When we started our homestead venture years ago one of the goals was providing our own meat. There are a couple of reasons I feel it is important for us to be in control of this part of our diet. The reasons are practical and ethical. I want to reduce the amount of food that comes from unknown sources. My family doesn’t need to eat food from animals that have been over medicated, over vaccinated and fed an inappropriate diet. I want to know that the animals we are consuming are raised humanely and live a life appropriate for that species. They need free access to shelter from the elements and plenty of fresh air, sunshine, fresh water and wholesome food. I want them to end their lives as peacefully as possible.
It is the end of the animals lives that has been the most problematic. My husband butchered several goats, sheep and pigs.It is hard work and the animals are usually ready to be butchered when the weather is the coldest. Large animals are heavy and hard to manage without the proper equipment. Not being butchers, we had many “interesting” cuts of meat. We decided this work was best left to professionals.
The closest USDA inspected processor is 60 miles away. The idea of loading frightened animals into a trailer and transporting them that distance is distasteful. What happens to them once they are unloaded? How much fear and panic do they endure? Thankfully, there is the custom butcher.
Custom butchering is much different. The processing facility is state inspected. Because the USDA is not involved, cuts of meat that have been processed in these facilities cannot be sold to the public. Each cut is usually stamped “Not for Resale”. The butcher comes to our farm and kills the animals here. The animal does not suffer the trauma of a long distance haul and strange surroundings. The farmer might be left to dispose of the waste which can be considerable depending on how many animals are butchered that day.
I always dread the killing day; it is the downside of being an omnivore. This year we had only seven freezer lambs.The butcher and his son arrived on time and were fast and efficient. The pelts will be salted and sent to the tannery. All the lambs are 1/2 Bluefaced Leicester so the finished pelts should be especially nice.
Here are pictures of the two ewe lambs we retained.