Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pig slaughter video critique

I got this reply to my post on "can I slaughter my own pig", and thought it worth commenting.
I kill pigs every week of various sizes, so I'm a sympathetic audience. I'm offering this as a way to improve the slaughter experience.

Anonymous said...
I documented the whole process of slaughtering and processing a pig on a farm. You may be interested to watch it. The whole process from pig to sausage took about 2 days so I've cut that down to about 20 minutes here

The pig was pretty tame; and they had some problems getting it into the position that they wanted to use to slaughter it. The basic plan was to hang the pig and stick it while hanging to collect the blood. Several points:

1) The pig was tame and used to being handled -- shows good husbandry in my opinion. Arrange the slaughter area so that there's a solid barrier around the area. A tarp, or plywood
or boards or pallets. If this pig hadn't been so tame it would have been very difficult to get it into position. Consider shooting it directly in its pen and then dragging it out with the backhoe
on the tractor.

2) hanging the pig while conscious by one leg was not necessary. There was discussion of shooting the pig, and I'd recommend that. Shoot the pig on the ground, loop a rope around its leg within 5 seconds of shooting, and hoist it then. Stick it as soon as its hoisted.

3) the pig took longer to bleed out than I would have liked; they had to make three or four cuts to get the blood flow started, opening the meat on the neck to potential contamination. I'd suggest sticking the pig in the chest, just above the breastbone. To find this location, feel your breastbone at the top of your ribs, just below your throat. You want to insert the knife about an inch above that point. The point of the knife is angled at about 15 degrees towards the tail of the animal, with the cutting edge towards the head. Insert the knife until you feel it hit the backbone, and then trace a line with the point of the knife towards the head. if you don't see a gush of blood, withdraw the knife 3" -- but not out of the wound, angle it, insert to backbone and retrace your line. You may have to move a little to one side or the other.

You can practice this cut motion with a pencil. Make a circle with your thumb and forefinger. Hold this about 4" above a table top. Insert a pencil into this circle, and then draw a line on the table top Keeping the knife in the circle of your fingers is important. You want to make sure that you minimize the size of the entrance wound.

4) I'd suggest getting the pig completely scraped before you open the pig. Removing hair by any method after the meat is exposed can lead to contamination. Singeing is probably the least risky way to do it -- the high temperature will sterilize it a bit, but I'd prefer to not have sterile hairs to deal with while I'm processing the meat.

5) The pig had food it its digestive tract at time of slaughter -- penning the pig and giving it all the water it wants but no food for 24 hours to get most of the contents out prior to slaughter. It has the other benefit of making the pig much more interested in food making it easier to lure with a tasty apple.


Anonymous said...

Having been raised on a farm and slaughtering 40 to 50 pigs in my life, I feel qualified enough to say that is the worst job I have ever seen and they owed that animal a better death. Nothing beats a bullet and the bleed out should have happened much quicker had they actually cut the jugular. I have had all my hogs pump the blood out much quicker and more forceful even after being shot.

Chris said...

The running the pig about did more damage to taste then the shot would have. I'm with Bruce, shoot and stun, stick and hang.

Chris said...

The shocking incompetence of this is what gives farmers a bad name. The telling mark is that the individual doing the killing has really no proper concept of anatomy and that pig suffered at the end. Something I believe all of us in husbandry despise. My pig's last day is the worst day of its life and I want the end to come as quick and painless as possible. Bleeding while hanging isn't doing it. If you want to learn good techniques sign up with Bruce as he can teach you a way that will honor the animal and give you quick results.

Bruce King said...

I'm giving them some credit for good intentions. It didn't go the way that they wanted either, as evidenced by the comments in the video. The basic slaughter ethos for me is that quick and clean is the goal, and the last day optimally should look like every other day from the pigs point of view.

Anonymous said...

I've seen various folks slaughter over the years, and this is the first time I think I would have thrown up had I been there in person. That pig had a beyond ridiculously long, very bad last day. Imo, while they may have been idealistic, it wasn't connected to realistic. These characters had a lot to learn and were very inexperienced. Where were the old geezers to show them the path? My understanding is that stress releases adrenaline which effects the flavor of the meat in a not so good way. I wonder if any of those guys would try to do a pig that way ever again? I certainly hope not. Bruce's objective to shoot the pig while sleeping is not only stress free for the pig, but it's a whole lot easier on the audience as well. So Bruces pig had a very good life, and one very bad fraction of a nanosecond.
Chris, while you may be right, I sure don't see it that way in my mind. These guys may be farmer wannabees, but I cannot imagine that any experienced, self respecting farmer would choose to traumatize his animal like that before killing it let alone the continuing trauma they subjected it to while it was dying. The fact that it was a pet makes it even worse imo.
Nevertheless, I appreciate Bruce's determination to see this all in the best light. I've certainly had plenty of opportunities to learn from my own mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, just about to process two pigs and was interested in viewing the video that the comments are about. The link however no longer has video on the website, is there somewhere else that it can be found?
Darren NZ,