sure that our walk in cooler was fully operational, the knives were sharpened, tractor was working as its still cold out, and my help was ready to assist in this project. Our animals are extremely friendly so we just got a bucket of grain and walked Riddler out of the corral to a dry and clean location for the butcher. At this point you need to make sure your able to complete the task at hand. We dumped the grain on the ground waiting for the perfect shot to ensure instant death with no room for error. The picture below is the proper shot placement for cattle as well as most other livestock.
If done correctly and our shot was correct, the animal will crumble upon itself instantly dead, now the work begins. After the animal has been shot in the head the heart will continue to pump. Its best to cut the arteries in the neck to allow as much blood drainage as possible while the heart is still pumping. The heart will continue to pump for around 5 minutes or until all the blood has left the body. There will be a lot of blood, several gallons. It may be necessary to reopen up the cut to continue draining as the veins will sometimes clot.
During this time the animal will sometimes kick around sporadically. This is normal. The electrodes in the animal will continue to fire to the muscles for several minutes. Don't mistake this for being still alive and continue to shoot the animal. After the blood has stopped flowing and the twitching has stopped its time to get to work removing the guts and hide. I start on the back end, working around the lower legs to pull back the hide giving a hole between the achilles tendon for attaching a chain or cross member.
From here I like to open the cut along the front of the leg up to the middle of the stomach where his tits are located. Be careful during this step to ensure that you don't cut to deep and cut the stomach open. Also at this time i will cut around the anus and open up the anus tract that goes into the stomach cavity. Doing this will allow the guts to fall out better when you get to removing them.
Once I have some of the stomach exposed I will place my arm/hand palm facing out and put my knife edge between my fingers. This will help keep the guts back from the blade while I cut up to the rib cage.
Mistake number one. We feed this big boy earlier in the morning not 4 hours prior. What that mean you ask, well it means that his stomach is plum full of feed and watered down with gallons of water. It would have been smart of me to separate him in the morning to keep from having to fight with all these guts. When you get to the ribs it will be a little harder. You have to first cut a path to follow on the outside of the sternum. Then you could use a bone saw, a hatchet, or muscle through it with a sharp knife. I held a hatchet in place as I hit the back of it with a hammer to work my way up to the brisket area clear of the ribs. Continue to cut through the neck exposing the esophagus and continue up to the cut in the neck you used to bleed him out earlier. Now its time to start working these guts out. Get the animal up in the air, we use our tractor. As you start to lift the guts will start to fall out. Now this isn't easy. The guts weigh well over one hundred pounds.
Lift the animal about half way up so you have room to start cutting around the top of the animal freeing the guts from body cavity. As you cut this free the guts will start rolling out. Lift the animal higher now. Continue to work your way down through the chest cavity continuing to cut the organs from the cavity. As you make the last lift all the guts will pull through the cut in the rib cage and fall to the ground. At this point we like to get the hose and spray out the internal cavity of the animal to remove anything that might have made its way in and move to a cleaner area clear of all the guts and blood.
This is when I like to take a break and let the girls work on it for a while. Work from the top and use some force to pull on the hide while you cut the hide off. Your almost done keep going at this point the hard part is over. After all the hide is removed we move closer to the cooler and lay a tarp down to keep the meat clean if it falls and hits the ground.
We used to split the carcass in half. However we we have found that you get lots of bone dust as well as cut the best parts of meat on the back. So instead we cut the ribs in two pieces and then remove each of the rear legs and finally the pelvis area. Each piece is all me and my wife can carry and hang in the cooler.
At this point we stop and take a break, our backs, fingers, arms, legs and about every thing else is sore and tired. From here we will allow the meat to cool and age until we are ready to process the meat.