How to slaughter a cow?

hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)July 28, 2006


Has anyone any hands on experience on how to slaughter a cow? What sort of equipment is good to have? What's the minimum sorts of things to have? What do we do first? (Other than catch the steer?)

This isn't for retail sales or even re-sale of the meat, it will be shared between the folks so USDA requirements may not be necessary. There are more cows than slaughterhouses around here and apparently the wait can be up to one year before they can take in an animal. There are some folks who will give us a troublesome-escape-artist 4 year old steer if we want to slaughter it ourselves, but we aren't sure how to go about it. The largest butchering job most of us have done has been wild pigs or fish. (Fish around here can be bigger than pigs.)

Any advice on how to go about a project like this?

Best Regards,


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I have an Auntie who slaughters all her own meat. Last year is was a buffalo. I bet for the air fair over she would be glad to help. Hee Hee!! :) I will see her today and ask for advice. gina

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 2:17PM
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The meat cutter at the local grocery might be willing to help you. A lot of the meat cutters here slaughter and butcher on their days off.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 5:03PM
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sharon_sd(SW ON)

If you don't know how to slaughter, don't rely on an internet group to tell you. You need to have someone who is experienced show you. The best way to learn is to assist for a few kills and butcherings.

One concern will be your facility. How will you keep the meat from becoming contaminated? How will you raise a whole cow so that it can bleed out fully? How do you plan to treat the meat once it is slaughtered? Do you have a cold room to hang it? Do you have a giant freezer to quick freeze the cuts? What will you do with the offal?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 8:49PM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Aloha Gina, Robin & Sharon,

It would be fun to fly your auntie over to help with the cow project, Gina! If it wasn't so expensive we'd go for it, but we rarely fly to the mainland ourselves because of the air fare. Hopefully, she will have words of advice for us. We can afford to fly those over here even though it wouldn't be near as much fun as having your auntie come help.

I'll see if anyone knows the meat cutter at the grocery, Robin. There are two slaughterhouses on our island but I don't know anyone who works there, maybe someone else knows them. They would probably have different equipment available and would possibly have different methods of slaughtering but we could probably learn a lot from them. We are hoping to find out how to do this with minimal "household" type equipment.

I dunno, Sharon, we'd take advice from an internet group, we would take advice from the Avon lady if she's slaughtered cows before and can tell us about it. (We don't have any such multi-talented Avon salesfolks like that here, though. At least that I know of.)

Let's see, our facility will be an open field, some 4WD trucks, maybe a tow truck with a boom and winch on it to hang the cow with, a buncha coolers with ice, six to eight folks with knives and what other things do we need? A handsaw for bones? I usually use a set of garden loppers to cut pig ribs with, but cow ribs are much bigger. We may be able to borrow a back hoe, that would work well to hang the cow from and we'd be able to use it to dig a hole to bury the offal in.

The meat can get contaminated with what? Treat the meat how once it is slaughtered? That's some of the things we are trying to find out. Nope, no cold room. Do we have to hang it? If so, for how long? (And anyone know why?) Nope, no giant freezer. We may be able to borrow a regular house hold size freezer, though. We will have a group of folks, so each one will take a portion home with them. This way instead of one person dealing with a ton of beef, each household will only have a couple hundred pounds of beef to deal with. Are there any ways to preserve beef without freezing it?

We have one fellow who will take the hide to tan and make into saddles so we at least don't have to learn how to tan hides just yet.

A hui hou,

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:07AM
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I was thinking about your new challenge, Cathy, and your response here makes it easier to toss in a few suggestions....after today's busyness is over.

That's GOOD about the hide because hand tanning adult cattle is bl#### hard work :)


    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:23AM
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The meat can get contaminated with what?a. dirt off ground, hide hair etc b. from organs if punctured especially rectum as that has to be freed from surrounding tissue Treat the meat how once it is slaughtered? That's some of the things we are trying to find out. Nope, no cold room. Do we have to hang it? The quarters are hung overnight to cool and to let the meat set. Boning out hot meat difficult. Therefore try to kill late in the afternoon so long as you don't run out of daylight. Don't think artifical light good for safety. If so, for how long? You can start to cut up at dawn! Breaking down into primal cuts where the butchers' skill comes in. Expect more waste/ scraps for the dogs left on bones as beginners. Are there any ways to preserve beef without freezing it? Corning with coarse salt, +. Try Google for amounts.

Must fly

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 9:22PM
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ksfarmer(z5/Ks NC Kansas)

The job you are thinking of doing is one I would never think of trying without someone with experience on hand. Otherwise you are likely to end up with a lot of spoiled meat and a group of discouraged people. The easiest part of your job will be killing the steer, (and that ain't as easy as it sounds).
I would definately find someone who can guide you through the whole process and have them by your side when you start.
Been there, done that, kansas farmer.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 10:37PM
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balsam(z4/5 NB)

Hi Cathy,

Good advice here from others. This is not as easy as it sounds. That said, we have raised beef for the past 3 years and the first year DH and friends slaughtered the cow in the field. It took 5 men, a front end loader (to hang the beast), and a whole afternoon to skin it out. They then loaded it and took it to a local butcher who aged it, cut it up, and wrapped it properly for the freezer. Beef requires aging before it is cut and frozen (up to two weeks in a walk-in cooler, such as at a butcher's shop). It can be frozen fresh, but it doesn't keep as well and does not have the good taste it should if it is aged properly.

A hand saw won't do the trick for a cow - too much bone. At very least you will need a butcher's saw (looks like a bucksaw, sort of). You will also need boning knives to cut the meat away from the bones. I've worked for a butcher, and they generally use electric saws (like a band saw) to cut up carcasses. Dressing out a beef cow could take you a few days and you don't have the facilities (cooler/freezer/clean work space) to get this done.

Having watched DH butcher a deer at our kitchen table (and helped clean up the mess afterwards!) my suggestion would be to find a butcher willing to teach you or do the job of cutting for you, especially since this is your first time. After the first year of slaughtering our own beef, we now ship it live to a local butcher who does a great job and is equipped to handle it. His rates are reasonable and we get our beef back aged and frozen in about 3 weeks.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 8:20AM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Aloha Everyone,

This is all good advice and things seem to be shaping up. One of my neighbors who will be helping has a cousin of a friend who has done this before and we will bring him along on the project. We would ship the steer to the local slaughterhouse if we could, but they are booked solid for a year in advance and the only reason we are getting this steer (it isn't our steer) is because it keeps getting out and causing trouble and they can't send it to the butcher for a year so they will give it to us so it doesn't get loose anymore.

Hmm, age it for two weeks in a refrigerator before freezing it? We can get a cheap refrigerator at a garage sale and dedicate it to beef refrigeration. Since the steer will be portioned out, we can probably fit our part into a single refrigerator. We will end up with from one quarter to one sixth of a cow, will that fit in one refrigerator? Probably need to put some sort of container at the bottom of the refrigerator to catch drippings.

Let's see- first thing is probably to gather the folks, trucks, coolers, ice, a tow truck with a boom hoist or a back hoe and go out to the cow's pasture. Capture (a bucket of grain for "cow bait"?) and shoot the cow. Probably better have a rope handy to keep the cow in one spot while doing this. Hang the carcass and bleed it out while taking off the hide. Bleed it into the hole we will be buring the remains in if we can move the carcass while it is hanging so the worksite will be cleaner.

I think we will take the carcass apart in large pieces that will fit in large black plastic trash bags. That way we will be able to carry the portions without equipment and be able to fit them in home refrigerators. Also be able to keep the meat clean if it is wrapped in plastic. The hide will be going to a fellow who will take it either entire or in half sections but we don't have to do anything other than cut it off and put it in a large plastic bag. The remains can be buried in a hole, especially if we have a back hoe to dig a hole with.

There will be more "wastage" on this carcass than usual, I think, since we are going to be hard put to process even a couple hundred pounds apiece. Probably either disjoint the bones or cut the meat off in as large of chunks as we can - thirty to forty pounds per chunk or so. Rather like "filleting" a fish instead of cleaning a fish. Leave most of the bones intact (unless someone wants the ribs or heart & liver) and just remove the meat. Cut all the exterior meat off the bones in big chunks and put those chunks in plastic bags on ice in the coolers. Take the coolers home, take each chunk out of the plastic bag, wash it off (would it need washing? Seems probable), then hang it up or put it on racks in the refrigerator for several weeks. Then cut the chunks into roasts, steaks, chops, etc and wrap for freezing, pressure can it or make it into jerky or smoked meat.

Seems like a lot of work for a free steer, but it will keep down the grocery bills for months afterwards. Also, if this works out, we may hui together (a hui is a group of folks together for a common purpose) and either buy the occasional steer or buy a baby bullcalf (the local dairy will almost give baby bulls away) and raise it for a year in someone's back pasture. One steer per year divided among four to six families should keep everyone's grocery bills down. Hmm, one family in the group has the pasture, so if everyone else puts in for the calf and we eat one and get a new one each year we could all have inexpensive beef. Well, we will see how this project goes and then see if everyone likes the idea.

A hui hou,

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 9:17PM
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The ster is shoot right in the curl of hair, in the front of head, with alighment of bullet paralal to the neck. Most calfs are around 700# so anything to lift it up, don't really need a back hoe, good come-along, ele. wench, whaterver it takes. cut the juglar vains to bleed out, A site that explains the dressing for deer, should work with cows, a few thinghs will be obviously different. A good size grocery store will age and cut up, mark the packages, for a reasonable fee, just haul the meat to them as clean and quickly as posiable. usually cut up in forths to handable, check with the butcher man how he wants it. a new blade in a sawzall saw should be fine for the cutting you will be doing. Doing it in cool weather would be better. I THINK a cow dresses out 2/3 rds of body weight? 700# translates to apox. 200# salvage minus hide, so a 55 gal barrel would take care of that. It's not that bad, Maybe ask the person thats gotton one before what they did and learn from the the process, good luck to ya.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 9:43PM
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ksfarmer(z5/Ks NC Kansas)

I seem to remember that said steer is 4 years old. If the critter has been fed properly at all, you will have a lot more than a 700 lb animal. This could be 1400 or more, if the steer is a dairy breed, you could have a ox of 1500 to 2000 lbs. 2/3 is about right for the hanging wt.(after the hide and entrails, feet,head,etc has been removed). If you use a hoist you better have a really strong point to anchor to.

Also , I don't know about your part of the world, but, no butcher, grocer, or processer around these parts will take in a beef which has not been USDA inspected. Might want to check on that.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 10:17PM
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ksfarmer your right it's not going to be a feeder calf. I didn't think about the rules on USDA regs :( It's been 40 years since i did a calf, so I withdraw my advise Hawaii erson probably best to just forget the idea :( ?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 11:32PM
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Hmm, age it for two weeks in a refrigerator before freezing it? Currently my family leaves it in fridge for only 4-5 days before freezing, they don't have a coldroom. Probably longer ok if fridge cold enough.

Let's see- first thing is probably to gather the folks, trucks, coolers, ice, a tow truck with a boom hoist or a back hoe and go out to the cow's pasture. Capture (a bucket of grain for "cow bait"?) and shoot the cow. Probably better have a rope handy to keep the cow in one spot while doing this. Sounds as though your steer is quiet? Will there be other cattle? Aim to mimise stress, disturbance, strangers .....maybe just the marksman, 1-2 other calm pple.Let the cavalry in afterwards. Distress leads to dark cutting meat. Need to 'stick' i.e bleed, asap after the lethal shot. We always bled on the ground, safer as beast may kick reflexively.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 6:11PM
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tejas_pacas(z8 SC TX)

I took a slaughtering/procesing class in college. Granted this was years ago, and I don't remember the finer points, but the quickest way to take down a steer is to shoot them in the back of the poll. There is a soft spot there. We generally used the frontal head shot, since we had a chute, but if you don't hit it right on, they won't go down. The poll shot drops them in seconds. We hoisted them up right away (both feet) and cut the juglar. We captured the blood in 5 gal buckets for a local guy to make catfish blood bait. Ok, this is Texas, and Hawaii probably has no use for blood bait.

To skin, we laid them out on a rack that was just parallel pipes, about 2' apart. Made it easy to start at the belly and work out. Cut through the skin around the feet and slit the inside of the leg. A skinning knife is more like a 6" broad-bladed butcher knife. Pull on the skin tight, while skimming the blade against the body of the steer, not the blade against the hide. Cut loose the membrane holding the skin on. If you go too fast, you'll marr the skin. Short bladed knives are more likely to slip and puncture the skin. Hang back up to finish the skin on the back and de-head and gut. Cut through the belly carefully to keep from puncturing the intestines. We usually cut around the rectum and left it attached to the intestines.

We split the carcass with a special chainsaw, but a sawsall with new blade should work. Just be careful not to cut into the spinal cord. Cut on either side of the backbone. Granted, we had a walk-in cooler to chill our meat, but we only had class in the afternoon, so we had to come back the next day to cut and wrap. I guess if you are used to aged beef, you might want to do the 2 week thing, but we didn't. And chilling does make it easier to cut the meat up into roasts and steaks. Since you will be cutting it up into pieces to take home, a chest freezer that's set on a low setting would work. The meat wouldn't be in there long enough to freeze if you processed it the next day. A boning knife is like a 6" carving knife. Keep a steel handy to keep a sharp edge and things will go much easier.

We always double wrapped the meat in freezer paper. You can also wrap in plastic wrap first, then freezer paper. I have one of those vacuum wrap machines, but I still get freezer burn. For paper, put the meat in the middle, match edges up and fold over about 3/4". Continue to fold over till you get right against the meat. Fold the ends in like you were starting to wrap a present and tuck the ends under. Use freezer tape, as masking tape can't handle the cold.

Since this steer is 4 years old, do not expect tender steaks. I would say get a few roasts, maybe some thick steaks that can be braised, maybe short ribs, then cut everything else up into stew meat or get a meat grinder and make hamburger.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 1:28PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

As for preventing freezerburn, if you can get a layer of ice on it in the freezer, either by freezing it in a bag full of water or dipping the frozen meat into a bucket of very cold water once every few hours and returning it to the freezer in between to harden off. this is labor intensive, but freezing in water is a 100% sure fire way to keep your meat from freezer burning.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 9:10PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Hi Cathy, It's been years since I did this, but we used to can beef. It's a great thing to do with tougher cuts too, so would be a good way to go with part of your 4 year old steer. Just take whatever amount of beef (I'd go with 30-40 pounds out of your 200 if I were doing it), cut it in 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes. Spread them in shallow pans and roast until nearly cooked. Pack in canning jars and be sure to include the drippings from the roasting. Process, pressure cooking is probably best although we used to do it in a water bath canner. I don't remember how long to cook when processing meat, but am sure you could find it online easily enough. The resulting canned beef is sooooo tender and delicious. Especially good made into a chunky gravy and served over mashed potatoes, biscuits, etc. Also makes great soups, stews, casseroles. Makes my mouth water just typing this up. Good luck with your butchering! Joyce

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 11:47PM
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You all are going to hell!!!?? You get it.. What kind of a BS is going on here!!?? huh.. you all will take birth as cows in your next birth.. and will suffer much worse death.. first your eyes will be poked with huged needles until you become totall blind .. then your leg tanddons will be gradually cut off.. and even before your eyes are poked.. your kids (calves) will be snatched away from you.. and in front of you they will be killed first.. and mind you in your next birth the technology would be so much advanced.. that the "so called equipments" you are looking for to kill cows will be much advanced thatn that you will suffer worse.. No one can escape the " Karma" they do.. And stop kiling,eating, butchering cows,, or else.. your end is doomed.. Read " Bhagavad Gita" and get some knowledge you ignorant fools... You will all go to hell... You protect your own dogs and kill the cows.. you love your own child and hte child of a cow suffer in pain.. you love your familimes and kill and eat other families.. this is the reason, america is most hated country in the world.. Live up to ideals..

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 10:28AM
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Protect Cows..HA HA HA!! That was FUNNY!!!

News Flash...Humans are OMNIVORES...they need to eat meat or protein to survive. Even COWS eat protein...they eat bugs when they graze..bugs are protein. God made cows taste good so we humans would EAT THEM....

BTW, most other nations eat meat, you know. Why don't you rave about how inhumane China is with their animals and humans? HA HA HA!!!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 6:20PM
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Pooh Bear

There's room for all God's creatures,
right next to the mashed potatoes.

PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 2:50AM
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Pooh Bear, HA HA HA! That was great! Never heard the mashed potatoes one...hee hee!

Coincidentally I have to go out and butcher a few of my chickens today...I have a delish recipe for smothered birds...


    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 6:08PM
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LOL this is the funniest thread ever! Protect cows are you from India where they worship cows as Gods or something?

Like it or not cows are part of our diet and they have to be killed by someone whether in a factory where all sorts of cruel stuff goes on or on a farm where different stuff goes on. have you ever thought that you would not survive without killing something? Heck you wash your hands and you kill live organisims. Sounds silly to think about that doesn't it. well you ranting to people who eat meat sounds silly to us too.

why in the heck am I even fancying that fanatic. he/she has no right to judge anyone. He/she saw the subject and knew already that he/she was going to be upset so why did he/she even read it? LOL let me anaylize that. he/she has a personality where he/she likes to critisize people. oh please... get a life!

Tejas what kind of class was that you took? I found that interesting that a school would teach that kind of stuff. what was the major? well it is not for me I am just curious. And I gotta ask how many people threw up when you were doing all that slicing and dicing?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 4:37PM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

Google search "how to field dress a deer" you'll get all kinds of in depth information. Just keep in mind a deer is a lot smaller than a 4 year old steer. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 7:40PM
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I just had a cow butchered...really cant tell you how they did it..however 2 days later I hit a deer with my car and that I did process myself. first you need to make sure that you have a way to hang the cow..not only have the truck but how are you going to tie the legs to the truck? with my deer we pig tied the front legs to hang it then boosted it up in the tree by attaching the rope to my papa's truck. Mind you the deer only weighed 200lbs so alot smaller then your steer. Since the deer was already dead and bleeding it out wasnt an option we opened up her abdomen CAREFULLY! you can not reputure their organs otherwise the meat can be SPOILED. You must not only not puncture the rectum or intestines but also the bladder and the stomach can ruin the meat.
Then I had to cut around the rectum. this in itself is not an easy task as the butthole must be able to be either pulled up and out or if you are lucky the intestines will drop out the hole you make in the butt. however most of the time the pressure of opening the abdomen pushes the intestines out so up and through. you might be able to cut the pelvis with a saw but you might nick the intestines so anyway be careful.
Open up the abdomen, like I said the pressure will push alot of the insides out. make sure you have a bucket handy to catch the insides. we used a large pan like bucket that was 3ft by 2 ft by 1ft and it barley held all the blood and insides. we then had to reach up and cut the esophagus to let the digestive tract out. make sure to pull the rectum through. All thats left is the heart and lungs. to get these out you must get into the ribcage. you might need to do this before you cut the esophagus as in a cow the ribcage is longer.
Afterwards i washed the inside out with a hose and left it hang for 12 hours. at that time I processed the deer myself into steaks and roast. I didnt have a saw so all my meat is boneless.
My advice to you 1) have a sharp knife it is difficult to cut the meat off and skin the animal if the knife is not sharpened to the max. 2)expect ALOT of blood and prepare accordingly..i was wearing flip flops....not the smartest idea. 3)ask for more help then you think you need...i called 10 people and only 3 helped...expect the hair to get everywhere..we had to soak the meat in a water bath to get the hair that excaped off. 4) good luck... I wouldnt want to have done my cow but I was very proud that I got my deer

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 7:41PM
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that is funny you hit a deer then ate it. Gotta love it.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 9:21AM
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Pooh Bear

My wife hit a deer a few years ago.
Knocked it up over the car and it landed off the side of the road.
It was dark and we had to search a bit for it.
When we found it we loaded it in the trunk and drove to the
nearest police station to get a police report for insurance.
Thanks to Tennessee's Road Kill Bill we were able to take
it home to be butchered and keep all the meat from it.
I had to laugh at the last line of the police report.
It said, "and Mrs Swanson took the deer home to eat."

After paying the insurance deductable that was some of
the most expensive meat we ever had to pay for.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 1:27AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

MSJay2U I think your comment lacked sensitivity towards people from India, typically they have the multicultural respect that both you and protect cows lack and accept that in other parts of the world people do not believe what they do. Typically hindi's will encourage humane treatment of cattle but they certainly will not threaten hell, since they do not believe in it.

As for my 2c on topic, don't forget the tung, it makes great sandwich meat.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 4:12AM
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This is the one of the most sinfull job u will be doing, as given in Hindu scriptues and even Bible! better to starve than doing this inhuman act.

Mr msjay2u, what the hell name is this?? anyways. u sound like the most ignorant human in this world, mmm think so ur last birth sins have given no cells in ur brain.
ok as per ur discussion, why dont u think of killing ur family members??? as u say anyways, everthing is dying, i think ur kids will be tasty for u too right??( sorry if i am hurting) i just want u to realise things. Germs dont get killed by washing hands, they live in the water in which we wash. Plants are blessed to give food and to survive even ehen they are cut off. so only animals die, that means that they are not to be killed u moron. even these animals have feeling, childrens , etc . do u have a heart even to talk like that? no u dont... i am sure my child. Let Jesus give u some cells, hope so.

the ones for which u can see pain, feelings etc should not be killed . other things are blessed to to die of us so germs dont die, plans give fruits etc... think u idiot... what a citizen in this beautiful country...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 7:10PM
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Pooh bear sometimes police make comments like that on the reports just so everyone that reads it can get a laugh. since you laughed it worked. Expensive meat usually taste better so I hope it did.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 7:47PM
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There's no way these people are still reading this waiting to find out how to slaughter a cow. However, if they may be there, still by the computer with calf in hand, I can offer advice. I used to live in Zimababwe. I slaughtered everything I ate, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, everything. And I did it with nothing but rope, a hatchet and a butterknife.

First we would form a committee, called the "beef committee." This would consist of a minimum of three men willing to pay for and help butcher, preserve and store the cow once we got it into manageable pieces. If you are doing this yourself in an area without electricity or water, you'll need a few things on hand, a bucket of water and a tree, a tall one, sturdy with a strong branch at least 15 feet high for hanging.

First, tie one piece of rope around the cow's back ankles. It helps to tie at the knee and ankle, but just the ankle will do. Second. Tie a noose and place this noose around the steer's horns. With the other end, take it around the trunk of the tree and tie it securly so the cow's horns are pulled tight up against the trunk.

Be sure all interested parties are clear of the hind legs. The cow will butt and kick, and anyone in the way will die of severe trauma, I'm serious. I've seen it.

If you're sure the cow is secure grab the hatchet and start hacking. Now, a good butcher will require only one blow to the brain just above the spot between the eyes. Depending on how skilled the butcher is and the sharpness of the hatchet this may take anywhere from one to nine blows. Disregard any screaming, bleeding, spitting and drooling from the cow. These are all good signs that you are making progress.

A word of caution: Do not let anyone with poor hand/eye coordination handle the hatchet. The very last thing you want is to accidentally cut the rope that is tied around the cow's horns. Although his back legs are tied, he can still gore those around him which can result in fatal trauma.

If the blows to the head are successful, let the cow die. There will be movement and noises, much like groaning throughout the skinning and gutting process as well. Disregard these. The cow is dead, his body just doesn't know it.

Now, tie a long rope to the binding around the cow's back legs and throw it over the high branch. Pull the cow up, off of the ground so that his head is hanging at your chest level. With the hatchet, hack at the neck until the jugular is cut and the cow bleeds out. This takes a while, usually a six pack or two.

You can cut the head off at this point if you like. It's a matter of preference. It really depends on how you want to cook it.

I usually start at the hind legs with the butterknife by sawing a cuff around the hoof. I usually begin 2 to 3 inches above the hoof, so that there is some hide when boiling the hooves for gelatin. It helps, trust me.

After cutting a cuff around the hoof, I begin cutting straight up the leg and to the hip. I do this on each leg, back and front, and proceed to remove the skin around those quarters in an "unwrapping" motion. The person earlier in the thread had it right. You want to bear against the body, through the membrane between the hide and the muscle/organs. Do not puncture the skin, and definitely do not puncture the gastral sac. Cutting through the rectum is common. I usually do it after cutting off the tail which I use for soup. Ox tail with ginger - very nice.

The rest of the carcass can be skinned in the same fashion, cutting straight up the belly to the neck and "unwrapping" to the spine.

Once the carcass has been skinned, one of two things need to happen. One, lower the cow and move the rope so that you can hang him by the front legs, or Two, lay the cow on the ground. I prefer number one. This is a good time to choose the person with the steadiest hand or whoever is the least drunk.

God conveniently put the cow's excretory system in one pouch. This consists mostly of the stomach, large and small intestines, and rectum. If the cow is hanging by the front legs, all that is needed is to cut the pouch away from the spine and muscle just below the rib cage. This is the easiest. It will fall to the ground, and all of the bacteria that can contaminate your beef with it. I believe this is where the term "spilling your guts" comes from.

Now, this is where the women helped in Zimababwe. They collected the stomach and intestines for cleaning and boiling after they were removed.

After that, there are a few other organs that can be removed and prepared that are nice. The lungs and pancreas are nice when crispy. The heart is another favorite, but a little chewy for me. I guess it depends on the sauce.

The rest of the cow is gravy. Just cut whatever chops you want, loin, rump, rib, flank, shoulder, whatever. Just leave the spine. Remember, ribs can be broken.

You can hang the beef on a line in the sun after some salting for aging, or if you're lucky enough, you can hang it in a smoke house. I used to wrap the cuts in large tobacco leaves after salting. It ages with a unique flavor.

Cooking it is up to you. If you don't know how to cook beef, you have no business butchering it.

I hope this helps. Like I said, I'm sure you've already taken care of business, but it never hurts to learn new methods.

Bon Appetit.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 7:38PM
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To avoid any further exposure to talk of abuse and slaughter of cattle (or other livestock)....
1. Pack your personal items.
2. Start walking back to the wonderful country you originally left to come here to the United States!
3. Once you get back home....stay there!
4. Go back to school and learn to write properly!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 11:11AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

bray_eric's description of how they did in in Zimbabwe is very much like the way we did it in the Midwest US at mid-century, that would be the mid 1900s. The assembling of the knowledgeable people with the right tools is perhaps the most important step.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 11:39AM
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flowersnhens(Maine 4)

Beef is bad for you. Let the poor Cow Live !!!!!. I'm not being funny either.

Why don't you go eat some damn vegetables instead !!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:39PM
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Wonder what ever happened to that cow and all the people involved

Was sort of interesting reading through the comments

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 10:40PM
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flowersnhens(Maine 4)

Yah, I didn't realize he posted this several years ago, until after I posted my comment. lol. Oh well...that comment is for anyone who is currently considering slaughtering a poor cow. Uuuugh.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 8:17PM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Aloha Gardenweb folks,

Well the cow saga had an interesting twist. The four year old steer survived because a sixteen year old steer broke it's leg. The vegetarians up the hill keep steers as lawn mowers. Well, who else would have a sixteen year old steer? They called in the omnivores/carnivores to "harvest" their steer when it fell in a gulch and broke it's leg and the vet wanted $$$$ to come out and put it down. Well, technically it was already down, I guess the vet was supposed to put it out of it's misery. Anyway, the vet was too expensive and they'd heard we'd been thinking of slaughtering the four year old steer so they called us to see if we could help.

So we loaded up the posse and what tools we had into a 4WD truck and headed up the hill. No backhoe at this farm, though. Nor tall trees either. The cow had fallen on a slope so that was the best we were going to get and the bleed out wasn't as good as it should have been. Some of the meat spoiled later, I think because we weren't able to get it bled out properly. The dogs were perfectly happy to eat the spoiled meat even if it had turned a bright green color.

One shot in the head with a .38 put the steer out of it's misery. Although it was shot twice just to make sure. We didn't want it to suffer anymore than it already had. It had been in the gulch with a broken leg for several hours so it was perhaps a mercy by that time. We then opened the veins at the lowest point of the cow and let it bleed as much as it could. We skinned back half the hide and started cutting chunks as big as possible off the carcass. Most of these didn't have any bones in them since we didn't have a bone saw. We were able to cut through some of the ribs using bypass loppers like what are used on tree limbs. The large parts were put into plastic bags and then put into whatever sort of large containers we had. Mostly large coolers with some ice in them.

Since the cow had fallen in a fairly remote place and the hillside above was pretty loose the owners said we could leave the carcass there and they would shovel the hillside over what was left. We got almost all the meat off half the cow and large portions of the other half but couldn't get the meat on the bottom side. We did get several large parts of the hide and that was enough for two saddles.

There were three people carving chunks off and two folks packing chunks into plastic bags and hauling 5 gallon buckets of cow parts up to the coolers in the truck. This went on for what seemed like several hours. The rest of the herd of cows came wandering through the gulch while this operation was going on. They kinda looked curiously at the cow parts scattered all over. One cow sniffed and licked a hideless leg and then wandered off. We backed way off while the cows came in for their inspection since there weren't any trees to climb up if the rest of them got upset about it. They didn't seem that upset at all. Kinda vaguely curious and then they continued on their way.

After we had the large parts into coolers we then went to our friend's garage and set up tables and cut the really large chunks into five to ten pound chunks and sorted them out into individual coolers for everyone to take home. We ended up with well over two hundred pounds of beef.

That aged in the 'fridge for a week as well as some we had under brine in a crock. That didn't work as well as we had hoped since the brine made it extremely salty. About a third of it was put into canning jars and that worked well. We lost about ten pounds of it to spoilage while it was aging in the 'fridge.

The meat was pretty tough, but I'm suspecting that's because of the age of the steer. It was really tasty, though. It was okay but sort of odd flavored for the first week. After that ten days to two weeks of aging the flavor was vastly improved. After the aging, other than being tough it was excellent eating. We had roasts, stews and soups for a long time. There are still a couple jars of stew meat on the shelf.

If anyone else wants to give us a cow, we'd do the same thing although with some modifications. More coolers, more ice and some sort of backhoe to lift the carcass but we managed to make do with what we had at the time.

By becoming known as someone who can butcher, folks have been bringing unwanted critters to us. Today it was four unwanted roosters. Half the eggs hatched are roosters and a flock only needs one or two so a lot of extra roosters get dropped off at our house these days. After the cow experience, roosters are easy.

A hui hou!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 5:21AM
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What an AWESOME thread! Having hunted (& dressed) deer & elk for years, we have found the skills to be readily transferable to goats & rabbits. This summer a friend kindly lend us his pigpen & we raised up 2 piglets who flunked out of the hog house b/c they had non-incarcerated (eg asymptomatic) hernias. I had planned to slaughter Mr. July & then Mr. October myself but our friends convinced us to use the relatively close slaughterhouse. The boys were quickly & humanely dispatched & I was AMAZED at the hog washing machine! It took about 5 minutes a pig to wash, scrape & make as pearly pink & cleans as they had ever been! This ordinarily takes several hours for me to do with help (& burns from hot water & generally a big sloppy mess). I was saddened that the way they hung the carcasses to bleed them made it so urine dribbled into the blood (they capture it all & sell for animal feed makings) - I wanted blood to make boudin noir but all in all the butchering was fast (like from living to hung carcass ready to chill in 15 minutes - WOW) & amazingly clean. I will use them for future pigs (especially if we grow them to hogs!).

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 8:52PM
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"One shot in the head with a .38 put the steer out of it's misery."

Draw an imagenary line from the ear to the eye, on diagonal. do the same in the other direction. a blow to the spot where they cross with a large hammer will do the job. Imediatly shackle and raise from the hind leggs and cut it's throat to bleed out.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 7:33AM
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jpatti(z6 PA)

I agree with everyone who says have someone experienced help you. But to know what you need to begin, I recommend this book.

Here is a link that might be useful: Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:02PM
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